It was a pleasant drive back to the ever-buzzing and ever changing street we all fondly call as – Carter’s. Every time we pass through this area there is a new eatery which pops up.… More
When we think of the word veranda, our mind inadvertently takes us to that part of our homes (generally our grandparents’ homes) where we had the best memories. It’s where we sat all evening and watched the rain work its wonder and make everything magically beautiful, where we had the most heart-to-heart conversations and where we played as kids. This verandah is one of the cosiest places in our memories.
Our intention was not to get you all nostalgic, the food at वranda will do it for us. Our intention was to just tell you, how beautiful and cosy veranda is. ‘Coz वranda is, it is beautiful, it is cosy, it is charming and it is definitely worthy of every praise you have heard about it.
वranda is a creation to bring to us desi flavours with a videsi twist. वranda is tastefully decorated with pastel colours and bright floral prints, plants and flowers, beautiful lights and more. Art is deeply ingrained in every nook and corner of the restaurant. There’s chic upholstery, antique vases, bold doors, paintings that depict the many forms of India and Indian culture and more. वranda is a lovechild of an art gallery and restaurant if you ask us! It’s the perfect place for a cosy family brunch as well as a romantic dinner date.
The menu is limited to serving Indian dishes with a modern twist. So if you are dreaming dahi bada, be ready to experience new flavours in this very simple dish. Heard of sun-dried tomatoes on your pizza right? How about sun-dried tomatoes in your kulchas? They have created delicious aberrations while maintaining the integrity of the core dishes, and that is what we loved about the food at वranda.
There is another thing we were absolutely fascinated with – the menu is presented on a tab, with videos of dishes being prepared and plated. It got us exploring through the menu which then turned to rummaging. The videos are shot beautifully, and they just make you all the more hungry!
Here’s what we gorged on at वranda –
Raja Dahi Verma – A filmy name for a fancy version of our beloved Dahi Bhalla chaat. Dahi bhallas or badas soaked in curd and sweet-tangy tamarind chutney. It is served on a bed of green mint chutney and topped with potato salli. Baked yoghurt squares are delicious and soft and the pomegranate jam reduction has a sharp and sweet taste. The overall dish is on the sweeter side but we loved the medley of flavours.
Cottage Cheese Trilogy – Very soft malai paneer chunks, done in three delicious styles – fresh basil, spicy tikka/zafrani one and a saffron based marination. Each one has intense flavours and is delicious.
Veg Seekh Kebabs – The seekh kebabs are soft and literally melt-in-the-mouth. The seekh kebabs have a very strong flavour of cardamom, almost to the point of shadowing other flavours. These are served on a bed of fresh chopped vegetables with a sweet-spicy mint chutney.
Rajasthani Gatta Nu Saak – Gatte Ki Sabzi and their delicious kulchas! They nailed the gravy and flavour of the sabzi. Mindblowing aroma and lip-smacking taste. Just the right amount of spices and it took us back to Nanima’s kitchen. The gatte (flour balls), however, were a little too firm, which is bound to happen given the short time allowed for preparation. These were served with sun-dried tomato kulchas and basil kulchas. A mini meal in itself. And did we mention that we are a fan of the tomato kulchas? You will be too, do try them.
Mix Berry Lemonade – A combination of strawberries, raspberries and lemon. It packs a punch with the tanginess. Loved it.
Chocolate Basil Lemonade – Yes, that was our reaction too. Chocolate and basil? In a mocktail? Are you sure? But be sure that you give this one a shot. It an amazing combination. First, there is the fresh flavour of basil and lemon and then slowly you get the chocolatey taste. Lemon and chocolate could be this good a duo, is difficult to fathom.
Gulkand Chocobar – A dreamy preparation with lots of soft and airy chocolate mousse, bits of gulkand and thick, dense chocolate. It is the right amount of sweet with the gulkand adding a mind-blowing edge to it. Sugar coated fennel seeds add a fresh crunch to every bit. Just loved how smooth and light the mousse was. This is a must have at वranda.
Overall Experience – Delicious food, a delightful ambience and good service makes वranda a place you must visit. It may not be easy on the pocket but is definitely worth the money spent.
