24 June 2014

Restaurant Review : Monkey Bar's Mocktober Fest!

Monkey Bar has come up with yet another amazing concept - the Mocktober Fest! Their version of the beer fest, the inspiration of which has been taken from the Oktoberfest, is on from the 18th of June till the 17th of July, every week from Sunday to Thursday.

The Mocktober Fest has an exclusive food and drinks menu that boasts of everything revolving around different kinds of beers. Ale, Lager, Stout - you name it, they have it. With a huge variety of beers to choose from, somewhere around 25-30, the place also has 5 kickass beer cocktails to suit different kinds of palettes. 

Starting off with these, the first cocktail that I tried was Angel's Share. Watermelon, Tobasco, Vodka and Beer. This drink came in a beer mug with a shot glass inside it. The beer mug contained beer and tobasco. Inside this glass, floating amidst all the delicious beer, was a shot glass that contained vodka mixed with watermelon. The shot glass had one straw inside it and the beer glass had another. Both the straws had to be used together to get the real taste of the drink. An extremely appealing drink that was perfectly balanced between beer and watermelon.

The Orange-Ade was a rather sweet drink for those who want something refreshing when it comes to beer cocktails. The beer was still the star here, and wasn't dominated by the orange flavour.

Mary Beer was Bloody Mary in a beer version. It was exactly how a Bloody Mary, except that this drink contained beer. Bloody Mary was never my cup of tea so I don't have much to say for this drink.

Toddy Beer was a beer with spice infused brandy, just as the menu says it. Bitter, so perfectly infused with spice, and the beer was again the star here. This one's for people who like their beer bitter.

Mojo Mojito was my most favourite out of the lot! Apple Mojito and Beer, what else do you need to make your day pleasant? Very very refreshing, not supremely sweet, with just the right amount of green apple. A star this cocktail was!

Tried a few beers from the menu too. The Fruli was a strawberry flavoured fruit beer that will be absolutely adored by girls who like sweet drinks and stay away from beer because it's bitter and strong. This one's just for them! Magners(Irish Cider) was another beer that wasn't too bitter and was one of my favourite picks. But priced at 500, this sure was a little steep.

Their food menu consisted of quite a large spread and everything very different from one another. Sandwiches, prawns, chicken, fish - the menu covered it all! Not just that, they even gave a special section to the beer-infused desserts.

Beer Battered Onion Rings and Calamari Jones - 2 deep-fried starters to order with your beer, something you just nibble on. The Onion Rings were nice and crisp, the calamari - gorgeous! Beautiful golden crispy exterior and delicious calamari inside. The Lime Aioli served with this was super!

Coconut Jumbo Prawns were just plain prawns with no salt at all. Not worth the money you spend on it, the only saving grace was the chilli mayo. The prawns were beautifully cooked but the dish had no taste. It was just fried stuff.

Their Cajun Chicken Taco Pizza and Drunken Toasty were my 2 favourite dishes. The Cajun Chicken Taco Pizza somewhat reselmbled the Spiked Nachos that Monkey Bar serves in the normal menu, but nonetheless, it was too delicious! 

The Chilly Cheese Toast came with some lip-smacking potato chips on the side. Not the normal nice lip-smacking but the really really awesome ones! The sandwiches were very soft, with a generous filling inside that was filling meant for the heart and soul! Amazing stuff! 

Hum Aapke Hain Risotto and Finding Nemo was what we tried next. The Risotto consisted of walnuts and was nice and creamy, but nothing extraordinary. 

Finding Nemo was fried fish that came with potato wedges. The fish(bhetki) was nicely prepared, very soft and juicy. Serves as a good appetizer if you want something filling to go with your beer.

St. Patrick's Spaghetti was one hell of a delicious dish! Beef stew, veggies, spaghetti, and all this cooked with stout. Very very flavourful, the dish was a beauty! I can head to Monkey Bar JUST for this dish during their Mocktober Fest! Simply adored it!

The desserts did an absolutely fantastic job! The Chocolate and Stout Pudding was nothing but sheer awesomeness. Order a portion of this with your friends after a couple of beers and go home a happy guy with mouthfuls of that delicious chocolate!

Spiced Honey and Ale Cake - the dessert for people who don't like chocolate, and who like their desserts with a twist, or for those who like dry cakes without any creamy nonsense. Monkey Bar does an excellent job when it comes to making their desserts just right, with not a per cent of sugar above what it should be. 

