Cafe Churchill (Mumbai) | Restaurant Review

Place: Cafe Churchill 
Location: Adj. Bata, Colaba, Mumbai
Cuisine: Global, Pizza
Meal: Lunch (with a friend)

Colaba happens to be my favorite part of Bombay for we used to stay around here during amma’s official tours ages ago (when I was in school). I often used to come here whenever I was bored during my stay in the city a couple of years ago, and on one such visit, I discovered a gem of a restaurant hidden behind the bustling street market. It’s a small place with less than ten tables, and has decent ambiance which actually gives you a feeling of walking down an old memory lane. Being a small joint, it’s packed most of the time, and walking in on a weekday afternoon, we initially had to share a table with an elderly couple before we were moved to a table next to the entrance.

An elderly Parsi aunty (one of the owners) handed us the menu, and after long contemplation, we ordered an Olive Pizza and King Papalina Lasagna. I had tasted their French Fries with Cheese long before, and unable to resist my temptation, I later added portion of the same to our order.

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The Fries were served in about ten minutes, looked mouth-watering and tasted absolutely delicious. There was cheese all over, and the fries were perfect. A little ketchup, and yum! The best part though was not just the cheese on the top, but there was cooked cream cheese stuffed on the bottom which was out-of-the-world good. I’m so glad that I couldn’t resist my temptation. Bliss!

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The pizza was served next, and this looked yum again. The thick crust pizza was covered with cheese, black and green olives and lots of oregano. While the pizza base wasn’t really great, the tomato sauce and thick layer of cheese with the oregano made this an excellent pizza.

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We were full by the time King Papalina arrived, but couldn’t resist digging in. Stuffed with tons of marinated mushrooms, loads of cheese and cooked cream cheese between layers of pasta, this was as good as a lasagna could get. Again, yummilicious!

Overall, an excellent meal. But we weren’t done yet. In the past, I’d observe their pastries displayed in a refrigerator near the entrance sell like hotcakes, and today was no different. Though we were heading to Theobroma after the meal, decided to give their famous Blueberry Cheesecake a try.

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Honestly, the cheesecake wasn’t as great as I expected. It was quite heavy and a little too sweet for my liking. However, it was bad by no means. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest of the meal.

With friendly service, decent ambiance and prices, and most importantly, delicious food, this place is a must visit for any foodaholic. Zomato calls it a Legendary restaurant, and my meal was truly legendary. Go hog!

Food: 9.5/10
Service: 9.5/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 905/-

Verdict: 9.5/10

Relish (Mumbai) | Restaurant Review

Place: Relish – International Veg Cuisine 
Location: Prem Court, Tata Road, Churchgate, Mumbai
Cuisine: Global
Meal: Lunch (with a friend)

I was in Mumbai last week, and my first meal had to be at one of my favorite restaurants ever, Relish. I walked in along with a friend around 2:00 PM, and the place was packed. We were lucky have found ourselves a table in the corner, without having to wait. The ambiance, as mentioned in my previous review, is just perfect – brightly lit with great interiors. We were attended to right away after being seated.

Their Veg Kaukswe (Indonesian curry served on a bed of buttered noodles) is my all time favorite, and so was ordered. My friend never tasted anything Mexican, so we decided to give the Chimichangas a try. The service was quick, and the food was served in about ten minutes.

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The Chimichangas were covered in a thick layer of molten cheese, and served with salsa and guacamole. They were very crispy and perfectly fried, such that I was able to cut into them with my fork easily. The stuffing, mostly containing red beans and onions in tomato base was super yummy, and tasted great along with the molten cheese. The salsa dip tasted alright, while the guacamole was a bit off.

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The Veg Kaukswe looked and tasted exactly the same as it did about 3 years ago. The gravy was thick, had a delicate flavor, and the noodles were oozing butter. I’ve said it before and I’d say it again, this is the best noodle dish I’ve tasted so far in my life. Yummilicious!

Overall, as expected, an excellent meal. The service was good, and the best part was that the meal was actually pocket friendly for the quantity of food served. If you still haven’t tried this place out, you’re definitely missing on something good. Go hog, now!