Ambience 🙂 🙂
The weekend aways makes us happy. But this time, it left us elated! Like any other day, we zeroed in on a location to satiate our growling tummies and went ahead. We had heard the place we had selected – Summer House Café is an amazing one, we just did not know the enormity of the amazingness and hence, were more than under prepared for what hit us once we landed here!
Summer House Café is a dreamy setup, a beautiful place! For us, it felt like another world! Just far away, another country, another landscape, ‘coz surely, something this amazing cannot be right here, correct?
The white and blue facade with bamboo sticks forming a part of the wall reminded us of a shack in some beach country. Then we entered through the doors and were awestruck by the bustling area and it literally took us a few minutes to take everything in.
During these few minutes, we were informed that a workshop was in progress on the lower level, were ushered to our tables upstairs and handed over the menu.
And not assimilating all this, we were still looking around wondering how the wooden beams and columns fit perfectly, how just the right amount of light enters through the glass windows and how beautiful it would be to stare at the sky in the evening (if only Mumbai skies were clear).
How the clock, which surprisingly wasn’t working, fits perfectly in the scene and how the lampshade next to us is the epitome of vintage chicness! Yup, such are the exaggerated feelings when you are not prepared for something and then are clean bowled by it.
The ambience makes everything look better. The area is huge and very spacious. and superbly lit during the daytime and transforms to a dim lit, fine dining area come evening. That’s the upper level. The lower level is still the den of activity. It is a house to comedy shows, band performances, crazy retro dance nights, book & reading clubs and painting workshops to name few. When we were here, by the evening, a workshop on knife painting led to a colourful chatter here and then, just like in the movies, the entire scene changed to become host to a movie launch party. And we sat there, hogging and marvelling!
The menu here is a maze! There is so much variety that you are confused and yet the humble staff say that they know the variety is limited! Coming to the staff, the service is prompt and friendly and the Chef surely knows how to win you over, en route your stomach! Here is what we hogged on at Summer House Café –
Yuzu Pineapple Smash – A refreshing combination of lime, yuzu (a citrus fruit giving the drink a slight tart) and basil. Thyme and fennel seeds added a mind blowing aroma and flavour.
Blueberry Twist Smash – A tangy concoction of blueberry, lime and orange. Rosemary adds a very refreshing flavour. This one packs a sure punch!
Jalapeno Cheese Poppers – Crispy batter fried poppers with mozzarella cheese and made spicy with lots of chilli flakes and jalapenos. These are better spelt as ‘perfection’! Pop these and see the cheese oozing out! But make sure you have the poppers before someone snatches them off the plate.
The Haystack Salad – Sprouts, bell peppers, tomatoes, black beans, cucumber, lettuce, corn and more! And topped or rather stacked with crispy tortilla fingers. There is a slight hint of sweetness in the salad owing to the ingredients and we would have better liked it with a little bit of black pepper if not chilli to ease out the sweetness.
Nachos with Salsa and Sour Cream – Fresh, crispy tortilla chip loaded with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, jalapenos, black beans, and a tangy salsa sauce. The cheese sauce and sour cream are wonderful!
Indian Vegetarian Platter – The intense and spicy flavours of the dishes in the Indian vegetarian platter were mind blowing. Spicy masalas that do justice to the preparations. There were three items in the platter – Char grilled paneer chunks with a smokey flavour and marinated in strong spices. Pineapple presented in a chatpata avatar that we definitely had not tried earlier. The masalas overshadowed the inherent sweetness of the fruit and left for a delicious preparation on the sticks.
Soya Kebabs were the star of the show in this platter. Soft soya, marinated in a very spicy sauce, stuffed with veggies, paneer and nuts. This one was amazing! It was served with a yoghurt based dip and a non-spicy mint dip.
Veg Mezze Platter – Consisted of crispy and delicious falafels, feta samosas and crispy soft pita bread. Sticky rice balls were made with the thicker rice, slightly crisp on the outside and had a filling of veggies and a little bit of cheese. The dips are mind blowing, especially the hummus. We did not really enjoy the feta samosas as they were a bit oily and a little bland for our taste.
Thai Veg Curry – Lots of exotic veggies in a superbly fragrant curry spiced with Thai herbs. It has a mildly spicy aftertaste. We loved the fact that it has just the adequate amount of creaminess and spices. Recommended!
