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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Japanese food is the rage in Bombay and a number of high-end eateries have entered with the goal of servicing this demand. Origami, on the top floor of the upscale Atria Mall is one of the better ones.

Many people associate Japanese food with raw fish. The truth is that the Japanese like all their food fresh and well presented. The actual raw material includes many vegetarian staples and several dishes are meant to be vegetarian.

There are several courses in traditional japanese food, and Origami provides good veg dishes in all courses. We strongly recommend the veg sushi and mainly kappa maki (cucumber rolls). They also offer avocado rolls and other mixed veg rolls. The wasabi is sharp, the ginger is literally in the pink of health, and the soya sauce is Kikkoman – need I say more?

There is also the fried veg tempura which is served with an excellent tempura sauce. The veggies themselves could be better, however.

For the main course, we recommend the Veg Bento box. This delightfully presented dish, comes served in the compartments of a wooden shadow box. The edamame (steamed snow peas) was a pleasant surprise and was fresh and crisp.

Another couple good options include Tofu & miso steak and the Veggies in teriyaki sauce.

There are some good sake options, and the servers can assist you in making that decision. If undecided, you could always wash the food down with some icy Asahi beer.

The service is prompt and courteous and reasonably helpful. I only wish they stopped trying to push the thai dishes and recommending “spicy” dishes. The delicate flavours of the japanese food actually comes through very well.

The main downside is the astronomical pricing. Authentic Japanese food is still rare in Bombay, but this pricing still keeps it out of the reach of most.

My recco – Go here for a smart business lunch or dinner with someone close. This is an impressive experience all around.

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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Pearl of the Orient is a restaurant of tremendous potential. Unfortunately, the folks at the Ambassador, have tried to match this eatery’s potential and have executed textbook “overkill”.

Open the menu of this eatery and you will find 20+ pages of food. Separate menus for Hunan, Sichuan, Beijing, HongKong, Thai, Japanese, etc. etc. etc. We all know that the broad descriptor of “chinese” food is about as accurate as “indian” food. It’s great that someone has attempted to break into the various cuisine styles. But, this is a bit too much! Everyone seems lost and confused by the mountain of options facing them. The saddest part is that the waiters seem intent on just selling standard fare – manchurian, sichuan veggies etc.

Having said this, the saving grace is the food. Not hugely authentic, but definitely not lacking in flavour, we recommend starting with the wonderful clear veg wonton soup. The wontons have the right amount of veggies in them and melt in your mouth. Order for 3-4 people and they will serve it in a large center-heated soup bowl – a relative rarity for vegetarians. If you prefer starters to soups, we would recommend either the sesame corn on toast or veg steamed dumplings.

For the main course, definitely have the hunan veggies and tofu in black bean sauce. Another good option is the Buddha’s delight, which is not the flat, cornflour mess served in most other restaurants. Delicate flavour for sure, but nicely done. Accompany this with either the sichuan style noodles or the mushroom pot rice.

For those in search of a more exotic meal, we would recommend the vegetarian sushi, including kappa maki. (cucumber rolls). Not very authentic, but not too bad either. The wasabi is very good and along with the pink ginger makes the sushi a nice side order. The lack of a miso soup means you cannot make this a true japanese meal, but don’t fret. The veg tempura (fried veggies in batter) are also very tasty.

There are limitless other options, but we will let you explore them and advise on any other picks from the jumbo menu card.

The ambience is really why most folks come to this place. It is South Bombay’s only rooftop revolving restaurant and what a view! It overlooks marine drive, and so gives you a bird’s eye view of the queen’s necklace and the Arabian sea. The place rotates at a pace which allows you to get atleast one sighting of the arabian sea, the queen’s necklace, brabourne stadium, the Taj hotel, Bombay High and Nariman point. But, dont worry – no need to hold on to your dishes – this isn’t that fast. The two times you are reminded that it revolves are when you step out of the stationary lift lobby and onto the seating area floor, and when you step back into the lift lobby. Watch out for the kids who love this “transition point” and make it their spot to jump back and forth!

My recco – Go here for dinner and with your special someone. Enjoy the best views in Bombay. As for the food, open any page and pick whatever you see. Do not try to surf through it – your head will spin!

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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A true “old school” restaurant that has been around for ages, Gaylord is a restaurant at which a few generations of Bombayites have grown up.

Situated on the road from Churchgate station to Marine drive, Gaylord has prime real estate to command a presence. While the opposite pavement has a scrap between about 6-7 restaurants & lounges, Gaylord has this pavement pretty much to itself.