The Mocktober Fest is an excellent concept that Monkey Bar has come up with! The beers are the stand-outs here, but the beer cocktails a sure shot winner. The food menu, as kickass as the concept. Some really great dishes that taste just outstanding, and even better when coupled with the beers. A special menu to the presentation and the prices. For the buck that you're spending here, Monkey Bar gives you superb value for it! Going to be a regular at this fest and make the most of it while I can!

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20 June 2014

Interactive Cocktail Making Session at Pangaea, Hotel Ashok, New Delhi

A fun interactive cocktail session was what was organised by Pangaea. A session where people could learn the technicalities and nitty-gritties of cocktail making, could learn a trick or two, and have a fun afternoon indulging in all this.

Having been to Pangaea only at night, an afternoon here gave me a chance to look at the interiors. Oh my, what crazy interiors! A lavish glass work, a magnificent bar at both ends of the place, beautiful chandeliers and a really impressive space for the DJ! The place has its interiors totally in sync with its brand name.

The event started off with Pangaea's head bartender mixing up some kickass watermelon based cocktail along with a few others. He was quite patient in adding all the ingredients one by one, gave everyone enough time for noting down the recipes, and gave an impeccable display and presentation of these cocktails. For someone who would be able to stir up cocktails even in his dreams, it must have been pretty painful for him to be so slow because of his audience. Nevertheless, the guy knew exactly what he was doing, even if it was at our speed.

The session then moved to a devoted bar for people where they could witness each of the cocktails being prepared right in front of them. They could test the skills of the bartenders and ask them to make any quirky, interesting drink that they could think of, and enjoy those drinks while watching everyone have a great time trying their own hand at making cocktails. And finally, trying their hand at making cocktails as well.

The bartender made some delicious Litchi Martini for me, another martini with Kaffir Lime as the base, and a third very refreshing, very exotic Basil and Lime Martini. Their bartenders sure as hell know their drinks. The reflex with which they reach out for that bottle of the right syrup, the way they pluck the fresh leaves, the way they shake your drinks - everything with so much flair! The drinks were absolutely delicious! The flavor, the punch, the hit - spot-on!

The 'making your own drink' was the best component of the afternoon for me. Some green chillies, watermelon, syrup, ice, and all of this being shaken well, with the green chilli infused right into the drink, I was so proud of myself for doing such a great job! The love for chilli based drinks strengthened that day! The patience with which the bartenders helped people make their drinks - very very courteous!

Mojito, the quintessential refreshing stuff was also something that I tried. The mint leaves could have been more dominant, but the drink was nice nonetheless.

A Mausambi Martini and a special something he stirred up for me with the ingredient 'orange', as I really wanted to have something refreshing and summery, both the drinks simply outstanding! Not too sweet, the zest and the flavour of the orange and mausambi simply bang-on, and just yummy drinks that are for the soul! Full points to the bartenders for this!

While the drinks are their forte, the food is what took me by surprise. You sure won't expect Pangaea to give you the choicest of dishes during their peak night hours, but getting something made by the chef in the afternoon was a real challenge for a place that only thrives on its music, gigs, night life and drinks.

Their Grilled Chicken was an absolutely gorgeous dish! So delicious that I finished it till the last bite. Full of flavour, bangs and bangs of flavour! 

So was the case with their Vegetable Spring Rolls. Crisp to perfection and served with a sweet chilli sauce, the spring rolls were really really nice! No excessive oil, and a very decent filling.

Fish Orley served with Tartar Sauce - really fresh fish, very soft, an absolute -melt-in-your-mouth dish. The tartar sauce was a star!

The chef also served some steamed fish with one of the most outstanding sauces I've ever had!

Chilli Paneer and Crispy Vegetable Salt 'n' Pepper - the Chilly Paneer was really really nice, but the Salt 'n' pepper was not good. Pretty average fare with just bland vegetables in the dish.

The main course had Fish in Lemon Garlic Sauce with Vegetable Hakka Noodles, Vegetable Fried Rice and a Chicken dish. After having such stellar appetizers, the main course came as a disappointment.

The fish and its gravy was really flavourful but very watery, the rice was very average stuff for me, and the noodles were too bland. Being Hakka Noodles, I can't crib too much here. They're Hakka Noodles so they cannot be spicy, but they sure can be flavourful. The taste of both the chicken and the fish main course dishes was nice, but it's the consistency of the gravies that really put these two dishes down.

An educating session for the skills of preparing cocktails, and an extremely fun afternoon for people. The staff was courteous and the service was prompt. If Pangaea ever opens up for lunch, I would be really intrigued to know what this place could present in terms of it's food offerings.

