26 August 2014

Indian Food at Mint Leaf, Sushant Lok, Gurgaon

Situated in the Centre Point Mall/Market towards the backside of the place (not on the Pizza Hut side), I feel Mint Leaf thrives more on its delivery orders than it does on the dine-in. This is mostly due to the close proximity of the restaurant to the Sushant Lok colony and other offices around. The place still does receive clientele at the restaurant, but mostly only during dinner hours or weekends.

Comfortable chairs, nice wooden tables, the lighting done in yellow, and a decent decor on the whole.

In their starters I've just tried the Chicken Tikka and Chicken Seekh Kebab, but I've heard that their Tandoori Chicken and Paneer Tikka is great as well. The Chicken Tikka is really juice, very well-marinated, full of flavour, so succulent, and is an absolute delight to eat! The Seekh Kebab isn't as great when compared to the Chicken Tikka, but is really nice when not compared. very soft, not at all spicy, and just nice.

Their Dal Makhni is a star! It's one of the BEST Dal Makhni I've had till date! Perfect consistency, not at all extra creamy, not too sour, just perfect! Delicious delicious! Order a bowl of Dal Makhni and savour it with some kulchas/naans if you're not too hungry to order anything else, and that's all, your meal is divine!

Their Butter Chicken isn't as spectacular as the Dal Makhni. A little too sour, the gravy isn't the fine gravy that you find otherwise, and is not even in consistency. Because of the tomatoes not being grinded properly, and too many tomatoes, the Butter Chicken lost it's superb charm. But it still is a decent dish to order. The pieces of chicken in it were really soft and nice.

Butter Naan, Stuffed Aloo Paneer Kulcha, Pudina Parantha - everything is simply spot-on. Realy soft and crispy breads to go with your food, decently-filled kulchas, and generously lathed with butter.

Papad, onions, chutney - there was nothing lacking here as well. Super accompaniments to go with your food!

The place is subtle when it comes to the ambience and presentation. It's a no-nonsense place that only focuses on their food, but with a decent and hygienic place. Glad to see that the hygiene factors weren't compromised at the restaurant.

The prices are not too high, the service is quick, the servers are sweet, can even give recommendations to you if you like.

Order in or visit this place for some delicious, no-nonsense Indian food. It won't disappoint you at all!

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21 August 2014

Restaurant Review : Social Offline, Hauz Khas Village

Nothing about the location, nothing about the marketing. Who doesn't know about Social Offline in Delhi now? The most talked-about place, the place which has the maximum hype around it, the place that is famous for all the right reasons.

A restaurant that is spread across 2 floors, the place is just huge! Considering how big the place is, it is still always packed; always packed and always flooding with people on the waitlist. It's like the place is giving them food for free!

Social Offline has a very rugged and raw look. The unfinished look is mainly because of the brickwork on the walls, and because of the wooden tables and folding chairs that they have. In addition to this, they also have cushioned chairs and sofas that offer you a more comfortable seating. During the day, the first floor is devoted only to people who are looking for a place to work out of. This place houses freelance workers, artists, start-up professionals, and just about anyone you can think of who may not have an office space and chooses to work out of cafes and restaurants with wi-fi. On a very nominal charge paid by the people, Social Offline provides them their own work space here. Stationery that can be provided on request, wi-fi that is the sole necessity for their work, coffees and chais at their disposal(on an extra charge, of course), the place provides both convenience and comfort to these people. In the evening, the entire place turns into a club. Artist performances, nice music, dim lights and your night is set. With the option of both indoor and outdoor seating, you can choose your preference based on the weather and your mood. 

I've been to Social Offline multiple times now, and there is absolutely no complain I have with this place. They've been stellar at their food and drinks, and not to forget their superb concept. The food never has any shortcomings, and the drinks are just out of this world - both in terms of presentation and taste.

