The Tasting Room, Lower Parel, Mumbai

Hungry customers stretching their necks out like turtles, eager to be allotted a place. Every small, medium, large table occupied. Hip youngsters larking around pitcher laden tables. Families lunching in quiet. Waiters scurrying with loaded trays.
This is a constant racket at The Tasting Room, an upscale restaurant nestled in the famous Raghuvanshi Mills Compound of Lower Parel. It sits peacefully on the first floor above Good Earth, a place for great interiors shopping.

I love the wooden staircase that climbs up to knock the door and let us in. Dont let this humble door fool you.
EntranceIt opens to this…
Walk in straight from here and you’ll enter their in-house boutique for some ethnic cotton-wear shopping.
The Tasting Room - Entrance
Ambience: A chandelier here, a chandelier there and a rustic vibe everywhere. They gleam happily at you; with price tags attached. Wonder if they were for sale.
The ambience of an old run down mill has been retained – stoned floors, tall ceilings, et al. Kitschy decor, rustic book shelves, vintage wall murals all add to the beauty. People across ages and nationalities are seen lounging for hours.
The Tasting Room - Interiors
Seating: With huge floor space inside and in the veranda, you wont have to wait too long. Variety of themes are beautifully incorporated for interiors. Corner couches, wooden benches, bar chairs, wing chairs seamlessly blend into each other. Tables suit all sizes of groups – from couples to a group of 10. Business lunches and dinners are hosted here too.
The Tasting Room - Seating
Menu: Beautiful juxtaposition of modern European and exotic Italian cuisines.  A smorgasbord of sandwiches and salads, array of coffees, assortment of teas, a bevy of desserts…. you name it and guess, they have it.  You’ll have your eyeballs rolling all over.
What more, there’s also a Kids Menu for your tiny ones.
Be gladly befuddled by their exquisite and exhaustive menu for wines, many from the much acclaimed Sula vineyards. Guess that’s suggestive of their name 🙂

The Beer Batter Prawns in Tartare Sauce were cooked to perfection.
The Tasting Room - Beer batter prawns
We loved the Smoked Chicken and Mushroom Sandwich with Garlic Aioli.
The Tasting Room - Sandwich
The Wild Dried Mushroom Risotto was just about okay. A sizable portion too.
The Tasting Room - Rissotto
We washed these down with an Orange Blossom, a tangy cooler with mint and peach syrup and a glass of Edmara Pinot Noir.
The Tasting Room - Orange Cooler
Service: Although you are attended to quickly, the order takes time from kitchen to the table. Considering the number of patrons they serve, its okay to ignore.
If you are lost hovering, pondering and flipping over the menu, don’t hesitate to ask the waiter for suggestions. He’ll gladly oblige.

My Say: Food is delectable. Full marks (plus few extra) for the inviting ambience. Service is great.
Negatives could be the price. 2 to 3 grands easily for a meal of two.
Its tad difficult to locate for a first-timer. They could place couple of signboards to make the place easy to locate.