Laid out over 3 mezzanine levels, this restaurant has both punjabi food and some continental bakes. While the baked dishes evoke memories of the railway club (in a good way), we would recommend you concentrate on the punjabi food and desserts.

The punjabi main course is quite stellar here and all the traditional dishes are prepared consistently well. Paneer tikka, dal shorba and harabhara kabab are good ways to get started here. The main course has many delicacies from the simple bhendi masala to a more rich dum alu kashmiri. We would recommend the paneer makhanwala which sinfully melts in your mouth and the veg jalfraizy which compensates for its peculiar name with some great spice. For once, we would recommend the Dal Tadka instead of the black dal.

Gaylord has great accompaniments from a fantastic punjabi mix-veg pickle to masala papad. Unlike some punjabi joints, both the rotis and the rice are equally stellar. We recommend the butter naan and the peas pulao.

Having gorged yourself on this much butter and cream, we would still recommend saving space for dessert. The malai kulfi is quite superb, as is the rabdi.

For those in the know, the bakeshop outside is one of the best smelling places on earth. Freshly baked bread, pastries and snacks make it a must for you to take some of this away with you.

A tip: Show up around 10am or 3ish when the freshly baked stuff is wheeled in. Mmmmm…

The service unfortunately has been slow and unhelpful for about as long as this joint has been in existence. Most people serving seem as old as Bombay (not in the nice way), and seem in no mood to tolerate questions or to even put on the pretence of service. One chap (tall with a moustache) IS very good and uses his experience to guide you through the menu (and off-menu) items. But, if you don’t get him, it can get frustrating. We dock them one bone for this.

My recco – Go here for dinner, when the sea-breeze from marine drive hits you in the face as you enter and exit. Show up hungry, and don’t expect to stick to your diet or any urgent appointments afterwards.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Some restaurants open to big hype and conjure up big expectations. Rarely do they actually match the hype with quality. Monza is yet another example of a restuarant with great hype and true potential, but that in the end fails to deliver.

Monza is located in the hub of central Bombay – Phoenix Mills. It has a nicely done contemporary chic decor with diffused lighting, dark wood paneling and nice tableware. The entrance to the restaurant passes by a huge plate glass window which shows the decent sized wine cellar & tasting room within. A great way to set the mood and create a niche, Monza gets full marks for ambience.

The food looks very interesting as well. Largely Italian, as the name would suggest, the chef has been creative and there are a few fusion dishes which introduce asian influences and spice to popular Italian dishes. Sadly, many other dishes simply fall in “no man’s land” – not authentic, and just not good fusion either. The bruschetta we started with is one such sample. What should be a nice balance of fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil on a slice of a baguette, turns  out to be a bit too garlicky, and our plate seemed to have been spiced up. Normally a big fan of spice, the Hound did not like this creation at all. There was a daily special of mushrooms in herbs and olive oil and that was actually quite nice, allowing the delicate flavour of the herbs to come through.

The main course had a few good options. The Pesto Penne was cheesy and much more thick than the traditional genovese option. Very much similar to the Italian American interpretation of Pesto, which tends to favour cheese, it still makes for a tasty, albeit heavy, meal. The Penne Arrabiata is again an instance of the normally spicy tomato base being fired up even more. In this case, the Indianised interpretation seems to work quite well and the Hound gives this a thumbs up!

The real star of the show was the mushroom rissotto. Not too creamy, not too dry, and just perfectly mushroomy, this dish is a not-miss.

We had the Tiramisu for dessert, but the consistency was more that of cheesecake. The light marscapone cream seemed to be either missing or insufficiently whipped. The other desserts did not seem too appetizing either.

The wine cellar created much of the hype around Monza, and it was quite a disappointment. While many old world wines (wines from France, Italy, Germany) were present, they seemed to lack good representation from the New World (Australia, Chile). The lack of a good Riesling or Chianti was also immediately apparent. The Hound is a fan of Sula, and the lack of the full Sula bouquet also did not speak well of the sommelier.

The service was a big disappointment for a restaurant of this class. Slow and lacking creativity, the server had few recommendations and that will cost them one 1/2 bone.

Pricing was high and given the holes mentioned above, we do not believe they managed to justify the cost.

In the end, a nice place to soak in ambience, but Monza is not the best place for good Italian food in the city – not by a long shot!

My recco – Go to Monza for a light lunch or dinner. Try the rissotto, and expect the overall experience to be good but not exceptional.

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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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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