1. Sholaa jo bhadke….. A name that conjured up this song, when shared with a friend that he had launched a QSR, complaining that I have not visited the place in spite of repeated requests.

    A pending mall visit, clubbing that together on a Saturday afternoon, braved the drive (without a driver) and reached Neptune Mall in Bhandup. A visit, that I must have made after nearly 3 years, the mall was pretty full, with actual shoppers carrying bags around and of course millennials romancing or waiting for a movie.

    Having parked the car in the opposite direction, there were some vague signs about where the ‘Food Court’ was. Managed to locate it and saw ‘Sholaa’ from a distance – a clean preface and looked quite inviting. Reached and realised that the friend would still be reaching in 30-45 minutes, because we had managed to reach early thanks to there being no traffic that afternoon. Without identifying ourselves, decided to try out a couple of items on the menu. Ordered the chicken grilled barbeque and chicken wings. The grilled barbeque was just right – tender, juicy with enough masala seeping in to make it tasty. The chicken wings did not really work for me, neither did it for my colleague.

    Then tried out the grilled fish with pepper – the find of the lot, lovely, perfectly grilled and worth a repeat. All of this is accompanied by corn (excellent idea and asked for repeat); a couple of slices of potato/beet/cucumber (tastes nice) and chutney (which was okayish)

    There was a thought of trying out the paneer, but felt it would be a waste of time & the friend also walked up, recommending the whole wheat burger, which really worked except that my colleague did not like the chutney spread.

    Their offer of an add on of paratha/rice and dal for another 50-60 bucks makes it a perfect mini meal for less than 250/-

    The entire experience has been mapped as similar to Nandos and you have an option of 3 types of spicyness. We tried the medium, which was pretty good; but the next time around would want to try the most spicy – of course with a bottle of water by the side.

    Location: Neptune Mall Bhandup
    Meal: Lunch
    Food: 7.5/10
    Service: 8/10
    Damages: This was by Invite from a friend to try the food.

    Sholaa Sholaa jo bhadke….. A name that conjured up this song, when shared with a friend that he had launched a QSR, complaining that I have not visited the place in spite of repeated requests.

  2. J. W. Marriott is one of our favorite hotels, primarily for Breakfast and BBC; but recently had a good experience in Indian food also, that you can read here

    A couple of emails from a young lady inviting me with friends to try out Master Chef Jyoti’s cuisine one evening. With Gaurav and Ranjit landed up there to give it a try.

    A quick glance at the table and saw Himanshu the big boss himself, had a brief chat and down to food it was. Chef Jyoti explained a few things and the service began.

    Pedhe ki lassi and Badam ka Doodh were served, just tried a spoonful being lactose intolerant and not a great lover of sweet, but could see the entire table going Ah! so concluded that it was good :)

    The starters began the rounds – Amritsari machhi which went well with the green chutney (fortunately it was not Basa); chicken which was okayish but did not really work for me; a spoonful of Paneer bhurji sans onions which was excellent and led to an exciting conversation of availability of good paneer in Bombay.

    The Maa ki daal very good, chole that were just perfect, and paneer tikka masala was excellent. The non vegetarian was a complete let down – Kheema mutter had more mutter than kheema which does not really work and the mutton was just okayish. As a Punjabi robust Rasoi, I was expecting more chicken the desi style. The puri with chole was nice, but keeping a basket of it let it get cold, but the mirchi ki roti worked very well. The pulao/biryani/rice was quite flavourful and worked well to finish it off.

    This was completed by Kheer, Rabdi which was pretty good.

    To sum it up, the vegetarian ruled that day, with non vegetarian except the fish, being quite iffy for me. As I shared with Chef Jyoti that she also seemed to be corrupted by my wife to convert me back to complete vegetarianism.

    Location: Juhu
    Meal: Dinner
    Food: 6.5/10
    Service: 8/10
    Damages: This was by Invite to try MasterChef Jyoti Arora #Rasoi

    J. W. Marriott #Rasoi J. W. Marriott is one of our favorite hotels, primarily for Breakfast and BBC; but recently had a good experience in Indian food also, that you can read…

  3. Buddha Belly

    Buddha Belly – a quirky name that I saw couple of times last fortnight whilst passing on the Juhu road.

    One fine day, taking a friend for a checkup to Lilavati Hospital, decided to try it out.

