Tuesday, 10 January 2017
Healthy Food. Two words usually associated with bland, tasteless food, definitely not the first choice for a hardcore foodie. Images of boiled chickpeas, steamed broccoli doing the dance in front of your eyes yet? Now what if a healthy food place opened up with every bit as tasty and gourmet food offerings as any fine-dine place of repute?
That's what Garde Manger presents-a bountiful menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and much more, without compromising on a single aspect, be it taste, quality, presentation or service. Cozy place with wonderful staff and innovative dishes in ample quantity, reasonable prices, an honor to be here for a review tasting session.
We started with very flavorful Roasted Tomato and Basil soup, real smokey textures and flavors coming through,
Among salads, a must-have is a twist on aamchi Bhel Pure- Mumbai Local salad with Chick Peas, Cottage Cheese, Onion, Tomato, Puffed Rice, Arugula, Date-Tamarind and Mint Chutney, wish our day started with this one everyday,
Thai food lovers must try sweet-spicy-sour-crunchy Som Tam Salad with Raw Papaya, Carrot, English Cucumber, French Beans, Sweet Chilli Dressing, Thai Bud Chilli and Crushed Peanuts,
Want a kick of flavors on a stick? Go for fresh Italian Caprese with Bocconcini Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil Leaves, Pesto and Balsamic Reduction, something we had to ask for a second round too, it is just that good, the density of cheese, the tanginess of tomatoes and a whole lot more!
My first personal favorite is Mezze Platter with Hummus, Cous Cous Tabbouleh, Tahini Yoghurt, Whole Wheat Pita Chips and Grilled Multigrain Panini, textures and flavors galore, all cooling for the stomach,
We love Poha for breakfast and a healthier contemporary twist to the same comes with Cous Cous Upma Desi Style, with mustard, curry leaves and the like enticing us, we loved it so much, got some home for noshing on it later :D
Black Rice Salad utilizes the nutrients powerhouse Black Rice wonderfully with Bell Pepper, Tomato, Red Cabbage, Lemon Vinaigrette, Caper and Green Olives giving it the appropriate sour-crunchy zest,
Children would especially love the Zoodles Salad with Zucchini & Carrot Noodles served with Arrabiata Sauce, spicy and feels like very thinly sliced spaghetti, a complete meal for anyone,
Being a Mezze Platter lover, the Lebanese Grilled Veg sandwich was the apt choice for me with Grilled Veggies, Hummus and Tahini Curd Sauce playing hide and seek on my taste-buds,
For those wanting something delicious to drink without piling on the calories, go for delicious and dense Muesli Peanut with Peanuts butter, Muesli, Digestive Biscuit, Honey and Soya Milk,
Another lovely smoothie we had was Quinoa Banana with Quinoa, Soya Milk, Dried Figs, Banana, Almond and Cashew Nuts, everything fresh and pure, no added flavors or sugar, just what the doctor ordered!
For me, having a sweet jaw, the true test of any place lies in its dessert offerings and we again loved all that we had in this category-
Creamy Fresh Fruit Popsicles (Strawberry and Chocolate flavors), perfect way to turn into a child with beautiful popsicles with little fruity bits hidden inside,
Ever heard of a chickpeas based pie? Grande Manger has successfully concocted a delicious melt in mouth Chick Peas Walnut Banana Pie that merits at least 3 repeat rounds!
And the absolute star was Multi Grain Waffles Bar Belgian Chocolate with dark chocolate, milk chocolate and caramel blending together with soft waffle to create what can only be termed as foodgasmic :D
None of the praise is a hyperbole, Garde Manger truly deserves repeat visits, in fact we so loved this place that we are going for a repeat lunch tomorrow itself, and I hope every foodie in Mumbai does so soon :)
Saturday, 7 January 2017
Who are we? CHOCOHOLICS!
What do we want? CHOCOLATE 24/7!
