A gap in the Indian eatery scene has been a decent noodle joint – atleast it was until the advent of Noodle Bar. This highly successful chain has not suffered the same dumbing down effect as its multi-cuisine sister concern – Bombay Blue.

Noodle Bar is a cafe style eatery with long benches serving as seating and plain wooden tables promising a good east asian food experience to come. The ambience here is one of a buzzing eatery serving up generous portions of noodles to grateful Bombayites of all shapes and sizes. The waiters in their black uniforms scoot briskly from table to table ferrying steaming plates and bowls to the hungry patrons.

The food here has a great range, but the prescribed course would be to order some starters for the table and then a noodle dish for yourself.

For starters, Noodle Bar has some great fried wontons, spring rolls and other standard “chinese” fare. We recommend you go for momos. A relative rarity in Bombay (but very common in Cal & Delhi), these steamed dumplings are heavenly. The accompanying sauces are nothing fancy – soya, vinegar chillies and a red chilly sauce.

For the main course, there are many excellent noodle dishes from all parts of east asia. Our pick is the Noodle bowl, which you can build. Choose the veggies of your choice by checking them off on a form + check off the garnishes (ginger, garlic, etc.) + check off the sauce of your choice (we recommend hoisin or black bean) + finally pick the noodle type of your choice. Herein lies the attraction of what could have easily become a plain vanilla mega-chain of chinese restaurants. Of the many options of noodles on offer, we would recommend either the fine ramen style or the chunky udon.

Pricing is moderate and hence they have a good mix of hungry office-goers, students and recovering workaholics.

My recco – Go with a friend who doesn’t like to talk. Order a couple of starters, a soupy noodle bowl and spend the meal slurping and slarping your way through it.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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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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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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Portuguese vegetarian food is a rarity – especially in Portugal. Its even more rare in the case of a restaurant with a colourful story behind it and famous for african bird’s eye chilly (peri-peri) chicken.

Nando’s has done a great job opening up in a quiet corner of normally super busy InOrbit Mall’s restaurant level.

The experience here is truly one of a kind and that goes some way to alleviate the lack of depth in vegetarian cuisine.

The options are there though. My pick would be the paneer espetada which is a kabab like dish served on a vertical skewer, using capsicums, onions and paneer. Take your pick of peri-peri sauce (which vary from mild to super hot) and the veggies are basted in the same. Yummy! You also get some nice rice to eat with it.

The other options include a vegetarian burger peri-peri style which isn’t too bad. At this point I should give mention of the fact that the 4 levels of spice in the peri-peri range are available on your table and you can spice up in case you wimped out while ordering.

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A nice range of side dishes including a portuguese salad add to the options. We recommend the corn on the cob with peri-peri sauce. The waiter did somewhat kill the romance of the exotic sounding “portuguese lemonade” by drily announcing that it was just lemonade with sprite poured in!

The ambience is nice and airy. There is a general feel of festivity and we definitely recommend a visit.

The location in a mall, near the food court kills a bit of ambience and so does the lack of vegetarian range. Overall, visit once for sure. After that, you take the call.

My recco – Visit with a small group of friends and order the espetada. Take in the exotic flavours of the sauces – a truly unique flavour.

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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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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What I like best about this understated place is the unique cuisine. Ambience is minimal and service is polite and decent.

But what you really come here for is in the pursuit of decent mexican grub and palatable gourmet pizza. This place has a decent number of vegetarian option and a good start would be the Potato Macaroni Salad. Another good salad is the Fajita Salad (though not very authentic to its namesake – the Fajita). Be warned – sizes are modest for all dishes.

The pastas are ok, but skip to the thin crust pizzas. My fav is the spicy veg – a nice mix of authentic crust and indian flava on the top. They are very proud of their thin crust, so dont do a faux pas and ask for the cheesy stuffed crust. This ain’t Pizza Hut, buddy!

The must try section is the mexican food. They serve a good bean’n’ cheese taco. The hard shell is good, but go for the soft taco – yum! Another nice dish is the mushroom & corn burrito. If you want something lighter, the olive & jalapeno quesadilla rocks.

The rest of the menu is decent and the focaccia sandwiches are worth a shot.

The best part – its so damn affordable. I told my wife there is no way they stay in business. Two years later, I am so happy they proved me wrong. Where else would I get my taco fix?

My recco – Order some mexican food, pick a juice and have them deliver it at home. The place is small and their delivery times are good.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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So we come to it finally. A 5-bone eatery. This place has it all – the food, the ambience, the beautiful people, live music, art – what else could one ask for?

The food at OOB is spectacular. You could possibly get better sizzlers or Fondue or pasta, but it would not taste as good. 🙂

With tons of options to choose from, its tough to pick. But thats why they pay me the piddly bucks. To start with, sample the wine and drinks menu. The Sangria is a standout as is the caipirinha. The beer and hard booze list is decent and the range of mocktails is robust. While they offer a decent collection of international wines, the domestic selection is probably their weakest point. No Sula wines on the list mean you dont get the Dindori Shiraz or Chenin Blanc.

The starters are delectable. I would recommend either the pesto crostini platter or the stuffed mushrooms. If you cant decide, order both! The list of salads is very good as well.

The main course is all about the bakes and sizzlers for me. There are some excellent pastas, but try one of the bakes instead – maybe the Veg Exotica. Nice cheese, without overwhelming the palate. In the sizzlers, the veg sizzler with barbeque sauce is my pick.

But the great thing about OOB is the ambience. A huge canvas canopy covers the large outdoor seating area. Kept cool by giant fans in the summer, there is a variety of seating from comfy chairs to floor seating. Take your pick. Live music is there most nights and there is even a small art gallery for you to browse through. This is one place which rocks at night and is the ultimate “chill pill” over lunch. So much so that it manages to attract everyone – bankers, housewifes, students, artists, media folk and even actors. Need i say more?

Well, I will. OOB is perfect for almost any occasion – working lunch, special parties etc. But the best idea would be to head here with your partner or some close friends. Get some food, drink and enjoy a meal the way you wish every meal could be.

My recco – A 5-boner means GO NOW!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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You will find me very rarely give 4 bones to a restaurant that dares to have only 5-7 vegetarian dishes on its menu. This would be one such occasion.
Taling Pling Savoury Gastrocafe sits on the 3rd floor of the CentralWorld mall, in the very heart of the prime shopping district. Its inside a mall. Surely that should be strike 2?This cafe is one of the “warmest” places a vegetarian can rest their keester in Bangkok. The service is excellent and the servers have quick recommendations. They understand vegetarian = no fish, chicken or meat. They speak English.

We ordered the Tofu& Veggies with fresh thai basil & chillies. Veg thai spring rolls and steamed rice rounded out the meal. I had a crisp Singha beer and my wife had the Thai Iced Tea. The portions are maybe a little small though the beer seemed to fill the vacant void. Awesome stuff!

The ambience is perfect. Thai contemporary design mixes with classic silk cushion covers and dark wood paneling. This is one plush lounge in the heart of a mall. The clientele seem to reflect this and are young Thais out for a good time.

The meal is reasonably priced and the only real downside is the lack of a massive range. Dont go too late or they run out of veg. spring rolls.

The Thai Green Curry was also excellent and we tried this the second time we came here – so yes, it was THAT good.

My recco – Go when you want a non-touristy, contemporary meal where real Thais eat.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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