Food: 9.5/10
Service: 9/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 528/-

Verdict: 9.5/10

Papa Johns | Restaurant Review

Place: Papa Johns 
Location: Banjara Hills
Cuisine: Pizza
Meal: Take Away

After my terrible experience at Papa Johns the last time around (review), I was tempted to order a pizza for delivery on a weekday afternoon, thanks to their flyer in the news paper. Their new Fajita Pizza in medium size was being offered at the price of regular. I called in and asked for the same, along with a portion of Cheese Sticks and extra Garlic sauce. As promised, the pizza was delivered in around 30 minutes.

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The Cheese Sticks, though a little too dry for my liking, tasted yum with the garlic cause (the size of which has also been reduced). On pizza front, the Fajita Pizza came with sweet corn, onions, green peppers (which I replaced with olives), mushroom, jalapenos, fajita seasoning and sauce. Though it looked colorful, I thought the pizza looked small for medium size. The base was good, and the veggies were crunchy, and it tasted alright but I would have preferred it to be a little more cheesy, with more mushrooms and onions, and may be a bit spicy. For something Mexican, the pizza didn’t taste like one.

Overall, a decent pizza, but not something I would have bought for 400 bucks (I ordered only because of the offer). The Cheese Sticks were good, and the Garlic sauce was finger licking good. I don’t think I’ll ever walk into a Papa John store again, but ordering when they have some offers isn’t a bad idea.

Food: 7.5/10
Service: N/A
Ambience: N/A
Meal for 2: Rs. 394/-

Verdict: 7.5/10

Hazzel Ice Cream Cafe | Restaurant Review

Place: Hazzel Ice Cream Cafe 
Location: Near Peddamma Temple, Road No. 10, Jubilee Hills
Cuisine: Desserts, Fast Food
Meal: Ice Cream (with friends)

Met a couple of friends the other night, and after hogging on the last order at Maharaja Chat, decided to stop by at Hazzel for ice cream. I was the one who dragged them here, thanks to the reviews. Walking in at around 11:30 PM, we were surprised to find the place packed. The ambiance is pretty neat, with the place is brightly lit. We sat in a corner, and waited for someone to hand us a menu.

After about 10 minutes, we were handed a pretty badly torn menu (one menu for 3 people). The first few pages were filled with food items (I thought this was an ice cream corner :|). We finally found the page with the ice cream offerings, and there were quite a few. After a long discussion, we finally decided on a Sticky Chewy Chocolate, Chocolate Almond Fudge and Chocolate and Cream.

It took forever, and I mean forever for the ice cream to be served. And this wait was even more painful as the guy at the counter was mashing ice creams (aka Cold Stone style) so loudly that we couldn’t hear each other across the table. He could have bought a building down with the amount of sound pollution. Anyways, after about 15 minutes, the first ice cream was served.

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The Sticky Chewy Chocolate it was, and it was just alright. It had some gooey chocolate sauce along with chocolate ice cream and a couple of brownie chunks. It was a decent ice cream, but nothing memorable.

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After another 10 minute wait, the Chocolate Almond Fudge was served. My friend asked for some caramel sauce on this one, but there was none. This tasted similar to the first ice cream, with the gooey chocolate replaced by very little fudge. Again, nothing special.

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After an hour since we entered the place, my ice-cream, the easiest one to make of them all, Chocolate and Cream was finally served (My friends had almost finished their ice-creams by now). This one looked great, and the cream tasted yum. However, the chocolate fudge on the bottom was very very sweet, and spoilt the entire ice cream when dug into. The chocolate ice cream and cream were the only palatable items.

Overall, a disappointment. None of the ice cream were out of this world good, and the noise at the place was a huge put off. I read a couple of reviews calling this place economical and pocket friendly, but I wouldn’t agree. For 500 bucks, I could have had close to 10 Kwality Walls or Amul ice creams. But for the hype and the noise, there’s nothing special about this place.

Another place with raving reviews, another disappointment!

Desserts: 7/10
Service: 4/10
Ambiance: 7/10
Price for 3: Rs 494/-

Verdict: 6/10

K&C Bakers & Confectioners | Restaurant Review

Place: K&C Bakers & Confectioners (The Original King and Cardinal Bakery) 
Location: Himayat Nagar X Roads
Cuisine: Bakers, Fast Food
Meal: Dinner

There are tons of places boasting to serve the best burger in Hyderabad, but nothing beats the ones you get at the original King and Cardinal Bakery. Forget Universal, Pick and Move, Big Byte, the burgers here are, wait-for-it, legendary!

