Saturday, June 28, 2014

Where to Eat Meat / Non-Veg in Ahmedabad

A reader - Arvind, posted a comment on my review of Pleasure Trove, asking which were the best places for eating meat in Ahmedabad. I originally started to respond as a comment and then realised that the answer to this question, deserved its own blogpost.

I will be recommending places that I haven't written about yet, simply because I haven't gotten around to it. But I will hyperlink the names to reviews if they have already been written. I would also recommend taking a look at a list I have made on Foursquare for Places that serve Non-veg food in Ahmedabad and another list for Good Food in Ahmedabad, which includes Vegetarian Restaurants too and Must Eat-At Places in Gujarat. And if you are a visitor to Gujarat, you may also want to take a look at the lists for an Ahmedabad Tourist Circuit and the Gujarat Tourist Circuit.

I travel a lot, so I also have a list for my favourite places to eat at around the World, in case you are interested.

Coming back to Arvind's original question, Ahmedabad as you must know by now is not really a meat lovers delight. The best places to actually eat meat are the roadside / streetfood / tawa fry types in the Old City and Juhapura.

In Juhapura, I would recommend New Ronak Fry for their tandoori chicken, Magic Chicken for their Shawai chicken,  Ali Baba for Murg Musallam, I Love Biryani for some interesting Biryani's and kebabs.

In the Old City I would heavily recommend Famous samosa, La Bella and Barahandi. Others I have heard about and not yet tried are Moti Mahal, Paramount, Blue Diamond etc.

If you are looking for regular places that serve meat - a good sit down restaurant? My favourites would be That Place, Souq Bistro and Grills, Earthen Oven at the Fortune Landmark and TGKF at Radisson. Fancier and slightly more expensive.

Slightly less expensive would be Awadhpuri, and Barbecue Nation - but I personally believe that the Ahmedabad BBQ Nation is not as good as it is in other cities.

Simran Farm is a good place for more reasonably priced meat dishes in a decent sit down restaurant. Wow Mughlai Handi and Grill and Pleasure Trove, fall into the category for decently priced and air conditioned meat serving locations. But I didn't much care for the food at either of these locations. Living in Delhi has made me extremeley picky about my kebabs and how juicy and tender they should be.

Tawa Dawat at Vijay Crossroads does a good job, but its only takeaway. The advantage is that since it is located next to Icy Pik and in the center of town, it is easier to reach and family friendly.

Sandwichworkz - I LOVE - not because they are superlative quality, but its run by a couple and the warmth they bring to this place is amazing. The menu is very simple, I would recommend their Pakistani style biryani and sausage masala fry with the superlative parathas.

Yanki Sizlers and Ikobo Sizzlers do a semi decent job of sizzlers - you can't compare them to the variety of sizzlers and sauces and quality of a Bombay or Bangalore, but the quality of meat at least is good.

Cafe Formula by Tamura is the only place in the city that serves Pork (not pork cold cuts, but actual pork) other than La Bella in the Old City.

Four Food
serves some excellent Kerala style fish curries that are not made from the ubiquitious BASA! (no, I shall not rant here, this is not the right time or space).

If you are searching for a late night option then Masty or Millenium on SG Highway which have dhabha style food with basic plastic chair eating may be a good option for you. Stick to basic stuff like desi chicken and you won't be disappointed.

And you can't leave Ahmedabad without trying a meal at a place like RK Egg Eatery, that serves over 250 varities of egg dishes, a Gujarati specialty / novelty for sure.

I'm curious to know what other readers of my blog from Ahmedabad think. Which places would YOU add to this list?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Coffee Connection, Ahmedabad

Coffee Connection
A 104, - First Floor - Shivalik Plaza,
Opposite AMA,
IIM Road,
079 30631515

When we walked into Coffee Connection, we were greeted by really nice warm interiors (more relaxing and welcoming than CCD) and lovely English music, so I had high hopes. I loved their decals on the wall of the different coffee cups and the seating was quite comfortable.

They have a really extensive drinks menu and an even longer snacks menu. Since we had, enjoyed a filling lunch at Simran's Farm and had then walked a couple of hours at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Museum in the heat, we just wanted something chilled to drink.

Between the 3 of us we ordered a mango shake, cinnamon frappe, amaretto frappe and a choco chip waffle.

