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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

On the Sambar Trail…

 

Are you pining for yellowish brown lacy pancakes, puffed white elliptical flying saucers or crunchy toroids served with coconut dip. And your mind is whirling, whirling.. Where do you, where do you go? Like a stuck CD your mind is playing this infernal music while flashing hot, humid, raunchy flashes of crisp Dosa’s, voluptuous Idlis and sizzling Vadas. To escape this vortex of temporary amnesia you check out gastronomique. Voila… There you are…

The infinite wisdom of tailrace coughed up the following. Gurgaon has restaurants galore that serve South Indian… Sanskriti, Naivedyam, Coco Palm – these are the specialists. Then there are the generalists that serve everything under the sun from sweets to Kulcha to Dosa to Manchurian to Dhokla to Vada Pav – Om Sweets, Shyam Sweets, Haldirams, Bikanerwala, they fall in this omnifarious category. Of course none can beat, in price or in taste, the mouthwatering fare served at the nameless South Indian restaurant/ takeaway located next to Maruti Vihar “OUT” gate. This not just an opinion, it is a fact, an axiom, a divine decree. Are you scratching you head and cursing tailrace for throwing this multiplicity of choice at you, already. Sorry, can’t help it. Facts are facts.

There is an easier way out. Check out Tripti. It may be a long way or a short way from you. I do not know. Depends on where you are. At least you have to be in Gurgaon. And you need to know where Qutub Plaza is. If you are still in doubt refer the attached map. If you are lucky the terrain will match it. Can’t say these days. Construction, you know, morbid, rampant construction. Reminds me of the movie, Dark City. Anyways, You can’t miss Tripti with that violent green neon sign announcing its presence. You might be a little addled, but you are not blind, are you? Then you shouldn’t be reading this any further. Full Stop, Period. Sorry, the sign is not written in Braille. Hey, I didn’t mean to disparage you or anything. Just stating the facts. Bored? Are you bored? Goddammit, I have this incorrigible habit of being too verbose. Carried away by words, you see. Dangerous, The habit is. Need to learn to keep my mouth shut. 

Well, so you have reached the restaurant! Wow, Am glad. Now you are standing under the glare of its massive, fluorescent green lettering and gazing through the glass door at the yellow walls (assuming you don’t have x-ray vision like superman in which case you would be seeing through it into the next door hair dresser? well I don’t remember), snake skin chairs, fibre tables on steel legs, the large illuminated framed picture of Sai Baba, the ceiling, the split A/c, Deepak – the restaurant manager, …. Blink, blink, blink. I say you have a keen eye for detail. You have pushed through the door; kicked the fly frying machine with an ultraviolent gleam; that whines constantly and sputters occasionally as it incinerates a desperate flying insect whose departing soul haunts your imagination for a Pico-second. Eh, you have sat down already! Deepak is at your elbow with the menu. What does it have, let me have a look? Oh, you are going for Vada Sambar, too traditional, I would say; and what else? Paper Butter Masala Dosa and Onion Rawa Masala Dosa. Hey, it’s gonna be too much for you, I’m warning you. What? Get Lost? Leave you ALONE? You want to eat in PEACE!!! Dammit, this is how you treat me for showing you this new place. Is this gratitude? O Tempora! O Mores!

The gracious gastronomique’s comments:

Vada/ Sambar: Three crisp Medhu Vadas served on a steel plate overlaid with plantain leaf, accompanied by large bowl of Sambar and tiny cups of tomato n coconut chutney. Delicioooous… Slurrrp…Emptying the Sambar Katori…

Paper Butter Masala Dosa: Same serving pattern as Vada/ Sambar. The paper roast is jutting out like a torpedo on either side of the plate. I attack it from one end while my wife burrow from the other heading for a collision around the middle of the Dosa. After an eternity, with Dosa bits stuck around our mouth, we are surprised to see each other. An MGR hit song bursts into our collective consciousness, we entwine our Masala encrusted fingers and croon. This Dosa is perfect for the romantically inclined. Follow the same modus operandi and you’ll be surprised at the end result. I want to add this recipe to the 10 best ways to rekindle your love life list.