Their tissue papers(in the form of a toilet roll), their menus(in the form of a newspaper), the cutlery(with hashtags), a wooden box in their outdoor area that has matchsticks for those who want to smoke(what a brilliant thing to do), the box in which the bill comes - everything is like a breath of fresh air!

Coming to their food, here are a few things I've tried at Social.

Their Barbeque Chicken Poutine is just delicious! Oodles of liquid cheese and barbeque sauce, generously topped with chicken chunks, the fries were simply yummy!

The Achmeds Mezze Platter did full justice to each of the components. Came with 3 dips - hummus, baba ganoush and a mayo dip. I've had better hummus than this, but this wasn't bad either. The baba ganoush and the mayo dip were really nice! Falafel and Awesomasas - sufficiently appetizing and really really flavourful! Can't even begin to explain how aptly they've named the 'Awesomasas'. The cheese inside it, the crispy coating outside - you don't need anything else from life! To complete the platter was fattoush salad, pita bread and lavas.

Shawarma, Yo Mama was a DIY dish. The Shawarma was so damn delicious that you wouldn't want to share it with anyone! The perfect combination of chicken, pita, garlic mayo and hummus, it's a complete meal in itself!

Jalapeno Cheese Nads - For someone who loves cheese, and even for someone who doesn't, this dish is a must-try! Nuggets with a filling of that beautiful cheese, this dish comes with the most delicious and perfectly complementing sauce that balances the flavour of the nuggets for you. 'Sriraja chunda', as given in the menu, this sauce is slightly sweet. You won't feel too heavy because of only eating cheese as long as you're dipping it in this sauce to balance the monotony(in a good way) of the cheese.

Fully Loaded Nachos - This is the only disappointing thing on their menu. The nachos are just pathetic! Which restaurant gives senor pepito in a baked nachos dish now? None. Also, it's just a very dry dish. Not enough cheese, not enough toppings, not saucy enough. Disappointment.

Crispy Sesame Honey Chilli Fries - This dish needs no description. It's just lip-smacking! A very good option for the vegetarians.

DIY Keema Bruschettas - The most filling appetizer I've tried here! The keema is better than what I've had at many other restaurants in Hauz Khas Village, and that is like saying something. It's not the spicy stuff that you would want, but it is packed with flavours! Suits to all kinds of spice tolerance level, the keema is pretty mildly spiced but very delicious. The breads that come with this were fresh and nice, and the salad made for a nice topping on the keema bruschetta. Don't forget to season your bread using the brush that comes in this dish. Full marks for the concept here!

Their baos were one really talked-about section of the menu, and I tried these on 2 different occasions. The Vada Pao Bao was spectacular! Very soft pita bread, extremely crispy vada pao, superb filling inside, and the cherry on the cake with the superlative lehsun chutney mayo! A must-try for the vegetarians!

The Habi-B-Q Lamb Bao was the lebanese kind. Came with a serving of hummus, the chicken inside the bao was really good! Very filling, very delicious.

Their Lamb Massaman Curry was perfectly spiced, well-balanced with flavours, had that crazy punch in the dish, and really made me happy with the taste overall. Served with rice, the curry can be your patent filling main course.

I've tried 2 of their desserts and I have mixed emotions for the desserts section.

The Watermelon Caipirojka Gateau was a cake which was layered with finely chopped watermelon and had that zing to it which was coming from the lemon and mint. The lemon was very prominent in taste, and so was the watermelon. Together, the dessert didn't quite work for me like a mind-blowing dessert, but was an okay thing for me.

The Banoffee Cronut, however, was absolutely heavenly! Heavenly is also not doing justice to how good this dessert is. A stack of cronuts with toffee sauce and sliced bananas between each of them, the dessert was topped with whipped cream. The toffee sauce was the star amongst all of the components in this dish. What a beauty! Imagine 4 chunks of cronut, toffee sauce, bananas and whipped cream, all coming together in one bite - is it bliss or is it bliss!