The Mango shake (136/-) was good, the amaretto frappe (136/-) was lovely and I would recommend it. The cinnamon frappe (136/-) however, was more the "Big Red" chewing gum flavour of cinnamon than the kind of cinnamon flavour that I like in my coffee - fail :(

The waffle was supposed to be chocolate flavoured batter with chocolate ice cream (as described in menu) - what turned up was a regular waffle, topped with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream. The waffle tasted like biscuit rather than waffle (not light and airy enough) But neither of those, was the biggest disappointment. the credit for that, goes to the quarter sized waffle that was served, hence making the ice cream portion, way larger than the waffle proportion. For 157/- + tax in Ahmedabad, I think the waffle portion was too measly.

Service was weird. The mango shake appeared 5-7 minutes after the order, the amaretto frappe came another 5 minutes later, the cinnamon frappe came a further 7 minutes later and the waffle came after another 10 minutes. Hence there was only 1 drink at a time on the table, between the 3 of us, as each drink was finished long before the next one arrived. (2 other tables were occupied when we entered, 1 couple finished and left before we placed our order, the other group did not order or receive anything as long as we were on the premises, they were just relaxing - so its not a case of too many orders to deal with and we saw at least 5 staff walking around, in and out of the kitchen)

Taste was average, interiors are nice, some of the food is good, but service is weird.

Rating : 3 / 5

Monday, June 23, 2014

Faaso's, Ahmedabad

G 42, Shree Mahalaxmi Shops,
Rudra Square,
Next to Rasranjan,

+91 9099990299, +91 9099990300

After Asia Kitchen, Shakti Sandwich and RollaCosta, this is the next eatery that I have seen in Ahmedabad with a black & white mural on their wall.

Faaso's has opened in Ahmedabad, after tasting success in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. Sadly, they have only brought in a limited menu to Ahmedabad. They only offer chicken, egg and veg options here. No sign of the mutton, prawns and fish stuffings.

The location at Bodakdev, has a couple of tables to eat-in and I loved their yellow and purple interiors. However, on this visit, I just wanted a takeaway.

I ordered 4 different non-veg rolls today, so the person at the counter recommended that I try their offer of 4 rolls + 2 chocolate fantasy + 2 swigs for 399/- which made sense. I ordered a chicken seekh with egg, a fiery chicken tikka, chicken bhuna and BBQ chicken for takeaway. I asked for all the rolls to be made with wheat multigrain rather than maida. While I would have loved to try their laccha parathas, we try and avoid refined flour/maida for dinner. We were charged 10Rs extra per roll for eating healthy, but I don't mind. Another 10 Rs extra for the egg in the chicken seekh kebab roll. (all these charges were clearly mentioned on their menu)

The order was served very fast given my other 2 experiences today at two & a bud and W xyz at Aloft.

However, it was only after arriving home and finding that my chicken tikka wasn't very fiery, I realised they had given me a masala chicken tikka instead of a fiery chicken tikka. It was ok, but much weaker than the other 2 rolls I tasted. I enjoyed the bhuna chicken the most as it felt like it had more complex flavours and the BBQ chicken was unusual with its sweetish sauce.

I haven't yet tried the Swig (Faaso's inhouse drinks - currently only available in jaljeera flavour), but the chocolate fantasy was a huge disappointment, instead of a lava cake with a cake exterior and a melting center (as pictured in the menu and ads), what I got was a pudding - uniform wettish chocolate pudding - neither cake, nor melting.

Faaso's can't be making these kinds of mistakes just because this is Ahmedabad. They need to maintain the same standards as they do in other cities, especially since they have had ample time to get over teething problems in this city.

They have really tiny takeaway bags, so my order needed 2 bags and I was charged 4Rs for the bags - this is the first restaurant that I have seen anywhere in India charging for the plastic bags (I've been charged for containers - but after being informed) and there was no prior intimation of the same either. The amount is too insignificant to care, but I don't like being charged without being notified what I'm being charged for before billing, especially if it is a unique charge like this.

Flavourwise I still prefer Tibbs, but I'll try Faaso's again with a maida laccha paratha and egg and stuffing to do a more balanced comparison.

Rating : 3 / 5

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Simran Farm, Ahmedabad

Simran Farm
Opposite Hanuman Camp Gate No 3,
Cantonment Camp,
Sadar Bazar,
Airport Road
079 2286 6194 / 7073

11:30 - 23:30

From the time, we arrived in Ahmedabad, we had heard a lot of people raving about Simran for non-veg food, so we finally stopped here for a meal, the other day.

As soon as I entered, I almost burst out laughing and stopped to take a picture. Mum who was with me, asked me what the matter was, I told her to carry on upstairs and when I showed her the picture I had clicked, she too burst into laughter.

Keep silence? That too in a restaurant? Anyway, we controlled our mirth and shifted focus to the menu.

