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 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

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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Named after the famed 5-spice powder which is a key component of Chinese cooking, 5 Spice is practically an institution in Bandra, and Bombay as a whole.

This place toes an interesting line between conventional “Indian Chinese” cuisine and a more authentic hong kong-style. In the balance I would put it in the Indian Chinese boat, but with just a hint of the real deal.

The menu is loaded with veggie options. If  you were to start with a soup, I would recommend the Veg Wonton Soup which is done particularly well. Without introducing artificial spice, this mildly flavoured clearish soup allows the more subtle flavours to hold court. In appetizers, there are a few I could recommend. The corn cream melts like butter in your mouth and the accompanying mint sauce is stuff of legend now. Another good option is the veg fried wontons, which have enough stuffing to keep you engaged. My personal favourite remains the veg steamed wontons.

In the main course, you cannot go wrong with the burnt chilly fried rice. No place does it better! If you prefer a more subtle rice dish, go for the Veg Moon Fan. In noodles, I would probably say the Veg singapore noodles are the most flexible.

The main course dishes have many options, but the Tofu with Black Bean chilly sauce is a must-have. Another good dish is the Tsing Ho potatoes – a definite “Indian Chinese” dish, but a new one! If you want a mix of veggies, go for the Hot Wok.

The ambience is modern asian with nice even lighting. There could be more space between tables, but nobody’s perfect.

They recently upped prices and this prevents them from being a 5-bone eatery. But, I cant be too harsh. This is one place where you forgive them the price tag.

My recco – you must visit this place to experience the current home of Indian Chinese food in India. Dont save space for the desserts – pig out on starters and way more!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Having been raised very close to the original Kailash Parbat, I spent a good part of my childhood enjoying their snacks and sweets.

Malad has been starving for a quality snack joint outside InOrbit Mall. Enter KP Express, if you please. A small, efficient, clean version of the Colaba original. Same food, different ambience is the claim.

Thats a lofty claim and we took up their challenge and tested the menu. The fact that they are 100% vegetarian is a nice plus.

The chaat is all excellent – Sev Puri, Dahi Puri, Bhel Puri – all excellent. Pav Bhaji is actually better than I remember. We then tried the “main course” (read heavier snacks).

The Ragda pattice has always been their mainstay and it is awesome. The pattice were slightly overfried on the outside but perfectly done inside. The pattice was the correct consistency – not too thin, not too lumpy. The green chilly paste and onions formed a nice garnish to this simple dish. A must-have. Another fan favourite is Chola Batura. But, this was quite ordinary here. The Bathura were too crisp and the Chole lacked the punjabi richness.

A friend tried the Sindhi Kadi Rice, and that was not too shabby. The Thali meal was perfect for lunch. Not too big, and not too small either. The best part of the thali was the free Gulab Jamun. They could pretty much charge whatever they want for that dish -amazing still after all these years.

The ambience is ok. Pretty basic. We have been there twice and once half the joint was occupied by a kitty party, but I will not hold that against them. After all, everyone seemed happy enough! 🙂

My recco – Focus on the chaat and light snacks and try out the variety. Leave space for the Gulab Jamun and you will leave contented.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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A perfect cafe to sum up modern Bombay’s search for an oasis in the heart of the metropolis. A solid 8-ft high wall separates the outdoor seating from crowded, noisy Pali Naka in the heart of Bandra. On a good day (and I went on one such day), this wall has the effect of separating all cafe occupants from Bombay and the hustle-bustle. 

Basilico is a cafe with a contemporary feel & flavour. This is my second time here, and my wife had to give me a thousand assurances to get me through the swinging wooden gate. Our last experience had been very average – the food was average flavour, the ambience just a wee-bit pretentious and the price outrageous. We are spoilt for choice in Bandra, and a return visit seemed unlikely. 

What a difference a year makes. Full credit for the folks behind Basilico – they took the time to revamp their menu. The food is now much more flavourful. The prices more reasonable, though it remains a pricey meal. The service continues to be decent, and portions are healthy. 

The vegetarian options are many and varied. So kudos! We chose the Mustard potato skins and New Mezze 5 to start with. The potato skins were decent enough, and the varied ingredients seemed to go well together. A good start. The mezze 5 was a bit disappointing. The search for authentic mezze in Bombay continues. This fusion rendition of the mediterranean platter fails to deliver. The hummus is tasteless and the falafel are nothing to write home about. Adding in a very Indian chutney to this platter did little to rescue the dish. Very missable! 

The star was most definitely the main course. We had the Mushroom & Goat Cheese Cannelloni and it is yummy! The meld of flavours seems perfect and the hidden surprise of caramelized onions adds just the right amount of sweetness to this tangy dish. A thick tomato-based sauce acts as a good bed for the cannelloni themselves which were done to the correct consistency. This dish, in itself, will ensure that we come back here again.

The iced teas were so-so, but the ambience is now lively and yet laid back. The final damage was around Rs.500 per head, so it remains a pricey meal.

The hour and a half we spent there was relaxing and rejuvenating – exactly what ze doctor ordered.  A perfect place for dates, meetings, solo meals or a coffee break, Basilico seems to be finally living up to its billing.  

My recco – give it a try! 

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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