Starbucks Mumbai review: Strictly OKAY coffee, good food and could-do-better seating.

Star Club Sandwich

There’s so much hype surrounding Starbucks that I, like many others in Mumbai, just had to check it out. But I decided to wait for the excitement to die down to avoid standing in a long queue to enter The Coffee Shop.
So, I went there on a weekday and after spending a good an hour and a half in the coffee shop, I still can’t understand why would anyone want to wait over 30 minutes to get into this place or take pictures of its every nook and corner, behaving like star struck Bollywood fans. Starbucks serves you beverages disposable cups with your name written on it and one wannabe friend of a friend actually took a picture of herself with the cup and kept the cup as a souvenir for a good week at his work desk, till a colleague who couldn’t stand her admiring a week old used coffee cup anymore, crushed it and threw it in the bin. Yes, Starbucks mania has hit coffee fans in Mumbai. I am a coffee fan and love sitting in coffee shops for hours together. As I gather, most people like me, looking to spend lazy evenings with friends in a coffee shop want comfort, relaxing ambience, good coffee and decent food to match in the outlet.

Twin Barrel Sausage Roll

Here’s what we liked about the Starbucks standalone outlet at Horniman Circle, Mumbai.
* The ambience is very tavern like, laid back, rugged and casual. Coffee mugs, cups and beans up for sale are neatly dumped in large containers.
* Lights, yellow, are dim and muted.
* The outlet is spacious, with a mezzanine level too.
* The staff is friendly, courteous and have mastered the ‘I’m-ever-ready-to-help-you-out’ look on their faces.
* The menu has interesting options and most of them deliver on the taste front too.
* The Salmon and Cream Cheese Croissant is yummy. Priced at Rs 130, the croissant is soft and oozes thin layers of cream, cheese and bits of salmon into your mouth. Sharing this croissant is highly recommend because a) it’s stuffed with cheese and cream – distribute the calories. b) all that cream and cheese makes you feel stuffy in no time.
* Star Club Sandwich — a star shaped burger of sorts, has egg, chicken patty, cheese and a layer of green leaves in it. One of my favourites from the menu, it balances all the elements excellently. You can have an entire one by yourself and still be game for more. Rs 160.
* Twin Barrel Sausage Roll, Rs 90, is sausage rolls with flaky exteriors. A bland sausage taste envelopes your mouth with each bite, so have it with ketchup to avoid feeling bored.
* My total bill came to Rs 798 and 76 paise. And Starbucks rounded the amount to Rs 798 instead of Rs 799. Unheard of in today’s times…

What didn’t work:
* There is only one billing counter, which means a never ending queue to place your order and another one to collect the beverage!
* The seating styles are weird and uncomfortable. Some tables have regular chairs around them, while some have majestic wide-width ones circling them. These chairs are so far apart that you can’t help but notch up your volume a few decibels more than what is considered decent and invite stares from fellow patrons.
* The Vanilla Latte and Caramel Macchiato taste identical or so similar, you can’t tell one from the other. We were tempted to ask for a replacement, but the thought of standing in that ever growing queue to even get an opportunity to talk to the staff made us gulp down the twin beverages, without a sound.
* The music. It’s a coffee shop. It’s Starbucks. Don’t make us feel like we’re in the lobby of a 5-Star hotel. Play some peppy numbers, pleaaaaase.
* Ooh!!! And my friend and I spotted a couple of tiny creatures hovering in the coffee beans container near the blenders. By the time we could draw our fellow companion’s attention to them, they disappeared. We’re still wondering if we were the lucky recipients of coffee with insect juice in it that evening! Guess we’ll never know. Sigh!

The Salmon and Cream Cheese Croissant

Bottomline: Starbucks… just another friendly neighbourhood coffee shop.

There’s something very Sabya about this Nari creation

Is it just me, or there’s something very Sabya about this Narendra Kumar Ahmed mish mash desi creation that model Evelyn Sharma was spotted in at the Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser, co hosted by Estee Lauder on Tuesday night. BTW, we think Evelyn has what it takes to sweep Bollywood off its feet. An Indian face, petite frame, good dress sense and she’s done a good job in several TVCs till date. So, when is the big Bollywood launch, Evelyn? The event took place at Aer in Mumbai.

All about Starbucks, Mumbai

For those wondering what the brouhaha surrounding the Starbucks store at Fort, in Mumbai, India is all about, here’s a glimpse into what the outlet looks like and what’s on the menu. Starbucks signature espresso-based beverages, Starbucks VIA Ready Brew and Starbucks Reserves are staples on the menu. The store also serves Tata Tazo and Himalayan mineral water. On the food front, you can choose from all of 42 items that includes western favourites and the local flavours are reflected in items such as Elaichi Mawa Croissant, Murg Tikka Panini and the Tandoori Paneer Roll.

Starbucks store in Mumbai

So, why is Starbucks serving Tata beverages, you ask? Here’s a little introduction that should clear all doubts: Starbucks, as most of you might already know, is a global chain of coffee shops and this is its first outlet in India. Delhi, rumours suggest is set to have its own Starbucks outlet in a few months from now. But that makes for another story… The Mumbai outlet is in collaboration with Tata Global Beverages. Tata Starbucks Limited is a 50/50 joint venture between Starbucks Coffee Company and Tata Global Beverages.

Dig in.

Pakistani designers showcase festive wear in Mumbai and Delhi

Indian fashion is being influenced by Pakistani designers. In fact, most of our designers are borrowing elements from Pakistani fashion to give a tweak to bridal and festive wear. The salwar kameez is now ankle-length and the silhouette is flowy, long at the back and slightly short in the front. The salwars range from fitted churidars to loose pant styles. The gowns also have lots of embroidery and gota work. The colour palette is rich and colourful, with ample shimmer and little scope for subtle and toned down and beaten hues.

Pakistani designers Umar Sayeed, Sana Safinaz, Nida Azwer and Maheen Karim among many others, part of the Soiree Boutique in Dubai will be showing their festive collection for the season at Hemant Room, Four Seasons Hotel, Worli, Mumbai. Today is the last day of the showing. Check them out.

Maheen Karim teams a jumpsuit with a rust jacket with embroidery on it for a festive touch

Umar Batul creation

On the other hand, two designers from Pakistan Fashion Design Council have just arrived in Delhi and will be showing their creations and guiding brides to be on their trousseau. Maheen Khadar of Karma and Khadija Shah of Elan will be in the Capital till October 26, 2012 and available for one on one interactions at The Boulevard, M4,  South Extension, Part II, New Delhi, in between 11 am and 8 pm.

Red gown by Umar Sayeed



Comic Con in Mumbai… yayeee!!!

A fan at Comic Con, Mumbai

Comic Con is here!!! Happening at the World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, the event saw thousands of people eager to be a world of comics. Organised by Comic Con India, the event saw fans, kids and adults, dressed as their favourite comic characters. Stalls exhibiting, promoting and selling comics, graphic novels, merchandise, screenings, previews, workshops and interactive sessions were on the itinerary.  

FYI: In the recent and second annual Comic Con India that took place in Feb’12, the footfalls touched 35,000 and sales touched 50 lakhs in just three days and the one happening now is expected to cross these figures. 

Broccoli and Almond Soup Recipe

This is an easy to prepare Broccoli and Almond Soup recipe. However, the preparation may take up a bit of your time. Don’t get worked up, the end result is worth the effort.

The following recipe is courtesy Chef Amit Chaudhary, CORNICHE restaurant in Bandra, Mumbai.

Broccoli florets

Broccoli and Almond Soup (Serves 1)


Broccoli Paste







White Pepper Powder 01 gms

Fresh Oregano

Almond Paste

Parmesan Cheese

To make 200 gms Broccoli paste:

Blanched Broccoli






To make 200 gms Almond paste :



140 gms

To make 200 ml Veloute:


Refined Flour (Maida) 30 gms

Vegetable Stock

To make 200 ml Vegetable Stock:






Black Pepper Corn



NOTE: Any other vegetables may be added as per the requirement.

Soak almonds in water overnight to soften them


1) To make the broccoli paste, blanch the broccoli and set aside. Now take butter in a pan, sauté the
onion and garlic till golden brown, add the broccoli, oregano and toss together. Now add the cream and
remove from the flame. Once it cools, make a fine paste.

2) Take the almonds and soak in water for about 30 minutes, remove from water and peel the skin. Now
take water in a pan and blanch the almonds till soft and finally make a paste by using cream to give it

3) To prepare the veloute, take butter in a pan and melt it. Once it melts, add the flour and cook. Avoid
cooking till it gets a colour.

4) On the side keep your vegetable stock ready by simmering all the ingredients in a pot till you get an
aroma and the stock is clear and without colour. Now add the cold stock to the warm butter and flour
mixture and blend well making sure that no lumps are formed.

5) Finally to prepare the soup, take the onion, garlic and celery chopped finely in a pan of melted butter
and cook till soft and tender. Now add the broccoli paste and oregano simmer it for some time then add
the almond paste to the mix. Add the veloute and cream and cook till the desired thickness is attained.

6) Finish it with salt and pepper for taste and serve in a soup bowl, garnish it with grated parmesan

Sudha Murthy: Impressive speeches simplified!

Sudha Murthy

Sudha Murthy may look like the granny-next-door but unlike most grans, she knows how to enthrall a crowd. For the uninitiated, Mrs Murthy is a noted Indian author, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation and the wife of Narayan Murthy. I had the opportunity to witness her at her enthusiastic best, when she was the chief guest for the Economist Crossword Book Awards, at Tata Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai on Thursday evening.
Watching Sudha infuse life into a packed Tata Theatre, I realised that there are two types of speakers. The first type is very well spoken and can write impressive speeches. But all they can do is recite the speech and only a small percentage of the audience will probably remember what they said. The second variety has the audience wrapped around their finger in a matter of seconds. Even if what they are saying is not of national importance, you will hang on to their every word and pass on what you understood to people you meet for one full week.

Mrs Murthy falls in the second category of speakers.

Simply dressed in a beige sari, the pallu wrapped firmly around her shoulders, Mrs Murthy flashed a 100 watt smile as soon as she took to the microphone. Like a pro and a true sport she admitted that being a chief guest was easier than being a judge, as all she had to do was attend the function and distribute prizes, unlike the judges who had to read through 350 odd books in all. An author herself, Mrs Murthy went on to give a glimpse into what kindled her love for books. “When I was a kid, my father would always tell me to treats books like humans – don’t step on them, keep them in a comfortable environment, cover them, care for them…”

An unassuming air about herself, blended with self-assurance and the right amounts of humility and wit, Mrs Murthy, winner of the Padma Shri and RK Narayana’s award for literature, said that being a writer was very important to her because it gave her an individual identity. “Being Narayan Murthy’s wife, I may get a few extra shares in Infosys, but being a writer is independent of whose wife, mother, daughter or sister I am and that is sacred to me,” she said as the audience reacted with a thunderous applause. The cheer said that they couldn’t agree more with what she just said.

A combination of simple words, clear speech, ability to laugh at oneself, a pinch of self-assured goofiness and wit is probably makes for a good speaker and Sudha Murthy demonstrated that to a packed Tata Theatre at the awards. Other eminent personalities, with better diction and vocabulary addressed the audience at the awards, but it is only Mrs Murthy’s words that I still remember!

Shilpa Shetty’s post pregnancy appearance

Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty has said that she is in no hurry to get back her sexy figure post having a baby with husband Raj Kundra. The actor recently attended the brunch in Mumbai, hosted to create awareness on Breast Cancer and it looks like she’s already on her way to regaining her envious curves. Some people are just plain lucky, aren’t they?!!!

Shilpa Shetty, a few months after delivering her baby, at beStylish brunch supporting breast cancer awareness


Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara spotted at her father’s wedding celebrations with Kareena Kapoor

Sara Ali Khan in Abu-Sandeep

Actor Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara was clicked attending the wedding celebrations of her father with actor Kareena Kapoor. The young lady wore an Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla mirror work chamak ghagra in pastel shades of light green and pink for the sangeet ceremony. 
And is it just us, or Sara looks like a replica of her mom, actor Amrita. Given how most Bollywood betas and betis are unimaginably plump before the acting bug  hits them, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a slim and trim Sara all set to woo the camera in a few years from now. 

Sara Ali Khan in Abu-Sandeep

Barbeque Nation Food Fiesta Review

Customise your   barbeque at Barbeque Nation

What: It doesn’t take a lot of effort to sell the idea of an evening in Barbeque Nation. Foodies, especially those who dig barbequed starters will love the concept of having a live grill on your table. Skewers holding marinated and partly grilled starters are placed on the barbeque stand that is at the center of the table. You have to keep turning the skewers to avoid charring the chunks of meat and empty them on to your plate when you think they’re ready for your palette. The choice is ample – pieces of boneless chicken, fish (Basa) and prawns apart, one also gets to taste mutton, aloo, paneer and the like. Honestly, a normal tummy can’t handle more than a few rounds of barbequed meat and salads for accompaniments. But the spread at Barbeque Nation likes to challenge sane tummies. The main course spread has a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to dig into. The perfect ending to a meal here would be picking from the range of desserts, usually comprising of pastries, gulab jamuns, pudding, cheese cakes and ice creams with chocolate sauce.

Current Highlight: I was very excited when I heard that BN is having a Sun and Sand food festival, where in patrons can get a glimpse into cuisines from beaches of the world. Grilled artichokes, cottage cheese, quesadillas, shallow fried fish fillet from Maldives and Bahamian smoked ribs, inspired from, well, the cuisine of the Bahama – BQ lured me to its midst.

If it is an unlimited buffet spread, I like to park myself at a table right from when the buffet is announced open to guests. I reached BQ at around 8.20 pm and was surprised to see the stewards putting up a dance performance for guests. Dressed in dungarees with palm trees and the sea printed on it, they put up an enthusiastic performance, one which was rewarded with a lot of claps.

As we settled down, skewers full of chunks of juicy meat were brought to the table. They looked like they always did – wrapped in rustic red masala and partly cooked. I really hoped that they would taste different, but they didn’t, reminding me of the regular fare served at BQ, on any other day. Among the main course, the Lamb Vindaloo and Mangalorian Crab Curry caught my attention. They were well-prepared, but again, the dishes weren’t something I hadn’t had before at BQ. Ditto for the desserts.

Thumbs up: An evening at Barbeque Nation is always eventful and paisa vasool if you are in the mood to eat! The meat, whenever I dined here, has always been fresh, succulent and juicy. Food festival or not, BQ is always on my list of haunts to visit with friends and family.

Thumbs down: Not everyone may take not adhering to the theme as lightly as I do!

The interiors

Sun n Sand, Beaches of the World Festival dates: October 10 – October 21, 2012.

Barbeque Nation outlets in Mumbai: Khar, Thane, Lokhandwala, Andheri and Nerul