Sundried and Cherry Tomatoes, Bocconcini and Fresh Basil Pizza – Thin crusted pizza that is topped with bocconcini. The combination of bocconcini and the tomato based sauce were marvellous. Topped with sun-dried and cherry tomatoes and basil leaves, this pizza is a delight. We especially loved the crusty corners and the fresh aroma added by the basil.
Pesto Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Sandwich – Overloaded with cheese and pesto, this is a simple yet delightful sandwich in a crispy panini bread. The sandwich primarily has lots of tomatoes and a non-spicy pesto sauce.
Tiramisu – Tiramisu here is a must have! Not only is it perfect, it also has a surprise for you! The creamy dessert is served in a glass along with rum soaked bread. We could not figure out why this bread tasted so good even after we had scavenged it through the deep ends of the glass. The chef then let us in on this secret. The strong essence and flavours that the rum bread and coffee add are mind boggling!
Mega Brownie Sundae Mug – This should be called Mega Happiness Sundae Mug! Delicious, soft and crunchy brownie with lots and lots of vanilla ice cream that was threatening to melt! Made a hell lot messy and tasty by the chocolate sauce and finished with a cherry on top!
Carrot Cake With Whipped Cream – A soft spongy cake with intense cinnamon flavour, lots of nuts and whipped cream. We loved how gooey and soft it was.
The Ultimate Banoffee Pie – If we were not averse to bananas, this one would have been the dessert for us at Summer House Café. It is without a doubt on the sweeter side, but the toffee sauce makes you want to dig in for just another bite till you have licked the glass and the spoon and maybe even the plate! Heavenly!
Overall Experience: First, the ambience blows you away and then you are washed over by the astonishingly delicious food and delicate flavours! We were looking at each other with baffled expression after every bite!
We guess that enough explanation for the love affair we had with Summer House Café to make you wanna check it out for yourselves? We surely hope so, ‘coz we wouldn’t want you to miss out on this amazing place! Highly recommended!
The Battle: The battle is having to get up and leave from here! Can’t we just get mattresses and sleep here?
No, no, no….
That’s our answer to your questions that sound somewhat like – Have you turned non-vegetarian? Did you finally try chicken? Were you lost?
But then, what were we doing at a place that is named Genuine Broaster Chicken you ask? Well to that we have an answer!
Genuine Broaster Chicken, without a doubt, boasts of insanely good chicken specialities (some of which were sampled by our friend and she nods in affirmation), but there is no dearth of option for us good ‘ol vegetarians. Everyone behind the menu curation, from the agency to Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi, have made sure to not made us feel left out. There is an equal mix of veg and non-veg dishes that are Indianised and made oh so yum! by the chef.
So yes, us being here is more than okay! In fact, it would be foolish for anyone to miss out on this place just because the name favours meat.
We visited the Bandra outlet of GBC on a weekend and though we were amongst the first people at the restaurant, it was packed in no time! The ambience of this place is amazingly chic and quirky. Chicken humour and photo frames that are an ode to quiet a few American sensations – Captain America, Marilyn Monroe, et. al. cover quite a bit of the walls. There are baseball helmets that are used as bulb holders and also plant holders. Gunny bags and fairy lights add a charm to the ceilings. Even the table tops are covers with caricatures of Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey amongst others. The music is groovy and adds to the rockstar ambience.
There is a well lit and funky looking bar area and different sitting arrangements to pick from.
Since we reached here after braving the scorching heat, we decided to order cooler and freak shakes first.
Orange Limer was slightly tangy and the orange flavour was overpowering. It was slightly on the sweeter side but had a welcome refreshing taste.
Jim Jam Strawberry Freakshake is a delight to dig into! Topped with Jim-Jam biscuits, chocolate balls that melt in your mouth, marshmallows and lots of strawberry compote, this freak shake is sinfully delicious.
It is slightly on the heavier side with lots of whipped cream, strawberry ice cream and more.
We called for Tex-Mex Franchos and settled to familiarise ourselves with the menu. Crispy french fries in cream cheese sauce and a tangy salsa sauce, topped with lots of chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and olives. The salsa is really yummy and makes you go lick your fingers.
