Monday, March 31, 2014

Rawat Mishthan Bhandar & Restaurant, Jaipur

Rawat Mishthan Bhandar & Restaurant,
Opposite Polovictory Cinema,
Station Road,
Sindhi Camp
0141 2367460, 0141 2363593

What can I say about Rawat Kachoris that isn't already well known?

Their lines extend forever. You need to have tons of patience if you want hot kachoris for breakfast. They have legions of fans who are willing to stand in line (or send household staff to stand in line for them) interminably for their share of this delicious snack.

They have a ton of other items on their menu including local specialties like Dal Baati, but their kachoris are their most famous item and the samosas a distant second. They are perfectly washed down by a chilled glass of badam milk.

The kachoris can be transported relatively easily, if you would like to take some home for the rest of your family to enjoy them.

Its a stand up and eat place, so don't expect anything fancy.

Rating : 4 / 5

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cinnamon, Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur

Jai Mahal Palace,
Jacob Road,
Civil Lines
0141 2223636

Cinnamon at the Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur is situated on the mezzanine level, accessible from the Marigold Bar. It was supposed to be the private dining room of the Prime Minister. Its well decorated and normally much quieter than the Marble Arch and cosier than the Frangipani - Grills & Barbecue in the garden.

Cinnamon offers a variety of "Royal" cuisines - Rajasthani, Awadhi, Hyderabadi and Kashmiri with about 5 starters and 5 main course options from each cuisine. We ate here twice when we last visited Jaipur. The first time was just the 2 of us on a quiet evening and the service was excellent. The second time was a group of 12 in the afternoon. And they took over an hour to get us our lunch. Even then, the serving and the arrival of dishes was pretty chaotic, starters, rotis, dhal, rice - everything arrived together, but 3 biryanis appeared and the 4th didn't make an appearance for another half an hour.

The restaurant is beautiful. Very romantic for an evening dinner. While most of the tables are the proper sit down variety, you can choose to book a little nook with floor seating. However, do note that Cinnamon overlooks the Marble Arch Coffee shop (its the mezzanine level), so you may want to choose your table away from the windows. The decor is beautiful with old Rajasthani tribal jewelry and rich fabrics on the seats and tables.

The standard complimentary starters of Poppadums and green salad, came in a beautiful arrangement. It looked so pretty, we didn't feel like breaking it up and devouring it.

The food was excellent. We did get to sample lots of different things (given the size of our group) Portion size is on the smaller side, but the taste is lovely. We loved the Dum Biryani (both chicken 1100/- and lamb 1200/- variants were excellent).

On the Servers recommendation, we ordered the  Kashmiri Lahabi kebabs (850/) - minced lamb kebabs poached in tomato and Kashmiri spices. It was outstanding. In comparison, the Galawat kebabs (850/-) were extremely mild and delicate in flavour. While it was good, no 5 Star has yet got the art of making the perfect Galaouti kebabs that are sold on the streets of Lucknow. The Gushtaba was again very mildly spiced, but still quite flavourful, however it wasn't as good as the gushtaba you get from an authentic Kashmiri house / restaurant / chef.

They do serve an excellent selection of vegetarian food too. The Shekhawati Ker Sangri (750/-) and the dals - Lasooni Tadka (750/-) and Dal Cinnamon (750/-) and gatte ki sabji were all excellent.

We were on a no sugar phase, when we visited this restaurant, so I can't comment on the desserts.

All in all, it is an expensive dining option, but perfect for a Romantic evening, when you don't want to shell out for the Ram Bagh.

Rating : 4 / 5

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Java+ - Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad

Java+ - Courtyard by Marriott
Ramdevnagar Cross Roads,
079 66185000

Finally stopped by here 2 days ago, for a late lunch / high tea kind of break.

From a previous visit, I knew that they didn't serve any hot "meals" but just some snack type sandwiches and puffs (which was the reason we left, the first time we visited this location - we wanted a hot meal and just went to Momo Cafe instead).

There are a couple of counters. The main counter has all the savoury puffs and sandwiches and sweets - cakes, eclairs, cupcakes, macarons etc, with a coffee machine behind it. There is a sweets table which operates like those candy land counters that you see in mall - kids choose from an assortment of sweets, that are weighed and then billed. And there was a thin counter with whatever additives you may need for your coffee.

Order taking is self service style, where you pick and choose from the items on display, but the order will be delivered to your table.