    There was a valet, so handed over the car, entered and were greeted by two captain/server in faux Chinese uniforms. The kitchen is on the right as you enter and straight ahead are 16-20 covers which were…

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  4. Driver Katha - Chunilal Patel

    Driver Katha – Chunilal Patel

    In my on going Driver Katha, another chapter was added last week, a very brief chapter so to speak.

    Driver recommended, came to meet in the evening and said would report the next day morning at 8; however he did not have a phone. Reported for work at 7 am and was asked to wait, since I had meetings later part of the day and would leave later.

    10 am came up to enquire if he could go and have tea –…

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  5. Driver Katha - Vishwanath Yadav

    Driver Katha – Vishwanath Yadav

    I have been sharing my driver woes – expensive, not turning up for work at the last minute etc. simply put ‘रेस के दिन घोड़ा लंगड़ा’ story in twitter. But this time around it reached quite the limit.

    After attending numerous interviews with prospective drivers, managed to get one – who claimed he was not paid salary for the past two months and hence wanted to leave, had seen Bombay, drove all…

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  6. Biryani by Air – sounds a kind of weird doesn’t it?

    A couple of weeks, I received an extremely polite email from Mohan – founder and CEO of Food by Air who has begun the launch of Biryani by air, asking me if I would like to try and share experiences with him.

    Frankly, when I first read it, I thought it must be the same PR agency release, who want to send something and want me to tweet, write and talk about it – which technically is so cheap and time consuming that I might as well buy the product and try it out. I know, I know, there are many who do so, but unfortunately, I am too old and principled to do that.

    A couple of days, cleaning out my in box, managed to read the mail again and said what the hell, let me respond; a couple of mails back and forth and Mohan managed to convince me to try the service out.

    During that time, catching up with Debrat a hard core food lover suggested the service to him and did an email introduction.

    I received an email that my biryani would be delivered by 8 pm and since family was veg, he arranged for some veg biryani as well.

    The delivery was prompt at 7.45 pm with a plastic bag of ‘Paradise Biryani Center’ from Hyderabad and was hot. If there is a party or picnic, one could just open and dig in. The lad doing the delivery, said I have nothing to pay and vamoosed.

    Opening the biryani packets, they were like 1 kg each of Mutton, chicken and veg! Phew! I did what any good friend would do so. Shared it with other biryani lovers.

    Does it make sense – From a food perspective, One has eaten lots of time at Paradise and continues to eat, but getting it delivered when you get a craving or you want to share/impress people, this service is fitting right into the niche.

    It is still initial stages and he promises to add more locations and food, which is pretty good. And yes the Biryani was of course delicious.

    Disclaimer: This was sent by Mohan from Food by Air to try out their service with a no obligation clause

    Biryani by Air Biryani by Air - sounds a kind of weird doesn’t it? A couple of weeks, I received an extremely polite email from Mohan - founder and CEO of Food by Air who has begun the launch of Biryani by air, asking me if I would like to try and share experiences with him.

  7. The spate of celebratory eating out culminated in breakfast at Lotus Cafe – J W Marriott today morning.

    This has been a favorite for a very long time, however this time we were visiting the hotel for breakfast after nearly 11/2 years, the last time being with my nephews, niece way back in August 2012.

    There were many changes – Service if anything looked and appeared better – unless Himanshu has put all his chefs to keep an eye on me – circulating my photograph around.

    We were unlucky not to get a table near the window, so settled midway. Took a saunter to check out the offerings new if any, the croissant made fresh were extremely enticing, picked up one and began munching, absolutely divine.

    Began with checking at the waffles table, asked for a Salty French toast – a peculiarity of mine from childhood and something that I make very well, a story for some other time. Alas they had pre mixed stuff so could not accommodate.

    Moved on to the fruits – plum, pineapple, grapes very nice as usual but watermelon was a bit off; the cheese platter had just three, picked up a piece but could see the crackers that I like so picked up a bagel with enthusiasm, that was soon misplaced. It seems the water could be the reason, because, I am yet to find a good one. This was ok after running it thru the toaster twice.

    Whilst looking around, one of the chef popped up and said, if I wished they could make the salty french toast for me inside and serve it. I thanked him, with a promise to tell him the next time.

