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Something sure smells FISHY here…

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

As usual, finding a place for dinner that suited everyone’s preferences was a dilemma. After trawling through Foodiebay we finally decided upon Swagath. It wasn’t too far from home and fairly out of way of rush hour traffic. When we reached around 7.15 PM parking was still available in the small space in front. Most tables were occupied by late evening office party crowd interspersed by a scattering of families. The restaurant was quite spacious; more than 100 covers for sure. Dark brown slats segmented the space while modern art, large and small, relieved the uniform beige decor that shrouded the walls, tables and chairs and even sneaked into the uniform of waiters.

Our table which stood bang in front of the bar offered a clear view through a swing door to the restaurant innards. The serving brigade comprising captains in black suits, waiters and busboys in beige n white and cleaning staff in green bustled about us. A procession of dishes piled with interesting stuff (that made me drool, needless to say) issued forth from the kitchen and made their way to various tables; to be scrutinized, commented upon, piled into plates, scooped into mouths, smelled, tasted, chewed, swallowed and eventually digested. From the bar came the clink of countless bottles of Kingfisher beer. The parade of tall glasses filled with enticing pink and green liquid topped with lemon and cocktail umbrella commenced their journey from the bar counter, meandered among the tables, caught the attention, elicited the admiration and excited desire of many before finally disappearing down thirsty gullets clamoring to be quenched.

The menu offered umpteen choice of vernacular cuisine – Manglorean, Malabari, Sawantwadi, Konkan, Chettinad – most of which featured fish, prawns and lobster; a dream come true for a fish  fanatic like me. The trouble was matching the menu to our budget. We pondered a bit and finally placed an order for Tomato Soup, Surmai Fry, Fish Biriyani, Neer Dosa and Veg Gassi.

Soup didn’t take long in coming and was drained in fraction of a second. We watched expectantly each time the swing door opened and a waiter emerged carrying yet another pile of mouthwatering food. The passive act of observing this kaleidoscopic tableau of food and drinks actively worked up our appetite. Our stomachs were screaming at the top of their voice by the time the food arrived. Surmai fry had a large centre portion of fish almost occupying the entire plate; succulent pieces of fish buried under a substantial heap of orange and brown Basmati rice constituted the Fish Biriyani. Infusion of turmeric and red chilly marinade gave the fish fry a distinctive taste as we chewed though the white fibrous flesh. The taste and odour of fish dominated the Biriyani, overpowering the flavour of spices. The plate of Neer Dosa had four tender rice n coconut milk Dosa’s that went wonderfully with the thick brown gravy of Veg Gassi.

Our collective sigh of satisfaction as we scraped the last bit of Biriyani and Neer Dosa out of the plate was proof of a thoroughly enjoyed evening (to be soon spoilt by a whopping bill).

Swagath
Plot No. 16-17, Sector – 29, Gurgaon
Contact: 0124-4760600, 4760601

Website: http://www.swagath.in/
Cuisine: Mughlai, Chinese, South Indian
Free home delivery available

Gastronomics
Cream of Tomato soup – Rs.105.00
Surmai Fry – Rs.275.00
Fish Biriyani – Rs.405.00
Veg Gassi – Rs.155.00
Plate of Neer Dosa – Rs.100.00 (4 Dosa’s per plate)
The tax guillotine: VAT – 12.5%, Service Charge – 10%, Service Tax – 12.5%, Surcharge – 5%, SCH – 5% (god knows what this one is!!)
BORN FREE, TAXED TO DEATH!!! (so goes my Tantra T-shirt logo!!!)

Rating
Ambience – 7/10, No great shakes. The place is roomy and clean
Service – 7/10, Considering the rush, a few lapses here and there are pardonable.
Food – 8/10, Taste is better than average. I really appreciate the variety on offer.
Overall – 7/10, Pretty good. Worth a visit.

