Sunday, April 30, 2017

Restaurant Review - Villa Casa, Pimpri

Ambiance - ***
Menu - **1/2
Taste - **1/2
Service/Price - ***1/2
Overall - ***

Villa Casa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
This place was on my list of restaurants to visit ever since they started building it. It looked interesting from the outside with a nice name and so I was excited about the place and the food. Finally got a chance to visit it.

So the ambiance is good. Outdoors and indoors. However, there were a lot of mosquitoes even inside. They of course very kindly put mosquito coils to help us. The tables and chairs have various things written on them but I am not sure how it goes with the theme of the place. In fact I am not sure what the theme of the restaurant is frankly. The name is villa casa, and the menu has everything in the world. No specialization as I had expected. The menu card starts with photos of Monolisa and Colosseum etc. in 3 left side pages with menu on the right. You start thinking that it's an Italian themed menu. But after 3 pages, it's lost. there's only menu after that. And even that menu is a mess. Some cuisine starts and then we move to a different cuisine and then again come back to the same cuisine. No idea what is going on. and that leads me think, that if they haven't put thought into their menu (which is the most important part of a restaurant? to decide what they're gonna serve?) then what's the point?

The taste of stuff that we ordered was ok. No great shakes. Also they kept bringing one dish at a time and we couldn't eat together. The price was ok. There were issues with the credit card machine which is ok - these things are teething issues. Service was definitely good. There were a lot of people waiting on us since there was no one else there :)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Review - Hari Varma pickles

Taste - ****
Options - ****
Delivery - ****
Overall - ****

I have always loved pickles. A lot. When I was a kid, there were few options at home. Usually mango or lemon. Sometimes a couple of other things but rarely. Of course the pickles were made in different types and also tasted different in different homes.

So when a friend introduced me to Hari Varma pickles, I was very excited. He ordered different pickles from there for me. I didn't know what to expect but when I saw the pickles they sent I was amazed! They had sent me prawns pickle, Chicken pickle, Tomato picke, Gongura (ambadi) pickle, Ginger pickle and Mango. And I must say I was mighty please with ALL of them. Tasted AMAZING! they finished in no time and I am already ready for ordering the next batch. The only negative thing that I thought was that the chicken pickle had a few bones that couldn't be eaten (though I am sure they improved the taste)

They deliver in India. Not sure if they deliver outside of India as well - you might wanna check that. So if you want some amazing mouth watering pickles that you just can't stop eating, go for it. they are definitely worth it!


Restaurant Review - Mojo's Pizza, Pimple Saudagar

Ambiance - NA
Menu - **
Taste - **
Service/Price - **
Overall - **

Mojo Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I have had pizza at many places including authentic Italian pizza in Italy itself. Very few places can recreate the authenticity of taste and texture but then that is to be expected as most of the places run n factory mode. So I didn't have too many expectations from this place either. But I was bored of ordering from Domino's, Smoking Joe's and Pizza hut. So decided to give this a try. It's a home delivery only place, so no stars for ambiance. But then I should say that the packing was good enough for the pizza to remain intact.

So the first thing to notice is that there are very few options for the types of Pizza. Very few. The topics available are also limited. No topping available for onions and cheese (even though a couple of their pizza types had onion as a topping and of course cheese ... )!! Never seen that anywhere. All this would have been fine if the pizzas were amazing. But that wasn't to be. I had order thin crust. It was thin alright but the texture was just not good. Too flaky. Taste was strictly alright. And all this for a price that's higher than most of the other outlets. Oh I still don't get the more pizza per pizza... etc. that their packaging box says. Even if it's a marketing gimmick, it has to have some substance behind it... it shouldn't be complete hot air like.... well.. some marketing campaigns in recent times ;)

Overall, a disappointment for me.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Restaurant Review - Magnum Opus

Ambiance - NA
Menu options - ****
Taste - **1/2
Service - 0
Overall Experience - *
So, thank you Magnum Opus for getting me back to review writing after a hiatus due to the bad service that I received - twice. so 100% hit rate!