Onion Rawa Masala Dosa: Well, didn’t really have a stomach for this one. But you don’t argue with your tongue or tummy. That’s a cardinal sin. Will haunt you to the wrong side of the coffin.  Never, never commit it. Promise? This Dosa remained within the confines of the plate. Same potato Masala. Same Sambar, same chutney. Only it looked different, all perforated like crochet. Yummy, all the same.

Gastronomics:
Vada – Sambar: Rs. 50.00
Paper Butter Masala dosa: Rs.70.00
Onion Rawa Masala Dosa: Rs.65.00
Yo, Ho! It’s less than 200 bucks. Hey, I would call that a bargain in this city of diminishing returns.
The delectable’s: No VAT, No Service Charge, Prices all inclusive. That is justice for once.

Rating: 7/10.
Ambience is nothing to talk about. Food is good. Service is prompt. 
Worth the money.
JEEZ!!!

Tripti South Indian Food
N-11, Qutub Plaza Market, DLF City – I, Gurgaon
Contact: 0124-4221992/ 3/ 4/ 5
Free Home Delivery within 3 KM radius. Minimum Order – Rs.150.00
 
Tripti menu on Foodiebay: Click Here (Sorry, Not Yet Featured on Foodiebay!!!)

Categories: Gastronomique

Turning a new leaf!!!

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

With a bad cold and a blocked ear, I was not in such great spirits on Saturday afternoon. The day was hot, signaling the onset of a grueling summer. Mercury had been steadily rising. The car doubled up as a baking oven and dust assailed our eyes, nostrils and mouth. My grumpiness had not abated when we parked and went inside Mint Leaf. The restaurant reviews were decent which pushed our expectations up a couple of notches.

Within, most of the tables were taken up by a cacophonous gang of senior citizens having a binge, so we ended up at a corner seat with me right under the air conditioner draught. Not my day, really. The restaurant decor didn’t demand poetic ebullience – one long hall with a mirror encrusted wall near the kitchen, a few nondescript paintings on the wall; it was clean, comfortable and spacious enough to seat approximately 50.

The menu had many exotic dishes, ranging from Nariyal Mirchi Macchi Rolls to Laurence Road ke Tikkey. We went for a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian as was our long standing tradition. The choice of starters were Chicken 65 (succumbed to my friend’s choice, I preferred Murgh Varuval) and Chenna Anjeer ke Kebab. Chicken 65 was a bit on the garlicky side – fried chicken with a thin layer of batter spiced with coriander, green chili, curry leaves and mustard. Wrapped in a coil of Chenna (a form of Paneer), the Kebab had a slightly squishy feel and a crunchy, mildly sweet inner core of figs and mango; simply delectable!

The main course too had an unusual cast – we settled for Meat Belli Ram (sic), Khumani aur Bael ka Kofta and Mirchi Parantha. Meat Belli Ram with mutton chunks rearing up like ice bergs in a pool of cumin flavoured spicy dark brown gravy was a perfect companion to Mirchi Paranthas sprinkled with chili flakes. Kofta never turned me on and this one – despite the inspired coalition of apricot and Bael Murabba – was no different.

Mint Leaf has a definite edge over the ragtag restaurants of the city in terms of a remarkable carte du jour and reasonable fare. It wouldn’t bust your domestic budget to check out dishes that have outlandish names and inviting descriptions. I, for one, certainly intend to return.