Where do we go? The Chocolate HEAVEN :D
The Chocolate Heaven, situated opposite Narsee Monjee at Vile Parle, one of those places we visit to become nostalgic about our own good old college days! The traffic here is mostly of college students throughout the day and why not, as the name suggests, the menu is choc-a-bloc with chocolate dishes along with a lot of cheesy dishes too, things that we wanna binge on when in college, right? (to be fair, we wanna binge on them throughout our life but after college is over, our metabolism goes downhill making us regret all the binge sessions, but all this guilt is for another post :P)
Medium sized outlet with nice space for couples or big gangs, extremely polite and efficient staff with quite fast service, menu with everything from coffee, milkshakes, sundaes, waffles, pasta, pizza and pancakes to nachos and freak-shakes, there is nothing to not like about The Chocolate Heaven :) Yes, prices seem a bit high but looking at the locality and quality, it is decent enough, portions are enough for 1 hungry person or can share between 2 light eaters. Was here with my sister and a friend after a very tiring day at office and had complete dinner, choosing something from almost every section of the menu, it was all delicious.
We started with Assorted Bruchetta and Cheese Garlic Bread along with Chilli Garlic Potato Pops as starters. While Bruchetta and Garlic Bread were perfect, the chilli garlic in potato pops was almost non-existent, we popped them up and finished the plate within 2 minutes anyway :D
I had actually skipped lunch this day (had too many meetings back to back) so it was excusable that I needed something heavy instantly and the most perfect solution was to have Assorted Mix Sauce Cheese Pasta and Spinach Garlic Fusilli Cheese Pasta. Two supreme bowls of cheesy pastas, I have no qualms in saying that these are among the best pasta ever eaten, overloaded with cheese and herbs, I am sure a purist would say they do not resemble 'authentic' pasta but they taste so soooo good that who cares :D Everything here is geared to give a satisfying finish to our palate rather than be authentic or gourmet and it is just fine for us foodies :) Must-have pastas, I was supremely hungry so I actually had 80% alone but these are cheesy and ample enough in quantity to be shared among 2 hungry people, value for money!
Next we had Veg Supreme Pizza with again a lovely cheesy layer and good crust and discernible mushrooms & bell peppers as toppings, I found it a bit salty (must be due to the mushrooms) but my sister and friend loved it, so no complaints :)
Another must have would be Nachos with Cheesy Jalapeno, like most items on the menu, this is meant to be shared among friends, this is what is needed right opposite a college and this is why college folks keep walking in here throughout the day. Sit, talk, eat, keep talking, eat some more, give a happy burrp, go home or back to lecture :D
After all this (we had already sat and gossiped for almost 2 hours by now), we realized that we can't step out of here without trying some desserts, and went on to devour Banana Split Waffle, served as fresh warm waffles, grilled banana, generous chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream, tastes even better than it sounds :D Our friend who loves waffles single-handedly gulped this one down!
For me and my sister who are complete chocolate addicts (okay, okay,I am an addict and she is just my teeny tiny taster :P), we tried Ferrero Rocher Chocolate Balls (I am getting these for my birthday next year :D) and the huge Chocolate Mud Freakshake, a mini meal in itself. Well, the freakshake craze is everywhere but we still hadn't had a freakshake yet anywhere, glad that our journey began here! Lovely crunchy chocolate bits, waffle sticks, chocolate cigars, whipped cream decorated the huge chocolate milkshake container, this one has to be shared among 3 people at least and demands at least 2 hour gym session soon :D
Ask me how much would it cost to have a fulfilling,cheesy, lip smacking meal like this, for 3 people ? Just about 1500 bucks (and ofcourse, don't count the calories) :D Can you hear our satisfied and happy burrps yet? Can't wait to be back at The Chocolate Heaven very very soon :)
Thursday, 5 January 2017
Situated on Chapel Road behind Lilavati Hospital, Reclamation, this restaurant can be easily mistaken for a boutique or hotel since it is spread over 3 full floors! Ground floor with a breezy dining area, replete with community dining table, first floor with lovely well-stocked bar and plush family sitting options as well as rooftop for the bohemians at heart. Creativity flows freely in the decor, a section reminding one of those evening meetings in Mad Men and yet other bring forth a plethora of rom-coms to mind, featuring breezy delis of the Big Apple with aplomb! Nobody can walk in here and walk out unimpressed with the ambiance. The extremely cheerful and friendly staff with top-notch service just elevate the experience and as my sister said,'there aren't enough stars in the world for an outstanding place like this' :)
It is a bona-fide fine-dine place with a well thought out, limited menu and yes the prices reflect that, but everything we had was extraordinary, so we won't crib about the prices for even a second. What one needs here is an open mind and ability to appreciate something unique. Vegetarians have few options but they are all well done, food presentations is top notch and every dish seems to tell a story. One common thread among them all is, the international menu (New York inspired dishes and drinks) all have a solid Indian touch, with local produce used in everything. International libaas, Desi andaaz, that's what we get here.