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Jimmy Boy, Fort

Fort area in Southern Mumbai still oozes its 18th century colonial charm. So does its heritage architecture, streets and its cafes.
Nestled in the Horniman Circle area, bang opposite the glorious Asiatic Library and a neighbour to the famous Bademiya is this modest little restaurant called Jimmy Boy.
Jimmy Boy Lane
Jimmy Boy is famous for its authentic Parsi cuisine. They say, this place is just the same it was ages ago in terms of its ambience and much loved menu; which could be the reason it’s crowded all the time with old patrons still ordering the Brun Maska and Chai and the new and indecisive ones (like us) hovering all over the menu.
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Ambience: It’s a restaurant portraying the ethos of the 70s and 80s or even before, when Mumbai was Bombay and gourmet food was unheard of. Nostalgic!
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I have a thing for chandeliers and absolutely loved this one.
Chandelier
Old-school wide-rimmed cookie jars sitting on the wall that separates the small bakery from the restaurant. There are also some cupcakes and croissants on display.
Jars1
Seating: It’s a petite place. Around 8 tables accommodating two or four on each side. There’s a mezzanine floor too.
Seating
Food: Menu is huge. Along with authentic Parsi food, North Indian cuisine, sandwiches, quiches, tarts and others are also sprinkled here and there on the menu. They have Pallonji’s Rasberry and Ginger Soda, typically found in Parsi restaurants.
We ordered a Masala Akhu, a sunny-side-up egg on grated potato cake. I liked.
Omlette
For the mains it was a Parsi must-have, Patra Ni Machhi – fish cooked in green masala and steamed in banana leaf. We had it with chapatis. It was delectable.
Patrani Machhi
Later came Chicken Dhansak – Chicken cooked in dal (pulses). It’s accompanied by brown rice and two pieces of Chicken Kebab. Chicken pieces were cooked to perfection. The gravy was kinda ok, a bit on the sweeter side. May be it’s meant to taste that way.
Chicken Dhansak
We wrapped up our dinner with Kulfi.
Kulfi
Service: A twenty out of ten! Right from the call I made to locate the place till after paying the bill, it was a pleasurable experience. Service is super quick. Food was on the table within minutes of placing the order.
Parsi food being a totally unfamiliar territory, we were lost in the menu. It was then Mr. Kaushal came to our rescue. He is very friendly and helpful, so is his cheerful staff…even at 11.30 pm when it was time to pull the shutters down and a staff birthday was waiting to be celebrated.

My Say: Food was great. May not be exceptional. Ambience is nostalgic. Service is fabulous.
You gotta go there once to lay your curiosity about Parsi cuisine to rest. I’m sure it wont disappoint you.

 

Sbarro, R-City Mall, Ghatkopar West

Sbarro was just another pizzta (that’s my version of pizza+pasta) haunt for me, until I got a peek of it in one of the daily sitcoms. Intrigued and a bit of RnD later, I learnt that it’s a franchise of the quick-service Italian food joint Sbarro, NYC.

Here, in Mumbai, Sbarro is one of the crowded joints on the third floor of R-City Mall, Ghatkopar West. Malad and Chembur are some of the other places they are branched out.
Reception2
Ambience –
Brightly lit space, vintage photographs adorning the wall and pleasant staff provide for the perfect peppy ambience.

Reception
Seating – Although tucked away inside the mall and space being a constraint, seating is quiet well-managed. Four tables and long wall-to-wall sofa-table seats can easily accommodate 25 to 30 people . I’ve mostly visited this place on weekends, so having had to wait dint come as a surprise. May be its different on the week days when the mall is less crowded.
Seat 2

Food – An array of eclectic Pizzas, creamy delectable Pastas, lip-smacking sidies like Cheese Sticks and Baked Chicken Wings, small range of salads and beverages all deck up the menu. Mouthwatering desserts like Chocolate Mousse, Blueberry Cheesecake, etc. sum up the course.

We’d ordered the Chicken Pepperoni Pizza, Garlic Breadsticks, Chocolate Mousse, Cheesy Dip, Cold Coffee and Ice Tea. The pizza portion was enough for the two of us, although it didn’t quiet satiate me. The base was soggy, a total turnoff for a pizza-gastronome. I absolutely loved the crunchy Garlic Breadsticks and Chocolate Mousse.
Food
Service – is super-quick. Make the payment at the payment counter and get your order at the display counter… in a jiffy.

My Verdict – I am pizzta-obsessed. So whenever its R-City Mall for me, it has to be Sbarro…well…almost 🙂

Village, The Soul Of India, Mulund (West)

Village, The Soul Of India, on the first floor of the Nirmal Lifestyle Mall seemed to invite us every time we visited the mall. With a number of people going in and out, this place always looked happening in the otherwise quiet mall.
Intrigued by the charming entrance and the name, we decided to pop in for lunch.
Village 1
The  manager gave a heart-warming welcome and escorted us to our seats. The staff are dressed in traditional Gujarati wear.
You are greeted with a welcome drink as soon as you enter.