We then called for the chef special Firangi Palak Paneer Dip. The description of the dish does not do much more than making us picture a spinach-cheese dip instead of hummus with pita bread. It does not do even a tiny bit justice to the delight that this dish is! Just to let people know what they should anticipate, I suggest the owners should add the word delicious before every word in the name. That is how good the Palak Paneer dip is! A cheesy and creamy dip with small chunks of soft paneer and lots of spinach. Spinach adds an amazing flavour to the dip but does not over power it. We are not exaggerating when we say that we licked the dip off the bowl.
Pro Tip: If you happen to visit this place, order for as many portions of the Firangi Palak Paneer Dip as the number of people you are, to avoid any casualties. And do this even before you settle down!
In our opinion, the restaurant should put this disclaimer on one of the walls!
Riding high on happiness, we went for another special from the menu – Veg. Ghotala Khichdi. No please, do not make that meh face, ‘coz then you will want to punch yourself for making it! Ghotala Khichdi is a delicious biryani made with lots of veggies and also has soft paneer chunks. It is high on spices and so fragrant and flavoursome, that our mouth is still watering as we think about it. Cinnamon does wonders to the dish and this one is another definitely try items if you are a biryani fan.
Then came our Chow Chow Noodle and Paneer Burger – something we had our eyes on from the moment we were handed the menus! Chinese spiced noodles and crispy paneer based patties with mayonnaise and schezwan sauce. This one is lip-smacking though we personally feel it should have been a little high on the sauces.
GBC boasts of some delicious desserts, some epic combinations and fusions. We decided to go with the chef special and yet keep it simple, thus picking the Gulkan Muffin. The muffin served warm, had a slightly crusty outer layer and was toothsome. The centre was filled with Gulkand and yet it was not overly sweet. Totally loved it!
A friend tried the Assorted Chicken Wings Platter and could not stop raving about them – the flavours were perfectly balanced and really good! Her recommendations – Butter Garlic Chicken Wings and Kung Pao Chicken Wings.
Overall Experience: We don’t know the chicken way to say it, but we came out thrilled! Amazing ambience and scrumptious food. The service is quick and friendly. The servers are well versed with the menu and are ready to help and suggest. The food is not overly pricey and is definitely value for money.
GBC is a perfect place to spend some fun time with you friends and family.
The Battle: If what we said has not already made it clear, try going in a group and ordering one portion of Firangi Palak Paneer Dip. What will happen between you and your gang happened between us, only worse!
P.S.: There are two outlets of Genuine Broaster Chicken (GBC) in Mumbai (as of now) and they are planning to come up with many more. GBC is a QSR chain, yes, but the attention towards ambience, food, presentation and hospitality is impeccable. We only hope it stays the same!
Also, Broaster is a technique of making the fried dishes (especially chicken) in a way that they absorb up to 50% less oil and are really low in trans-fat content.
We will go anywhere for food. Seriously, anywhere.
That explains why we took an hour long ride in the hot sun, after a scuba session () to reach the forest region of Auroville. Hidden away in the interiors of Auroville, you will find many a treasure and Well Café is one such treasure.
Wilderness is that word that defines this place the best.
Why we recommend this café?
Firstly, the food is insanely good. It is simple yet amazing. The café specialises in Mediterranian cuisine with lots of hummus, falafel, salads and more. The options are limited and the food is prepared fresh by the local women.
Secondly, the ambience is amazing. An open garden café with random chairs strewn under a thick canopy of trees whose trunks are covered in colourful sarees. You will find crafts made from recycled paper hanging from above. Chirping birds, a dog or two, and a few really colourful insects (we did not know God made these, this colourful too) are your company. But don’t let this worry you, sometimes, such an ambience can do wonders!
Thirdly, the café and the entire WELL centre (that includes a handmade paper shop, art gallery, etc. ) is managed by women for the empowerment of women in this area. This place gives you a peek into their lives. Spend some time and chat with the locals and they will share their stories with you! There also is a homestay next door and in case, living amidst a thick cover and with locals is your calling, you should definitely check out this place.
Fourthly, this café also hosts musical nights and other events from time to time. The ambience is then transformed to one of those mid forest camping-party style places which makes it even more awesome.
We tried the Mint Cooler here which was a bit too sweet for us but was minty none the less. What we absolutely love and still lust over are the Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette and the Eggplant & Labane Baguette.
First I burned my tongue fighting over the super hot vegetable omelette and now I am drooling all over my laptop at the thought it. This cannot be good!
Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette – The vegetable omelette was delicious on its own. Thick and so well spiced, it had onions, coriander and more. The curd cheese that was spread over the crispy pieces of bread was heavenly. Yup, we did lick it off the plate! If only we could fill like a jar or a room with it and bring it back to Mumbai!! These were served with three salads, a beetroot and cream based, a mixture of cabbage, beetroot, carrots & more and another one which had a little tart due to the addition of vinegarette.
Eggplant & Labane Baguette – Labane or curd cheese spread generously over the crispy bread which was then topped with smoked eggplant slices. This was another delight! This was also served with salads, with a pepper spiced cauliflower based salad being one of the portions served.
Well Café is a place you would enjoy as much for the food and courteous, smiling service as you would for the peaceful escape it provides from all forms of chaos!
If you are ever in Auroville, this is definitely a place you should check out!
P.S.: Trust Google Maps, even if you feel it has lost its mind! It will bring you here.
Café 792 is a dose of fresh air amidst chaos and cacophony.
It is, quite literally, hidden away in a cozy corner in Dadar’s Parsi Colony. If not for the bold red circular sign at the entrance that reads Café 792, no one would be able to guess, that this heaven exists!
Café 792 is a small, quaint and peaceful café that can and will make you smile in awe. The circular sign that we spoke about stands next to the entrance of a building, in whose backyard lies this wonder. On the concrete wall is painted Café 792 in a way that you cannot miss. A gravel laden path leads us to a few tables and further to the entrance of the café. We have walked 10 steps on the gravel path and we look at each other with a broad smile. A smile that affirms the thought that we have found treasure!
Café 792 is a Parsi owned and run café that serves an impressive variety of food from the Parsi staples to sandwiches, wraps, salads, mawa cake and more! They are the sort of place that makes a few things fresh while some are pre-cooked, heated and served. The café being a Parsi one, there are very few vegetarian options, basically, one-two in each category, so better not be very choosy if you are a vegetarian. The café also has a pre-decided lunch menu that is set for the entire month. This is majorly because they have a whole lot of deliveries and a set menu helps.
The people who run the café are soft spoken and friendly. You will find a lot of patrons who come, give the order, patiently wait and head away with their parcels. You will also find people just sitting in a corner, sometimes even on the small wall near the plants and just sipping on tea and going about their work. The green canopy, the chirping birds and the setting of the café as a whole are welcoming and consuming. You will not want to get up and leave this place.
We tried a few items from the menu and were more than happy with most of them! Cheese Croissant left us with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It was perfect with oodles of cheese, just yumm!!
Veg Mozzarella Wrap was excellent! Scratch that, it was beyond excellent. Lots of veggies, from broccoli to capsicum and a whole lot of cheese. Sounds meh? But what added the magic was oregano. Not only did it add a mouth-watering aroma, but also made the simple wrap a lot more interesting.
Veg Burger with a crunchy and delicious patty, cheese and veggies was a delight. It wasn’t extraordinary, but basic is all you need at times!
Veg Slider was a mini and hipster version of our desi vada pav! Small, soft buns with a patty and cream cheese, it is something you will want to gobble down in tens!
Veg Puff was sort of confusing for us. It was more like a quiche and had a stuffing of spinach and other veggies. We liked the stuffing nonetheless!
Cold Coffee was unfortunately just average but what helped was the Lemon and Mint Iced Tea.
It was the perfect blend and super refreshing.
The peaceful ambience made us want to spend the rest of the day, curling up in a corner, sipping on iced tea and reading a book. Who are we to say no to that need? So we spent hours here, reading, occasionally chatting and always sipping or munching on something!
If you are tired of the mindless chatter and need a break, head to Café 792, but shhh… don’t tell everyone! Let this be the hidden gem that it is!
PS: With multiple orders of the iced tea and all that food, our bill came to a mere ₹665. We did mention this place was pocket-friendly, right?