Swagath Menu at Foodiebay: Click Here

Categories: Gastronomique

Love in times of Gastronomique

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I recently attended a two day corporate training program at Park Premier, Gurgaon. After 4 hours of leadership spiel, the lunch break acquired an almost desperate charm. Down Town Cafe, the hotel restaurant with an alabaster finish had a bright earthen coloured mural adorning the rear wall. Sun light filtering through brown curtains with large polka dots lit sofa backs and cast elliptical shadows on tables. The restaurant overlooked the hotel atrium where executives leafed through papers or clobbered at laptops. Behind the buffet counter chefs turned chicken fillets on the grill. An enormous vase of artificial flowers spread like a banyan tree over the salad counter.

Our 45 minute lunch break was much too small to plunder the vast array of dishes on offer. So, with uncanny intuition, I decided to limit the intake of flora to desserts and fruits and concentrate on fauna for the main course.  On day one, a cursory flirt between grilled chicken in pepper sauce and parantha was followed by an earnest courtship of sliced fish in hot ‘n sour sauce and steamed rice. My brief dalliance with baby corn in mustard sauce was delightful. Day two, sliced lamb with black bean sauce and parantha surpassed expectations while grilled fish with Veronique didn’t quite scale the benchmark. On both days, desserts outshone each another in sweetness and appeal, be it blueberry or pineapple gateaux, strawberry soufflé, kiwi mousse or banana pudding.

The food at Down Town Cafe is fantastic, the ambience pleasing and service outstanding. This temple to gastronomy is worth all the devotion it deserves. My only prayer at its altar is for slightly more reasonable rates. Amen.

Park Premier
353-357, Sector 29
Gurgaon, Haryana 122001, India
0124 4604616
Website:
http://www.parkpremierhotels.com/

Foodienomics
Lunch Buffet – Rs.549.00 + taxes 
Dinner Buffet – Rs.699.00 + taxes 

Overheard:
“Our normal rate is Rs.850.00 + taxes, but we have special rates these days”
Please take note of this cryptic message. Don’t blame me if your eyes pop out on seeing the bill.

Rating
Food – 9/10
Ambience – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Overall – 8/10

 

Categories: Gastronomique

Uma Dhaba – Another Brick in the Wall

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Not a soul in sight when we reached Uma Dhaba early evening. A lone waiter took our order immediately, with minimal fuss. Sizzling hot, Masala sprinkled Tandoori chicken was served with mint chutney, thin onion ribbons and half a slice of lemon in clean white plates. Chicken Methi came in a large steel bowl, chunks of chicken submerged below fulvous gravy pock marked with Methi and embellished with a lazy doodle of cream. The dwindling stack of soft, puffy Phulkas on our table was promptly replenished by the attentive waiter. The food was decimated as efficiently as it was served. We rose, paid up, sighed in satisfaction, tipped the waiter and left. No racking of brains over the menu, no hailing of waiters, no mooning over the ambience, no background music, no VAT, no service tax, no nothing – just us and plain good food, and the sacred act of eating, washing up and leaving. I liked that immensely, for a change.

 

As far as Dhabas go, this is a decent one. Purely utilitarian – serves good food sans frills. The restaurant is located on a narrow cul-de-sac near Qutub Motors next to Gate-2 of Ridgewood estate, best approached on foot or on a two wheeler. I have included a sketch of the restaurant location, just in case you fancy a visit. Though advertised as a family restaurant, I can’t think of bringing my wife here for dinner; it is strictly meant for bachelor’s staying in the vicinity.

Food Economics:
Tandoori Chicken Half – Rs.100 (4 Pieces)
Chicken Methi Half – Rs.180 (6 – 7 Pieces)
Tawa Roti (Phulka) – Rs.5.00 each

Uma Dhaba & Caterers
Behind Police Station
B-Block Sushant Lok-I
Gurgaon
Tel: 0124-4043448
Home Delivery: 0124-2573751, 9811550088

Rating:
Good food, quick service
Worth a visit if you stay in the vicinity

Foodiebay menu of Uma Dhaba: Click Here

Categories: Gastronomique

Bernardo’s – A Goan Salvation

March 14, 2010 Leave a comment

 

I lived in Mumbai for 8 years and never visited Goa. It was a cardinal sin. I repented it everyday. And it looked like God had forgiven me for it – sort of. All those Ave Maria’s had not gone waste after all. I should thank Bernardo’s for restoring my faith.
Bernardo’s was a legend I was too late in discovering. Not my fault entirely. From what I could gather, they had been pretty itinerate- moving from India Habitat Centre to CR Park to Galleria to their current abode at DLF Super mart-I, Gurgaon; for no fault of theirs I am sure. Along the way they have gathered a huge fan following which trail Bernado’s with great gusto in Facebook and Twitter.