We completely surrendered to the bartender to get us drinks and I cannot,for the life of me,remember the name of a single drink (cocktails for my sister,mocktails for me) but it is to the credit of the bartender that he kept surprising us with delicious ditties. A cherry based beauty for me, a citrusy surprise for my sister, a pineapple based refreshing cooler for me and a orange based one for my sister. Pay special attention to the menu here, both food as well as drinks, have been designed so as to work like a guidebook. The experience keeps getting better :)
There is a complimentary amuse bouche for every guest here, instantly instagrammable Rainbow Bagels with cream cheese & crepes, pop them in your mouth and explore a different flavor with each bite. From sour to mildly sweet to dense to creamy to sour again to sweet..this is a roller-coaster and apt indication for more deliciousness on the way.
Bored of having Nachos everywhere,with the same triangle chips, ketchup-y or spicy sauce, beans..we don't really order Nachos anywhere anymore, but the ones here are must-have (a term I shall be using for everything here!) Classic New York style Nachos loaded with American Cheddar, refried beans, pico de gallo, guancamole- these are more like fine-dine version of nachos chaat! Watch out for the special nacho chips made from Manipuri black rice paste. Lovely combination of sweet-spicy-sour-refreshing-co
oling-chatpata-crunchy. No wonder every table had one when we were here :)
Another point to note, there is nothing really unhealthy here (at least not in our veg selections :D) I haven't been to New York yet,so I don't know about the food scene there but what these guys have done is, taken International inspiration, brought Indian ingredients, created pretty healthy yet tasty versions of the same, we likey!
Absolutely loved the Sweet Potato Salad, Chilled roasted Sweet Potato and Green Apple Salad with Spiced Walnuts, homage to the famous salad from Waldorf Astoria, this was a bit like the sweet Russian Coleslaw we all love,just better and felt fresher, more wholesome, tempting enough to have everyday!
One dish we should be having everyday is The Grain Story-All Grain Bowl served with Curried Cauliflower Couscous, Charred Fennel Salad, Seared Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Kale Chips and Pesto Bocconcini, with enough quantity for complete lunch for a hulk like me or 2 light eaters! A rare dish that looks and tastes good-again, no addition of cheese or sauces or gravies, just pure earthy grains and basic dressing to elevate their natural textures and healthy goodness. Complete nutrients, from carbs to proteins to vitamins and minerals, charted in one bowl. A big bowl of this everyday is all I need to be #sorted :D
Even though we were almost full by now, we decided to try 2 more dishes and called for them in smaller portions. First up was Vegetable Grill - locally sources fresh vegetables of the day grilled with old bay spice served with buckwheat crepes and curried cauliflower couscous, tastes just like it sounds, nothing much to add or subtract. Praise the nature!
Next up was Bahn Mi sandwich with Miso Eggplant & Tofu between hard breads (like a hotdog), lovely smokey flavors of eggplant & tofu juxtaposed against bread, this will give a satisfying feel to those who crave for sandwiches or burgers or pizzas for lunch. Again, a dish I would not hesitate to order when I am back :)
Finally, Chef sent over our dessert, we might have been pondering over how to fit dessert in our stomach after our lunch splurge, but once we saw Mr. Daniel's Cocoa Pot de Creme, there was no confusion, we had to finish this little pot filled with chocolate-y goodness. And once we tasted this Jack Daniel flavored chocolate, so dense, so creamy, so 'oh-God-I-can-die-now-happily' inducing dessert, we just wanted to marry Mr. Daniel :D All my friends are gonna find me trying to come up with excuses to land at Reclamation every now and then. I still can taste this on my palate and this silken marvel completes my stamp of approval for It Happened In New York.
It was an honor being here for a review and in the process finding a gem I would be putting on my permanent list of recommended dining abodes in Mumbai :)
PS: Special thanks to the Chef who gifted us his home-made plum cake as parting gift as we had visited here just 2 days after Christmas :)