I first ordered a chicken puff, a grilled chicken and hummus foccacia sandwich and a hazelnut sub zero (iced) coffee. There were 7 customers in the restaurant. All of them already had their orders on their tables. There were 3 people behind the counter and 2 serving tables. The snacks were already on the counter. They just had to be slightly warmed up. It took them 35 minutes to do this!

Tastewise they weren't bad, but I've had much better snacks and coffee at much better rates. The chicken in the grilled chicken focaccia was on the drier side and the lettuce felt soggy (even McDonalds serve fresh crispy lettuce!)

Since other people had commended their sweets, I thought I'd give them a chance on that front. While the pistachio biscotti wasn't bad, the nutella eclair was heavy, hard and the absolute opposite of what good choux pastry should be - light, airy, pillowy, melt in your mouth goodness.

The macaroon shells were ok on taste and texture, but the chocolate filling was thick and too much, so the heavy chocolate flavour completely inundated the light almond flour flavour and slightly grainy texture of the macaroon shells.

The bill wasn't printed properly and I don't remember individual prices. I think the biscotti was 60/- for 2 pieces, the macaroon around 45/- or 60/- and the coffee was somewhere in the 120/- to 175/- range. There was an offer displayed on the board outside saying ladies would get free drinks with their food orders, but I don't think it was applied to me. My total bill came up to 735/- inclusive of taxes.

You can find much, much better cafes in Ahmedabad, Java+ might have a good (read as 'different in Ahmedabad') decor (especially the open air garden, but its normally filled with smoking groups, Sigh!) and a decent ambiance, but the food isn't worth it at all.

Rating : 2.75 / 5
(because I expect a much higher standard of service and food from a renowned 5 star property)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Millenium, Ahmedabad

Millenium Quality Food,
C/1 Ground Floor, Patel Avenue
Near Gurudwara (0n service road)
SG Highway
079 2685 1897, 95863 00290

Millenium is a smallish (5 tables setup) dhabha type open air eatery on the SG Highway, located on the service road leading to the Gurudwara near Krishna Hotel. While the kitchen set up and open air location on the road may make you feel like it will be very basic, the seating arrangements are quite good.

They offer veg and non veg items and were heavily recommended by some long time foodie Ahmedabad residents. So I had to stop here and pick up dinner the other night. While some of these foodies told me that they have eaten there in large groups, the current mosquito menace was not conducive to eating on location, so I ordered a takeaway.

The waiting time was quite long (about 35 minutes) for a takeaway from a dhabha, but they seemed to be serving seated customers first, which I do appreciate.

The guy in charge also told me that they would deliver in a 3km radius, if the order was above 500/-, so next time, I can skip the waiting.

The tandoori rotis (14/-) were amazing, even though they were without butter (by request) and they paired perfectly with the gravies I had ordered. The boneless kolhapuri chicken (175/-) gravy was lovely, though it was a little weird to find Chinese style battered and deep fried chicken pieces in the curry. The bheja masala (160/-) was great too.

The chicken 65 (165/-) was my favourite item of the night -spicy, sour and meaty.The White mutton gravy (160/-) that he recommended was interesting, but average. There was hardly any meat in the gravy and it was mostly just bones.

There are a lot of items on the menu that I am interested in seeing what they look and taste like, (chicken shirazi, mutton rang, chicken and mutton sawai, chicken and mutton gulgi) so I'll definitely be ordering from them again. Also my friends heavily recommend the Indian home style chicken, and garlic chicken which will definitely be on the order next time.

I must mention that the bill came up to less than 700Rs and if I had ordered more rotis, it could have comfortably fed about 5-6 people.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

On a later occassion, we actually ordered food on the phone at 11:30 pm and picked it up around midnight. So its a great place to pick up food, if you need something simple and basic, late at night. 

Their desi chicken was absolutely amazing curry, but the pahadi kebab was average.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Four Food, Ahmedabad

Four Food
New York Tower B,
Near Thaltej Cross Road,
S G Highway,
079 2685 1206, +91 93270 29369

First off, I must say, that I only eat the Kerala Food at Four Food and this review and rating is for that only, not their Chinese, Mughlai or North Indian Dishes.

In a city that is starved of "authentic" regional cuisine, Four Food is a welcome breath of fresh air. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that the food is straight out of a Malayali grandmothers kitchen, I would say that it comes out of a modern/updated Malayali woman's kitchen. There are a few shortcuts used in the cooking process, which does have a slight bearing on the food, but it is still very good.

