Sunday, 7 January 2018

Taftoon Bar & Kitchen BKC | Grand Trunk Road Feast | Food Review | Restaurant Review

Taftoon means Roti in Persian but Taftoon at BKC serves so much more than just different types of Roti. Food spanning from Bengal to Kabul. Sounds a mammoth task. Bringing alive a food culture which includes mustard in fish dish as much as saffron in tandoori roti is not easy. But folks at Taftoon have done a tremendous job in creating a menu that celebrates choicest dishes from Bengal, Bihar, UP, Punjab, Haryana, Kashmir, Kabul as altogether these places make up some landmarks on the legendary Grand Trunk Route.

Ambiance is warm, golden colored, lively and has casual elegance. Smartly dressed staff is extremely polite and proactive in taking feedback for the dishes. Service is pleasant. Menu is vaaaaaast and requires at least 10 minutes of intense deliberation to zero down on what to order. Thankfully, we were given sampler portions for our review session which helped us try multiple dishes without torturing our stomach. Food is so delicious that prices are absolutely value for money as each dish is as authentic as it gets for the region specified in the menu.

Started off with outstanding appetizers-
SHATAWARI AUR KALARI - Grilled Kashmiri Kalari Cheese, Asparagus and mixed,shaved nuts -simple, crunchy, wholesome, this is Rigveda inspired!

TAFTOON WITH HARISSA GUCCHI AUR MUSHROOM- Cocktail Taftoon topped with Mushroom paste that was minced on stone, spiced with cardamom and saffron and slathered with truffle oil. It looks, smells and tastes exactly how one would expect meat mince to be! Hardcore vegetarians won't like it nor would those who hate truffle oil since its strong flavor overpowers everything else. I liked it, I love mushrooms anyway.

SOYA KI CHAAP - Soya Fillets marinated in yogurt, garlic tandoori masala, just like the previous mushroom harissa dish, this one is also very reminiscent of looking and feeling like a piece of chicken/meat. Hardcore vegetarians won't like it, good for non-veggies who want meat substitutes. Would also gain from having a bit more tandoori masala seeped in :)

MOCCHAR CUTLET - MUST HAVE, especially if you want to navigate through authentic Bengali cuisine or already love Bengali food. Hearty cutlets stuffed with banana flowers, this one is typically found during Durga Pujo festivities, absolutely smashing with the accompanying Kashundi mustard. Strong flavors. ♥♥♥

DAHI BHUTTEYAN DE KEBAB- Another MUST HAVE, unbelievably soft and scrumptious mix of hung yogurt and corn kernels shaped into a kebab, mildly spicy, do not miss on these.

CHATPATEY PANEER TIKKE - Fresh green herbs slathered all over juicy, soft paneer chunks, self explanatory, party in mouth flavors, spicy and tangy :)

MALAI BROCCOLI AUR GOBI - For those who complain of how boring broccoli is, try THIS! Delicate creamy yogurt marinade completely change the flavors here, Broccoli and Cauliflower never tasted this goooooooood :D

CHUKANDAR E SHAMMI - This one is from my grandparents' hometown-BENARES :D And if you can have just one dish here, HAVE THIS! It is impossible to believe how silky these Beetroots-Bengal Gram-Yogurt-Cheese Kebabs are. I can have these for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life ♥♥♥

For main course, we were delighted with-
BHARWAN KADHAI - Brought back memories of childhood, my nani used to make these in winters! Whole brinjals, okra, tomatoes (stuffed with paneer) in tangy + spicy tomato-onion based thick,rich gravy.

LAL ROGANI PANEER - Vegetarian Paneer version of the famous Rogan Josh (non veg) dish in tomato-yogurt gravy, soft generous paneer chunks and stunning flavor provided by rantajyot flavored oil, could not stop eating this one.

MAA CHOLIYA DAAL - Buttery, rich, the famous Punjabi Kaali daal we have had at our Punjabi friends' houses so many times, this one is ultimate comfort food. Can drink gallons of this one :) ♥♥♥

Went perfectly well with all the different types of breads here, literally each one was superlative-

ZAFFRANI TAFTOON - Saffron and Cardamom
BAQUEARKHANI -Kashmiri specialty with poppy seeds on top
LAL NAAN - Worthy bestseller, this one is crispy, fluffy, layered, a bit sweet,very mild hint of red chillies and crunchy, MUST-HAVE,
RAMPURI PARATHA - Cashews enclosed in the dough, makes it a bit sweet too but different from lal naan, more wholesome :)
KHAMIRI ROTI - Fermented sour dough, I love this one particularly, little rolls of happiness

Special word for the magnificence of LITTI CHOKHA here! This specialty from Bihar as served here comes closest to the real deal we have ever had outside Bihar! They make Sattu from Besan in-house, the Litti (wheat circles stuffed with sattu and baked), served alongside Mashed Potato-Onion (Chokha) and smokey Brinjal..seriously, if you haven't had this dish anywhere yet, just have it here. You will thank me :) ♥♥♥

In beverages, special mention to DATES & PINEAPPLE mocktail as well as ultra refreshing HIBISCUS ICED TEA!