    The killer for me today was the superb Bhaji – could give Shiv Sagar a run for its money, the kheema mutter was another killer, just the right consistency, spices and piping hot. The bhurji was a complete let down, the tomatoes and onions did not know whether they were coming or going and the eggs were too soft for bhurji. But the dampener on all of this was the “Pav” which were actually 5 star dinner rolls. For the love of God, Why can’t all 5 stars in India for once learn how to make Pav and roll it out and check the reactions of the guests. And yes, before somebody comes with a retort, I know what I am talking about, have worked on both sides, entertained enough foreigners who have fallen in love with Brun and Pav.

    Also during the course of trying this out, one Vijay and another gentleman kept popping up, asking me if I wanted something special, etc. Yeah! I know, I am famous and all that, but this was distinctively fishy and had all hall mark of Himanshu I shared this with my family and they said, you must be on cctv and marked.

    Along with this I tried my favorite Pohe – Yes, I will taste pohe anywhere, anytime. Extremely nice, with the peanuts providing the right crunchiness, but the ‘Masalchi’ seems to have changed, instead of the usual finely chopped onions I am used to eating, they were large pieces and some of them the upper one which taste awful.

    The surprise and a nice touch was – some gujarati farsan – but the server needs to be trained to recognise which is what ;) and chai tapri in cutting glass, which was nice, but needs to be a bit stronger & adrak flavourful.

    Completing this round, did a quick round of Dosa – sada and masala, nice the right size, very good AND the sambhar is actually tasting like a Shetty sambhar not a sanitised 5 star one. Keep it up.

    I had an urgent meeting at 11 and had to leave without tasting the Parantha, another round of kheema and polish everything with bread and marmalade and strong tea. So leaving the ladies rushed off.

    Location: Juhu
    Meal: Breakfast
    Food: 8/10
    Service: 9/10
    Damages: Approx ₹2500/- for 3 people applying the Preferred Card.

    Lotus Cafe – J W Marriott The spate of celebratory eating out culminated in breakfast at Lotus Cafe - J W Marriott today morning.

  8. Woodside Inn - Andheri

    Woodside Inn – Andheri

    The Pre birthday dinner was over, and the day of the birthday was supposed to be at Sofitel, however we were a bit tired of Indian/Punjabi and so opted for something closeby and kept vacillating between Indigo or Woodside Inn. Daughter opted for Woodeside inn and in spite of my misgivings of a year and half ago, off we went at 9 pm on Tuesday.

    Immediate convenient parking and looked pretty empty,…

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  9. Saffron – J W Marriott – A place that we had never ever been, in spite of being a member for the past so many years.

    J W Marriott is one of our most favourite places to go for breakfast and dinner/buffet. Over the past couple of years, we have been meaning to visit Saffron and in fact would end up booking also a couple of times, but upon reaching there, would always end up looking at the place, and get disheartened with just an odd table being occupied and the menu.

    Last November, we had a party here and Chef Himanshu had been extremely kind to share some starters which were the hightlight of the evening. And so it was decided to flip a coin to decide amongst Sofitel (Tuskers/Jyran) vs Marriott (Saffron) to flag off my daughter’s birthday. Yes she is an adult, but celebrates a week of her birthday more or less. A couple of tweets and I had Chef Himanshu insisting that we visit the Marriott, which also happened to my daughter’s choice. Made a booking, ordered the cake and we were set so to speak.

    I have had a birthday experience, which was brilliantly recovered but it still is remembered. Reaching there, the flawless service I remember & love Marriott for was in evidence – reservations, corner quiet table done, menu presented, drinks order taken – frozen Margarita for me and virgin Mojitos for the ladies.

    Looking at the menu, I saw some changes, most importantly the Tasting Menu – this seems to now slowly being introduced by Fine Dine restaurants and I can see it being well received. Our server was pleased and explained it as ‘Buffet on the Table’ He quickly laid out some crisp – non blackened papad rolls – (Yes I do judge a restaurant on the quality of papads) with green and mint chutney, both were superb.

    In just a couple of minutes the train began – Kebabs – chicken & mutton – Gilawati Kebab ruled – one of the best that I have tasted; friends who know their meat well, have always shared that the Gilawati has to be crisp and tender, a difficult task for many to achieve, but superbly made. In fact one of my friends who had tasted this in November, has been insisting that we visit only for the kebabs.

    The veg was as good, in fact the mushroom – Khumbh ki Gilawat was extremely well received, particularly by my wife who normally avoids mushroom.

    The drinks had to be reminded, Mojitos came, but I was still parched for my Margarita – and I normally like to drink it before I eat my meat. It finally came, a bit melted with less salt at the top then I normally like AND very little Tequila by my & Marriott standards – And yes I have had it many a times and always perfectly made.