Ambience – The place is spacious and can easily accommodate around 100 people at a time.
Village3
The name is apt for the literally village-like setting… decorated trees, bicycle, etc.
Village2
The jail themed seating –
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Food – Veggies delight! They serve Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi, South Indian and Maharashtrian food.
They also have couple of Chaat or street food counters and a counter serving desserts. Starters are served at your seat. Main course is buffet system.
I specially  loved the marble-sized Potato Vadas.
Village4
The Punjabi Counter:
Village60
The neighboring Roti Counter serves Chapatis, Puris, Phulkas and Puranpolis. Puranpoli straight out of the pan and served with a stream of Ghee (clarified butter)  is super-delectable and a must-have. I crave to go back here for just that.

Other Attractions – Crushed and flavored ice or Gola is unique. Although, it wasn’t as good as expected.
Village7
The Bangle Counter – Ladies, rejoice! Customized bangles made right in front of your eyes. I got one for me with my name etched on it.  The guy hails from Jaipur and has inherited this business from his forefathers. He also caters to various functions and parties and charges on an hourly basis.
Village8
There’s also a Puppet Show, traditional dance and DJ playing songs on demand.

Plus Points – Full marks to the ambience. The place is full of energy and entertainment. Worth spending time with family and friends, perfect for all age groups. We went for lunch and landed up spending two whole hours. They organize birthday parties and other functions on request.
Service is superb. Staff is friendly.

Minus Points – very few. Food is average.

Persian Darbar, Andheri East

Nothing entices my taste buds as does Moghlai food. Cooked in aromatic spices and fresh herbs, the flavours linger in your mouth even after you are done eating. Persian Darbar is a perfect deal for Moghlai, North Indian, Tandoori and Chinese cuisine.
We’d been a number of times to their branch on the Linking Road, Bandra West to devour their ever-famous Dum Biryani. And each time I passed by the one in Saki Naka, Andheri (E), I always remembered just that. Finally, we couldn’t hold back our craving and made our way to the grand looking restaurant.
PD1
Ambience is mesmerising and you are treated with a royal Persian feel. The chandeliers, the seating, the lighting…doesn’t impugn the fact of it being a Persian restaurant to the core.
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So does the reception…  Craving for some privacy, they also have a private AC section upstairs.
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They have a never-ending menu comprising of not only the Moghlai and Punjabi dishes like tandoori, grilled, raans,  biryanis and sea-food but also an array of Chinese dishes.
A good wholesome meal for two can cost you Rs. 1000 – Rs. 1300/-. That makes Persian Darbar cost-effective also.

For starters we ordered the Chicken Special Mix Kebab – a platter of Murgh Hyderabadi, Murgh Jalandhari and Murgh Dahi Lasuni Kebabs. All of which were melt-in-your mouth and strikingly delicious. I wished I could grab a more of them, but the platter was to be shared between the two of us 😦
PD4
Mutton Biryani served as main course was incredible. It was way better than the one served in their Bandra outlet and the best among all the Biryanis I’ve had anywhere else in Mumbai. Silky soft rice with yummy masala, perfectly cooked and tenderized mutton pieces are bound to vow you. This should undoubtedly make Persian Darbar the “King of Biryanis”.
PD2
We ordered for a Coke but much to our dismay, the waiter said Persian Darbar is a Muslim Restaurant and Coke and other aerated beverages were banned in there. All these beverages are banned in all the other Muslim restaurants too. When quizzed about the reason, the guy couldn’t give an answer that would satisfy us or anyone else for that matter. Bizarre is the word!

They had their own local product instead, the Big Cola, which he said was sweeter than the others. Not chancing it, we settled for a Fresh Lime Soda.

Last but not the least was the Caramel Custard with its sweetness to perfection. Keeping the calorie-obsessed mind aside, we went for seconds 🙂
PD8
Service, I give a 11/10. If you ever happen to visit Persian Darbar, and if you are in luck, a person somewhere in his 50s might serve you. I respect his attitude and salute his service. Don’t hesitate to loosen your purse strings while tipping.