Not to forget, the special KASHMIRI KAHWA TEA provided at the beginning of every meal (loaded with saffron,spices,dry fruits) and Paan flavored as well as Jaljeera flavored PETHA provided at the end of every meal. Superlative!

And for the grand finale, for dessert round, we had CHENNA PLATTER- an assortment of most delicious Bengali Chenna Mithais in mini form, including gulab jamun, kheer kodom, pedha, rasmalai.. I would have 4 of this platter alone if I had not already hulked out on a feast meant for an entire army :D ♥♥♥

My family is definitely going to make multiple repeat rounds here in very near future, this place and the experience of eating here is for keeps :)

Thursday, 4 January 2018

AKA Bistro Fort Mumbai | Contemporary Global Cuisine | Food Review | Restaurant Review | Food Photography

Walk in a small lane of Kala Ghoda to find this little gem called AKA Bistro. Quaint, peaceful vibe with some old-time 'Bombay' decor mixed with cosmopolitan design, especially the gorgeous thread centerpiece spanning the entire length of grand staircase, it must glow like a jewel at night! At a lot of places, amazing ambiance is often followed by mediocre food but everything we tried here was top-notch and impressed us enough to want to come back. Choicest dishes were selected for our review session and they gave a tantalizing view of what AKA Bistro has to offer - contemporary global cuisine adapted to Indian palate, plated masterfully, priced reasonably (looking at quantity and quality as well as location!), served with a smile by very polite and efficient staff.

Started off with Small Plates-
Broccoli Cakes with Cherry Tomato Coulis = melt in mouth soft and wholesome, MUST-HAVE, 

Vegetarian Tasting Platter = Light meal for anyone with a mild appetite, this comes loaded with several delicious bites i.e.

i) Broccoli Cakes
ii) Tofu Taco with Raw Mango,Ginger Salsa and Sriracha Mayo - My personal FAVORITE, a bit tangy, a bit on sweeter side, this is one burst of flavors and textures, from crunchy to meaty, and leaves behind a yummy in the tummy feeling :)
iii) Forest Mushrooms On Toast - Creamy mushrooms on toast, enough said,
iv) Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers with Cream Cheese on Toast - tasted good enough, I prefer the mushrooms but my mom prefers these,
v) Mezze Platter with Baba Ganoush, Hummus, Toasted Pita - Hummus could be a bit smoother, but that is when I am forced to nitpick, otherwise a delicious platter light on stomach, subtle on flavors, as I like it :) 

After a long time, I ventured in the territory of burger with Stuffed Cottage Cheese Burger with Chilli Lime Pesto and Tahini Mayo = Even for a hungry hulk like me this one is very heavy breakfast. Generous cottage cheese chunks, flavors tilting on sweet-tangy side, good serving of fries too, burger lovers must dig this,

Up next, couldn't miss trying their One Pot Food concept! Zeroed down on Malaysian Curry with Sesame Rice, Coconut, Bok Choy, Baby Corn & Crispy Fritters = it was mildly flavored and close to authentic, lip-smackingly delicious and a complete meal for anyone, very value for money offering,

In the interest of not leaving any part of the menu untouched, we also tried their Large Plates, each large plate is also a complete meal for a hungry hulk like me -

Eggplant Ravioli with Pasta, Apples, Pine Nuts, Arrabiata Sauce, Parmesan = I am no eggplant lover but this one was really good. The crunch of pine nuts was especially gratifying. My sister, who loooooooves eggplant, nearly polished off the whole dish by herself.

For those not in mood for eggplant, go with Cannelloni that comes equipped with Mushroom, Spinach, Feta in Tomato Cream Sauce = not sure how authentic it is or not (will definitely update this part when I travel to Italy and have some cannelloni there) but this was reallllllly good, a burst of tangy tomato flavor overpowering everything else, sure but deliciously so :D

Bursting to the seams by now, we just took one last giant step to try out their desserts and it was a wise decision since both of these were light enough to accommodate in our stomachs without literally exploding-

Duo of Baked Yogurt = MUST-HAVE for these were in Cinnamon and Blueberry flavors, extremely light and mild but oh so soothing on our palate, such a satisfying end to this feast,

Chocolate lovers can blindly go for Flourless Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake = Gooey dark sinful chocolate fudge cake that warms the heart of any choco lover with smattering of orange swirl to give a hint of acidity. Not ashamed to say that I finished this all by myself :D #ChocolateIsBAE 

