Its always tough to review a chain restaurant and so we will talk about the one franchise we have visited most often. The one at Kala Ghoda, Rampart Row or Fort (depending on whom you speak to).

Bombay Blue has been around for years now and has its passionate fans. Its the place you take your friends to get a taste of pretty much every style of cuisine urban India enjoys. Chaat, Punjabi, Mediterranean, Sizzlers & Mexican – they all have their place in this joint. Multi-cuisine restaurants are typically “masters of none”. Blue does a decent job of maintaining authenticity, except in Mexican which is rubbish.

If I were you, I would stick to one of the Indian dishes or a sizzler for the main course. The appetizers have a wide range too, and here we would root for the onion rings. The correct amount of extra flavouring makes it a great start to the meal and easy enough to share. The Nachos were much hyped but the cheese seems canned and a bit too “readymade” for my taste.

The main course has several good dishes and the punjabi range is actually very good. No surprise, considering they share a kitchen with the legendary Copper Chimney. Try the black dal or the paneer butter masala and you will be very happy. The naan is also excellent.

But, this is Bombay Blue, not your regular Punju joint. You must do it their way – hence we recommend the Veg Mini Meal. Basically a thaali, with limited portions, but more than enough to fill most of us. Drinks to accompany can be anything ranging from a thums up(not coke) float to lassi to fresh lime soda. All are consistently good.

The service was very good for us. This is one thing on which I have heard (& read) mixed reviews. However, our server was excellent, knowledgeable & helpful. The speed was good and they were courteous, so we will not ding them for this.

The only downside is that this place has now become too successful for its own good. What used to be 2-3 restaurants across Bombay has grown to become a nationwide chain. With it has set in, what we call the “Mickey D effect”. Like McDonald’s, the food is consistent, and middle of the road. It neither excels nor does it suck. So, what was a great breath of fresh air and deserving of the early praise it earned, has now become India’s answer to the fast food chains of the US. Much like those places, families gather here in a place of familiarity and seek out their favourites.

So, for the lack of romance and the “element of surprise”, we dock one half bone for what used to be a fine 4 bone eatery.

My recco – Go with your family and enjoy the good variety and flavours, but don’t expect anything extraordinary.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Each area of this city has a mainstay eatery – a place you go with your college friends, your family, for business, for borthday treats or just for solid food. Chembur has Grand Central.

We have been visiting this place for over 15 years, and amazingly its position remains unchanged atop Chembur’s popular eateries. The food has a range from Punjabi to Chinese and even some seafood. Having tasted it all (except the poor dead fish, of course), I would be very comfortable putting this restaurant under “purely punjabi” and nothing else.

Start your meal with one (or more) masala papads and possibly an aaloo chaat. The punjabi main course has many good options including malai kofta, dum alu, paneer tikka and biryani. The pick of the bunch is probably the Navratan Korma. Roomali roti used to be excellent there but this last time it really seemed to be lacking mositure and was altogether too dry. I would stick to the Lasooni Naan or tandoori roti.

The ambience is of a decent “family” restaurant and that is exactly what it is. Service is pretty average – don’t expect too much and you will be quite satified.

My recco – Stick to the punjabi main course and always start with possibly the best masala papad anywhere.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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A caricature of a real dhaba – Papa Pancho – is the brainchild of ad wiz Prahlad Kakkar. The endeavour to try and imitate/maintain authenticity using charpais and copper vessels does continue onto the food, somewhat.

 Papa pancho, not surprisingly is known for good hearty punjabi khana. They do a good job of setting the mood and the waiters do a good job of keeping the mood going. Our waiter had some dry humour and seemed to personify the place.

Food is good here and punjabi delicacies like sarson da saag and makki ki roti are solid. Don’t miss the dal makhani. Paneer tikka, lassi from tall copper tumblers and great tandoori rotis, this place is good for all of these. The rajma masala with rice is very tasty as well.

The pricing is very affordable and this is a big plus. The ambience is very casual ideal for a casual meal with friends or colleagues. The service can be very inconsistent and I have seen it get a bit sloppy at times. This is no fancy joint – just good steady fare. The lack of beer to down with the paneer and naan is the only downside for this kind of joint.

My recco – Go with a group of friends and expect a casual, fun meal with good, solid food.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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This is quite simply THE ONLY PLACE we would recommend to visit after a Saturday morning jog.

Crepe Station Cafe in Bandra is a great place to grab a nice breakfast while enjoying a soothing sea-breeze and the beautiful people of Bandra will keep you company. The windmills on the awning and the fans to keep you cool are all components of this true cafe experience.

Food here is very good. Breakfast from omlettes (for those veggies who do have eggs) to various toast and bread options make for a nice start to the day. Wash it down with one of their signature fruit juices. The top picks would be either watermelon juice or lime juice.

For lunch or dinner, try the namesake of the cafe – a nice french crepe. Technically, they mainly have galettes (salty “crepes”), though they do have a few sweet crepes too. The farm fresh crepe (Spinach and cottage cheese) is very good and so is the one with the tomato concasse. Avoid all “indianized” crepes – somethings were just not meant to be!