Persian Darbar hits all my check-boxes – ambience, service, food…
Except for the Coke disaster which seemed a bit racist, rest everything here is perfect.
A must visit for every Moghlai food and Biryani lover.

Shiv Sagar Restaurant, Juhu

Shiv Sagar is every veggie’s delight. The location of this restaurant is what makes you come here for more. It is bang opposite the famous Juhu beach.
I’ve been a regular at Shiv Sagar since more than a decade and I still enjoy the same routine – fill my tummy with the veg delicacies served here followed by a mighty walk at the Juhu beach.

They have a vast menu comprising of South Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Continental and Italian and an array of juices and desserts. Shiv Sagar’s “Pav bhaji” is the famous of all. Its a legend. Even chaats, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and pastas are all there.

You will always find the place crowded. But their quick service ensures you aren’t kept waiting for more than 10 minutes. The ambience is warm and seating accommodates from a couple to a family of six or more.
shivsagar2
My every order has to have the legendary Pav-bhaji in it. I’ve also tasted the Butter Idli with sweet dahi, i.e, curds and I absolutely loved it. I also love their Cheese Masala Dosa, Tawa Pulao. For drinks, I always go for Cold Coffee or Strawberry Milk Shake. Sweet Lime Soda is very refreshing.

During this visit, I decided to cheat the Indian menu with the Mexican. So this time it was Mushroom Beans Enchiladas and Spinach Lasagna. I ordered them one after the other. Reason – This was the first time I tried something different in this restaurant. So I wanted to take my own sweet time to savour each of them.
First came the Mushroom Beans Enchiladas which had a tangy flavour. It is pieces of tortillas with mushrooms, beans, sweet corn topped with three different cheeses and served with salsa dip.
shivsagar6Spinach lasagna is again a cheesy delight. Soft wanton coated with 3 cheeses and a mixture of spinach and paneer i.e., cottage cheese in white sauce underneath. I absolutely loved it. Every bite was sinful!
shivsagar8
The pictures are mouth-watering, aren’t they? So were the dishes. I absolutely nailed it with my new order. Finger-licking good!!!
As usual, there was a desperate need for a walk on the beach after this yummilicious meal.

Shanghai Streets, Bhandup

I am a die-hard fan of Chinese cuisine. Even a humble egg or veg fried rice satiates my gut. Mumbai boasts of an array of Chinese restaurants. They are so widespread that you make a phone call and you are devouring Chinese at home. There is surely a vast difference between the restaurants that serve authentic Chinese and the ones that cater the so-called Indian Chinese.
We were window-shopping in Neptune Magnet Mall when we came across this small outlet cum restaurant in Food Court. The restaurant was packed and we had to wait for around 15 minutes. The more the wait, the more our expectation grew of our new try.
The seating capacity is not much with around 7 tables closely placed. The ambience scores a 4 out of 10 here. They have an open kitchen.
Shanghai streets 2For starters, we ordered chilly coated chicken which came after 25 minutes. The service here is pathetic. We had to ask for water thrice. There were around 3 guys in the kitchen out of  whom only one person was continuously working. As long as we were there, he was the only one who cooked all the orders. There was one person to take the orders and 2 guys to serve. Out of whom only one was working… working real hard.
Our starters came after 20 minutes.
Our main course was veg fried rice and Thai chicken with mushrooms in red gravy. It seemed liked ages before our main course came to the table.
Last but not the least was our dessert – the honey glazed crispy flat noodles. This was the only order that came in no time, all thanks to the PDA…Public Display Of Anger…
Shanghai streets6The manager offered us 2 pepsis for free in order to compensate the delay.
It was only the food that dint disappoint. The starter was yummy. Chincken was tender and perfectly cooked. Thai curry was mouthwatering and made me go for seconds and thirds.
I did not click pictures of the main course as I was dying of hunger and totally running out of patience.
There is no dearth of good Chinese restaurants in the city. So, to keep up in the race, Shanghai Streets desperately need to work on these areas…specially customer service. They need to remind themselves of the phrase “Customer is a King” everytime.