Throwback: Our Favourite Meals of 2016
2016 was a buzzing year for the city. Town saw some exciting openings like The Clearing House, a grand standalone restaurant at Ballard Estate, Oh Dough, a cosy cookie shop that sells inventive ice cream, and Masque, quite possibly the country’s finest farm-to-table space.
Some new spots were firsts for the city, like Blue Tokai, which is the first (and only) coffee roastery, set in Mahalaxmi’s Laxmi Mills. The nearby Kamala Mills and Lower Parel locality have added a lot of quality as well – Woodside Inn serves over 20 beers on tap, Three Chicks & A Bear makes sensational burgers, Kaboom now serves up an affordable, rotating menu for lunch and Theory takes elegance, plating, and ambience a notch higher.
Bandra welcomed Daniel Patissiere in his own outlet and Bono Boutique Ice Cream, both sensational spots for dessert. Kitchen Garden by Suzette at Pali Hill ticks all the boxes for nearly every kind of diner in a clean, bright environment – serving everything from exotic and organic salads to pick-up meals at about Rs 200.
Here’s a quick look at our favourite meals at new places (and some old favourites) through 2016.
That there’s no other place like it in the country is amongst the least impressive aspects of Masque. On a visit here we admired the stellar quality of produce, sourced from farms all over India. The attention to detail is staggering, and the impressive service lets you know enough about the food for you to pay less attention to your date. The interiors are regal yet understated, with golden hues, a sculpture paying tribute to the mills of the vicinity, and hands down the most fantastic bathroom in a restaurant. Bow down to Chef Prateek Sadhu!
Quick tip: Their bar lets you infuse gin with a custom pick of ingredients.
It Happened In New York, Bandra Reclamation
We liked our time at this new, 3-level space enough to write about what it got right. It gets virtually nothing wrong, with a variety of American dishes, sincere hospitality, and an unmatched decor. If you’ve ever been to a place that balances fun with elegance so well, do let us know about it. Also, their meats are top-drawer.
Quick tip: The ground floor level is relaxed, bright, and comfortably casual.
The Clearing House, Fort
A 4,000 square feet space in typically sleepy Ballard Estate is definitely a bold move by restaurateur Rishad Nathani. Since visiting, we’ve had at least a couple of dreams about the Honey Flan, a delightfully subtle dessert here that happens to be sugar and gluten free. Other must-orders include Paprika Spiced Lamb Tacos and 5 Spiced Duck Breast. The restaurant is divided into areas named Foyer and Chamber, the former a geometric, nautical-inspired space and the latter an elegant, evening-only bar area.
Quick tip: The Cheesecake here is delicious and monster-sized with a heart of gold.
Woodside Inn, Lower Parel
One of our favourite homegrown chains of gastro-pubs expanded to Lower Parel with a bang. At this outlet of Woodside Inn, you can pick from over 20 craft beers on tap, making it the bar that offers most choice in the country. Their cocktails are as on point as ever, and the food menu has some surprises too. Do make it a point to try the Prawn Roll, Kaavo’s Smoked Chicken Sausage, and the Mushroom Duxelle (Blanco) Pizza.
Quick tip: The Grilled Octopus is easily one of the best modern seafood dishes in the city.
Kitchen Garden by Suzette, Pali Hill
Writing about Kitchen Garden by Suzette isn’t easy, because we don’t know where to start about the range of goodness here. From rich, wholesome smoothies to their own superstar sourdough, this place has something for everyone. You can eat here for barely over Rs 200, or even go flirt with a salad that costs 4 figures. The sheer range of fresh produce and customizability makes the place worth a visit.
Quick tip: Missing the sourdough here is like going to Paris and shutting your eyes on seeing the Eiffel Tower.
The Boston Butt, Fort
After decades of eating overrated meat from Ayub’s and Bademiya, Kala Ghoda and its neighbours finally get a legit barbeque spot with delicious meat across the spectrum. Vegetarians have it good here too, especially when you look at dishes like Bloom Bread, and that their small plates menu is twice the size for those like their food with a green dot. Meat eaters can relish the Smoked Pork Belly, Texas Style Lamb Shank Chili, and an assortment of meats served between breads.
Quick tip: The classic American steakhouse interiors at The Boston Butt are refreshing and stylish.