The decor is a cross between a Mallu Mess with a few trinkets from Kerala displayed around, like the Elephant Trunk decorations and hanging lamps. Their space is huge and large and almost always full.

The appams (15/- per piece)come in a casserole and don't have the authentic crispy lace on the outside and soft pillowy goodness in the centre. But that's because they are cooked in their house and then brought to the restaurant.

The chicken stew (240/- for boneless) was a bit on the thicker side, but still delicious. the quantity was more than enough for 2 people. The sear fish masala (2 large pieces for 230/-) was outstanding and brilliant size of slices given the price of the dishes.

The Mutton Malabari Biryani is different from any other biryani available in Ahmedabad. I personally prefer the Andhra (not Hyderabadi) Biryani, but quite like this version too.

The Chicken Chettinadu (230/- boneless) and Chicken Roast Masala (230/- boneless) are a beautiful amalgamation of spices. And the Kerala speciall appalam (papads) aren't on the menu, but they served them to me on request at 10Rs a piece.

Kerala Veg specialties like Aviyal, Kootu, Toran, Kalan, Inchi Curry and pachadi are not part of the regular menu, but can be ordered in advance in bulk. They do have a unlimited veg Kerala thali on Sundays for 180/- and a non veg version for 240/-

The food is finger licking good, I always end up ordering a takeaway after finishing dinner for lunch the next day as we rarely have any leftovers on our plate at the end of the meal. Its not the best Mallu food I have ever eaten in a restaurant (Kerala and Bangalore offer much better options), but its amazing to get a taste of home in Ahmedabad.

The owner is extremely sweet and willing to accommodate requests and takes feedback well. For me, the food brought back memories of home without my having slaved over a hot stove the whole day.

Rating : 4 / 5

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cafe Le Rendezvous, Ahmedabad

Cafe Le Rendezvous
Alliance Francaise Building,
Himali Tower Lane,
Near Shyamal Cross Road,
079 65415094

I'm shocked that it has taken me TWO whole years to discover this gem of a cafe, here in Ahmedabad.

Cafe Le Rendezvous is a beautiful, peaceful open air cafe in the Alliance Francais Building near Shyamal Crossroads. They have a limited menu, but we loved every item that we tried from their repertoire, from the Roasted Tomato Basil soup (110/-) to the home made pistachio ice cream (95/-). The cheesy bread soaked in the tomato soup was just brilliant.

The chicken and mushroom vol au vents (2 large pieces for 100/-) were amazing as was the cold cous cous salad with chicken (180/-). The Croque Monsieur (130/-) was slightly desified with a slice of Amul Cheese instead of Emmental or Gruyere, but still very tasty. My husband loved his whole wheat chicken burger (110/-).

I wanted to try more of their menu, but it was quite late for us to be eating so much. Will definitely go back earlier in the evening to try more of their fare, especially their whole day waffles, their whole wheat sandwiches, crepes, Pad Thai, Quesadillas and the cherry with almond ice cream.

They have a large variety of teas and coffees on order, which I didn't try because I wanted to taste their ice cream.

They serve small bottles (200 ml) of Ava water, if you ask for water and charge 6Rs per bottle. FYI. All prices are completely inclusive and this large variety costed us only 743Rs.

Do note, that since they only have open air seating, you will want to consider the temperature before visiting.

I honestly can't wait to go back and try some more. I'm definitely taking my sister here when she visits for their waffles.

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Square - Novotel, Ahmedabad (+ Special Navroze Parsi Bhonu)

The Square - Novotel Hotel
ISKCON Cross Road,
S G Highway,
079 40606060, 95371 97777

My rating of 3 for the Square is solely for their regular lunch buffet.

However, if I have to consider the special Navroze Parsi Buffet that they had over the weekend, I would have to raise that rating to 5. It was the best Parsi food I have had in Ahmedabad and the most amazing spread of Parsi food that I have had, outside of a Parsi Wedding.

The reason, I have rated the regular lunch buffet at 3, is because nothing stood out. Some of the food had turned hard, as it was lying there for awhile. The biryani grains were hard, the paneer was hard etc. The spread is really really large, but perhaps they need to focus on making a few dishes well, rather than making a large spread of average dishes.

The buffet had a large variety of  Indian breads and dishes from Kebabs to vegetable curries. They had options of both veg and non-veg soup, some Indian Chinese, bread with a selection of flavoured butters (the cajun and curry butters were interesting), a salad bar, a chaat bar and a large spread of desserts. The baked desserts were the only items, that were memorable from this meal - the hot chocolate pudding was a mass of melting fudgy chocolate goodness, the panacotta was better than average and the raspberry financiers were a delight.