There are some nice Italian options including a nice spaghetti alio olio. Garlic bread and bruschetta is also pretty good.

Another nice option are the burgers (veggie burger in particular) and sandwiches. So, as you can see, lots of cuisine options for veggies here. And they all stay consistent with the cafe feel and flavour.

The service can be slow but we really seem to be super relaxed everytime we visit. Pricing is just perfect – not too high, but enough to make it count.

Time for a review in a review:

Crepe Station, (Above Croma), Malad(W)
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We recently visited the newly opened outlet in Malad with all the passion of a loyal fan. Boy, were we disappointed!

Right from the get go, this division is located in a mall and does not retain the cafe feel of its Bandra cousin. There was a sizeable Indian section to the menu. Did I mention that Indian food + crepes = bad idea? Well, it is.

We dont frankly care if the food is good or not. They killed whatever is nice in the Bandra original by introducing -hold your breath now – an Indian lunch buffet, full with naans, dal and the works. The servers were also keen to push us in the direction of the buffet. When we did order crepes, it took us a good 30 minutes to receive the 1st crepe.

Fruit juices were limited, ambience limited, service missing. The only thing that rang true was the quality of the crepes. Excellent as always!
We say – avoid the Malad(W) outlet at all costs.

*End of Review in Review* (Don’t ever accuse of not innovating!)

My recco – Visit the Bandra outlet on a Saturday lunch or early evening. Spend a good 2 hrs enjoying a juice, a crepe and a whole lot of ambience

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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The fact that paneer can be used to make any kind of cuisine is exploited to the maximum by Ivy. This nice, comfortable joint in the building adjoining the Shoppers Stop in Ghatkopar seems like they know what Indians like to eat and cater unabashedly to it.

The menu is seemingly endless and had us confused on what to order for a while. So we had a bit of everything. The paneer tikka was not surprisingly decent enough. Not spectacular, but not too shabby.

We also tried their chinese appetizer and found the babycorn salt & pepper a very good sample of Indian chinese fare.

The main course had several options with paneer in it again. The juxtaposition of Punjabi and Indian chinese food in the menu may show what people want, but seemed to confuse everyone as they were not clearly marked as separate styles of cuisine.

The main course veggies were steady, though unspectacular punjabi fare. Lots of veggie options, but they tasted not to dissimilar to each other.

The energy is comfortable and groups of families gathered around tables seemed to indicate that all were happy with the food in front of them. That is always a good sign for any restaurant. That alone buys them one bone.

But in a menu dominated by punjabi food, we recommend you try the babycorn salt & pepper – and that really sums it up. This restaurant is nice and comfortable. The food is pretty plain vanilla and not something we will go out of our way to recommend.

My recco – If you visit Ivy, go with friends or family and just enjoy the comfortable ambience. This does make the food taste better.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Easily the most authentic chinese meal we have enjoyed in Bombay, and a place with great ambience.

This restaurant is one with no lack of real-estate. Still, if I were you, I would book in advance and insist on a table outside. The outside seating has dimly lit pavilions over each table. There is a meandering pool filled with goldfish and small bridges to walk over. Its like a zen garden!

The inside area where we sat had its perks too. We got to see the whole kitchen and the chefs at work. My passable mandarin made me realise that the folks in charge were from China indeed. We saw them roll dumplings, make noodles and various other fancy dishes.

But let me get to the food. It was amazing. We started with a veg. dumpling soup which comes in a clay pot and is made for 2 people. Mushrooms with several different textures along with the aforementioned dumplings in a delicate clear soup. We followed this up with two main course items worth talking about.

The pan fried green beans are a rare delicacy and this is the best preparation we have had in India. Along with this, we tried the clay pot beancurd. Spicy and supported by shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and other veggies the dish is again a “best in class”.

We also had some fine freshly made rice noodles and steamed rice. The authenticity of the meal (and the flavours) were beyond compare.

I polished it down with a lychee caiprioska and we also had some nice jasmine tea. All excellent.

The waiters prevented us from over-ordering and the service was prompt without rushing us. The ambience was just perfect.

The only downside is probably the pricing. But, we do believe that when the food is not local, you often get what you pay for. We believe that the pricing is high, but we forget it in the flavours of the meal & the ambience.

The reward is a 5-bone rating for this authentic chinese oasis in the indian chinese desert out there.

My recco – Go for dinner, get a table outside and get ready to experience “real chinese” (Hunan, Cantonese style mainly) food.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Craving for an “all you can eat” thaali with excellent Gujju fare? Rajdhani – is a great place for you.

With over 10 outlets in Bombay alone and plenty more in India, Rajdhani is the home to the authentic gujju thaali.

Expect huge wait times as large groups of friends and family hover around the doorman waiting their turn at the goodness inside. A tip – show up the early and beat the crowds to it.

Once inside, your gang will be seated in a large dining room and immediately the waiters attack! They hit you with the masala chaas (buttermilk) before you have even warmed the cushions of your chair. The head waiter verifies if there are any folks with Jain diet requirements, and then instructs the waiters. From then on, there is a steady flow of food.