Gustoso, Kemps Corner
Revamped and scrubbed fresh off its earlier avatar of Pizza Metro Pizza, Gustoso has some remarkable food. Although we’re partial to the delightful pizzas here, pasta hits include Scialatielli Pesciosa, Spaghetti Alla Gricia with bacon, onion and black pepper, with creamy parmesan sauce.
Quick tip: There’s a private room in the back with a pretty detailed mural to sit by and gaze.
Kaboom, Lower Parel
Without a doubt one of the freshest, tastiest, and no-nonsense approaches we’ve seen to a daily lunch. The menu at Kaboom changes every day, offering a different cuisine each day of the week. Mains clock in at a maximum of Rs 250, while salads and soups range from Rs 170 – Rs 200. An all day menu offers everything from breakfast to snacks, most of it made from sustainable, organic ingredients. Cuisines at this casual spot include Chinese, Italian, American, South East Asian, and Middle Eastern.
Quick tip: The outlet gives you a cool, colourful buzzer that goes off loudly when your order is ready.
Three Chicks And A Bear, Lower Parel
The problem with burgers in the city is that few people do any justice to them. From the few who do, Three Chicks And A Bear easily offers one of the widest burger menus. With a double-height ceiling, you’ll nearly always find this place buzzing with corporate crowd, families, and media folk in colourful shoes. Our favourite burgers here are the Israeli Salted Tenderloin and Brazilian Slow Cooked Pork. Other burgers worth trying include the Canadian Pulled BBQ Chicken and Thai Pork Belly.
Quick tip: You can add a sauce of your choice for Rs 50.
TAG – GourmArt Kitchen, Lower Parel
The all-veg outlet by popular chef Ranveer Brar has an eclectic menu. Divided into soups, small plates, and desserts, this one still manages to spoil one for choice. The vibe pops of bright colour, and the art-inspired cocktails come with names like Not Really Old Fashioned and Getting Completely Plastered. Our picks are the Mint Financier from the desserts and Afghan Mantu, Mock Butter Chicken Ravioli, and Mushroom Galawat from the small plates.
Quick tip: The place is located inside The Amateur Gallery, where students display artwork. Do look around!
Theory, Lower Parel
Praise has been consistent and generous for this venture between Kapurs and Magnanimous Group. Also located in Kamala Mills, Theory delivers on its blend of superb food, tasteful presentation, warm service, and an elegant ambience with a nightly piano performance. Tuna Tartare, Crab Cake, and dessert in the form of Blanc – Manger ought be ordered here.
Quick tip: Regardless of what else you eat and drink, dessert at Theory is a must.
Confession time: a majority of team Mumbai Foodie is Sindhi. So when we heard about a new Sindhi place in a neighbourhood filled with our peeps, we automatically had high expectations. It had to be as good as homemade food by mothers and grandmothers, or it simply wouldn’t cut it with us. However, we were pleased with their authentic Dal Pakwan, light and meaty Kheema Pav, and properly crisped Aloo Tuk.
Quick tip: Their Green Chutney tastes exceptionally good for a delivery outlet.
Bastian, Linking Road
Chef Kelvin Cheung’s new outlet specialises in seafood. Giant, imported, crabby seafood, to be more precise. The Mud Crabs here have the reputation of filling people up to a nearly spiritual bliss. Although the Sunday brunch menu may be work in progress, the range of enormously-sized Cheesecake is good enough to indulge in with a variety of flavours. We’d pick the Bailey’s Coffee with Jameson, espresso crumbs, and chocolate ganache.
Quick tip: The Bastian Boil seems like a superb idea for a sizeable, hungry group.
Cafe Basilico, Hill Road
This Bandra branch of Cafe Basilico carries on being effortlessly casual with subtly pleasant interiors and an entire garden wall. A page of the menu only focuses on breakfast, although you can order soups and salads, small bites, appetisers, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, the works, really. We’d get Char Grilled Veg & Herb Lasagna, Cafe Basilico’s Chicken Burger, and Moroccan Lamb Tagine.
Quick tip:Responsible adults visit the dessert counter, tempt themselves, and then order what the eyes want.