The bakery has been split into two in the last few years, with another branch located two building next to it (which is called King and Cardinal). The newer place has better ambiance, and is a tad bit expensive than K&C, and their burgers are equally good. But I’d prefer the original K&C any day, which is on a lower ground compared to the newer place on every front but for the taste.

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For 50 bucks, these guys serve a sumptuous and juicy burger (I know it’s weird calling a veggie burger juicy, but this one is, trust me). The patty is yum, and their mayonnaise is finger licking good, oozing out with every bite. The bun too is super soft and fluffy. Overall, an amazing burger experience.

If your love your burgers, K&C must be on top of your list. The place, service and ambiance aren’t great, but who cares when their burgers are awesome. Their pizza’s are pretty famous too, but I’ve never tasted one so far (maybe next time). As of now, go grab their burger!!

Food: 9.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 50 /-

Verdict: 9.5/10

Edit:

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I also tried out the Veggie Burger at the newer King and Cardinal, which has better ambiance. Priced the same, this burger gives close competition to the one at K&C, but is no where close to the original’s legendary taste.

Ram Ki Bandi | Restaurant Review

Place: Ram Tiffin Center (Ram Ki Bandi) 
Location: Adj. lane to Arrow, Road No. 2, Banjara Hills
Cuisine: Indian Tiffins
Meal: Lunch

Update: Ram Ki Bandi, Banjara Hills, has now upgraded to an air-conditioned joint with ample seating, and is open all day long 🙂

Read on…

I’ve been reading and hearing some raving reviews of Ram Ki Bandi at Nampally for a long time now, but never got an opportunity to visit the place as it’s open only in the mornings, and is kinda far from my place. But now that they’ve opened a new branch at Banjara Hills, I wasn’t gonna stay put. On a weekday afternoon, here I was to hog.

This place serves Idly, Vada and their speciality, dosas. On ambiance front, its put up in a small hall with standing area, nothing great. Who cares about the ambiance when the food is finger licking good? Anyways, I ordered a Butter Paneer Dosa, and was served in about five minutes.

Ram Ki Bandi Restaurant Review
Paneer Masala Dosa

Having seen how the dosa was being made, with tons of butter and paneer, my mouth wouldn’t stop watering. I gulped it down piece by piece, and realized that all the reviews I’ve heard so far weren’t exaggerating (surprisingly). This dosa was simply yum. It was crispy, and the masala rubbed across with the butter and paneer gave it an amazing taste, while the chutney served along also was delicious. I absolutely loved the dosa, but was kinda disappointed with the size for it didn’t even fill half of my tummy. So now ordered a Butter Cheese Dosa, which turned out to be even better than the Paneer Dosa. Awesome stuff!

Having tasted some amazing dosas at Khau Galli, Ghatkopar (Mumbai), I’ve always been apprehensive of the kind and variety you get in Hyderabad. Ram Ki Bandi served something on par with the dosas you get at in Mumbai. I wish and hope they would increase their menu offerings (such as Spring Roll Dosa, etc.).

Give this place a try if you haven’t yet. It’s something every Hyderabadi must taste 🙂

Food: 9.5/10
Service: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 120/- (60 bucks for each dosa)

Verdict: 9/10

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Manam | Movie Review

Manam

After a successful entertainer (Ishq), director Vikram Kumar has another winner at his hands, thanks to Akkineni family.

Manam is not a great film, for it has numerous flaws in terms of logic and reasoning. But it still works, only because it is earnest, and the effort on everyone’s part is sincere (which shows on-screen). The script is very clichéd, with reincarnation and all such stuff, but Vikram was able to put it all forth in a very effective manner (though it seemed a little unconvincing at times). He used humor to bring out the best from his cast. Though the screenplay was dragged quite a bit at times, it was still effective.