Mint Leaf
LG-11/ 12, Center Point
A-Block, Sushant Lok Phase I
Gurgaon
Contact: 0124-4044122 – 33, 9810003382

Foodienomics
Chicken 65 – Rs 160.00 (8 Pieces)
Chenna Anjeer ke Kebab – Rs.150.00 (5 Pieces)
Meat Belli Ram – Rs.240.00 (4 Pieces)
Khumani aur Bael ka Kofta – 170.00 (4 Pieces)
Mirchi Parantha – Rs.30.00 per Parantha
Boondi Raita – Rs.60.00
The detestables -12.5 % VAT, 10% Service Tax

Rating
Ambience – Comfortable but Utilitarian
Service – Friendly, Prompt
Food – Pretty diverse, unusual combinations, quite good
Overall – 7/10
Definitely Worth Visiting

Mint Leaf menu on Foodiebay: Click Here
A review of the restaurant by P Anima in the Hindu: 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

An expensive flavour of Mughals

December 15, 2009 2 comments

We generally eat out on weekends. After a week’s drudgery at the office, the only weekend succour available for Gurgaon residents who doesn’t want to stay at home is exploration of shopping malls and sampling the gazillion restaurants dotting the landscape. But, a weekend food spree could easily drain your pocket, so the dilemma is to find a place that provides the best wallet-to-palate balance.

This weekend, our exploit lead us to “Flavor of Mughals”, the Mughlai cuisine and Lounge Bar at Central Arcade, opposite Sahara Mall. Apart from an old Punjabi couple, the restaurant was empty. The staff, dressed in pale grey Mughal style silk kurtas ushered us to a comfortable corner table. It was late afternoon and we were quite hungry. The unwieldy long wooden menu tablets featured an ample bouquet of Masahari(Non-Vegetarian) and Shakahari(Vegetarian) fare.

Our choice of starter was Bhutta Seekh Kebab (grilled skewer of assorted vegetables and corn). For main course we chose Chooza-E-Changezi (boneless tender chicken in a thick tomato gravy cooked in Tawa) and Makai Hara Bagh (dense aromatic mixture of spinach, corn, onions and green chilly) to go with plain Naan.

Soon immaculate white plates were laid out and water was poured into clean glasses. Before long, succulent, tasty Kebabs made the entrance followed by main course served in heavy steel bowls. The Makai Hara Bagh was exceptional, delicately flavoured, mouth watering and went well with the crisp Naan. Chicken Changezi was ordinary. Portions were sizeable, sufficient for three. Finger bowls of fragrant rose water over, we asked for the Cheque.

Initial estimates went for a toss as we glared at the bill. The 12.5% percent VAT (officially sanctioned rip off) was augmented with a 10% service charge. The bill came to a whopping Rs.1262.00 out of which Rs.230.00 had nothing to do with food.

Bhutta Seekh Kebab (Four 7″ pieces) – Rs.220.00
Chooza-E-Changezi – Rs.325.00
Makai Hara Bagh – Rs.260.00
Plain Naan – Rs.45.00 each

Apart from à la carte, the restaurant also offered several buffet options like unlimited starters + Biriyani for Rs.555.00, unlimited drinks for an additional Rs.299.00 etc. VAT and 10% service taxes were extra.

Blue chairs, brown tables, heavy steel cutlery, pleasant ambience, deferential waiters, prompt service, hot food – a good overall dining experience. But the relative high rates upset the yin-yang balance of eating out which is the only reason why this restaurant, to me, does not merit a revisit.

Rating:
Food Quality – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Cleanliness – 9/10
Price – 6/10
Verdict: Not value for money

Flavor of Mughals
120-121-122-123, Central Arcade, DLF Phase-II
Opp. Sahara Mall, MG Road, Gurgaon – 122002
Tel: 0124-4290000, Mobile: 9717970000
www.flavorofmughals.com
info@flavorofmughals.com
Total Seating Capacity: 84
Restaurant Menu from Foodiebay available here – Link

Categories: Gastronomique

Vada Pav & Volcano on a Friday Evening

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Friday evening, unable to resist a sudden craving for junk food, we landed up at DT Mega Mall. The food court used to be a lively place, but seemed poorly lit and dull this time around. Some of our favourite counters, “Lemon & Thyme” and “Simply South” had shut shop. Apart from the usual suspects – “Subway”, “McDonald’s”, “Dominos” and “Lavazza”, the other surviving members of the original cast were “Salad Bar”, “Sip’n Bite” and “Viva Hyderabadi”. Among the new counters scattering the floor, one served crêpe and another Vada Pav, the quintessential, lip smacking Maharashtrian benediction to mankind.