When we went, they started with the most flavouful khaman. We also got patra (a rare Gujju delicacy) and aaloo tikkis. Green chilly chutney and a tamarind (imli) sauce work as great accompaniments.

This is followed up by Gujju Kadi, a spicy dal and several different veggies. All taste awesome. The best part is that it is served with a fluffy light fulka. Actually as many fulkas as you can consume. I lost count at ten.

That isnt the only roti – on our day we got a Bajra roti. This was all followed up by a fantastic dal khichdi.

We finished up with sheera and a burfi for dessert. Totally & utterly stuffed!

The service is excellent. They gently try and persuade you to have a bit more ghee or try the special veggie. They seem to remember which dish you enjoyed most and serve a second heap just as you finish. That is a skill worthy of one ful bone.

The pricing is very moderate and the juicy paan awaiting you at the cashier is a great way to end the meal. 

The best part – this is an all veggie joint!

My recco – Show up for lunch, come with a nice-sized group (5-7 people) and bring your appetite. Plan a nice walk afterwards – you will need it.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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The best pani puri in India, and by extension, the world! I could end the review right there…..

But I won’t!

Elco is an institution to Bandraites and really to many Bombayites. For those coming from Cal or Delhi, try this out to get authentic pani puri (different from puchkas and gol gappas). As I prefer a little spice, these kill anything else out there. A plus for the fussy stomach is that the water is filtered. Street sewage does NOT add flavour and Elco does a great job proving that.

Sev Puri, Bhel Puri, Dahi Alu chaat – all amazingly good. Showing Bombay’s position as the only Indian city with authentic food from different corners of the country (& not just Punjab), you get authentic Gujju & Punju chaat under one roof here. The Bombay dish of Pav Bhaji is better in other places and only ok here.

My favourite Indian sweet is done amazingly well here. Try out the Malai Kulfi (in a matka if you please) to extinguish fires started by the Pani puri or bhel puri.

The first restaurant to compete with Kailash Parbat in Ragda Pattice, the dish is quite good here. I would still give the nod to KP for this dish but that was a close fight indeed.

Situated in the heart of crowded & poorly planned Hill Road, Elco is a clean place that is packed most days. Ambience involves loud groups of families, friends and waiters. All set the mood for a casual meal with great food. The pricing is very, very economical and that is one big fat extra bone for them!

A special note – No one delivers food faster. I often have a total order size of ~ Rs.100 and get it delivered in 20 mins. The pizza places take the full half hour and are much closer to my place. Awesome biking speed by the Elco delivery boys!

My recco – Go for lunch, start with pani puri, order one more dish but save space for kulfi.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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What’s in a name? This evidently was the thinking behind the restaurant formerly known as Toss’n’Grill. The brothers who owned the restaurant which has 2 outlets less than 50m apart have split. They both retain the same menu. One gets the original brand name and the other retained the original phone number. Funny!

 Anyway, back to the food. This place has an eclectic menu and that’s putting it lightly. Kababs, mughlai food, pastas, hummus & pita – they have it all. Typically a recipe for disaster.

But, surprisingly, they have managed to pull it off – to a degree, at least.

The kababs are very good. Multiple paneer tikkas, potatoes tandoori style etc – either as is, or in the form of roti wraps are all very good. The main course mughlai is not too bad and the dum alu is actually quite good.

The pasta is in “white sos” as per them. Not quite an SOS, but not very good either. The pasta is far from al dente and the sauces lack authenticity. Eat only if not in the mood for the other 3 styles of food on the menu. The only saviour is the excellent garlic bread.

The mediterranean food – particularly Hummus & Pita – is excellent. A pleasant surprise with thick consistency and garlicky goodness, the hummus will make you beg for more.

The fact that lebanese food works well in conjunction with frontier food like naans and kababs make the mixture work.

My recco – Start off with hummus & pita, work your way into some kabab rolls and end off with some pasta salad. Your stomach will be confused but the tongue satiated.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Some times the heart desires good hearty food – no pretences, no fussing around. At such times, Punjab Sweet House at Pali Naka is a great bet.Located in a very competitive neighbourhood for restaurants, PSH is the old boy on the block. They have been around for a long time and I don’t see them going anywhere. The food matches the name and rarely attempts any deviations.The ambience is one of a busy chaat house. You jostle for space to get to the counter and drool on the hot jalebis, samosas and the like.

Their pani puri is passable. But, I would stick to Punjabi chaat dishes. The papdi chaat is divine and the best south of Lajpat Nagar. What I would recommend above all else is the hot samosa (divine in our now 6 month monsoon season). Ask for the chole or green chutney to accompany it, and you will be in heaven. A new discovery is their Dhokla. This bastion of punjabi-ness seems to have a gujju hidden in the kitchen. Very fluffy, light and tasty. You can pretty much try anything which you would opt for in a good punjabi snack joint.

Pricing is low, portions are large and flavour is consistently good.

My reccoShow up hungry and in a casual mood. Get some samosas, lassi and (if you must) sweets.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:punjabsweethouse-dec24.jpg