When in doubt, go for their Watermelon Martini, Basil and Mint based Martinis, and the Mausambi Martini - the drinks that stood out for me!

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12 June 2014

Disgusting experience at Kylin Premier, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj

My friends ditched me at the last minute and I was forced to have a meal alone for the first time in my life. Thought of going to Kylin for their Dimsum Brunch then, and making the most out of my 'me time'.

Entered the restaurant and told the lady that I needed a table for one. I was fully prepared for an astonished look coming from people after I said I JUST needed a table for one, so the lady asking me again if what she heard was right, didn't come as a surprise to me. 

The restaurant was full and there were only tables that could accommodate 4-6 people that were empty. I obviously did not expect them to give me that, so I told them I would wait for a table to get free. Some waiter by then asked me to sit on teppanyaki counter as a table for one would be difficult to make available immediately. I told him I didn't want to sit there, but that I wanted a 'table' to enjoy my meal. They asked me to wait then, and told me that a certain table was getting through with their dessert within 5 mins, and I could have their table then. I was okay with waiting. 

Then comes the manager. The manager asks me - table for 2, ma'am? I said no, table for 1. He smirked (like dining alone was shameful or just something that he found too funny) and said - you can take a seat on the teppanyaki counter then. I repeated to him - I want a 'table', I don't want to sit on the teppanyaki counter. He told me that the teppanyaki seating would be perfect for a person dining alone, and I repeated yet again - I am ONLY going to sit on a table. I don't mind waiting, but I would like a table alone and nothing else. 

They quickly arranged for a table for me then (immediately, that is) and I told the waiter that I would go for the Dimsum Brunch. I was really looking forward to having the Dimsum brunch at Kylin and I'd left my place today only with the intention of coming here and nowhere else. The waiter told me that the Dimsums would be served on the table and the salads and soup were on the buffet table. I headed to the buffet table with my DSLR camera and as soon as I was going to click a picture, the manager came to me and told me that the restaurant did not permit professional cameras. I told him I was no professional either, and even though it's a DSLR(it's nowhere close to a 'professional' camera, just 'looks' like one), it just clicks high resolution pictures and does nothing more. He said he agreed with me but that it was the restaurant policy. I could click pictures with my camera phone but not with my DSLR. I again told him that my only purpose of using this was to click high resolution pictures and nothing else. The manager then asked me about where I intended to use these. I told him that these pictures were for my blog, a personal blog, and not for commercial purposes. I told him that I wouldn't use it if he didn't want me to, and that it was no big deal for me. But the manager insisted he just wished to know more about this - the purpose of clicking pictures. He asked for my business card then, and told me that if I provided him with that, I could go ahead and click pictures. I told him that I had a business card of the company I work with, which is in no way related to me clicking pictures and writing reviews, so the business card would be of no use to him. He said alright, and then went ahead to tell me that the buffet counter has been laid here since 12pm, and that the food didn't look as fresh now. His words - Pictures come out fine when they're clicked immediately after the food is prepared and immediately after it is laid, but not now, after so much of time had passed (it was 2 20). He told me he was sending fresh Dimsums to my table (Dimsums are prepared fresh for the Dimsum brunch and are served on the table) and that I could click pictures of those, but not of the salad counter or the soup. 

By this time I had TOTALLY lost my cool. They first found me dining alone too ridiculously funny, found this an issue for giving me a proper table as well, then didn't want me to click pictures with a DSLR camera but were okay with a smartphone, and finally preferred me clicking pictures of the food they said was fresh. 

People reading a review should obviously see what is laid on the table AT the time the meal was consumed, AT 2 20, and not what was there at 12! Or in what condition or degree of freshness the food was when it was initially laid. You cannot ask the customer to not click something because YOU think it won't look good on your restaurant. The customer is paying for the food and he has every right to click what he's eating and paying for! And it shouldn't be so much of a problem for you to provide some one with a table for 1! A single person dining out is still damn well paying you! He isn't paying any lesser than what you would charge per head had 15 people been taking this Dimsum brunch. 

The scene has still not ended here. After he told me I could click my Dimsums and not the salad, I very politely told him - Thank you, I think I would move to a different restaurant then. The most amazing reply I got from this restaurant thereafter - "ok ma'am, thank you." Not a word after that, not a slightest bit of an effort to retain your customer and not let him leave. In fact, they were glad I was leaving! I haven't ever seen a more ridiculous customer service at any restaurant that I've been to! Horrendous, totally putting off, and disinterest at its peak! Totally under-trained, discourteous and awful staff I've ever come across! 