I ordered food from Magnum opus twice and both the times I received only part of my order. the first time it happened, I called them and they did send the remaining order after about an hour, till which time I had lost my appetite and didn't eat much. And yesterday, I received everything except the rotis. I called 3 times in the next 1 hour only to be told each time that the delivery guy has already left with my rotis and will reach in 5 min (twice without checking internally, and once AFTER checking internally with the kitchen). The rotis never appeared and I got too frustrated to call them so made the rotis at home myself and had my dinner at 1030 (2 hours after the first part of my order was received). In all of this, during the interactions yesterday and today - no apology of any sorts by anyone. I did receive an offer from them to send the two rotis today (which was later changed to some sweet dish "complimentary" when I laughed off the first offer).

Now, coming to the taste. it was good. but inconsistent both the times. Price HIGH. Try Chicken dishes.

Again, I am glad i had this experience. Otherwise I wouldn't have been stirred into action again... 
Magnum Opus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 11, 2016

Restaurant review - 24/7 Gallery Cafe, Hyatt Hinjewadi

Ambiance - **1/2
Menu - **
Taste - **1/2
Service/Price - **1/2
Overall - **

This place is in Hinjewadi Phase 1, next to Lemon Tree. Valet parking is available. The ambiance of this place is pretty ordinary. Bland even. From some of the seats, the pool is visible, but that's hardly any solace - this place is on mezzanine floor. I would expect more from Hyatt frankly.

We went for lunch on a weekday, so they had a buffet. A la carte was available but took them 3 attempts to bring in the menu (probably had to search for it) and it was a small menu. Not impressed at all. Maybe they don't expect people to go for a la carte on a weekday afternoon - not totally unfair. The options in the buffet were quite limited. Generally restaurants tend to keep different number of items depending on the day of the week. But then for the price I was paying, I expected more.

Taste wise the food was nothing more than ordinary. In fact it was less than ordinary. They served 4 starters on the table. One of them had a hair in it. They of course replaced it immediately, but then.. come on... Hyatt? So basically the lunch started on a bad note and it didn't pick up. Chicken starter was good. Others not at all. Fish curry was good. Chicken in two pepper sauce was not. The fried rice was kept on a flat pan on mild heat so that it remains warm... however, that made the rice harder and was almost impossible to eat. Trying to keep it warm is fine, but then it should be kept in a deeper pan so that it doesn't burn. Very limited and pretty simple dessert options. One of them looked good but tasted bland again.

And, it being a Hyatt, costed quite a bit - and no corporate discounts unless there's a group of 10 people. So another negative there.

Overall... avoid.

24/7 Gallery Café - Hyatt Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Restaurant review - Double Roti - Vimaan Nagar, Pune

Ambiance - ***
Menu - ***1/2
Taste - **1/2
Service/Price - ***1/2
Overall - ***

First thing I should clarify is that I was invited for food tasting at Double Roti, so we had a preset menu. We did order some extra stuff as well though.

The ambiance. The location of the place in the mall makes it difficult to provide a great ambiance. Still, they have tried some interesting stuff like the hanging lights under steel beaters, having a board for drinks menu, a small truck on each table for holding the cutlery, etc. But there's no theme to it so it comes off as a disjointed effort. But then, you might like it. It's more of a cafe than a proper restaurant in terms of looks. It's location in the heart of Vimaan nagar makes parking a little difficult. Lookout for a free spot nearby instead.

Menu is consistent with the name. Almost full of bread related items. Burgers, sandwiches, pizzas. There are a few other items too but very few. I liked the menu for consistency and having quite a few options in that area. But it just becomes too much of bread after a while. It's huge too! They don't have alcohol serving license yet. They're expecting it soon. They serve stuff in .. different dishes. Steel pan, glass jar, milk bottles, muffin tray, etc. But this trend is becoming all too common nowadays.

We had quite a few mocktails, starters and main course dishes - 

  • Masala lemonade - very basic, but good
  • Cold coffee - Good
  • Madras cold coffee (with filter coffee) - couldn't get it right after 3 attempts. I should say, couldn't get it to our liking. Either was too watery or didn't have the right taste
  • Peach and passionfruit iced tea - ok
  • Lime mint cooler - alright
  • Nutty affair - like liquid peanut butter. You may like it
  • Oreo o Oreo shake - The best of the lot

  • Chicken chilly and Jalapeno quesadilla - Good
  • Shrimp corns - best starter especially with the tangy sweet sauce
  • Peri peri chicken tenders - ok
  • Chilli potato torpedos - the fried potatoes were McCain chilli potatoes kept on chilly and topped with cheese. Tasted good but then that's McCain. Not Double Roti.
  • Pickle chips - ok
  • Mausi's thecha chilli cheese toasts - needs more flavor. Maybe a different cheese?

