Matunga’s King Circle is definitely the home of authentic “South Indian” cuisine in Bombay. By this, we mean Tamilian and Udupi food focussed on breakfast, sapadu (full meals) and snacks. One mainstay, which has refused to upgrade, modernize or change in any way shape or form is Cafe Madras (better known as Madras Cafe).

Still bearing the original signage outside and inside, reminiscent of a bygone era, Madras Cafe draws in the crowds by the car, van and truck load. Reach this place after 9am for breakfast or after 1pm for lunch, and you are doomed to wait for an eternity for a place at one of the tables. There must be seating for 30 people at the max, and be ready to share a community table with someone you don’t know.

Cramped, dimly lit and lacking space for folks to maneuver, the place has the most divine smells imaginable and is guaranteed to drive you nuts in your short wait for the food. The place is incredibly clean and the emphasis on hygiene is clear. The manager serves as the head waiter and barks out orders to get you a table or food.

Come here for breakfast and the options are incredible. You could go for the standard fare such as upma, idli, vadai or dosai. If you are in the mood for something more exotic, ask for the pesaratu dosai. A spicy batter is used to make this delicacy. Otherwise, you always have masala dosa, uthapam or rava dosai, which is my personal favourite. All these dishes are served with a freshly made coconut chutney and sambar. The only way to end such an awesome meal is with a tumbler of filter coffee. Amma would be proud!  

Special Tip: On sundays, they serve pongal and this is something you must order. With a generous portion of ghee on top, this tamilian khichdi is a must-try. 

The lunch served here has several bhaaths (mixed rice preparations) which are very nice. The Bisi Bhele Bhaath (equivalent to a fancy sambar rice with veggies) and Dahi Bhaath (curd rice) are very good. They also have fancier dishes like rasam vadai which is nice and spicy.

The pricing is very nominal and you will leave here feeling truly satisfied.

The service has a distinct focus on getting you processed and on your way. They are very polite. However, speed in delivery of food extends to delivery of the bill too. You are gently encouraged to move along and let in the next batch of hungry diners.

My recco – Go to Cafe Madras for breakfast and show up just after 8am. Get a table, and enjoy a sumptuous meal of idli, vadai and coffee.

 Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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A leader in the Bombay eatery scene for several decades, Copper Chimney is a very good restaurant, period! Over the years, the team behind CC have rolled out a number of other restaurants which had varying levels of success – Bombay Brasserie & Bombay Blue to name a couple. But, the main restaurant has been a steady provider of quality punjabi and mughlai food through the same period.

There are a few CC outlets, the best known being the one in Kala Ghoda and the bigger one in Worli. This review will focus on the Worli restaurant.

Copper Chimney promises a “hard core” punjabi meal and does very well to provide one. You can start your meal with a number of vegetarian kababs or chaat options. We recommend the alu chaat or masala papad. Both are accompanied by the top notch green chutney and pickled onions. A great way to whet your appetite.

For the main course, CC are experts at the best punjabi dishes – dum aloo kashmiri, dal tadka, kadai vegetables, dal makhani and malai kofta are all excellent. We recommend the paneer mussalam as the creamy tomato based gravy makes for a great base to drown your naan or rice. The flavours of the spices are clear and you are not overwhelmed by garam masala or dhania-jeera powder. Another dish which is low on sexiness but high on taste is the unpretentious Aaloo Gobi. A must try at CC!

Naans are excellent here but you really should have the Roomali Roti. You can see them preparing all the rotis in their huge show kitchen – a draw for this place for years. The pulao is also quite good, and we would recommend a simple Jeera pulao.

For dessert, CC has some of the best kulfi and rabdi on offer in Bombay.

Another great option is their buffet lunch. Not at all pricey (Rs. 395 per head) and serving the best their kitchen can offer, you do not feel shortchanged for skipping the a la carte option. A great place for business lunches, as it has good food, is not too noisy and has a little ambience as well. I would avoid this option on weekends as it gets a bit too crazy, with all the folks mobbing the buffet table. But, who could blame them!

Portions in the a la carte menu are just the right size and not too small. Pricing is a bit on the higher side, but we would still not call this place expensive. Service is good and in spite of being in business for such a long time, they have not slacked off on this important dimension.

The ambience is excellent and the copper vessels on the wall, along with the large show kitchen set the mood for a great meal. The warm smell of something nice cooking hits you the second you walk in and makes it worth the wait, you sometimes are subjected to (especially if you don’t have a reservation).

The lack of inventiveness is both a good thing and a limiting factor. There meat dishes have made additions over the years, but the vegetarian range has been largely static. For this, we penalize them 1/2 a bone.

My recco – Go here for dinner or buffet business lunch. Expect tasty, well made punjabi fare which has made Bombayites content for years.

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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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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Every so often there is a shift in the benchmark. The advent of Celini is one such instance.

For years, Bombay has benchmarked authentic italian food to the lovely Trattoria restaurant in Cuffe Parade. Time for Trattoria to step aside – there’s a new sheriff in town!

Celini is breath-taking in its high ceiling, modern ambience. Large comfortable sofas await you along with soothing pastel coloured walls. Modern art adorns the walls and your plate is the realm of italian classics.

This restaurant may have the best vegetarian risotto anywhere. An Italian friend ate here recently and remarked that it was as good as back home. Another must have is the wood-fired pizza. Look for the real thing here. Minimal toppings, max flavour and just the right amount of cheese.

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To accompany the meal, fresh bufala mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves is recommended. The pastas are all good though the vegetarian range is limited to 4-5 options here.

Some of the finest wines are available and having your pizza with a top quality pinot grigio is recommended.

The service is phenomenal but you do pay for this experience. Its an expensive meal, but you will want to come back for more.

My recco – Plan a meal here to impress your partner. Order a nice wine, some antipasti and wood-fired pizza. Enjoy this modern masterpiece of a restaurant with classical italian cuisine.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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