I'm sure the restaurant had no clue about how pissed I was, simply because I didn't create any scene there, I just chose to leave very quietly, without saying anything to any of the staff members. Even a little bit of common sense would have told them I wasn't happy with the way they handled a client, and that is exactly why a client was marching out of their restaurant without having food and after having a conversation with the manager. But like I said, I don't think they realised that, because they made no effort to stop me. 

A very disappointing experience, especially because in the beginning of the conversation itself I told the manager that I won't click pictures if it was too much of an issue for them. He should have just said yes, please, and I would have understood. If it's their policy then there are no 2 ways about it, I simply won't click any pictures! 

You don't have to get into a pathetically long and useless conversation if you wish to abide by your restaurant policies. Just let the customer know of it and if he still doesn't agree, you let him go to hell. But in a case where the customer IS understanding, you don't have to unnecessarily get into a a discussion!

The smirking in the beginning and not stopping the client when he's leaving your restaurant - 2 so totally ridiculous things! I don't think I'm ever going to Kylin after this experience! I am apalled at how easily they let me leave with only an "ok ma'am, thank you". That manager should be sacked right away!

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8 June 2014

Midnight Delivery: Crave Busters, New Delhi

Midnight deliveries have really taken Delhi by the storm! And amidst all this madness where there's a new midnight delivery mushrooming every other month, we see a breath of fresh air in Cravebusters.

I've ordered from Cravebusters at least 10-15 times now to have safely said that this is by far the best midnight delivery place I've come across! The food is at par with any other restaurant that is operational only till 12-1, and that is exactly what makes them a delivery one notch higher than the rest.

Their delivery time has always varied from 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, and we're totally okay with that as long as this has been communicated to us over the phone before we place our order(which is done each time we have ordered from here). Be it 10PM or be it 3AM, their food quality is exactly the same - excellent!

Coming to things I've tried from their menu. Their menu is huge! With Indian, Italian, Continental and a wide range of desserts as well, you'll be really impressed with their menu and will definitely be spoilt for choice.

I've had their Butter Chicken and Dal Makhni at least 8 out of those 10 times I've ordered from here, and they're absolutely smacking! 

When in the mood for some starters, their Chicken Tikka is delicious as hell! Soft, succulent and full of flavour; just like you get it at a Mughlai restaurant. The Kadhai Chicken is another dish that I've ordered from here twice or thrice, and just like the other Indian stuff, this one too is really really nice! The breads - Butter Naan, Pudina Parantha, etc - really nice and very soft.

Their Indian section has been explored by us the most, but recently I got the chance to try their burgers as well. Country Fried Chicken Burger and Bacon Cheese Burger. Expected the burgers to be an average affaire, but I'm not kidding when I say they were spectacular! The bun was really really really soft, the sauces inside the burger were delicious, and the patties were juicy and perfectly cooked. You can really not ask for more from a midnight delivery that's whipping up food equivalent to that of a restaurant! The burgers came with a small packet of Plain Lays and with a dip on the side.

I always order for a mixed sauce pasta from here, never the red or white sauce one. The pasta isn't as authentic, but is an Indian version of the dish, but that in no way means that it isn't delicious. Exactly the reason why I have ordered it multiple times. The pasta is saucy and not dry(thank god!), the chicken pieces in it aren't meagre, and the taste is just superb! I repeat - it might not be authentic but it sure as hell is really nice!

Now coming to their desserts. Their Chocolate Hazelnut Pie is a stunner! The chocolate pie and the chocolate inside that - simply sinful!

The Cheesecake - as close as you can get to a delicious cheesecake in the middle of the night!

Banana Cream Pie - least favourite of their desserts, but still nice if they don't have anything else available in desserts and you're craving for something sweet. The cream in this pie isn't pathetically sweet, which is a really good thing, and the flavour comes out of the bananas in this one.

Their packing is commendable. Sealed boxes of gravy items and pastas, really really cute packing for cheesecake, and the burgers and rotis come properly packed in a good quality butter paper and foil, respectively. The order comes along with disposable forks and spoons, and lots of tissues as well. You won't have to go hunt for these things in the middle of the night -  they give it all with the order.

I don't think they have gone wrong with our orders even a single time. Always fresh, delicious, without any issue with the packaging, finding alien items in the food, stale dishes - nothing of that sort ever. The delivery has never been crazily delayed, it's always as per the time they quote over the phone.

For me, Crave Busters is the best place to order food from in the middle of the night!

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