I had espied the yellow bill board of Bernardo’s many times before but had not ventured in, suspecting it to be grossly upmarket. Last Friday evening, reassured after a glance at the restaurant menu in foodiebay, I finally made across the Super mart atrium, climbed a flight of stairs and entered this warm, cosy, reposeful den. There were potted palms outside the glass facade. Tiny, festive neon bulbs crept up a side wall and hung along the staircase balustrade like languid vine, maroon cushions sat snugly on comfortable cane chairs. Flickering candles kept on the table in tiny holders set the shadows quivering. Orange walls decorated with black ‘n white family photographs interspersed with framed musical scores along with transparent, engraved, old world tableware rendered the restaurant an air of antiquity. A twisted cross hung atop the back wall while  Jesus gazed benevolently at patrons. Bésame Mucho and mellow soul music played like a tranquil sea breeze fostering instant camaraderie. Clean, laminated paper mats printed with entries from guest book set against a backdrop of surf sprayed beaches and coconut palms rested on chequered table cloth.  A small stack of books kept company on the cash counter. The setting was intimate, the canvas small yet infinitely interesting, nostalgic and relaxing.

We were shown to a corner table and provided with four wooden planks held together with a nailed strip of leather which was the menu (reminded me of 10 commandments handed down to Moses). Intriguing names with tantalizing descriptions; the painted, idiosyncratic menu featured prawn, fish, chicken and pork – I turned each tablet and drooled before settling for Prawn Recheado as starters and Caril De Peixe and Vindalho De Porco for main course which were served with either white rice or Pao.

Prawn Recheado – crunchy, juicy, succulent prawns with a vermillion streak of Goan spice was astounding. The Vindalho De Porco was pungent and aromatic; generous portions of pork with the right amount of fat, marinated in vinegar and cooked in a dense spice mix went superbly with Pao. Caril De Peixe, traditional Goan fish curry, had lumps of Surmai (King fish) in a yellow gravy of coconut milk, kokum (tamarind) and onion which brought back memories of Malvan restaurants I used to frequent in Mumbai.

The lady of the house was charming and always at hand to answer our queries. The waiters were prompt and courteous. Bernardo’s, unassuming and simple, avoided all razzmatazz and concentrated fiendishly on quality food. It was no wonder that customers thronged this sanctum sanctorum of fine Goan cuisine from near and far – not because it was cheap, but because it was authentic and good value for money. As you can see, I too have become a fan of the place – it made me feel that the struggle up the food chain was well worth the effort. By the way, the place is not an absolute no go for vegetarians, the restaurant has one starter and four vegetarian dishes – more of an after thought in all probability.

Bernardo’s
B 229 – Super Mart 1,
DLF Phase 4,Gurgaon
122009
Contact:0124 6518323, 9811571379

Number of covers: ~ 25

Bernardo’s website: Click Here
Bernardo’s on Facebook: Click Here
Bernardo’s on Twitter: Click Here

Bernardo’s menu from Foodiebay: Click Here
(Note: Menu is going to be revised from April 2010 onwards. New items are also expected on the menu)

 

Food Economics
Prawn Recheado (8 Pieces) – Rs.310.00 (must try)
Caril De Peixe (4 Pieces) – Rs.245.00
Vindalho De Proco (many pieces) – Rs.230.00
(must try)

Rating
Very very good
Must visit for every self respecting carnivore

 

Below are a few more gushing reviews of Bernardo’s
http://yesterday1cemore.blogspot.com/2006/11/susegaad-bernardos.html
http://shivamvij.com/2006/11/08/bernardos/
http://chefatlarge.in/posts/bernardos-supermart-i-gurgaon.html/2

Photo courtesy: V P vinod

Revisited Bernardo’s
Had Pork Sorpotel (not really my cup of tea), veg croquettes (6 pieces, very nice), veg temperado (okra in coconut based gravy – mild, went well with rice) and carrot cake (superb). Amazing grace!