To start with, we ordered the chicken pahadi tikka (200/-), that was supposed to be the spiciest kebab on the menu. The quality of their meat is good, so our pahadi tikkas were juicy inside and lightly crisped up on the outside from the tandoor, but they were nowhere as spicy as promised on the menu - they tasted like regular chiken tikkas, without the red coloring

We wanted to order some mutton, but seeing gurda kaleji (145/-) and bheja tawa fry (125/-) on the menu, we knew we HAD to order those. The portion sizes were small and the taste was average. The bheja fry was quite forgettable. The Gurda kaleji at least was spicy and tangy, but the flavour of gurda wasn't there at all and the kaleji flavour was also very muted.

For main course, we asked the manager what he recommended and he said "chicken hungama" (250/-) which was boneless and really good. We teamed this up with some tawa rotis (8/- each) and roomali rotis (35/- each) I honestly prefer the tawa rotis, since they are made from wheat flour and not heavy at all. They paired beautifully with the masalas of the chicken and the gurda kaleji.

To end, we ordered a jera rice (90/-) that was ok. Nothing standout.

I have to admit, that the non-veg served at Simrans is the best in flavour, taste, hygeine and quality in its price range in Ahmedabad. It is miles ahead of Pleasure Trove or WOW Mughlai Handi in my book.

I might give this place another try and let the manager recommend what we eat, rather than choose ourselves. We might also try some seafood as we have been told, they serve really fresh fish and prawns. But I wouldn't drive all the way there again, just for a meal.

They have a cold storage downstairs where they sell fresh and frozen meats, some cold meats and eggs. Incidentally, they started as a small shop selling chicken and other meat products in 1994 and added a tawa restaurant only in 1999. Now they have expanded to another outlet in Khanpur too.

Downstairs the entry looks a little untidy, but trust me the air conditioned sit down restaurant upstairs is quite decent.

As an aside: their website has good content, but I have no idea why they have used some "borrowed" pictures on their header with paella, bruschetta and an antipasto platter - none of which they serve at the restaurant.

Rating : 3.5 / 5
VFM : Very High

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Birmies, Ahmedabad

13, Ground Floor, Antriksh Complex,
Panjrapole Cross Road,
IIM Road,
079 26305874, +91 9898136475

I stopped at Birmies, thinking it was a coffee shop, that could serve me a nice cold coffee and a slightly heavy snack. Sadly, although there was cold coffee on the menu, it wasn't available this evening, so I had to settle for a heavy snack.

On recommendation from friends who had been here before, I ordered the vegetarian spring rolls (91/-) and the crispy vegetables (96/-). I have to say that these are the best Indian-Chinese spring rolls that I have eaten in a multi-cuisine restaurant in Ahmedabad.

The crispy vegetables were nice too, with a mix of zucchini, carrot, beans, cauliflower, and some other veggies - deep fried in a tempura type rather than pakoda type batter. It was served with an interesting Indian-Chinese type mix sauce.

For takeaway, again on recommendation from a friend, I ordered the hum pum paneer with garlic bread (124/-). That however, turned out to be too tomato saucy for my taste. The gravy tasted like tomato sauce with sauteed onions, tomatoes and capsicum.

Husband did like the manchow soup (53/-) that I carried home for him and there's also a veg sweet corn soup (53/-) in the refrigerator, waiting to be eaten.

Prices are extremely reasonable, especially given that it is an air conditioned, sit down restaurant and service was polite. No wonder they attract so much of the student crowd around this area.

The walls are decorated with interesting murals. Food on one side and a warli style tribal painting on the other.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Friday, June 20, 2014

Carluccio's - Covent Garden, London

Garrick Street,
Covent Garden,
London WC2E 9BH
020 78360990

Since, I had had such a decent experience at the Carluccio's in Pinner. when my husband wanted to eat Italian, I had no hesitation in recommending the Carluccio's that was next door in Covent Garden.

The place was buzzing, They occupy 3 floors, with washrooms in the basement, the store and one seating space on the ground floor and 2 seating spaces on the first floor. The interiors were a classy white and red. The place was full and we thought that was an indication of how good it was. Sadly, the crowds belied the quality.

The calamari fritti (6.25) that I had loved at the Pinner location, was soggy and soaked in oil.

The Antipasto Massimo (13.95) had only meat on the platter unlike what was suggested on the menu. The menu said it would have - Foccacia, Napoli & Milano salami, roast ham, stuffed chicken, green bean salad, caponata, roast vegetables and olives. As you can see in the picture above, what arrived was very different.

We had to ask for some bread to be served with the cold meats. (It hadn't been served originally), the vegetables and salads were nowhere to be seen except for the olives and capers.  Our request for olive oil to dip the bread in and temper the saltiness of the cold meats, never materialised.

