Monday, 13 June 2016

Countries Connection, Andheri West, Mumbai

Traveling the world on a plate. That could be the tagline for Countries Connection or C2 as it is fondly called :) Simple,good food from various places, slightly modified or spruced up for Indian tastebuds at quite economical price points is what you will find here. Also, the ambiance and location make it a sort of hidden gem.

It is located opposite Mainland China, take a right from Infiniti Mall in Andheri West (keeping it in your left) and when you see Mainland China on the right (within 1 minute), just look on your left and there is Countries Connection :) It might look like a Goan shack from outside, from inside it is pretty cool, funky, cheerful and sweet ambiance. Hey, that is what all Goan shacks are too :D This is casual dining and ambiance is inviting enough to go with friends or family. The colorful walls, pictures and funky artworks lend an upbeat vibe, so let me just say, if you are depressed, come here and I bet the colors will lift you up. Add to that the staff that is always smiling and enhancing the happy quotient.

We were here on a bloggers meet and had the pleasure of tasting a variety of dishes from Mexican, Italian, Indian repertoire. I was just not happy with the drinks much because all the Mojitos - Green Apple, Strawberry, Kaffir lime, all seemed to taste sugary syrupy or watery and more or less similar in taste. Ice Ice Baby was a nice kick though, being a good strong Strawberry Margherita preparation. It was the food that really made our spirits lift higher.

I am not much into soups myself but shared Manchow Soup with a fellow vegetarian blogger and it was pretty good, especially for those who like hot and spicy soups :) If I had a cold, this is what I would order. A delight to have with those crunchy fried noodles. 

Mexican Shots that made an appearance thereafter were colorful to look at and a delight to taste. Layers of sour cream, salsa, guacamole with lettuce & olives & nacho as garnish on top. Digging into those layers and having sweet, sour, crunchy, dense, creamy flavors explode on our tongues was a great experience indeed. The salsa was on sweeter side, perfect for my sweet jaw, it did not overpower the rest of the flavors and that is why I loved it.

If you have ever loved American Corn Cheese Balls, then you will adore Shangrilla Rocks too! Just like those but with 3 kinds of cheese and Paneer as fillings, these again come with a sweet-spicy sauce that is like a party in the mouth. The little papdis on top give a cute Indian street-foodish touch. These are sure to be great hits with kids or anyone who wants a good starter. Definitely recommended to one and all :)

The non-veggies were happy with their Pizza, Soup and Chicken main course. While I have no idea about their taste, they looked perfectly tantalizing :D Pizza especially looked so crunchy and filling, I was tempted to almost take a bite :P Next time (I am talking about having veg pizza next time,not having a bite of Chicken pizza :P)

Our veg main course was C2 Special Sizzler that came with Buttered Rice, Fries, Veggies like Peppers, Onions and Corn by the side, a huge Veg Patty and Barbecued Paneer on skewers. A complete meal for 2 hungry people, very delicious too! I don't go for sizzlers at many places but am glad that got the chance to taste this one here. Rice was fantastic and the veggies gave it an additional crunch while Paneer gave a meatier flavor. It was not heavy yet filling. There was additional sauce given which we could use if we felt the rice to be dry,but we did not, because 1st- the sizzler plate was perfectly proportioned on its own and 2nd-the additional sauce was very salty!

A nice strong meal deserves a good ending with stronger desserts, so goes the motto of sweet lovers like me :D Countries Connection definitely knows how to finish strong in this regard. We had 2 desserts and they were both 5-star fantastic. First up was the Blueberry Rasmalai with Rabdi & Chocolate Soil which is just what an intense dessert lover dreams of. Loads of flavors all together, dense and creamy and sweet. Maybe those who are not much into sweets will not like it. For them, I say, go straight to THE Blueberry Cheesecake.

This Blueberry Cheesecake is hands down the BEST I have ever had. The dish I would travel here again for and bring my friends too. The dish I will probably order by the kilo on my birthday. It is served chilled which just enhances the flavors. The flavor of cheese and blueberries without becoming chalky or artificially sweet, yeah that is what I am talking about. Take a swipe from top to bottom and get inside foodie heaven! The blueberry compote on top is made of real blueberries pulp and is not an amorphous artificial mush like they serve at many places. Even the best bakeries are not able to get a cheesecake right the way these guys have! It is geared to please even the most ardent dessert skeptic. Make sure to order this the moment you walk in because it is their bestseller and gets over quickly too.

Overall, food here is very good, there is always scope for improvement (it is true for many places, including many gourmet places!) because perfection is a matter of consistent hardwork and the peoples at C2 are ready for that :) Desserts and Starters are just fabulous and great service makes the experience even better. Definitely a place I am coming back to, if not for anything else, then just for those Mexican Shots, Shangrilla Rocks and that Blueberry Cheesecake. And of course, a sense of having discovered a hidden gem to be enjoyed with loved ones without paying over an arm and a leg for that :)

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