I am pretty sure that we all have had this conversation at some point within our social circles, which is the best tikka or creamiest pav bhaji place in town. There are groups dedicated to such to-and-fro exchanges on the web and while it is heartening to realise that so many people feel concerned about the food quotient of a given city, it does make one wonder just who exactly is executing all the quotidian work in corporate India?
Recently, my hedonistic jaunts have taken me to some pretty quirky and interesting places. These places may not quite furnish the crowd or the concern, but for those who wish to be fed like their mamma fed them.
1. Mix Bar n’ Grill, Goa: Simply put, the best beef in India! for that price, I do not know of anyone, save for our man Manav, who hangs (cures) their meats and then serves up the most succulent and juicy pieces of meat ever. Big hotels, come here and be amazed.
2. Cantina Bodega, Goa: The name may make no sense but the food and ambience are truly ethereal, as also the vibrant (Vandana) lady who runs the place. Fuss-free, quirky, imaginative food.
3. Café 2 2 Tango, Hauz Khas Village (HKV), New Delhi: Beware of starting Bhuvnesh Khanna talking about food for he’ll never stop. If you long for a chef who talks in food porn, whose eyes light up as he probes deeper into the description of a dish, and who makes the most scrumptious burgers in the capital, this is your temple.
4. HKV: Futomaki for takeaway sushi, Café Zo for awesome Italian, Yeti for exotic Nepalese, Gunpowder for all things spicy, Grey Garden for a zen and visually exciting gastronomic experience, Café Flipside for some comfort desserts and cakes, and Elma’s Room for a little tea-time catch-up.
5. Jai Hind, Highway Gomantak, Mumbai: These two places serve excellent sea-food at prices that will burn a hole in the hearts of those who went to more popular expensive joints and paid three times over!
6. Woodside Inn, Mumbai: Woodside Inn has all the makings of a perfect dive bar, a speakeasy with a cult following. Nice burgers, good selection of beverages, some very innovative cocktails, and a cosy atmosphere with plenty of mirth and bonhomie to go around.
7. Café Amethyst, Chennai: The only place in my books that I consider a must-do on every Chennai visit. That, and Murugan’s Idli shop. The place is all charm and quiet, a small nest for nurturing souls in the bustling southern city.
8. Rasa, Chennai: The only place to enjoy true Coorgi cuisine. The owner is a treasure trove of all information culinary and the perfect host to educate you (yummily) about the nuances that differentiate the southern cuisines.
9 Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Otta, Mumbai: Ka is one awesome F&B company, they are behind a small collection of restaurants that makes Mumbai feel like Bombay again! Some of the best in Oriental fine dining, dim-sum and tea brunches, and the newly opened Mediterranean outlet with some very quirky pizzs, they are all a must-try.
10. McDonald’s: Pardon me for slipping this in but I couldn’t resist. With the arrival of their new launch McEgg—simple soft buns held together by steamed eggy goodness—there is definitely reason to rejoice for party-goers. The Indian masala omelette gets international competition.