  • Beef (carabeef) sandwiches/burgers - were ok. Tasted good. But the beef patty was a little tough
  • Lamb burgers - same story. Tasted ok.
  • Chicken burgers - ok. No great shakes
  • Pizza - thin crust, but kinda bland. Again maybe a different cheese or combination of cheeses might help
  • Fish and chips - basa fish doesn't do it for me. Fries were ok fish was pretty much bland.
  • Waffle - topped with lots of fruit and syrup. That part tasted good, but the waffle itself was a little too dense for my liking

Service was good, price - though I didn't pay - looks to be ok too. No major complaints there. 
Overall, it's worth a try if you want something ... bready... and nothing else.

Double Roti Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Restaurant review - Shizusan, The Asian Bistro - Phoenix mall, Pune

Ambiance - ***1/2
Menu - ****1/2
Taste - ****
Service/Price - ***1/2
Overall - ****
The bistro takes its inspiration from its mascot’s - Shizusan’s - explorations across China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea & Malaysia. The ambiance is simple and not in your face, which is a good thing. Menu is interesting. It takes you through Shizusan's journey and also has sketches of the dishes in the menu - that helps in deciding what you want to eat. Good thinking. Half a point just for this. The number of items in the menu is huge! Since I had gone there for tasting, there was a preset menu of some of their best dishes. Tried most of them. Here's the feedback on them -

Veg. Selection
  1. Edamame, Petit Pois & Truffle Oil (S) - A light green pocket and a lingering wasabi aroma – délicieux! Japanese soul; French flavour. --- 3/5. Needs more flavour
  2. Crystal Vegetables (S) - Translucent dumplings with the freshest carrots, squash and crunchy pokchoy --- 4/5. Beautifully translucent. Good taste
  3. Vegetable Chui Chow (S) - Pouches of tofu, mushroom and roasted peanuts served with chilli oil --- 2.5/5. Too bland
Non - Veg. Selection
  1. Prawn & Chive (S) - Inspired by Malaysian food stalls  – tender prawn and minced chives with a pickled green chilli relish --- 4/5. Needs more spices
  2. Poached Chicken (S) - Money bag-shaped pockets of minced chicken, ginger, chestnuts, and pokchoy; Served in a tangy broth --- 4.5/5. Excellent
  3. Lamb Suimai (S) - With a filling of minced lamb, leek and coriander - some serious flavour packed into one dish --- 4/5
  4. Shizusan’s Chicken Soup Dumplings (S) - Dumplings filled with steaming hot broth of minced chicken and shiitake mushrooms. Make a small tear with your chopsticks (or fork) and then sip, slurp and savour! --- 3/5. The hot broth was good. Delicious in fact. But the dumpling itself was, meh…

Veg. Selection
  1. Shizusan’s 17 Ingredient Signature Slaw - Pickled red onions, salted plum dressing coupled with my secret ingredients --- 4.5/5. Excellent, inspite of being veg ;)
  2. Vietnamese Watermelon Salad - Fresh radish, mint, cilantro, feta, toasted almonds in a nutty chilli and garlic soy dressing --- 3/5. Would have preferred a more fresh taste
Non - Veg. Selection
  1. Tuna Carpaccio - Topped with chillies, lime, Thai fish sauce, crispy onions and burnt garlic --- 3.5/5

Veg. Selection
  1. Pepper Garlic Mushrooms - Tossed generously with Thai holy basil and Shaoxing wine --- 4/5. Nice mix of flavours
  2. Chilli Celery Cottage Cheese - Cooked with Sichuan peppers and dried red chillies --- 5/5. Best veg flavour of the evening. Just fantastic
Non - Veg. Selection
  1. Malay Style Chicken Satay - Marinated in galangal and lemongrass with the hotness of bird’s eye chilli --- 3/5. Too average and safe compared to other dishes
  2. Baby Back Ribs - Flavoured with our homemade barbecue sauce and signature spice rub --- 5/5. Now this definitely was the best non-veg dish of the evening. Succulent. Spicy. Perfectly cooked