Pravas means journey or migration and a train is quite essentially synonymous with a journey. Pravas- a restaurant on wheels is our ticket to delicious and lip-smacking Gujarati cuisine.Pravas – Gujarati Kitchen & Bar is the first railway coach themed restaurant in Mumbai, that specialises in Gujarati & Kathiawadi cuisine and serves a really mouth-watering thali combination.
The interiors are beautifully done with gold-ivory work and definitely transport us to when rail coaches were a luxurious experience. The instrumental music being played in the background add to this fine dine affair. Pravas is a recreation of the legendary Palace on Wheels and there also exist quite a few aspects in the restaurant that are a reminiscence of the geography that they want to capture. From the famous Kutch embroidery pieces on the walls to the beautiful copper pitchers and lavers used to wash hands to the umbrellas and lanterns with colourful and intricate embroideries and glass-work, all present the best of Gujarat.
They have a different thali menu for weekdays and weekends with dishes being rotated to include a huge variety and some seasonal specials. They also have an a-la-carte menu and a variety of cocktails and mocktails.
We started with two of the special seasonal mocktails – Damru Paan and Mango Creme Delight. Paan and refreshing go together and so does mango and summer. It would be safe to say that we should be playing the damru to tell you how delightful these two were!
Damru Paan is a delicious concoction of the refreshing flavours of paan, gulkand and vanilla in milk. Beetle leaf adds an amazing aroma and flavour to this superb combination. Mango Creme Delight is a very thick and creamy preparation with mango pulp and mint leaves. This is served in an earthen pot and frankly speaking, they couldn’t have done it better!
If our meal begins that well, it has to be a good one! Here is what our weekend thali lunch looked like:
We started with the chaat counter and hogged on Pani Puri, Delhi Chaat and Rawa Biscuit Utappam.
A Gujarati thali is incomplete without delicious sweets and at Pravas, the thali starts with sweets! We were served Ghevar Basundi, Churma Ladoo and Anjeer Puran Poli. These are more Rajasthani and Maharashtrian dishes that Gujarati but who are we to complain when they were this delicious? Basundi with bits of crisp Ghevar, this was a perfect delight. It was not very sweet or thick and had the aromatic saffron filled flavour we all love. Churma Ladoo was just as good but a little on the heavier side as was the Puran Poli, owing to the high ghee content.
Starters included Aloo Armani and Dabeli Dhokla. Aloo Armani was scrumptious, hollow potato skins stuffed with a slightly spicy mixture of onions, chillies, ground nuts, among other ingredients, batter coated and shallow fried. This was not oily and tasted so good. Dabeli Dhokla is a sandwich of dhokla with tamarind chutney and spicy coriander-mint chutney.
There were four sabzis/curries – Tamatar Vatana Khandvi which is a preparation in tomato based curry and lots of peas (vatana) and was on the sweeter side. Ringara Nu Olo is baingan-bharta or eggplant/brinjal based preparation and had a non-spicy, smokey flavour. Sev Tamatar Nu Saak was one of the best options with the desi Gujarati style flavours of tomato curry and was topped with thick sev. Kanda Batata Sambaria is onion and potato based sabzi, it was not spicy and neither was it sweet. This was another favourite here!
Kadhi was not like the sweet Gujarati kadhi but was the Rajasthani version of the same which is thick and slightly spicy with red chilli powder and coriander. It was perfect! Surati Dal was slightly on the sweeter side with lots of ginger and onions. We had these with Bajra Roti, Phulkas and Puri and Steam Rice as accompaniments.
Buttermilk (chaas), salad and an assorted papad platter also came with the thali, everything being unlimited. The prices for the Thali are ₹500 (plus taxes) for weekdays (Monday through Thursday) and ₹700 (plus taxes) for weekends (Friday through Sunday).
Overall Experience: We don’t know how to say this in Gujarati but the food, as well as the service, was amazing! The staff makes sure they attend to every customer personally and you will not leave without overeating from your meal here!
The Battle: Unlimited Thalis are a test of everyone’s capacities and when they start with sweet dishes, suffice to say, it was a long slow battle! Only hope we left something for the other guests! :p