Sorpotel – Rs.240.00, Veg Croquettes – Rs.105.00, Veg Temperado – Rs. 115.00, Carrot Cake – Rs.40.00

 

Categories: Gastronomique

OKRA – Culinary Atyachaar

March 9, 2010 1 comment

There is only one way that I can describe this restaurant – “Culinary Atyachaar”. It was an absolute antithesis to the promise held out by the menu card – “Life’s too short for average food!”. This unique combination of sloppy service, uncouth interiors and unmitigated arrogance, cryptically named “Okra” is located at the end of the first corridor on the left when you enter the DLF Supermart-1 atrium. The fatal attraction of the name propelled me across the threshold despite misgivings triggered by a torn carpet and the smutty, cobwebbed stack of chairs that guarded the entrance. Even though the timing was from 12 noon till midnight, the restaurant was desolate when we reached at 1.00 PM.

We settled for Veg and Non-veg Galauti Kebab and Parantha which was all they had, by the way. For the next 40 minutes or so we gloomily marveled at scored, grimy pink walls and two garishly framed paintings as hollow music played on a Sony home theatre system. A/c was turned on grudgingly after a while and the waiters walked about listlessly. The owner meanwhile began a noisy business discussion spread-eagled on a chair next to our table. Our complaint that the Veg-Kebab was soggy and too salty was peremptorily acknowledged for the sake of pretense and swiftly discarded. The Non-veg Kebab was below par. The only measure of redemption was the crisp Ulta Tawa Parantha. The mineral water we ordered considering the not so hygienic ambience came at the punitive rate of Rs.25.00.

Apart from an overwhelming desire to fleece unsuspecting customers there doesn’t seem to have any other raison d’être for this restaurant. The menu card boasted that “If you don’t love it, don’t pay”. Macabre humour or misplaced confidence, hard to say. Visit this Awadhi abomination at your own peril for it doesn’t rise an iota beyond catchphrases.

Non-Veg Galauti Kebab (4 pieces) – Rs.90.00
Veg Galauti Kebab (4 pieces) – Rs.80.00
Ulta Tawa Parantha – Rs.20.00 each
Aquafina (1 Litre bottle) – Rs.25.00

Rating:
No rating, only a warning. Go at your risk.

OKRA Restaurant
A-133, Supermart-1
DLF Phase-IV
Gurgaon
Tel: 0124-4080394

OKRA Menu at Foodiebay: Click Here

Download some Awadhi cusine recipes: Click Here

 

Categories: Gastronomique

Surviving Brix

February 25, 2010 3 comments

The concrete and glass jungle of DLF Cybercity harbours several species of restaurants – Punjabi, Continental, Chinese, Sushi, what not. Most of them dwell on the ground floor and cater primarily to the crowd within the campus. Parking here is in short supply. Without a DLF parking sticker, a close encounter with one these restaurants is virtually out of bounds, unless you decide to trudge it all the way.

Brix, a relatively new entrant in this overcrowded territory is strategically located at the courtyard adjacent to building 10B; its prominent gold emblem begging attention as you saunter by. Inside, the coffee and forest green decor is soothing and sedentary. A large wooden barrel topped with a gramophone welcomes you as you walk in. Wrought iron lamp posts, plush green sofas, high backed mahogany coloured tables and chairs, black and white sails on the ceiling, a double sided clock – the kind you find in railway stations, wooden floor and paneling and  exposed brick rear wall, these lend the place a somber grandeur. Rhythmic thump from a cordoned off Pioneer music system standing next to the bar accentuates the indolent atmosphere.