Coming to their drinks section, the Ferrero Rocher Shake came in a small tumbler topped with whipped cream and a full ferrero rocher chocolate. Along came a slice of the cake that can be had with the shake. The shake was not at all overly sweet, and was the best shake that I've had in quite some time! 

The Peach Iced Tea - They just rocked with the presentation, and with the taste as well. Not too sweet, thankfully, the iced tea was really nice!

Amongst the other hardcore drinks that I''ve tried here, A Game of Sling(gin based) is one of the most suitables ones for all kinds of drinkers. Not too sweet, not too strong, just the right amount of sweetness here.

The Blue Pill or Red - What a kickass presentation! The drink(vodka based) comes to you in a red colour, and along comes an injection with the blue curacao in it. Inject the liquid into the beaker(yes, the glass is a beaker) and the glass becomes beautiful! A mix of blue and red, it really is a sight to look at. Mix the drink and it becomes purple-ish. The taste - wow!

Earl of Gin - By the name you must have guessed it is gin based. Also if you pay a little more attention to the name, you might catch the 'Earl' in it. The Earl, for the Earl Grey Tea. A drink that is not at all sweet, comes with the tea bag that you can dip in your drink as per the taste you like, has the fierce flavour of earl grey tea in it, and one which is nothing but just brilliant! A breath of fresh air, this is a kind of drink I've never had before. In love with it? Oh, yes!

Deconstructed Moscow Mule - Bitter, as the name suggests, and mixed with ginger ale, this drink(vodka based) is for those who don't like their drinks sweet. Really different, really yummy, and nothing like you've ever tasted before. The smoky flavour in this drink is quite evident!

Aachraoska - I was really skeptical about trying this drink(vodka based) though I'd heard rave reviews about it from people, but what came to me was then a very very pleasant surprise. I was speculating the drink to be too too 'aachar' type, and that it was, but in a beautiful way! The little aachar shreds at the bottom of the martdaan(the container in which aachar is stored) were superrrr! A crazy drink!

Old Smoke is what is considered to be whiskey drinkers' favourite choice here, or at least that is what my friends recommended to me. Orange zest oil, sweet and sour mix, and a smoky flavour - that's how the menu puts it and that's exactly what you get! The drink is bitter, but in a good way, and like every other drink on the menu here, this is very unique in taste!

LIIT - Electric and Toxic. A good change from the usual LIIT, the Electric one is blue curacao based, and the Toxic one is cranberry juice based. The Toxic one is a better choice for me, as I love the flavour of cranberry and apple in it, but the Electric LIIT is great as well. Try both just for the heck of trying, and choose your favourite one then! The perfect drink for getting high on(nobody needs a background on this), their LIIT comes in 2 sizes - 500ml and 1 litre. The pipe inside the tower in which the LIIT is served - kickass!

Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fish Bowl - Margharita and Beer - what a combination! A special mention for the presentation here. Just to give the drink a feel of the fish bowl, what came to us was a drink in a miniature fish bowl. Full points for the thought that went into this! The drink will be really appreciated by beer lovers, as that is the dominant flavour here, but that does not mean that the margharita goes unnoticed. You can taste the margharita in the beginning, but as you go on drinking, you can taste more of beer. A very unique idea!

On many occasions we've made use of the quarters that they have on their menu, and I must mention that they're very pocket-friendly. You can also opt for buying an entire bottle as they do give you the option of that.

The food is just excellent and the drinks are even better. The prices - very nominal. What brings the crowd here is mostly the nominal pricing and then the concept. A very good place to work out of during the day, go for a lunch with friends, chilling in the evening and partying at night - it solves all purposes for you. THE place to be in HKV right now, as people put it, I don't think they're wrong about this. Who doesn't like good food at a place with a good ambience and at prices that are nothing but affordable?

