Yet another entrant in an incredibly busy restaurant causeway at Pali Naka, Mia Cucina has its work cut out for it. Bandra has some very good Italian eateries and this makes their task that much tougher.

Italians take their kitchens very seriously, so the naming definitely intrigued us. The decor again worked well to separate it. The main eating area is like an authentic italian restaurant gone contemporary. The wine bottles on the shelf, the arches over each passageway, naked brick walls and the frescos adorning the outside eating area all suggest an old italian eatery. The minimalist tables and seating add the contemporary flavour.

The menu is made to look like a notebook with little caricatures signifying vegetables, meat etc.

The very first dish on the menu was a major highlight. We have had pizzella in Rome, and have never seen it anywhere else. Well done to the team at Mia Cucina for bringing this dish to Bombay – it will definitely do well here. Pizzella is basically small pieces of pizza dough, fried and topped with small amounts of tomato based pizza sauce. You will want to order more than one plate.

There is also the Bruschetta Caponata which uses eggplants on this favourite dish. A 3rd antipasta we would recommend is the Suppli di Riso which are balls of Rissotto & Mozzarella. Very innovative stuff indeed!

The pizzas looked excellent and authentically thin crusted, as they arrived at the next table. We went for two other rarities in Bombay. The Cannelloni Imbottiti is an excellent version of the baked dish with spinach and ricotta cheese inside pasta sheets. They have baked it perfectly to retain the moisture within the pasta rolls while keeping the surface browned and crisp. We also had the Parmagiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmegiana) – photo shown below – and found it to be well made with authentic preparation techniques, using bread crumbs as the top layer of the bake. The flavour was good, the tomato flavours came through well and the eggplant held together well. Good job!

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We had no room for much else, but if we did, we would have recommended the Cannoli (a fried roll with whipped cream inside). Ssssinful!

The uniqueness of this eatery is the menu itself. Full of authentic, unique dishes that remain rare to Bombay, and priced very economically, this restaurant is bound to be successful. A brief conversation with the restaurant manager showed the pride they showed in fresh ingredients and in sourcing. He even claimed that the tomatoes were imported. Interesting!

The big hole though was also highly ironic. The perfect Italian meal would have led to a 5-bone rating, if only they had a decent wine to go with the meal. Sadly, though many empty wine bottles adorn one wall as decorations, there is no wine served here. This is one shortcoming they would do well to fix. Do this, and the menu’s uniqueness will truly come to life.

My recco – Definitely try the Pizzella to start with, and then wander through dishes which are new and rare to this city. A must-try eatery!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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We love Thai food and so the premier Thai restaurant in Bandra is a place we visit occasionally.

Thai Ban is a quaintly decorated eatery located in the restaurant rich neighbourhood of Pali Naka. The smells in the restaurant conjure up images of a sumptuous treat to come, and it is not too far off the fact.

The appetizers and soups section is pretty decent and we recommend the Steamed Veg thai spring rolls and the Fried corn cakes. They have also recently introduced a Tofu & Bell pepper satay which is not bad, though not 100% authentic. The Tom Yum (fiery clear thai soup) and Tom Kha (coconut  milk soup) are decent without being spectacular.

For those in mood for something different, try the Spicy young papaya salad.

The main course at Thai Ban is very good in depth and authenticity. One of the few restaurants with a good vegetarian Masaman curry, you also get a good spicy green curry. We would recommend the Tao Hood Thod, which has fried tofu in a spicy and sour sauce. Its got a tangy flavour and the tofu is just perfectly succulent. Another favourite is the Pahd Kraw Prik Je (Veggies in chilly garlic basil sauce). Fresh thai basil makes this vegetable really flavourful. They have now introduced a “make your own main course” section and we would suggest trying the Kapprao sauce (which uses Thai bird chillies).

The rices and noodles are decent, and we would recommend the Thai fried rice. Have the non-spicy option. Thai food has many subtle spices and we recommend resisting the urge to just fire up the spice on all dishes. Your digestive system would probably thank you too! The traditional favourite – Pahd Thai noodles- is only ordinary and not the best in Bombay.

Thai Ban has very few tables and is always full for lunch. So, get here early or book in advance.

Tip: This is the best eatery in the area for a working lunch. Good ambience & food and it cannot get too crowded!

The one major negative with Thai Ban is the pricing. The food is very expensive, especially for an eatery of this category. Adding to this, the portions are woefully small. They recently upped their prices and so you can expect major damages on the bill.

Tip #2: Order home delivery from here. They don’t keep the 30 min standard delivery timeline, but they do give a 10% discount on home delivery.

My recco: Go for lunch and try multiple courses – appetizers + main course + rice/noodles.

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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Step into this modern restaurant on a small bylane off Pali Naka and you are transferred instantly to a Pizzeria – no, not in Italy – in Little Italy, New York. The mix of modernity, big city feel & traditional and authentic italian cuisine is a great mix.

 The ambience is modern & minimalist. Large sofas, chairs and booths make it a place you feel comfortable sitting in for a while.

The food is traditional northern italian. They have a decent pesto pasta though the quest for authentic alfredo does not find an answer here. The pasta is cooked perfectly to an al dente consistency and that is good to see. My pick of the bunch would be the penne with mushrooms in olive oil with italian basil. The range of vegetarian pasta options is decent enough, thought not incredible.

The bruschetta is fantastic and makes for a great start to a meal. They have great thin crust italian pizza (not quite the giant slices of NYC, but great stuff). They serve pizza by the slice and that is unique to them in Bombay, as far as we know.

The desserts and drinks are good. They push the giant blueberry cheescake, but I would vote for the equally gigantic chocolate mousse.

The one giant catch – they dont accept credit cards. Hope they have that fixed by now. The good news – the bill isn’t that big anyway.

My recco – A great place for lunch with friends. Order some bruschetta, pizza and wine and soak in the ambience.

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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