The food we tried on our first trip here last week, wasn't very great, but we saw the flyer for their Parsi festival and I knew nothing could keep me away. I love Parsi food and Goodies has been deteriorating rapidly & terribly!

On the occasion of Navroze (Parsi New Year), Chef Mek from Udwada had created a special buffet menu loaded with Parsi delicacies. There were so many things to try, that a few of them had to get left out in the end. For obvious reasons, the variety of Parsi food in the non-veg section was way higher than the veg repertoire. But the husbands favourite item from the buffet was the Parsi sabut Masoor dal, followed very very closely by the nutmeg flavoured Lagan nu Custard.

The Sunday brunch offered similar varieties to the the regular lunch with an additional Waffle + Pancake station, fresh eggs to order, a Gujarati farsaan section and 2 platters of vegetarian sushi. It says a lot about how starved I am for sushi, that I ate a few pieces of vegetarian sushi, even though the rice was woefully overcooked and pasty.

But the Parsi food more than made up for the rest of the disappointments. Starting with Parsi Akuri, tamatar pe eeda, the special salli pe eeda which the chef made for me upon my request, Kheema pao, murgh farcha, mawa nu lagan nu achaar, the patrani macchi (excellent pomfret slices), chicken and mutton salli boti, mutton and chicken cutlets, prawn pulao, dhansak were all excellent and finger licking good. Sadly, given a subsequent appointment, I couldn't do justice to this spread. But just thinking about it, makes my mouth water.

The Parsi desserts included Lagan nu Custard, Rose Jelly (very diffeent from normal jelly in texture) and Parsi Sevvaiyan. The churros and the deconstructed Blueberry Cheesecake were also commendable.

As, I mentioned at the start of this review, the Parsi spread was a 5 / 5 for variety and taste.

The paneer was better quality, softer and fresher on Sunday than it had been in the middle of the week.
Next time we visit The Square on a random occasion,  we will try the a la carte option and see if we have better luck, or maybe we just might keep visiting them only when there is a chef brought in from outside for special food festivals.

The regular lunch buffet costs 718.65/- per person, all inclusive. The Parsi Sunday Brunch was charged at 967.42/- per person, all inclusive. Lunch buffets are from 12:30 - 3:30 and Dinner from 7:30-11:30

Rating : 3 / 5

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Iscon Ganthiya, Ahmedabad

Iscon Ganthiya
Opposite Karnavati Club,
S G Highway,
+91 9974803838, +91 9974103838

In celebration of the fact that our routine medical tests showed all things were normal (cholesterol, sugar etc etc) we decided to "indulge" in an unhealthy breakfast for a change from our "normal" fruit / muesli / multi grain breakfasts.

I've always seen a ton of people standing outside this location, especally when we return from late night movie shows. However, it was relatively empty this morning and I ordered 100gm each of papdi, fafda, gathiya and jalebis. Seeing that I was very keenly examining and tasting the food, the guy gave me some complimentary masala french fries to try too.

This was my first time eating "sweet" french fries" - the masala had chilli powder salt and Sugar in it, however, it wasn't a bad combination.
They also serve complimentary papya salad, a kadhi-chutney mix and salted green chillies as accompaniments.

My personal favourite is always the papdi, but everything else was great too, except the ganthiya that was too large and soft for my liking (I prefer the UP version of Ganthiya). The best part is that it has minimal oil, even the stuff that was packed to takeaway was wrapped in newspaper and there was hardly any oil, even a couple of hours later.

100gms of 4 varieties came up to 140/- It was more than enough breakfast for 3-4 people (hence the takeaway)

If you want to eat at the location, its standing option only, at tall tables.

On a subsequent visit, I realised that they use an Italian Pasta machine to make their fafdas. This is  the first time, I have actually seen this being done. (Its normally made by deft wrist movements of experts)

Brajesh says:
We had some amazing Gathiyas from here today. The fact that there was no oil residue on the hand after eating was completely amazing.

The accompanying papaya salad was not too spicy, it was well balanced, adding texture to the gathiya without altering the taste too much.