For mains, we ordered the trio di pasta - a tasting trio for 2, including the heavily recommended ravioli. There was absolutely no hint of the sage in the dish and it felt like the ravioli had just been tossed in melted butter rather than butter browned with sage. When we brought this to the servers attention, he promised to get us a fresh plate properly made or to give us complimentary coffee, but we turned it down, since we knew we would not be able to finish the other two pastas that were quite good. The tortelloni with braised venison and the papardelle with mushroom, both of which had much more flavour to them and were much better tasting. (although the pasta con funghi was nowhere close to the version served at Pinner)

The servers were doing their best, but they were just too badly over worked. Too many tables and not enough staff. Plus the food had to be brought up to the first floor from the ground floor, turning it slightly cold in the meanwhile.

The beautiful decor, just cannot make up for low quality food.

If I wanted to eat at Carluccio's, I would avoid this location and try one of the 35 other locations in London.

Rating : 2.5 / 5

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Casa Brindisa, London

Casa Brindisa
7-9 Exhibition Road,
South Kensingtin,
London SW7 2HE
020 75900008

After a whole day of exploring the Victoria and Albert Museums, we just wanted a place where we could sit down and calmly reflect and discuss the many wonderful objects of art, that we had seen during the day.

A right and left turn from the museum entry, took us to this beautiful cul de sac filled with many eateries. While the pastries in the Lebanese  place were extremely enticing, we settled on Casa Brindisa, because we liked the look and feel of this place the best.

Part of a chain, Casa Brindisa is a small Spanish Tapas bar, just across the Natural History museum with a lovely range of Spanish cured meats, tapas and wines.

When we entered and asked for a table for 2, the lady in charge said something about an hour and a half. The place was full, so I said "I'm sorry, but we can't wait an hour and a half for a table" She then said "Sorry, if I wasn't clear, but I need the table back in one and a half hour as it is booked for someone else" Talk about organisation and being prepared!! But, I think this is also because most patrons here, seem to order a bottle of wine from their huge selection and take their time relaxing and catching up with friends.

For us, we just needed a quick pick me up of coffee, a bit of food for energy and a warm place to rest our tired legs for awhile.

They have a lot of original Spanish cured meats that were being sliced at the entry and in a bid to sample a few varieties, I ordered the Charcuteria Regional selection (12.50). It came with Teruel ham,  salchichon, lomo, and chorizo with fresh sourdough bread and olive oil. The platter was really huge and meant for 4 rather than 2 people. The same platter with iberico ham instead of Teruel ham was 21.50 pounds, but I wasn't in the mood to spend that much on a tea break - we shall try iberico ham when we visit Spain. :)

They have a lot of lovely touches around the place, the cutlery served in empty pimento cans, the menus as table mats, water served in wine bottles.

The latte that I ordered was 2.75 pounds and quite good.

They have quite a few mains and hot starters too. Definitely worth trying either for evening drinks or an early dinner.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garfunkel's, London

25-26 Gloucester Arcade,
128 Gloucester Road,
South Kensington
London SW7 4SF
020 78351064

Garfunkel's is a chain in London, that has a large menu of American Diner style food, but what drew us here one early morning was their range of lovely breakfast options, each for 5.95 pounds, that they start serving from as early as 7 in the morning.

Decor was again American Diner style. The staff was extremely busy, but did a good job.

The Garfunkel breakfast was huge with 2 eggs (your way), grilled bacon, 2 pork and leek sausages, hash brown, baked beans, grilled tomato and a mushroom. The only thing that was missing was bread that had to be ordered separately. (2 slices of toast for 1.5 pounds or a croissant for 2.95 pounds. The husband quite enjoyed this spread as it was exactly what he was looking for. A good "fry up"

The taste of the Hollandaise sauce in the Eggs Benedict was lovely, but the eggs were overcooked. The eggs should have had golden yolk gushing out when broken into, but instead of being runny yolks, they had turned firm - firmer than a soft boiled egg.

They offer unlimited refills on hot beverages with breakfast. The Mocha (2.95) was ok and the Herbal raspberry+Cranberry tea (Twinnings tea bag) was just average (2 pounds for a pot), but that's a Twinnings flavour issue. The husbands mocha had gone a bit cold half way through breakfast and before we could even request a top up, the waitress came with a fresh cup of mocha for him.

The place was a very cosy diner and service was excellent. The food was good, but not great. We had much better breakfasts at each of the B&B's that we stayed at, during the rest of our holiday.

Rating : 3 / 5


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