Oh before I forget, we washed all of this down with beverages too-

Two Tone Chiffon = Black Tea, Sugar Syrup, Lime Juice, Saffron Syrup all melding into one mild and refreshing drink

Orange & Mango Oolong Tea = Oolong Tea with orange peel, pineapple and mango essences, very mild, fruity, delicious fragrance, lovely silken feel, I would tag this as a MUST-HAVE, especially if you like subtle, aromatic tea flavors rather than strong coffee/other beverages :)

Overall, yes, we feasted on food enough for a small wedding party, and came out happy, recommending a visit here to all. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Sweet Christmas Feast At Elementaria Bakery & Cafe | Food Review | Food Photography | Vegetarian Desserts

It was Christmas and we needed to indulge. Stars aligned perfectly and we landed here for a lunch-time review. To start off, the menu uploaded on zomato for this branch is not completely functional, I was looking forward to trying out salads, sandwiches and savory waffles but they are not available here right now. The coffee machine wasn't working either. 'Uh oh, we really need a miracle right now' -so we thought. But then we tried a bit of all that was available- hot chocolate, tea, cooler, puffs, croissants, waffles, pastries..AND it was a miracle all right. EVERYTHING is scrumptious and we couldn't have had a better Christmas feast :D

It is a small nook opposite Apsara ice cream at Matunga King Circle, like a comfy petite Parisian cafe. Warm ambiance with smiling, extremely polite staff and fast service. An array of extremely beautiful pastries and savory bakery items displayed to whet the appetite and right now it is decked up in Christmas decorations lending it another layer of charm. Overall, a hidden gem. 

Started off with a round of beverages- CHOCOLATE MARTINI COOLER was cold, refreshing, sister chose and liked it, Mom loved her MASALA CHAI served in cutting chai style,properly aromatic and flavorsome according to her but the star was my choice of AZTEC HOT CHOCOLATE, the most decadent dark chocolate, spiced up a bit to make the dark chocolate even more appetizing. I can have a gallon of this every single day. Made me try another variation of hot chocolate-WILLY WONKA which is a bit more indulgent with dark chocolate topped with whipped cream and a dash of caramel. Hot Chocolate here is MUSTTTTTTT HAVE.

For savories, we zeroed down on..well everything they had and it was all super duper fresh and delicious-

GREEN THAI CURRY PUFF- Liked a lot by mom, crispy puff with a wholesome paneer and veggies mash inside with mild thai curry flavor,

PANEER TIKKA CROISSANT- Nom Nom, the croissant was buttery and paneer tikka filling was right on the money. For those like my sister with a bias for spicier dishes, go for SCHEZWAN PANEER CROISSANT, almost similar with the famous fiery schezwan sauce hint in there encased within smooth buttery croissant. 

PERI PERI PUFF- Another one liked by mom, just like the thai curry puff, it was crispy flaky outside with a wholesome paneer + capsicum filling in mildy spicy peri peri flavor, good for meal for a very light eater :) Pair this one with a milkshake and there you go,filled up for 3-4 hours atleast.

VEG QUICHE- My absolute favorite, another MUST HAVE! A puffy well of mix veggies, paneer in a garlic-mushroom-cheese sauce mash, all layered up with a generous bout of cheese, looks good, tastes grrrrrreat.

And now it was time for my sweet jaw to get happy :D Up first was KIT KAT DUTCH TRUFFLE WAFFLE that we took in a sandwich form, one of the best waffles I have had-soft yet firm, drenched in chocolate-y deliciousness that warrants multiple repeats and served alongside whipped cream + vanilla ice cream that's a far cry from tub vanilla ice creams we are used to. Have it to believe it. MUST-HAVE.

Now we were thoroughly confused. Not only were we almost completely stuffed, the beautiful display made it impossible to choose! Finally we zeroed down on-

BAKED CHEESECAKE - Excellent as expected,

RED VELVET HAZELNUT pastry- Soft, melt in mouth, spectacular,

SEA SALT CARAMEL & DARK CHOCO RASPBERRY Cupcakes- Soft, moist, at the core they had caramel & choco-raspberry fillings respectively, complete party in mouth,

HAZEL VELVET TUB CAKE/WELL CAKE- A soft yet firm pastry boundary surrounding a sinful deluge of chocolate that overpowers all the senses, this one is another MUST-HAVE.

They also presented us with little samples of plum cake, it being Christmas and it was delicious too, heady plum concoction in dry cake form, what more doth one's heart wanteth :D 

Oh,we spent our Christmas indulging all right. But we do not feel guilty at all :D Prices are on the higher side but the quality of products is top-notch premium so we won't complain a bit. Would definitely be back to try out new items on their menu as they introduce it. Till then, Bon Appetit!