Our city has few restaurants that experiment, and fewer that do it right. With Lima, Chef Atul Kochhar’s South American venture, Mumbai got two new offerings: ceviche (raw fish cured in citrus juices and spiced) and Pisco Sours (similar to Whisky Sours with a pisco as a base). Although Peruvian or South American food is an acquired taste for some, this place makes it effortless and friendly with impeccable service.
Quick tip: The tacos here are good across meats. Pulled Lamb and Prawns are our favourites though.
Dashanzi – J W Marriott Juhu, Juhu
This one’s a buzzing, consistently packed gem that few outside its inner crowd seem to know of. Named after the art district in Beijing, we like the vibe here. It’s buzzing and energetic without being loud, has Asian influences whilst still being modern, and the food here blew our socks off. Must-try dishes include Prawn, Shiitake and Chive, Caviar Osetra and Prawn, Corriander and Kaffir Lime Pesto Dumplings, Stir-Fried Tofu, Taro, French Beans in Golden Spicy Sauce as a vegetarian main, and Coconut Five Ways for Dessert.
Quick tip: Maki Rolls across the board and Steamed Local Sea Bass are excellent orders too.
Goila Butter Chicken, Azad Nagar
Kids, always take your social media seriously. That’s how chef Saransh Goila’s outlet came about. After being born on Twitter for the people eversmiling Goila met through it, this delivery-only space opened to consistent appreciation. The menu is a simple single page, split into appetisers, mains, meal combos, rolls, sides, and dessert. Our picks are easy: Butter Chicken and Sindhi Mutton.
Quick tip: The meal combos for one are a working lunch and an evening snack in one neatly wrapped box.
SamBar Pub & Kitchen, Khar
With a playful intepretation of food and an amusing, casual vibe, SamBar makes South Indian food accessible and interesting. On offer are Capi Madras (vodka, coffee liqueur, and cardamom) and Rasam Mary (Tequila, rasam, chilli, lime, Tabasco, and tomato juice). The starters menu lists over 30 items across vegetarian and meat sections, which are heavier on poultry and fish than mutton. The mains are assuredly short lists of 2 vegetarian and 4 options for those who eat wider.
Quick tip: Get your starters fix in the form of Goli Bajje, Meen Polichattu, and Telengana Mutton.
Coastal Catch, Hill Road
If we haven’t mentioned enough how much we like single-page menus and the food such places tend to offer, allow us to repeat ourselves. The menu here focuses on seafood of the finest quality. Pick from Surmai or Rawas, Pomfret, Prawns and Grills in red or green masala. The Prawn Biryani is absolutely stellar with flavour, as is the Green Sauce Fish Fry’s dressing.
Quick tip: It’s particularly difficult picking between the Green and Red Masala Fish.
Death by BBQ, Carter Road
Founder Hira Mulchandani smoked his way into our hearts. By smoked, we mean barbecued, which doesn’t sound as good. Here’s a place that takes Southern American Barbeque fundamentals very seriously, and serves meat that would Imbiss look like a spin bowler attempting a Tendulkar-esque straight drive. Get the Texas Style Beef Short Ribs, which are smoked for 8 hours to become our idea of a splendid, meaty stupor.
Quick tip: Memphis Style Pulled Pork is nearly as generously meaty after being smoked for 12 hours.
Coma Coma, Pali Hill
Mexican food found a new lease of life in 2016, as many bigger outlets serving quality versions of it have since shut down. This one focuses on undersung fare like Tortas (spanish for Sandwiches) and Empanadas (puffs), apart from the typical Burrito wraps and bowls. Opt for Carnitas BurritoBowl and Milanesa sandwich or the Mexigoa Empanada.
Quick tip: The portions are generous enough to feed more than one per dish.
Bagchii’s, Pali Hill
A joint specializing in Bengali appetisers, Bagchii’s makes seriously non-Instagrammable food. Since you’re too busy licking your fingers of flavours far beyond mustard, no photos can be taken. Pick from Bhetki, Mutton Cutlets and Chops, Aloo Dum, Cholar Dal, Dim’er Dalna, Kathi Rolls, and Mini Binge Thalis. Unless you’re booking a flight to Calcutta, this is a good bet for superb homely Bengali flavours.
Quick tip: Chicken or Mutton Kosha and Chingri Dum Masala.
