Cafe Mangii, Powai

The last time I had visited Powai was in 2001 or earlier.  In fact it has been so long that I can’t remember anything at all about the place. Hiranandani was still quite new and though people had moved in, it was completely a different  story. S and I were going to meet up with a few of his friends in Powai and I had zero recollection of the place. I was intrigued to see how it looked now and wanted to know for myself if it really was as clean and wonderful as everyone had been saying. It was a looong drive from South Bombay, but since it was a Sunday it was much faster and a delight to see so many different areas. For the first time, I saw IIT Bombay!

But let’s talk about Café Mangii. I had heard so much about the place and in fact had planned to visit the restaurant in Pune where they opened a branch a few months ago. Unfortunately, that had never worked out. I was keen to try the pizzas which were called some of the best in Bombay by a very credible source. 4 of us from a party of 15 reached a little earlier and I was glad that I could make my first impressions while the entire restaurant was still quite empty. The entrance has white pebbles strewn on both sides of a wooden pathway. Atop the pebbles, that have very Mediterranean inspired tables and chairs, which would be great to have a cup of coffee in the evening and some dessert.

We walked in and after a little planning from the host’s side, they seated us. We were really hungry and it seemed like everyone was going to be a little late so we went ahead and ordered.  We decided to start off with jalapeño poppers, Gnocchi in a creamy pesto sauce and a light Caprese Salad. The jalapeño poppers were flavoursome, not spicy and cooked crisp. They weren’t oily to touch and had a good coating. The pesto sauce stayed true to its name and was super creamy and rich. The Gnocchi was a little gluggy and could you have been better. It stuck to my palate and did not allow  me to fully enjoy the sauce. The sauce, by itself, had a rich texture and a subtle yet perfect hint of basil. I would have enjoyed it as a dip by itself with some thin and crispy bread. The Caprese Salad was my favorite. Nice and fresh mozzarella with sweet tomatoes with a drizzling of basil oil or basil pesto, I am not sure. It was light and flavorful. Great for a hot day.

For mains, we decided to go for pizza and some pasta. The pizzas are supposed to be some of the best in the city and are baked in a wood-fired oven. They are thin and crispy and very light. The sauce is good and isn’t overpowering. The vegetables stay crisp, which is a relief. A good pizza experience but I wouldn’t say they are the best that I’ve eaten.

We ordered a penne in red sauce and the Penne was just very slightly underdone. It had a bit more bite than what was needed. The sauce was good. A little bit of pepper added some excellent extra flavor and really brought out the taste of basil. From the mains, my favorite was the Saffron risotto; but then again I am quite partial to risottos! There was a beautiful aroma of Saffron and they definitely didn’t skimp on it. It was creamy and cooked very well. The seasoning is excellent for all the foods and I was glad to have no complaints regarding it.

The downer was that the Balsamic Vinegar had some insects in it but they were apologetic and quick to change it. They even sent some dessert to our table to make up for the negative incident. They sent us a blueberry cheesecake which had a blueberry compote and a whipped cream Strawberry cake. I wouldn’t go here for dessert but then I am very picky about my desserts so I could be quite biased. Nevertheless, it’s always good when a restaurant makes up for their mistake graciously. 

Service here is very mediocre. It takes a few minutes to get someone’s attention and for some reason they like to hang out in groups near the various counters. Once you do get their attention, they are polite and some are well informed. However, they do not serve very well with larger groups of b people and they prefer if you serve yourself.

All in all, it was a good experience but I don’t think I will be running here again soon. I wouldn’t mind meeting someone here but it didn’t make for an extremely memorable experience.

For its Caprese salad, Saffron risotto and the graciousness of accepting their mistake, I give Cafe Mangii a 3.25 out of 5.

Restaurant Timings: 11 AM – 12:00 AM

Contact Numbers: 02225705137 , 02225705139

Advertisements

Indigo Deli, Apollo Bunder – Mumbai

If there is one restaurant that can be credited with changing Bombay’s food scene, I think it has to be Indigo. The original Indigo, located at Colaba, was started about 9 years back where they created fusion cuisine and worked hard towards getting the presentation correct. The restaurant was contemporary and gave you a different vibe than say a Taj or Oberoi. In my opinion, it isn’t as ‘snobbish’ and sends a more accessible vibe. The food was fantastic and was served in a way that reminded you of fine dining restaurants abroad. It was new, different and delicious! Suddenly, you felt that you weren’t just having dinner; it was an experience.

 

While Indigo offered something very unique, the restaurant itself was expensive. Mains start from Rs. 795 onwards (without taxes). I have been to Indigo only once and looooved the food!! I couldn’t believe how yummy it was. But honestly, I would go there once a year to celebrate a special day. I don’t think I would spend that much to dine there as often. So, when I found Indigo Deli I was super excited and I try to go there every time I am in Bombay. The cuisine is not all the same and they have more sandwiches and all day meals, like a deli should, but its absolutely delicious! The presentation isn’t as breathtaking but the food is superb. Its one place that you can blindly trust will have absolutely heavenly food.