Amchi Mumbai Vada Pav sold varieties of Vada Pav ranging from regular to cheese and paneer versions as well as Vada Pav combos. We took a regular one with Brown Bread. The Vada was promptly fried before our eyes and handed over sizzling hot stuffed inside Pav with a smattering of dry red chutney and a lightly sauteed green chilly. Can’t say it was a match to the bona fide Mumbai edition, but came pretty close. I felt the Vada Pav of Ashva’s Fast Food (Check my previous blog – Serendipitous Delights) was better, particularly since it come with oodles of coconut chutney. But, Amchi Mumbai was right around the corner whereas Ashva’s was way too far to be bothered for a quick Vada Pav snack.

The Vada Pav only stocked our appetite. So we gathered a potpourri of dishes from different counters and finished dinner. Finally, to top it all, we went and ordered a Choco Lava cake from Dominos which proved to be the nemesis of a perfect evening. The very first scoop erupted in my mouth; seismic sugar waves surged through the blood stream as the viscous chocolate lava trickled down my gullet. It was nauseatingly sweet. Do not offer this to friends; reserve it for your enemies – it can be the sweetest personal vendetta.

Epilogue:-Avoid this hellfire confection, period!!!

The food court also featured Go Chaatz, a Semi-Americanized version of Desi Chat. I found their signature item, Papdi Popper quite good. Recommended…

Categories: Gastronomique

Serendipitious delights

October 27, 2009 3 comments

Sometimes the best things in life are discovered entirely by chance. Like yesterday night when we came across this tiny shack near the rear exit of Anzal Plaza in Sector-22, Gurgaon. All of us were in a mood for a quick bite and that was probably why “Vada Pav” caught my eye so quickly. “Vada Pav“, a native of Maharashtra is a rare sight in Gurgaon. So, it was pure ecstasy to find it tucked away in this remote corner of the universe.

We were delirious with anticipation as we approached and immediately spotted the Vada‘s from far away. We rubbed our eyes and pinched each other to make sure this was no mirage. The Vada’s were definitely there for the taking, but Pav, nope, Pav was exhausted. We were heart broken but decided to try the Vada anyway. Soon, steel plates with Vada’s swimming in coconut chutney and red chilly paste were passed around. My god, amazing Vada‘s, authentic Mumbai flavour mouth watering Vada. We nearly exhausted the restaurant’s Vada inventory. My friend in the meantime couldn’t resist a chicken soup which he later claimed to have tasted a bit like Sambar! There were many more alluring items on the menu like chicken lolly pops, varieties of soups and momos. The food was warm and hygienic. The setting was informal; sweet chill of incipient winter was in the air, and steaming Vada‘s melted in our mouth.

The owner was thin, dark and pleasant faced. He was a Shetty from Mangalore. He asked if we were Malayalee’s and as we nodded in a semi trance induced by Vada, he told his story. He had come to Gurgaon, 11 years ago and had never returned to his native town. He could understand Malayalam, but could hardly speak the language, though he had many friends from Kerala. The shack primarily catered to students from nearby colleges and he was doing brisk business. We could see that. Even at this late hour there were a group of students chatting away at a corner over tea and momos. He had plans to expand the set up to cope up with the demand. He was particularly attentive to us. Compared to his, our lives were easy. Yet, he was optimistic and cheerful at the end of the day. Probably he has to wake up at 4 AM and start over.

Our nocturnal adventure was coming to an end. This was another instance of chance triumphing over well laid plans, reinforcing my belief in serendipity. I vowed to be more open to chance and its unexpected delights as we drove away.

Where to find Ashva’s Fast Food

It’s on the lane next to Anzal’s Plaza in Sector – 22, Gurgaon. Shetty can be reached at 9718559669.

Categories: Gastronomique