In reality, the film works not because of the script, but because of Nagarjuna, who is the real star of the movie. He is absolutely charming and came up with one of his best performances. He couldn’t have given a better send off gift to his father, legendary actor, ANR. Whilst ANR has limited screen presence, he entertains us to the fullest one last time. Chaitanya has improved as an actor, but I believe there is still a long way for him to go. Akhil impresses in his cameo. Both Shriya and Samantha have meaty roles, and they performed to their best. Samantha looked very pretty, while Shriya looked elegant. There’s not much of other cast, and I thought Brahmanandam and Ali were wasted.

On technical front, music by Anoop Rubens is a definite asset to the film. Background score is impressive as well. Cinematography by P. S. Vinod adds more color to this vibrant film, while editing by Prawin Pudi is decent. Dialogues by Vishnuvardhan are good. Production values by Akkineni family are excellent.

Is it worth your time and money??: Definitely. It’s a clean film and a perfect family entertainer. While it might seem a bit clichéd and little unconvincing at times, an earnest effort from the entire cast and crew make this film work. Nagarjuna is the major plus point, while watching ANR on silver screen for the last time is a bonus. Watch it with your family. 🙂 

Worth mention: The scene in the second half with all three generations of the Akkineni family (and maybe even the climax).

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

X-Men: Days of Future Past | Movie Review

X-Men

We finally have a sequel to X-Men: First Class, which combines elements from almost all the X-Men movies. Yay!

After directing the uninspiring Jack the Giant Slayer, Bryan Singer is back with what he does best, directing X-Men movies. Scripted by Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, there are number of subplots and loose end which needed to be taken care of in this one, and Singer does a great job (while there are still few minor unanswered questions). The screenplay is very impressive, especially during the climax where both the past and future are running in parallel. However, I thought the future episodes could have been better handled.

The movie has a huge casting lineup, and everyone performs their best. After five movies as Wolverine (and a special appearance in the sixth), it’s more of a cakewalk for Hugh Jackman. I sometimes wonder if he’s born to play Wolverine! James McAvoy and Micheal Fassbender carry on from where there left off in First Class, with Fassbender having much stronger screen presence. Jennifer Lawrence looked super hot and did great, while Peter Dinklage is good. The rest of the cast is perfect.

On technical front, music by John Ottman could have been better (I feel so especially after amazing score by Hans Zimmer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2). His editing work is pretty neat though (apparently most of Rogue’s scenes were cut out, I wonder why). Cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel is good, but the 3D effects and visuals weren’t really upto the mark.

Is it worth your time and money??: This is definitely one of the best movies in the series, but I personally liked First Class better. It’s still a fun film, with a lot happening. While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 relied on visuals to get you engrossed, X-Men: Days of Future Past relies solely on its script, and doesn’t disappoint. It’d be nice if you catch up with other films so that you understand this one better. You’ll be fine otherwise too.

Worth mention: Quick Silver during the pentagon break episode, and the past and the future shots during the climax.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

Bikanervala | Restaurant Review

Place: Bikanervala 
Location: Road No. 1, Banjara Hills
Cuisine: Indian, Buffet
Meal: Dinner (with amma and dad)

On Mother’s day, and my brother’s birthday, I decided to take amma and dad for dinner at my brother’s favorite restaurant in town, Kailash Parbat. Unfortunately though, after reaching Jubilee Hills, we realized that the place has been closed for a while. We then decided to finally give A’la Liberty a try. We reached there about 9:00 PM, and were surprised to find the restaurant totally packed, with an approximate waiting time of 90 minutes. Given that we were all hungry, we finally moved to Bikanervala, which had a minimal waiting time.

We decided to sit upstairs at the restaurant, which has better ambiance and is less crowded than the snack section downstairs. After waiting for about 10 minutes, we were seated at a table for five, right next to the buffet spread. Though we had initially planned on going for à la carte, I was tempted by the wide spread, so I alone opted for the buffet. Amma and dad ordered a Nargisi Kofta along with Masala Kulcha and Methi Paratha.

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The food was served in about 10-15 minutes. The Nargisi Kofta looked really good, and tasted yum. The kofta ball was soft, full of paneer and nuts, while the gravy was thick and rich, with a nice spicy flavor to it. The Methi Paratha was alright while the Masala Kulcha was very good, with tons of butter on it. These guys also ordered an Aloo Paratha later on, and apparently, this wasn’t that good compared to the Kulcha.