    And suddenly the Man himself Chef Himanshu made an entrance taking out time from his busy schedule, to meet us and wish my daughter. A quick chat and he was off to some other crisis, promising to come back.

    But Hey, What’s a drink, whilst everything was going fine and we were having a good time. Stuffed with starters, I would have loved to just continue with them. But our Server gave a stare, and telling me that there is some lovely fish. The Main course covered chicken, meat and fish with of course Dal which was lovely, can be had with just the warqi paratha.I also tried out the Pindi chhole, and my wife said it was as good as a couple of our favorite places.

    Stuffed to the gills, Biryani time – “Biryani ho toh Mutton ki, ya na ho” seems to have been taken to heart at Saffron. I had to actually beg that I not be served mutton pieces, but just the rice with the gravy. Tried it, the fragrance of the rice with the mutton was superb (And No I cannot wax eloquent any more ;)).

    The ladies loved the veg biryani (yes I know what is written above) with the lovely raita.

    Again a lightening visit by Chef Himanshu to inform that there was a special cake besides the one reserved. The staff including Sudip the F&B Manager brought it out, sang along and we had a bite; though not my daughter because she is off sweets & hence does not touch. She asked the staff to please have a piece and also all who were on duty at that time.

    AND then the surprise, my voucher, membership card was returned to me, with compliments of Chef Himanshu and Marriott, telling us to use it next time around. NO it had nothing to do with any experience or so, but an invite that had been pending for a long time. We were completely blown away with the thought.

    We did take photographs, but were enjoying so much that, the food photographs may not be superb, but then I am not a Photographer in any case.

    Saffron – J W Marriott Saffron - J W Marriott - A place that we had never ever been, in spite of being a member for the past so many years.

  10. I come from a school of thought that believes, gentlemen and ladies send handwritten notes with a fountain pen.

    This goes back to school, where cursive handwriting was forced upon by teachers and only fountain pens were allowed. I also studied in a school which as a policy demanded ‘Hero’ fountain pens only. As one grew, one has fond memories of a grand uncle gifting a Parker pen which was and still is a prized possession, although rarely used now.

    An old Sheaffers with history, was begged from the parent, repaired with a lot of investment going into it and used for quite a while before being returned for reasons best kept a secret.

    Rollerballs came with a convenience, as a Salesman that was of paramount importance, also the tendency of a client asking a pen to sign and not return also was a real threat :) But with seniority and promotions, the wife wanted to gift Mont Blanc – this was nearly two decades ago – searched for more than 6 months till I finally gave up and bought a limited edition, soon to be extinct pencil & roller ball maroon set. This was followed after a couple of years by a Black ball point and roller ball set. Every time I would travel which was like twice a month at least, would stop at the duty free, ask for the latest fountain pen, caress it like a forgotten lover, write a couple of sentences and walk away with regret because it was beyond my reach. It became so much so that the staff would recognise me from a distance and be ready with the pens :) medium/broad nib, because there can be no other.

    A big move in 2005-6 and finally did it. Bought a Mont Blanc limited edition piano fountain pen. Used it for a long time till I kept it in a case a year and half back and just gave up on using quality pens. Thoughts, depressive and other wise, kept intruding and not wanting to write were the real culprits; though during this time my collection was featured in an fashion magazine too :)

    During this time, debated many a times about stationery, pens, nibs with but never never went back to write with the pen.

    An event, a debate, a sharp reprimand by my wife set me thinking and I cleaned the fountain pen, filled it with the desired color of ink – Mont Blanc of course and began using it.

    Coincidentally tweeted or RT something related to a fountain pen and we exchanged views.

    Bam! tweeted out that he would like to gift a fountain pen to me. Normally very averse, my greed of a customised fountain pen swayed me. A couple of tweet exchanges and I met to collect my gift.

    is a brilliant 17 year old who has cleared his A levels, secured admission and is all set to go abroad and study this September. However, passion struck him last October and he tried his hand at making pens – there is a lovely story there also.

    We shared notes and he gifted me my custom fountain pen.

    If you love fountain pens as I do, get one made from . If you don’t and have time, when he travels to Bangalore, Pune, meet him, chat about his passion and see how driven he is. Maybe he may convert you to loving fountain pens :)

    Fountain Pen Love I come from a school of thought that believes, gentlemen and ladies send handwritten notes with a fountain pen.