Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Olive Garden - Yet another fake authentic Italian restaurant

Olive Garden, one of the places that has been on my check list for quite some time, thanks to my colleague who had the best things to say about this place. 

There were several plans made to visit Olive Garden, but unfortunately everything used to get cancelled for some reason or the other. Finally last week, a friend’s farewell was planned here.

First came in their complimentary garlic bread, which was very fresh and almost melted in your mouth. After which came the drink I called for, the Strawberry Fresco which was THE best strawberry drink I've ever had, it was sweet and sour at the same time. It was very refreshing. In fact I also sipped on to the same drink in peach flavour, that my friend had called for, that was equally good.

Garlic Bread

 Strawberry Fresco

Now since everything here was going great, I couldn't wait for the main-course since my expectations were really high. And I opened the menu and there was an attractive photo of a dish called Stuffed Chicken Marsala - This was basically chicken breast stuffed with cheese and glazed by Marsala wine. Appearance wise this looked quite rich and hearty and brought happiness to me and my tummy. The garlic mashed potato that was accompanying the chicken was quite good in taste, but the chicken was very average, and tasted like the fried chicken you get from KFC with a little topping of cheese and Marsala wine. This was definitely not worth 65 Dirhams. The Chicken Marsala came along with Chicken Creamy Soup (You can also opt for Salad) this was disastrous as well, the cream was so thick and tasted awful. 

Stuffed Chicken Marsala

 Chicken Creamy Soup

I also tried the Chicken Parmigiana, which is Parmesan- breaded chicken breast, fried and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Here again the chicken tasted like the KFC fried chicken, just that this was a little tangy and had more flavour to it as compared to the Chicken Marsala.

Chicken Parmigiana

Food wise, this place definitely turned out to be a disappointment. And Olive garden just happened to be yet another Italian restaurant with overblown pretensions of authenticity. 

The interiors of Olive garden are calm and cozy, and the place is really huge, so it shouldn't be very hard to find a place here.

Olive Garden is on the expensive side, a main course would cost you approximately, 65 - 85 Dirhams.

The staff wasn't very friendly, but that's maybe because we are just a bunch of loud Indians. In fact we were asked to reduce our volume, but that's something you can't really blame them for, when there are a bunch of 22 year old loud Indian girls dining.

Red Lobster, which is located right next to Olive Garden is also owned by the same owner apparently and serves great sea-food from what I've heard. But I won’t believe it, until I personally try it.

I would rate this place a 2.5/5.

For contact details you can visit Zomato

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Three Bloggers

Everybody has people they look up to and admire. I too have a few people who I consider an inspiration for my blog, below are three brilliant food bloggers of Mumbai sharing their experience of blogging and giving their advise to upcoming bloggers.


1)  Nikhil Merchant - A food writer, gourmet consultant and blogger. He strives to marry the varied flavors of food with the myriad moods of life.

What inspired you to start a food blog?

A friend, Nikita Modi, now my colleague for the blog (all the photography is done by her), who came down from Paris after her advanced photography course urged me to cook up some fine dishes for shooting. She suggested to start a food blog so I could use those images too and put up recipes. At that time I was already writing a column for DNA Mumbai on food and thought why not start off with my own platform to showcase my work. Hence Nonchalant Gourmand was born. This was about 3 years ago.

Personal advise about food blogging to new bloggers?

Be honest, speak your mind and remember the pen is mightier than a sword. Criticism comes very easily to us and it can have deeper implications when talking about someone or something, so think before you write and publish. If you have something negative to say, say it to the person in context and see where it goes from there (especially when reviewing places / foods / cuisines), everyone has a perspective you cannot enforce yours, only educate. 

Reason behind your blog name?

I believe food should be stress free and laid back. I don't follow rules while cooking and do not depend on books and largely depend on inspirations which I come across in life. Hence I am quite "Nonchalant" about the fact that the kitchen is my relaxing zone (much like a holiday area, akin to a beach or poolside) and being a cook (not professional) the Nonchalant Gourmand is a reflection of what I am all about. 
Favorite Cuisines?

Asian and New Age (not fusion). New Age is more on the creations of a particular chef in question. What he brings to the table, how he interprets a particular dish etc. This excites me and that's what I incorporate in my dishes too.  

Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Mumbai?

Yauatcha, Koh - Intercontinental, Dum Pukht - ITC Maratha, San Qi - Four Seasons,  Botticino - Trident BKC

The one place you love traveling 2 just for the FOOD?

Interiors of India. All these small little towns and villager/forest type live cooking. It opens up so many horizons and flavors 

The best compliment you've got for your blog?
Someone came up to me at a newly opened restaurant (not in my town) I was eating at and said to me they knew they would find me here considering I "always" surround myself with good food. It was a coincidence but the fact that they thought of me when they stepped in the restaurant was compliment enough that I can assume there are readers all over. Food is a universal language and you will find that the food world in general is very small and packed with food lovers. So as long as there are food lovers out there who live to eat as much as read, I think I will keep writing. 

The one food blog you love reading?

I like writing, he is extremely honest and to the point. I don't read reviews in general (or food blogs only for recipes) but if there is a restaurant finelychopped is talking about I make it a point to read to understand its core. 

The restaurant you consider your find?

I don't usually review, but yes I do discover new places. I found Botticino, Trident BKC to be extremely understated and not known by many people. I personally had an opportunity to discover the place and have an interaction with the chef who runs the Italian place and he's brimming with talent as well as his creations are true masterpieces. It still is noted by most in-house guests but every single person I recommend it to, they come out fully satisfied.

  Follow him on Twitter & Nonchalant Gourmand



2)  Gaurav Jain - He writes and produces animated content for film, television and web out of his studio in Bombay. Over the years he has developed a fascination for food which plays itself out on his blog                                                                      

                                                                   What inspired you to start a food blog? 

I was working on the script for my first animated feature and i would look for ways to distract myself. Since i ate out often and after a rather mediocre but expensive meal i figured why not write about it and warn others.

In those days there were no review sites. So the blog was born out of a little boredom and a lot of frustration. 

Personal advise about food blogging to new bloggers?
Write, edit, re-write. Write often. Discover your voice. Your 100th post should be different from your 10th which in turn should be different from you 1st and it signifies growth.
A picture is indeed worth a 1000 words.    

Reason behind your blog name?
It was simple and to the point. i also wanted to use Bombay in the to flip off the name change brigade.  

Favorite Cuisines?

Keeps changing but Thai, Mezze, Mediterranean, Tam-Bram, Dum 

 Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Mumbai?
Thai Pavilion, Swati Snacks, Indigo Deli, Ramanayak and Crystal

The one place you love traveling 2 just for the FOOD?
New York for sheer number of options but have been going to London a lot more and that city has some of the best restaurants of any place i have been. 

The best compliment you've got for your blog?

Not strictly a compliment but it was funny when different sets of friends chose restaurants for dinners with the wife and i based on the blog not knowing i was the one writing.

 The one food blog you love reading?

 I like reading about people's dining experiences rather than recipes so it has to be Anorexic Hog :) ,Tiny Taster, Big Bhookad, Food Chants, and Mumbai Boss (though not strictly a blog) london's review of  sandwiches. And yes i know its more than one but i am a cheater. 
The restaurant you consider your find?

Not my find per se but The Sun at Napean Sea Road is a hidden gem which i consider makes some of the best North Indian food anywhere. Been going there since i was 9 and it still has not changed in terms of taste. I have pushed it on to people who have found it to be amazing as well. I also drag folks to Crystal as much as I can and I have never gotten a bad reaction.

 Follow him on Twitter & Eating Out In Bombay

3) Ashrita - She is a Commercial Pilot by profession. When she is not dreaming about airplanes, she loves to travel, cook and learn new things about different cultures. 


What inspired you to start a food blog?

The food blog was started as dear hope in times of distress, when I didn't know how to cook all that well and wanted to keep a journal of everything I was experimenting with in my kitchen. Never imagined it to reach where it has reached :)
Personal advise about food blogging to new bloggers?

My advice would be to keep it real. Very often we have someone we look up to in the world of blogging, and while its great inspiration, one does have to carve their niche and be original to get noticed and appreciated. 
Reason behind your blog name?

The blog name Caramel Wings was a brainchild of me and a close friend of mine who persuaded me to start a blog. Caramel for my love of all things sweet and Wings for of course, my love for flight.
Favorite Cuisines?

I am not too fussy when it comes to cuisines but I love Italian and Mexican fare. Pan Asian and Middle Eastern to follow. But nothing beats Mom ke haaton ki Fish Curry with Rice!

Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Mumbai?

As much as I eat out at many expensive places, my favorites remain a mixture of everything between Street Food and something more polished. My favorite restaurants are : Jai Ambika Dosa Center, Indigo Deli, Trikaya at Seven Bunglows Versova, Veda at Palladium and Smoke House Deli.

The one place you love traveling 2 just for the FOOD?

That has got to be New Delhi!

The best compliment you've got for your blog?

Someone once commented on my blog saying that reading my blog made them happy. I don't think there is any better compliment for anyone who writes.

The one food blog you love reading? by Saee Koranne-Khandekar.

The restaurant you consider your find?