Coming to their service - the staff has always been prompt and sweet, always very kind, even if the place is overflowing with people. Barring this one incident where I had ordered for Barbeque Chicken Poutine on the server's recommendation and the same server got me a Barbeque Chicken Sandwich. On telling him that I ordered for the former, the server replies "ab toh aa gaya hai, ab khaalo". WOW! You expect a reply like this coming from a place that is doing wonders when it comes to their business, but ruining it all because of one stupid waiter. I got really angry at him for saying that to me and the other waiters took him away. What came next was the other waiters scolding him in one corner for his behaviour with me, and that waiter staring at me continuously from the corner of the room like he's going to kill me with that stare. Very very disappointing!

Another thing that they can really improve upon is the way they handle people on the waiting list. The area where people wait for getting a table is right in front of the bar. As soon as they see a table getting vacant, they go and grab it. Where is the staff while all this is happening? They're nowhere to be found. Very very unorganised! It's like people fighting like dogs for getting a table. This is something the management should take care of, not left to the people to fight it out amongst themselves. And believe me, that really is how it is done here. 

It goes without saying that I'll keep coming back to this place for reasons more than one, but what I'll really return for the very next time is their Fish Tacos, Prawn Sesame Toast and the Breakfast Menu. Something I've really been meaning to try. Kudos to the restaurant for such a great concept and a big pat on the back for making the food and drinks SO good!

A 4.5/5 only because of the behaviour of that one waiter.

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13 August 2014

Restaurant Review: Sakley's The Mountain Cafe, Greater Kailash - I

Situated in the very active M-Block market of Greater Kailash, Part 1, this is a restaurant that opened here after receiving a lot of praise for its first outlet in Gurgaon. As opposed to the one in Gurgaon, this one is much much more spacious, and is really tastefully done.

Combination of chairs and comfortable sofas, different kinds of seating, and a very aesthetic decor added to its appeal. As true to the name as it could get, it really had all the elements of a mountain cafe. The lighting, the books, the decor, the photographs on the walls, the wooden flooring, the wooden ceiling made of logs, and just about everything!

The place can also turn into a book cafe for you if reading is what you like. A very impressive collection of books comprising of short stories, poetry and lovely novels is what sits beautifully on the multiple shelves here. What do we grab from this then? When dining alone, this can be a very good option for you!

There was a lot of hype around this place when it initially opened. Every food group and forum only spoke about Sakley's. All recommendations for having good food in South Delhi only came down to this. So one fine evening I landed here for a meal. And then a few more times too. 

One thing I noticed about this place is their issue with consistency. They're not at all consistent with the food and its taste. One meal you will find here really good, the next one just about average, and the third one will just blow your mind away. So this leaves a person in a great deal of risk when zeroing down your dining options to Sakley's. The only time I decided to take a bunch of my friends here for a meal, the meal disappointed me no end. And then came the criticism of choosing a bad option for lunch. A meal after that - I couldn't explain how delicious their food was! So the consistency is something they really need to work on.

Starting with the food I've tried here, their Freshly Baked Nachos with Grilled Marinated Chicken served with Sour Cream and Peppers are really nice because they don't use nachos here, they use the freshly baked tortilla chips. The nachos on a whole however, are bland. Loads of cheese (I'm not complaining), but no other flavour to go with it. Really doesn't justify the 445 bucks plus various taxes.

Greek Salad with Chicken - Very fresh and vibrant-looking ingredients, delicious feta cheese, juicy chunks of chicken. A complete salad with all the essentials. Totally delicious!

Deer Ranch Pork Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese Pizza - Very dry, very bland. The quality of the ingredients is nice, but the sauce that is the base of the pizza has no punch at all. The pizza was generously covered with cheese, but crust and the pizza as a whole were  really dry. No wow factor there.

Sherwood Salami Pizza with chunks of tender chicken laced with Sakley's Signature Barbeque Sauce - I've had this pizza twice here, once for dinner and once for lunch. The first time I had it was for dinner, and the pizza was really good. Not the best I've had, but really good. The second time I had it, the pizza was sensational! Yummy cheese, superb salami and chicken, crazy barbeque sauce, and just lip-smacking on a whole!