The potato chips were ok, spicy but not too great, This is not an item I would go back for, but it was very nice of them to give it free. Other than this, I enjoyed all the other items

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Agashiye, Ahmedabad

The House Of MG,
Opposite Sidi Saiyed Jali,
Lal Darwaja,
079 25506946

Agashiye is THE place that we take all our visitors to, for authentic Gujarati thali experience. The deluxe thali has an extra chaat item and some extra starters, but the normal thali is extremely filling too. The only restriction here, is that everyone at the table has to take the same type of thali (to make it easier to serve)

The heritage bungalow of the House of MG sets a beautiful mood to the place. We normally take people here for lunch, because its a really heavy and filling meal and personally I can't eat like this at dinner time. So we always choose the air conditioned section on the terrace.

The meal starts with a platter of pickles, chutneys and Gur (jaggery) being placed on the table. You are served a glass of fresh fruit juice (bowl of soup in the evenings) and one of buttermilk. A fresh salad of the day, 2-3 farsaans (bite sized snacks, like appetisers/tapas) and roasted papads follow.

This is then followed by 4-5 varieties of side dishes to be eaten with rotis, both dry and curry type, a dhal and a kadhi (curd curry). There are 2 other varieties of Indian breads served along with rotlis (phulkas/chapatis). This is followed by a rice dish (it could be a pulao or biryani) and khichdi. This is followed by 2 types of desserts and a hand churned ice cream

If you choose the deluxe platter option, there is an additional farsaan, a bowl of chaat and a saarveda platter.

You pay for your meal downstairs and are handed a coupon before you head upstairs in this historic building. the only issue is that if one person wants the deluxe platter, then everyone has to choose the deluxe platter. Given the way food is served, they can't do a mixed table. The regular thali itself is extremely filling and satisfying and already has a lot of variety. The deluxe thali is only recommended if you are trying really hard to impress someone or have a great appetite. Except for the ice cream, everything is served in unlimited quantities.

The fruit juice, the chaas, the myriad little dishes on offer are all excellent, but my perennial favourite is their basundi. I can make an entire meal out of just their basundi. They have different flavours everyday - I've had orange, mango, pista, strawberry, anjeer among others. I'm not a great fan of fruits and there are many fruits whose taste I can't handle at all, but the servers very sweetly give me bowls of plain basundi without the fruit of the day, if I don't like that particular days flavour.

The khichdi with a little ghee and the Gujarati chilli garlic chutney is excellent.

Their hand churned ice creams are also brilliant, the rose coconut and the roast almond are my favourites among the ones I have tried.

The cost roughly works out to around 800/- per person, but its defintiely worth it for an authentic Gujarati meal experience in Ahmedabad (a lof the other thali places mix a lot of Rajashtani food in their thali)

While the items may look similar, they never repeat a menu for either lunch or dinner throughout the week. The service and the staff are wonderful and they staff will happily keep piling on more food into your plate.

I can't recommend this place enough.

Rating : 5 / 5

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chai Nashta, Ahmedabad

Chai Nashta
B/2, Shivalik Business Center,
Behind Rajpath Club,
Off S G Highway,
079-40191784 / 079-65211975
11am - 11pm

The furniture and decor of this place is absolutely beautiful. Very different from anything I've seen in Ahmedabad. Bright and cheery, with very interesting seating options. The place mats with laminated cutouts of movie stars seems kiddish, but I guess it is meant to appeal to the high school / college crowd.

Unfortunately, the service and food are quite a bad let down to this beautiful first impression from the furniture.

When I entered around 5:30pm, I was the only customer in the Cafe. I ordered a tulsi green tea (50/- - rose wasn't available) It took 20 minutes to arrive. 20 Minutes ? in an empty restaurant? to put a teabag in a cup and serve it with a pot of hot water and 2 wheat bisuits on the side?

I'd also ordered a channa chapti (50/- kind of a bhel made with channa jor - flattened roasted chickpeas - instead of puffed rice) and Jalapeno Cheese Nuggets (70/- for 6 pieces, its also served in their sister restaurant next door - Deeana - but they charge 250/- for the same dish there, if this is their presentation, I honestly don't know how they can justify it).

The Channa chapti wasn't bad. The Jalapeno Cheese Nuggets were one of those frozen ready-to-fry varieties. They took 40 minutes to arrive and were still ice cold in the center.

There were 2 people behind the counter for food preparation, there was another person to take the order, the Jalapeno Cheese Nuggets came from Deeana's kitchen next door, so there is absolutely no justification for the inordinate delay in service.

This is not a place that I'll ever return to.

Rating : 2 / 5


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