Talking about the buffet which I hogged on, on this Sunday evening, they were serving Tomato Shorba and Sweet Corn Soup, along with Paneer Tikka, Baby Corn Honey Chilli (or something of that sort), and Veg Tikki/Kebab as starters. I opted for the shorba, and was immediately served the soup along with the starters.

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The shorba was thin and didn’t taste great. I’ve had better Tomato Shorbas in my life. Of the starters, the paneer was very fresh and tasted good, while the baby corn needed more spice to be flavorful. The kebabs were just alright.

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I also had some Dahi Papdi before indulging in the main course, which was pretty good.

Apart from the regular make you own salads and Indian snacks (such as fryums, papad and Dhokla), for main course, they had Lahori Paneer, Paneer Korma, Bharwa Mushroom, Chiya Kofta, Veg. Jalfrezi, Kadi Pakoda, and their special Punjabi Chole on the Indian front (apart from Dal and Dal Makhni). There were different variety of breads to choose from, and I had a Tandoori Roti and Paneer Kulcha.

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Except for the mushroom and Chole, all other curries were just alright and forgettable. The Paneer Korma (white gravy) was infact very bland. The mushroom on the other hand was amazingly good. They were stuffed with paneer and other spices, and cooked just perfect. I would have preferred them to be less greasy, but maybe it was the ghee which made them taste so good. The Chole was authentic and yum. Of the breads, the Paneer Kulcha was very good, while the Tandoori Roti was decent.

I had a small serving of the Dum Biryani, which like in any other buffets, tasted terrible.

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On International front, they served Pasta Oliva, Chow Mein and Mixed Vegetables in Coriander Sauce. I The pasta was very dry, and again, was just decent. The Noodles were pretty good, but the accompanying oriental gravy wasn’t upto the mark.

Not being entirely satisfied with the buffet till this point, I divulged into their desserts. They had Moong Dal Halwa, Malpua, Motichur Laddu, a couple of Bengali sweets, fresh fruits and three flavours of ice creams.

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The Malpua and Moong Dal Halwa were very palatable, and the Laddu too was very good, while the Bengali sweets could have been better. The ice creams were alright. I was actually hoping for more on the dessert front, and was not entirely satisfied. It would have been nice if they had more variety.

Overall, I actually regret not going for the à la carte along with amma and dad, for I really didn’t enjoy the buffet so much. Except for a couple of Indian curries and desserts, the rest of the items were plain average. For 600 bucks, I expect much more than average. The à la carte dish tasted way better than any curry on the buffet (I know this is expected, but still). I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be coming back for the buffet, especially when there are tons of other places which offer such average dishes with much more variety for lesser price. Give it a try for their à la carte, or their snacks, and that’s about it.

Food: 7/10
Service: 8.5/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 599/- (Buffet)
Meal for 2: Rs. 649/- (À la carte)

Verdict: 7/10

Lazzio -The Pizzeria | Restaurant Review

Place: Lazzio – The Pizzeria 
Location: Adj. Maharaja Chaat, Kavuri Hills
Cuisine: Pizza
Meal: Dinner

Met a friend for a cup of coffee at My Cafe Latte last week, and on parting ways, I decided to give this new pizza place a try on my way back home. Brightly lit, the place is in the building right next to Maharaja Chaat. It was past 10:00 PM when I walked in, and was cheerfully greeted by the owner Tejas. There were a couple of tables in the interior, and another couple on the exterior, and the pizzeria had decent ambiance.

I ordered a Khumb Delight Pizza (minus capsicum, plus olives) for take away. The pizza was ready in about 10 minutes, and Tejas suggested I reheat the pizza at home if necessary for it was packed in a cardboard box.

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I dug into the pizza immediately after reaching home without re-heating, and boy was it good. The tomato base had an amazing flavor to it, while the thin base was a bit thicker than I expected, but no qualms for it actually tasted good. The cheese was gooey, and the veggies crunchy. I absolutely loved the pizza, especially for its sauce.

For 100 bucks, though the pizza is quite a steal, I thought it was kinda small (at least when I compare it to the ones served at Viva Italia, which are also priced around the same). Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with the pizza. After Viva Italia, this is one pizzeria everyone needs to visit!

Food: 9/10
Service: 8.5/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 100/-

Verdict: 9/10