 

The restaurant has a lot of heavy and dark wood and the lighting is lower to give you an atmosphere that is a mix between a fine dining restaurant and a fancy coffee shop. There are cute booths, good for 4-6 people and they have chairs and tables as well. During rush hours, they open their upper section, which has mostly tables and chairs. I am assuming that if you are a large group, and would like a slightly more private seating, you could ask for the upper section to be reserved for you. The seating is comfortable and lends an intimate, relaxed atmosphere.

 

What is one of my favorite things about the restaurant? Warm bread (Ciabitta) served to your table, with their signature mustard and butter, while you wait for your meal. They normally have a daily specials menu if you are going during lunch or dinnertime. Or, you can choose from their menu. You have the option of choosing breakfast food, appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pastas, risottos and pizzas. They serve coffees, teas, hot chocolates, juices and mocktails.They also have heavenly desserts, so I have heard, but I always stuff myself with their delicious mains so I have never had a chance to try them. They have a good collection of spirits and on occasion, we have had their Sangrias, which are wonderful. They are good, full bodied wines, which aren’t overly sweet. They serve a good amount of fruit and have a good balance between the fruit juice and the wine. I prefer their red wine sangria to their white wine, but S enjoys his white wine sangria.
image

 

I normally order the same thing every time I am at Indigo Deli – Oven roasted potatoes and mushrooms with caramelized onions and Brie cheese on a Ciabitta roll. I LOVE it! Beautiful, light flavors that dance on my tongue. I enjoy my sandwich with a little Balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side, and then I am in seventh heaven! For the longest time, that is the only thing I would order. I would try a little bit from someone else’s plate, but this is the one thing that would satisfy my stomach and my soul. Another favorite of mine is their Wild mushroom risotto in a red wine sauce. The mushrooms are cooked just right and the risotto is creamy. The red wine adds a different, but great flavor to the risotto. Ask for some freshly cracked pepper on top and its awesome! S asked for a Corn encrusted, jalapeno and potato burger the last time we were there. It probably comes in second after my sandwich! The jalapeno flavors are subtle but noticeable. It isn’t spicy at all and the corn-encrusted patty adds great texture. The bun is soft and is warmed so it isn’t dry. I hate it when the burgers buns are over heated and become crispy. It becomes so messy with all the bread crusts falling all over your plate. The burger is quite large and is quite filling if you’re eating it all alone. Perfect for lunch.

 

The servers are not as attentive as Indigo and you do have to crane your neck around hoping someone will notice you, especially during lunch or dinner. They are however; well informed about the menu and serve you well. They don’t make a mess while pouring water in your glass, which is a relief. The service is fairly prompt and it does take about 20 minutes to get your meal out once you place your order.  I also appreciate that they are fairly accommodating and try to make your overall experience pleasant. I was in between travelling once, and went with my bag to the restaurant. They were very gracious and were happy to keep my bag out of my way so I could enjoy my meal in peace.

 

I have had coffee there and it was good.  They keep newspapers so if you would like to come for coffee and a snack or dessert alone, you can enjoy time on your own. I would love to go with my computer and order an espresso with a chocolate dessert and just sit and soak in the wonderful, quiet atmosphere one of these days. I highly recommend making reservations here if you plan to go for lunch or dinner.

 

For consistency, a good ambience, perfect portion sizes and accommodating servers, I give Indigo 4 of 5. See you there!

Restaurant Timings: 8:30 AM – 12:00 AM

Contact Numbers: 02266551010, 02266551011, 02266551012

Khyber Restaurant, Fort – Mumbai

You know that feeling when you’ve walked by a place a hundred times and finally when you go in, you wonder, “Why haven’t I been here sooner?” That’s exactly how I felt when I went to Khyber. Khyber is opposite Rhythm House in Fort and looks like the tiniest restaurant from outside. We wanted to celebrate S’s big achievement and were wondering what to do for dinner. Punjabi/Indian food was our obvious choice, but where to go? Khyber came up to be the most voted option. The crazy love I have for Zomato and Burrp, I snuck online to check the reviews. Most said it was good, but a few said it was ok. I was a little skeptical when we went and am so happy to say my skepticism was totally wiped away when we entered!

Just as we were about to enter, I thought, “this looks like a cute little restaurant.” I assumed it would have a seating capacity of about 70ish people. When we entered the restaurant, I was in love with its design. I felt like I had entered some restaurant in another era. They have a beautiful painting by the famous Indian artist, Anjali Ela Menon at the entrance. You see a marble staircase leading you up to the upper floors of the restaurant. There is a lot of white stone/sand stone used on the walls and for the sculptures. Vintage Indian wooden doors, lamps and large metal pots are used to accentuate the décor.

We were about 8 people and went up to one of the more private rooms. It feels like you’re in a cave and I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling. The space was so much more private. I was thankful that the restaurant wasn’t too loud or perhaps we were isolated from the noise. The crockery is simple and tasteful and staff was reasonably attentive. For a section that could seat about 15 people, there were 3 servers and 1 captain. I do appreciate having good service in a fine dining restaurant and an understaffed restaurant is just a turn off. We were handed over the menus and I went into my little world to drool over all the yummy things available and their description.