Have also tried a vegetarian pizza which we got customised without cheese and with our own choice of toppings. They made it as per our specifications, but again, the pizza was really dry. Almost like 'papad'. The least they could have done here was to add the pizza sauce generously to not make it taste dry.

Hunter's Barn Pork Sausage Pizza with Crispy Bacon Strips - The bacon was a beauty! Perfectly crisp and oh-so-delicious. The pork sausage - really well-cooked and had that nice flavour in it. A really nice pizza to order if you want pork. The Sherwood Salami still remains my favourite though.

I've had 3 kinds of pastas here - Lonely Cyprus Penna and Fusilli in Pink Sauce, Mountain Lullaby Penne and Fusilli in Italian Red Sauce with Parmesan Cheese and Parsley, and Pesto Sauce. The Pesto one isn't on the menu but the chef was kind enough to make it for us. The Pesto Sauce Pasta is the most decent out of all three. 

The other two pastas were really bland when they came, and this is on 2 different occasions. We had to send them back and they came out better, but nowhere close to good. Plus the pastas were really overcooked. You could have easily eaten them with a spoon, and not with a fork - they were that overcooked. And I repeat - this is on 2 different occasions. Adding a little bit of salt to the pasta after they came out rectified from the kitchen made them edible, but the pastas weren't the amazing stuff that we expected them to be. They were really saucy and with a generous helping of chicken, but weren't the deliciousness overload that we were looking forward to.

Wolf Mountain Juicy Chicken Sizzler with Sakley's Original Barbeque Sauce This had the yummy smoky sizzler flavour and a decent helping of rice, with fries and 2 garlic breads with it. The chicken was cooked well and the sauce tasted nice too, but the garlic breads were a total waste here because they didn't have anything else to go with. The fries and garlic bread were added just to make the platter look full, when they can actually eliminate these things and replace it with more chicken and rice. Nevertheless, the dish tasted nice. Only it wasn't value for money.

Double Chicken Burger with two full fresh marinated whole chicken breasts topped with Cheddar Cheese Sauce - This burger was absolutely amazing! An extremely soft bun, 2 very gorgeous and juicy pieces of chicken breasts, jalapenos, fresh lettuce, veggies, and a nothing-short-of-outstanding cheddar cheese sauce. The burger came with 2 sauces that seemed to be something resembling mayo and south west, and fries. The fries weren't the McDonald's type (cripsy, is what I meant), but they were okay. The burger is what was the real star here, and I was really really happy with it!

From their drinks, I've tried the Lemon Iced Tea, Watermelon Mojito, Apple Mojito and Mossy Fall Oreo Cookie Ice-Cream Shake.

The Lemon Iced Tea is nice but nothing spectacular.

The Watermelon Mojito is really fresh, really yummy, and my favourite drink here!

The Apple Mojito - another superb and refreshing drink here! Lemon, mint leaves, the apple flavour, and so much freshness!

The Mossy Oreo Cookie Ice-Cream Shake - It is simply heavenly! A thick ice-cream shake that is so evenly distributed with oreo, the few bigger oreo chunks that come in your shake are like the best surprise ever in that beautiful glass! The shake comes topped with another scoop of vanilla ice-cream and an oreo biscuit lathered with chocolate sauce. A must must try!

They're doing a stupendous job with their drinks!

Coming to their pricing - it is by no means nominal or reasonable. There are some things that are priced perfectly but there are some that you will feel give you negligible value for your money. The per head cost when you eat a lot here(with 4-5 people) comes to 1200-1300. And this is without alcohol. So when they serve you food that is average, the prices do pinch.

Their portions are huge! Ordering 2 mains for 2 people is more than enough! You're so stuffed with even 2 mains and 2 drinks that there's no scope for ordering dessert.

I will still come back to this place but only for their pizzas and burgers, and to try their breakfast menu and desserts. But this, you should only do when you're ready to splurge!

Address : M 23, M Block Market, Greater Kailash (GK) 1, New Delhi

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