Daniel Patissier, Pali Hill
No one is making macarons with flavours as innovative as Daniel’s. The Olive, Key Lime Pie, and Bubblegum versions of this eggy dessert could topple a half kingdom. That’s just the half of it, as the Kyoto, the Japanese Cheesecake here could topple the other half with its cloud-like texture and ever subtle flavour.
Quick tip: Whenever you visit, take 5 people who haven’t tried Bandra’s newest treasure in plain sight.
Oh Dough, Fort
There are few places that make cookies spectacularly, Oh Dough being one. A counter shows about 8-10 cookies on display, from a funky green Pistachio to a classic Chocolate Chip. Also on offer are ice creams, the kind that would confuse you before delighting you with a refined sense of experimentation. The Black Sesame is a favourite.
Quick tip: One of the finest affogatos in the city is found here.
Both these Bandra-based places don’t deliver ice cream, but they’re happy to let you pick up your order. Bono is ideal for edgy, inventive ice cream flavours and The Cutchi Memon Table is unique, traditional food made well.
Bono Boutique Ice Cream, Bandra Reclamation
Alyssa Chesson has founded possibly the only pleasantly confusing dessert company in recent times. From a menu that blends tame ice cream flavours like Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt with edgy, disorienting combinations like Blue Cheese Honey and Dark Chocolate Italian Truffle Oil, this place is a must-visit. The tubs are available in 125 ml and 500 ml sizes, and we cannot recommend the Dark Chocolate Italian Truffle oil version enough.
Quick tip: We haven’t tried it, but something about the Milk Chocolate Bacon does seem to ring right.
The Cutchi Memon Table, Carter Road
If you enter someone’s home to eat, chances are you’re going to be stuffed silly while your hosts talk about the “love” with which the food is prepared. Our meal here began with a serious dose of meat – Chicken Baida Roti, Mutton Samosa, Nargis Kabab, and Dal Gosht. The sheer amount of food and its consistent and lush flavour and freshness were enough to bowl us over.
Quick tip: Cutchi Memon’s Khubani ka Mitha is a tangy, textured dessert that must be had (twice).
Burma Burma, Fort
When an all-veg restaurant in a business district packs out consistently even on weeknights, one can’t help but consider it exceptional. The new menu here moves things along further in their exploration of Burmese food. We enjoyed the subtle notes on the Shwedagon Khow Suey and Tohu Mash with a remarkable Flaky Paratha. End your meal with Smokey Avocado and Honey Caviar Ice Cream.
Quick tip: The range of tea here is quite excellent.
Out of the Blue, Khar
This place found steady patrons from making sensational pasta, consistently good pizza, and well-executed mains. The food department has now under the wings of chef Conrad D’Souza, who has given the menu a makeover to match with its fresher, whiter avatar. Items worth ordering here include Pan Seared Duck Breast for its delicate orange ponzu and Gnocchi, served with roasted wild mushrooms and porcini cream.
Quick tip: Pizza remains fantastic here, and we’re waiting to try the Mrs Fernandes’s Sorpotel.
The Sassy Spoon, Hill Road
Another new menu and revamp, Bandra’s Sassy Spoon now serves poi, a barely sweet, doughy Goan bread that’s dying out in its homeland. The PBJ Monster is a nice, understated take on freakshakes, and it goes particularly well with the Chicken Burger with Wasabi Mayo. Other stuff worth ordering includes Peanut Crusted Rawas with pak choy in a moily style sauce, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Rosti with ratatouille and a Goa Sausage Skillet.
Quick tip: You win in a food tasting fight between their Caramel Peanut Tart and Dark Chocolate & Basil Fondant.
Jamjar Diner, Versova
Few spaces fit into their neighbourhood’s ethos as well as Jamjar Diner does. Their new menu highlights breakfast bowls, skillets, and waffles. The menu is designed to look colourful and stylish, which each section getting a unique layout and style based on its mood. The pizza listings, for example, are in the colours of bread and tomato sauce, while the sandwiches, burgers, and dogs are listed in minimal illustration but with a sense of Americana in the graphics.
Quick tip: Get the meaty Baconator pizza, light Falafel Pita Pockets or the refreshing Quinoa Breakfast Burrito Bowl.
Which of our picks for 2016’s new openings have you visited? Tell us in the comments!