We sit facing framed photographs of Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Michael Jackson. The relationship between the pictures, apart from the aesthetics, is ambiguous aside from the fact that they are all dead. An existentialist twist, perhaps. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley adore other walls. A few tables are occupied. Waiters in black, white and pinstripes flit about. The service is brisk.

Honey chilly potatoes, Hara Kebab, Chilly Chicken and Mutton Seekh Kebab arrive and depart cradled in stylish tableware – a perpetual cycle till we get ready for main course. We wait in queue for the buffet offering of Dal Makhani, Paneer Lababdar, Rogan Josh, Murg Makhni and Penne Pasta. Vanilla ice cream, Gulab Jamun and Darsaan wraps up our lunch.

Will I visit Brix again? Unlikely. Guess it is a matter of priorities. If I were a love struck Romeo seeking a cozy dark corner to serenade my Juliet sans interference, Brix would be my top choice. Or if I were a clueless foreigner who couldn’t distinguish between Gulab Jamun and a plum, I would relish Brix. I am neither. To me it is always a matter of taste. On that front Brix barely rise above the average.

In the increasingly competitive restaurant space of Gurgaon, the fittest to survive would be the ones that court taste buds more than the ambience. As Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s put it “It all comes back to the basic. Serve customers the best-tasting food at a good value in a clean, comfortable restaurant, and they’ll keep coming back”. Brix, hope you are listening…

Brix
Upper Ground Floor, Building 10-B,Dlf Cyber City, DLF Phase – 2, Gurgaon – 122002
Contact: 0124-4366020

Foodiebay Brix Menu: Click Here

Categories: Gastronomique

Yumz – Ragbag Mediocrity

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Walk boldly into this vividly dichromatic world on the darker side of the spectrum – bright red sofas and chairs, jet black walls and ceiling – even the air conditioners are painted black, a mirror studded orb cast fuzzy oblong patterns in a corner, red n white checkered table cloth spread over black table covers, waiters split in half – black till the torso, bright red waist up, a mirrored wall on one side flip this deeply contrasted world into eternity where fragmented reflections stare back at you. In the LCD screen on the rear wall Nigella Lawson mutely follows Kylie Kwong while high decibel crooning of Madonna and Michael Jackson drive you to distraction. Welcome to the scarlet-black never-land of Yumz!

This intersection and overlap of discordant themes is further amplified by the restaurant menu which features Indian, Continental, Chinese, Mexican and Italian in an overarching ambition to shrink-wrap an entire food-court within its narrow confines.

As soon as we sit down and soak in this eerie ambience the waiter is at our elbow to take order. Our Chicken Shorba arrives piping hot and leave a pleasant lingering taste. The Boti Kebab (barbecued boneless lamb chunks tossed Yumz style) that follows is commonplace.  Swallowing mounting skepticism we order Chicken Goli Mirch recommended by the waiter. This work of art with generous lumps of chicken immersed in creamy uninspiring gravy dominated by the flavour of ground black pepper does precious little to salvage the rapidly deteriorating impression. By the time we finish the meal I do not have much faith left in the Yumz way of churning out grub.

On the brighter side, the service was efficient, the staff solicitous and attentive. The portions were substantial. Price – quite reasonable. Quality of chicken and lamb used in the dishes were excellent. However, the Yumz way of cooking was appalling despite the best ingredients. In my opinion, the attempt to be the jack of all trades turned the restaurant into master in none! Of course I admit that such limited sampling of the menu is inadequate to make sweeping judgments. Yet, I cannot help feeling that Yumz food lack character, the vital ingredient that draws returning customers. After all one cannot be everything to everyone and still remain something special.
Chicken Shorba – Rs. 65.00
Boti Kebab – Rs. 170.00
Chicken Goli Mirch – Rs. 190.00 (Half)
Tandoori Roti Rs.4.00 each

Yumz
H 8 – 9, Qutub Plaza
DLF Phse 1, Gurgaon
Contact: 0124-4275511, 3017789, 9873431314
Foodiebay Yumz Menu: Click Here
Web:
www.yumzmeal.com
Home delivery available within 3 KM
Accepts Ticket Restaurant coupons

Categories: Gastronomique