We started off by ordering the tandoori aloo, which is stuffed with dry fruits, mashed potatoes and spices and decided to order a vegetarian platter so we could try a whole bunch of things. The platter was HUGE! The paneer was soft and beautifully flavored. It wasn’t spicy at all and I loved it! The reshmi broccoli was cooked well and very mildly flavored. The baby corn pakoras were coated in a batter and deep-fried and the kebabs were cooked in a tandoor and covered in a delicious spice. The starters were all lovely, though I have eaten better reshmi broccoli at the Four Seasons, Udaipur. They were more than enough for our party of 8 and I would have loved to eat only appetizers as mains.

We did decide to order just 2 mains since we were full with all the appetizers. We settled for vegetable malai kofta and channa masala. The malai kofta was the best malai kofta I have ever eaten! The gravy was creamy but delicately spiced with saffron, cardamom and other Mughal spices. The koftas themselves were cooked perfectly and were so soft. They went perfectly well with the gravy/curry. The channa masala was completely different from what I would have imagined. That’s when I realized I was thinking of chhole masala and this was channa masala. The main flavor was that of asafoetida in my opinion and was a little spicier compared to the malai kofta. Together, the vegetables complemented each other and created a lovely balance.

I was told that the Maa ki Dal was one of the most famous dishes of Khyber. Being a lover of Dal Makhani, i decided I would love to try it. The dal was wonderful! It was perfectly spiced and was not as creamy as a dal makhani. If I can be a little poetic, it felt like the spices were dancing on my tongue! I wish I hadn’t eaten as much for dinner so I would be able to do complete justice to the dal.

Our meal was in celebration of S’s achievement and it was an absolute perfect celebration! The food was excellent, the ambience was beautiful and the service was good. We had a lovely time and I can’t wait to go back again! If you are going to visit Mumbai or have international guests, you must go to Khyber. It has been around for years and is like a Mumbai Classic restaurant. Its also a great choice to go for a date.The next time we do go, it’s going to be a Maa ki Dal and Malai Kofta meal for me! I still can’t them out of my head! They were so good!!

Will I go there again??? OMG! I can’t wait to go back again!! For its amazing food and unique décor, I give Khyber Restaurant, Mumbai a 4.5/5.

Restaurant Timings: 12:30 PM-3:30 PM, 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Contact Information: 02222673227, 02240396666, 02222673229

Leopold Cafe – Colaba, Mumbai

The first time I went to Leopold’s was when I was 19 years old. It was our first trip as a group of friends to Mumbai. We hadn’t heard much about the place but a friend had moved the previous year to Mumbai and was raving about the energy of the place. We felt like adults there. People relaxing and enjoying the loud music. It had this adult, hippie energy to it. As youngsters from a smaller town, we were so excited by the restaurant. We had an absolutely wonderful night and thoroughly enjoyed the vibe.

 

I must’ve revisited the restaurant after years. We reached at about 10:15pm and it was still bustling with energy and noise. It was the 14th of August and I’m sure people were around later than usual because the next day was a holiday. There is such a difference between the seating upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs is filled with tourists who want to grab a quick beer and understand the city’s culture or a group of creative people debating about some topic. There are also those couples who want to spend a few more minutes with each other before going to their own homes, grabbing a dessert or a drink. And of course, the group of young college students who just want to have a good time. Since the upstairs is more private, you find a few more couples, groups that want to enjoy their drink and the larger groups that want to enjoy shots!

 

We decided to sit upstairs because it was air-conditioned. It is loud, dimly lit and has a different, club-like energy. We found a nice table for 2 and realized why couples would enjoy being here! We ordered a pitcher of beer and were so hungry, dived straight into ordering mains. I ordered pasta with mushrooms in a paprika cream sauce, S ordered Malaysian noodles, extra spicy!! The beer was great! Cold and refreshing and I was happy to enjoy the music sipping on my beer! My pasta came first, though that took 30 minutes or so. I don’t know if that’s understandable enough considering the restaurant was totally packed! S’s noodles came in 15 minutes after my pasta. When he said extra spicy they took him literally! The noodles were like fire! I couldn’t eat them at all and S pretended like he loved them and could totally handle them but his lips were burning and he was sweating and tearing up. I’ve learned one thing; men can be the most stubborn creatures on this planet especially when you tell them not to do something! So S faked loving his noodles and his tearing eyes and sweaty forehead humored me.

 

All in all, except for the crazy noodles and a completely non-functioning toilet, it was a great evening. A non-functioning single loo in a pub is just non-acceptable!

It had been a while since I went to a loud pub and I enjoyed my time there. I do think Leopold’s was a little bit pricey considering the ambience and the less than attentive waiters, but it seems to have a name and enjoys a different clientele. Would I go there again? Maybe after a few years… My verdict: 3 out of 5. 

Restaurant Hours – 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM

Telephone Numbers – 02222828185 OR 02222020131