I have yet to come across a restaurant like that. But I have had my moments with dishes, like the Pizza Dosa at Jai Ambika Dosa Center, the Crispy Spinach Chicken at Fire Bowl Oshiwara, Chicken Wings Chili from Shalimar (Bhindi Bazaar/Apna Bazaar) and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fondue at Out Of The Blue, Bandra/Powai.

 Follow her on Twitter & Caramel Wings

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

John-y John-y, Yes Papa.

Hello everybody, Ramadan Kareem to you all. 

Hope you all are having a great Ramadan. I still remember when I was back in school, I and my friends would eagerly wait for the holy month of Ramadan simply because each lecture/ class was shortened to 20 minutes and the bell would ring as soon as the teacher would start speaking. Those were indeed some good times. 
But now things have changed, I was definitely looking forward to Ramadan this time but just for those brilliant Iftar deals around the city. 

So a few days back, I and a few friends went to Papa John’s ( Khalidiya Mall) for an 'All you can eat' Iftar Buffet. This was for 25 Dirhams and was inclusive of Unlimited Pizzas, Cheese Breadsticks, Potato Wedges and Soft Drinks. 

Papa John’s was packed and luckily we reached just in time and managed to occupy the last available table. 

It almost felt like sports day, because as soon as the prayer started, everyone started to eat faster than the other, since most people there were starving all day (which is really commendable honestly, with the burning heat, I find it almost impossible for somebody to fast)

We tried out the Mexican Chicken Pizza, Vegetarian Pizza and Pepperoni Pizza. All three of them were really good, the toppings were fresh and it was thankfully a thin crust and crunchy pizza. The liquid cheese topping on the Pizza tasted like the cheese from the cheese burst pizza they serve in Dominos (India)


It's definitely not the best pizza I've had since there are places like Pascucci and Biancorosso around, but it is definitely worth a try.

Coming to the scrumptious crispy cheese bread sticks, this was heavenly. Also make sure you ask them for their pizza sauce which compliments the bread sticks really well. The potato wedges and garlic Parmesan bread sticks on the other hand were unappetizing & seemed stale.



The friendly staff here was doing a good job in making sure all their customers were being served well.

This was definitely a good experience, and honestly if I go for a few more of these Iftars I doubt I would remain an 'Anorexic' hog. 

P.S Forgive me for the bad quality of photos.

Lastly let me introduce you all to my friends beautiful 'DATE' for that evening.

I would rate this place a 4/5.

Contact Details of Papa John's (Khalidiya Mall) - Zomato

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chicken Tikka

I faintly remember an incident about 12 years ago when my mom and brother were out of the country and my dad and I decided to go out for dinner to some restaurant on Airport Road.

Now since the food here was awful, and I being the stubborn kid that I was, I refused to eat and my dad being the Hitler that he was decided to scream his lungs off at me.

So after almost 12 years I gathered my courage and ignored my fear and decided to go back to the same restaurant (I'm joking, I dint even remember the incident until my meal was over)

I went there with 3 other friends who wouldn't stop talking about the food they had here a month ago, so I was honestly looking forward to a great meal since my friends had hyped it so much. 

Americana Chicken Tikka which is now called as Chicken Tikka is a small decent place, there is no ambiance as such, it’s something you would see in a fast food restaurant. In fact the furniture and interiors is quite similar to that of Pizza Hut (which is owned by the same company)

Coming to the food, I ordered for the Chicken Tikka Spicy which comes along with Puri, Garlic Sauce and Fries. The Chicken Tikka was basically grilled half chicken marinated in lemon and plenty of spices. I'm usually not a fan of any chicken that comes with a bone (Yes, I don't like chicken lollypops, go ahead and judge me) but this was something that definitely changed my mind and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Along with this came the Puri which looked and pretty much tasted like a Bhatura. This was loaded with butter and tasted simply brilliant. Lastly the fries, we had asked for the spicy fries which were undoubtedly the best I've ever had. And well garlic sauce is always awesome, isn't it?

They also have something called the Potato Twister that they plan on introducing soon, I remember trying this dish out a while ago at Fingers Cross (Mumbai, Lokhandwala) I hope this is equally good. 

Coming to the pricing, the spicy chicken tikka + puri + garlic sauce + spicy fries = 22 Dirhams which is super cheap for the quantity they serve.They also have a Grilled family meal which is suitable for a family of four. 

So after the awesome meal, all of us were energized and pumped up about flying a toy airplane but sadly failed since it wasn't charged enough.

                                           My genius friends trying to fix the plane.

P.S. I loved the food here so much that I called for it again after two days. 

I would rate this place 4/5

You can find the contact details on Zomato

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