SUSHI - (8 pieces to a plate)
Veg. Selection
  1. Sriracha Blush - Wholesome avocado, cucumber, crispy jalapeno and cream cheese --- 4/5
  2. Asparagus Tempura - Crispy asparagus centre covered in nori and a black sesame crust --- 4/5
  3. Quinoa Maki - Pickled veggies and seaweed complemented with wasabi peas --- 3/5. The idea of using Quinoa is good. But it just doesn't work that well
Non-Veg. Selection
  1. Dynamite Shrimp - A delectable shrimp tempura centre topped with Sriracha mayo --- 3/5. Needs more flavour
  2. Mud Crab Salad - A sweet and tender core with ponzu, prawn, tobiko and baby mayo --- 3.5/5
  3. Rainbow Maki - Tuna, salmon, crab stick, cucumber, tobiko --- 3.5/5. Good presentation. Tastewise, it was ok

SASHIMI - Assorted Platter of 9
Veg. Selection
  1. Crispy Portobello - Cool minced cucumber accompanied by Sriracha mayo and jalapenos --- 4/5 though it was a little tough to eat
Non-Veg. Selection
  1. Pulled Chicken Bun - Succulent chicken cooked in an Asian BBQ sauce plus caramelised onions and slaw --- Did not taste
  2. My PBJ Bao - 12-hour braised pork belly topped with a hot jalapeno slaw --- Did not taste

Veg. Selection
  1. Stir Fried Oriental Greens - Fresh coriander, light soy and crispy garlic gravy --- Did not taste
  2. Trio of Mushroom & Asparagus - Shiitake, button and oyster mushrooms with galangal, basil and baby garlic --- Did not taste
Non - Veg. Selection
  1. Steamed Thai Fish - Marinated in garlic, chilli and lime dressing. Spice meets tang in this combination --- 3/5. Needs a stronger dressing
  2. Pattani Lamb Chops - With the lip smacking Thai flavours of fresh green peppercorn, ginger and basil --- 3.5/5. Well cooked. Taste ok
  3. Minced Chicken Kaprow - Thailand’s popular staple fare cooked in red chilli, galangal and young garlic --- 3.5/5. Nice and spicy. But chicken was a little over done

  1. Thai Green Curry
    1. Veg --- Did not taste
    2. Chicken --- Did not taste

  1. Hot Stone Rice - Watch as I take this classic dish and transform it on your table right before your eyes! --- 3.5/5. A little (very little) bit of theatre to the process. Tasted fine but the rice wasn't cooked through

  1. Phad Thai Noodles - My take on the very popular sweet–spicy flat rice noodles --- 4.5/5. Spicier than most phad thai noodles that you get at other places
  2. Chilli Garlic Noodles - For those who want to play it safe and spicy --- Did not taste

  1. Peanut Butter Pie - Topped with chocolate ganache and roasted peanuts --- 4/5. Very… peanutty :)
  2. Lychee & Date Wontons - Crunchy and sweet golden brown wontons with vanilla ice cream --- 3/5. Idea is good. But didn't get a taste of either lychee or dates
  3. Tiramisu Asia - Green tea sponge, coffee dust and creamy mascarpone, a recipe from the modern bylanes of China --- 4.5/5. I don't like tiramisu. But this was quite good. Definitely best of the three

  1. Apple based and watermelon based mocktails were fantastic. Orange was ok.
  2. They don't have alcohol license yet. But they expect to get it in another month.

Service was very good and efficient. There was a little lull in the middle but that's expected considering the restaurant was full and we were a very picky bunch. Sukhmanjeet did a fantastic job of tending to our table. And he knew well what he was serving. That's very important. Thank you.

Price, what do you expect? Of course it's high. The premium being charged is for the extra efforts they have taken to tweak the dishes and making them more exciting. I would say, go there once. At least. After that, decide based on the increment that you get this year… 

Shizusan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato