Skky, the new hotspot in town

Skky at Ramada Hotel, Powaii has the potential to take on many five star restaurants head on. Are the foodies listening?

* Open air restaurants are always a tricky choice. The lure of a pleasant ambience will draw you to the venue but the openness ends up eating into your privacy, making you vulnerable to fellow diners stares, forcing you to become conscious of your every move.
That is why, Skky, at Ramada Hotel, Powaii, Mumbai is a game changer in many ways. The restaurant is spread over 8,500 sq ft, and can easily seat hundreds of people at a go. But Skky makes sure that the space is used with care and tables are spread out only intermittently. Separating most tables are large water bodies, in stone structures. Standing around them proudly are neatly trimmed Frangipani plants and floating in the water itself are artificial lotus flowers. In between these blocks of water bodies are the dinner tables. If you seek absolute privacy, pick a slot where there is only one table.

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Another positive about the restaurant is that the menu is on a tablet. Click on the desired dish and you will get a description, the price and even a picture of how it looks. How I wish more restaurants would have pictures of the dishes on the menu. It would make choosing what to have so much easier! The menu is also user-friendly so even the not-so-tech-savy bunch will find it easy to browse through.

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Great ambience and a technologically sound menu pretty much set the mood for an appetizing meal. Honestly, I was half expecting the big disappointment to come in the form of the dishes itself. But as the food items were placed on the table, it became clear, that Skky intends to please.

A Pan-Asian menu, it has Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thailand and Malaysian dishes to select from. Pizzas and home-made ice creams are another specialty. I’m a sucker for desserts, so-much-so that at times I have the sweets first and then head for main course, if there’s place left in my tummy, that is.
So I’m gonna begin with rating the sweet dishes first. Ice cream fans will love the Basil and Green Tea ice creams! The restaurant was out of Paan flavoured ice cream, but given how minty and fresh these two tasted, I have no doubt that the Paan ice cream would have rocked as well. Next on my radar was the Bourbon Whiskey Chocolate Pate (Rs 300). A slab of the chocolate pate, bitter sweet in flavour, completely tantalized the taste buds. Usually one can never taste the alcohol in a dish that brags to have its traces, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to feel the bitterness of whiskey in the pate. Chocolate Shahi Zaike (Rs 325) is for those who like typically Indian sweet dish. This one is an assortment of dry fruits and gulab jamun in a bed of condensed milk.
On the starters front, I’d recommend the Ginseng Sweet Corn Soup (Rs 225), (I could feel the bitterness of the Ginseng plant, though ever so lightly), Wasabi prawns (Rs 1050 for four pieces) (again, the wasabi quoting was not overbearing, leaving a pleasant after taste) and Wok Fried Fragrant Chicken (Rs 600). Image

For Mains, the chef recommended Braised Greens with Shaoxing Wine and Gingko Nuts (Rs 500) (Chinese cabbage, shitake mushroom, asparagus were the main ingredients) and Rendang (Rs 600), a Malaysian Chicken Gravy dish. All the items were well-prepared leaving no room for complaints.
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Verdict: Great ambience and food, a rare combination in itself!
Budget: Skky provides a five star ambience and food but the price points are not as high as five star restaurants. You can easily wrap up a meal for two in Rs 1500- Rs 2000.
Rating: 4/5
Address: Ramada, 16/17, Paspoli, Saki Vihar Road, Powai, Mumbai. Ph: 022 28585100, 022 67776000.
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Menu Brief: * Soups * Salads * Main course * Rice/ Noodles * Dim Sum Bar * Tandoor * Teppanyaki * Suhi Bar * Sashimi Bar * Desserts * Pizza * Set Meals * Ice creams * Kids Menu

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It’s Raining Burgers at the Manchester United Cafe Bar…

It’s that time of the year when Manchester United Cafe Bar launches its month long special menu. Last year, it was a range of pizzas, this time there are as many as 19 varieties of burgers to gorge on. The ongoing International Burger Festival has a special menu of burgers named after soccer players from different regions. So you can choose from Baichung Burger from India, Ola Hernandez Burger from Mexico or the Zeng Cheng Burger from China, among others. The names make the burgers sound yummy already, don’t they?

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A platter of the Mexican, Thailand and Lebanese mini-burgers.

The likes of Wayne Rooney, Freddy Adu and Baichung Bhutia are being dished out at a cafe bar in the city — definitely the thought of devouring these gorgeous burgers can’t just be passed on!
I dropped by at Man Utd and saw many fans indulging in the long list of burgers. A glance at the menu and it was clear that a lot of thought had been put into its making.

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The Jamaican non veg burger has coconut crumbled crab meat in it. Yummy on the whole, but avoid if you’re not a fan of a patty with coconut flavour…

I went to MUCB determined to feast on at least 10 of the 19 special burgers. But one look at the size of each burger and I knew it would take a miracle to get past even one! That’s when I was introduced to a combo platter of 4 Mini Burgers. Cute little versions of the Thailand, Lebanese, Mexican and Indian burgers come on a tray with assorted dips and french fries. A general observation was that keeping in cue with international standards, none of the burgers were too spicy and all came with layers of lettuce, onions, customised spices and sauces. Unfortunately, the mini-burgers’ selection is restricted to only four vegetarian and non vegetarian options. A spirit dampener, because otherwise one can easily devour 10 – 15 minis. Meat lovers can rejoice as the choices range from chicken, crab, lobster, pork and beef burgers.
There are a variety of combo offers too. The Old Trafford Home Combo has Indian, Mexican, Lebanese and England burgers with fries, salad and five international dips, for Rs 700 + taxes.
At Rs 899 (plus taxes), The Free Kick offer allows you to buy any one burger and get unlimited Budweiser beer! And trust me — if you’re the kind whose beer seems to diminish faster than food on your table, this is the offer to go for! The giant sized burger will last you longer than you’d have imagined, anyway…
Happy Burger-ing 😀

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The Mexican mini-burger. Cheese slices, chicken patty, tangy salsa, chipotle mayonnaise and jalapenos. A wholesome little meal on its own!

Mumbai addresses:
Manchester United Café Bar Level 3, Palladium, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel West (022-43601111)
Manchester United Café Bar Ground Floor, R City Mall, Phase 2, Ghatkopar (W), Mumbai Ground Floor, R City Mall, Phase 2 (022- 66429850)
Manchester United Café Bar, Level 3, Infiniti Mall, Malad Village, Malad Link Road, Malad (W), Mumbai- 400064 (61960300)

Irish House, Mumbai: Guzzle, guzzle, eat, eat…

Irish House, which had only one Mumbai address till now – in Palladium at Lower Parel, now has an outpost in Kala Ghoda. My friends and I dropped by on a weekend and were pleased to see that Kala Ghoda now has another cool joint to unwind in. Looks and ambience wise, both the joints are almost identical, a common trait with most restaurant/pub chains. Dim lights, super cool music and plate full of food pretty much summarises Irish House. Yes, Ireland is a cold place and the guys like their food to arrive in big portions and they have a soft corner for beer and all things meaty. Irish House doesn’t disappoint when it comes to recreating Ireland to the core, and dare I say, it does bring to life a small yet significant piece of the local Irish culture in Mumbai. I mean think about it, aren’t you fed up of being served six pieces of perfectly sliced fried potato when you order French Fries in most joints. Ask for Nachos and you’ll be staring at a plate with 10 triangles with creamy sauce on, if you’re lucky, four of them. In Irish House, one serving of Nachos is enough to keep you going for the next hour or two.

Irish House - KalaGhoda, Mumbai

Irish House – KalaGhoda, Mumbai

On the drinks front, the joint has several types of beer for aficionados. Murphy’s and Chinese beer to name a few. Ask for an assortment of Beer shots if you are in the mood to sample ’em all. The bar boasts of over 30 varieties of beer, Irish whiskies and single malts. Cocktails such as the Chocolate Martini (recommended) and several spiced Mojitos are also on the menu. The Mexican Mojito was a hit with those who like their drinks laced with a tangy minty flavor. We also loved the Smoked Chicken Crostini, Rs250 (smoked chicken and artichoke with mozzarella on toasted bread) and the Rolling Duck, Rs 425 (aromatic roasted duck wrapped in a spring roll and served with chili plum sauce). Lamb Pie, The Irish Lions Chicken Tenders and the Prawns Chermoula are a few of the other must-haves from the menu.

Lamb Pie

Lamb Pie

On the down side, the Onion rings, which is listed as the World’s Best Onion Rings, Rs 200, on the menu is a disaster with oil dripping on the edges and street side bhajiya like coating to them and are an instant put off.

But who really goes to a bar to enjoy a hearty meal? At least not anyone I know… So, generous portions of good food are just an added reason to visit Irish House. The real reason, of course, is to soak in a distinct vibe that each bar/lounge/pub emits. Irish House has an unmistakable laid back Irish charm to it. Wooden décor here plays a very vital role in establishing laid back and gung ho in the same space. Irish House doesn’t compromise on space either. There are all types of seating, near the bar, corner tables, bar stools and regular tables laid out for guests. You’ll find young collegians, corporate groups, foreigners and even senior citizens in designer garbs letting their hair down at Irish House. Obviously, a haunt that is attracting people from all walks and age groups, has to have something to write home about, no?

The Irish Lions Chicken Tenders

The Irish Lions Chicken Tenders

Address:

The Irish House, Rampart Row,

30 K. Dubash Marg, Kalaghoda,

Mumbai 400023

Tel: (+91-22) 49150001/02

Timings: 12 noon to 1:30 am

36 Oak & Barley: Simple ambience, Amazing food

The interiors

The biggest difference, in my experience as a food addict, between the quality of preparations in a fine dining restaurant and a regular joint is how you feel, 30 minutes after your meal. Think of how your stomach feels after consuming half a plate of oily biryani from a road side joint. Most would say, stuffed and heavy, like they’ve had enough for the next two days!! Food well prepared doesn’t make you feel like that. The tummy is satiated with the food levels gradually filling you up. The soul is nourished.
36 Oak & Barley, at Kemps Corner, gets full marks for that pleasant after feeling, even though you may have just hogged on 8-10 dishes. My friends and I had that many dishes (of course, we shared each preparation), and most dishes were generous with butter and olive oil in them.

Roasted Beets, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad Orange Dressing

I won’t get into ‘must-try’ dishes here. That, I believe, depends on individual tastes. But I will testify to the fact that dishes served had succulent chicken chunks, fresh Basa and silky Goat’s cheese in them. When the key ingredients are impressive, you can’t help but take a liking to the food, can you? Chef Nachiket Shetye, the man behind the dishes is known for mix-n-match styles; combining unlikely ingredients to come up with preparations with a twist.
The Chicken Dumplings come with Spiced Thai Coconut Broth and the 36 O&B Signature Tomato and Basil Soup is served with a lump of orange sorbet. An unusual combination, you can taste spice and the fruity sorbet distinctly with each spoonful. The Ravioli, traditional Italian filled pasta, was floating in olive oil, and I soaked each square some more in the fragrant oil before gulping them down. Heaven.

Vanilla and Berry Panna Cotta

The dessert menu has a lot of options with chocolate in them, but we went with Nachiket’s recommendation and had the Vanilla and Berry Panna Cotta. A die hard chocolate fan, it takes a lot for me to praise desserts without any chocolate in them. But I’ll admit that this one offers balance to the taste buds, the vanilla Panna Cotta comes alive with the berry mush as an accompaniment. A rocker, indeed!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 Enjoy

Address: 36 Oak and Barley, 76 Nidhi, August Kranti Marg, Off Kemps Corner, Cumballa Hill, Mumbai: 400036.
Call: 022 2381 1010

36 OB Food Menu Full

SAKS in the City. Spa review


The festive season is here and I see everyone in a mad rush to get designer clothes, beautify their homes and keep mithai and gifts ready to distribute. But none of these will matter if you feel tired and worn out on the festival days itself. All the prep-ing can bog you down, snatching away that glow from your face. How do you get it back? Steal some ‘ME’ time in all this madness and head straight to a spa. Better still, head to Saks Salon and Day Spa, which has just opened its second outlet in Andheri, Link Road. The first one is in Bandra. You’ll be surprised at how just entering a serene space like a spa can calm your tired nerves. The biggest advantage that Saks has is its gigantic space. A lavish 6,000 sq ft area, the Andheri outlet is segregated into manicures and pedicures areas, facial rooms, hair treatments and the like. The first floor is for face and body related treatments, while hair care is restricted to the ground level. The second floor is for administrative staff.
Stark white interiors invite you to further calm your senses and indulge yourself. The spa and facial rooms have an attached steam room, so unlike in most other spas, you don’t have to parade around wrapped in a towel till you reach a common steam room, located in another corner of the spa!
Saks also gets full marks when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene. One normally assumes that international salons follow high standards of hygiene but it is not always the case. If I had a dime for every time my friends and I saw dirty towels lying around or almost threw up seeing masseurs rinsing used mixing bowls.
Saks, UK’s leading hair and beauty salon, thankfully, lives up to its reputation. The face tissues used are disposed off and the towels touching your face are warm, freshly steamed. Hygiene is a big concern with me and I avoid going to spas and salons that use cold towels and have equipment just lying around. I didn’t find myself worrying about nitty-gritties like these at Saks and that is a good sign.
The menu is crisp and designed keeping in mind what men and women want out of a spa outing. There is a separate section for Kerastase Rituals, which will take care of all your hair related worries, with their volumising and purifying rituals. The 90 minute Kerastase Rituals are priced at Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000. Next on the menu are youth specials, a variety of high performance facials and body wraps to rejuvenate tired senses.
I went for the Luminous C and Sea high performance facial. Its aim is to provide absolute radiance, reduce lines and strengthen elasticity. It also provides relief for sun damaged skin, Vitamin C and freeze dried sea weed are clubbed to give a smooth complexion and luminous glow… just what I needed to sail me through Diwali festivities.
The expert wasted no time in showing me to the facial room, adjusted the air-condition cooling to my comfort and started right away. A cleanse and then the faciaI, I could feel her hands swirling my cheeks, oddly in rhythm with the mellow sound of the music in the background.
A 75 minute ritual, the facial lasts till the very last minute. The spa therapist told me not to wash my face till the next morning, to allow the ingredients to work their magic on my skin. I abided and to be honest, there was a visible glow on my face the next morning. I guess the technicians at Saks know what they’re doing, after all. And I’m all set for a glowing start to Diwali celebrations.

Saks Salon and Spa menu and rates:
SAKS Salon and Day Spa Menu

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.

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