#RealGirlReviews: Of Italian Places And Lebanese Food

Admittedly this review will not be the most in-depth. You see, every time I pass this restaurant on my way to Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel, I make a mental note to come here. So last weekend, I was to go for Kapoor and Sons to PVR at Phoenix and right away I made dinner plans to check out Ithaka. It proclaimed to be a Veg Lebanese restaurant and all those words sounded good to me. I love 99% of the Lebanese food I’ve tried and I could legit survive on Hummus and Pita. So it was decided then, movie followed by dinner. But because I have no self-control whatsoever, I had popcorn in the theatre leaving very little place for a hearty meal. (Okay finnneee, you caught me – I had Samosa too). However, I was in the area and didn’t want to change the plan. So here’s my short and sweet review:

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It takes you two minutes to reach Ithaka from Phoenix Mills as it’s virtually right outside it. They have valet parking which is definitely a boon. We entered and were a little confused as there were stairs leading up but we chose to sit down itself. Turns out, the lower part is actually the Italian restaurant (Riso) and Ithaka is actually on the first floor. But no one chose to tell us this. I find it a bit strange that they expect people to know this already. Anyway, in terms of food it doesn’t matter because both restaurants serve both the cuisines. It was a Sunday night and the place was full with family crowd. Can’t expect much else from a Vegetarian Restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol and specializes in Jain dishes, no? I’m not complaining or anything…just letting you know what to expect when you go there.

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Again when it came to checking out the menu, they handed us only the Italian ones. On checking (and getting confused), we asked for the Lebanese menu which the waiters handed us (at their own leisurely pace). They should have ideally had a word and asked us which cuisine we would like to try etc, but moving on. We picked out the classic Nachos and Cheese and were confused which Hummus to order. There were 5-6 different options. We picked out Hummus Turki but the server (thankfully now more responsive than before) recommended the Hummus Peri Peri.

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The food came soon enough.

Both dishes looked really good and we dug in. The nachos and cheese were alright. Nothing to write home about. I guess everytime I have nachos I compare them to the ones at Bombay Blues/Cream Centre. And because the bar is set so high, they almost never win. Also, this wasn’t as cheesy as it looked. So yes, I wouldn’t repeat the dish.

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The hummus on the other hand was delectable. Although not spicy (I thought peri peri meant it would be spicy), it was almost creamy in texture. It was light yet filling, just the way hummus should be. This one I’d go in for again.

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Both the starters were quite filling and I almost opted out of dinner but then decided to go in for a light pasta. Ordered the Aglio Olio and asked them to add mushrooms and olives because I like it that way. Not that you can really go wrong with a classic Aglio Olio but credit where due; it was kind of perfect. Along with dinner I had a peach Iced Tea and that too was lovely – not too sweet the way most places make it.

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Although overall the food was good, I’m not so sure if I want to go back. Here’s why; the ambience although cute is nothing out of the ordinary. The review on the food is mixed and the prices are on the higher side – characteristic of places on the other side of the sea link. I guess I could however recommend it for a non-alcoholic, family dinner on a vegetarian day. Because God knows we all have to endure those sometimes. 😉

 

Ithaka - Veg Lebanese Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Restaurant Review: SodaBottleOpenerWala

Before I start with this review, I want to get a few things straight. As mentioned in my previous restaurant review too, I pay for m­­y own meals. Now what exactly does that translate into?

A) I will largely talk about vegetarian food since (insert dramatic gasp here) I’m a vegetarian.

B) The boy orders one or two non-veg things so all you carnivores can honestly stop sulking.

C) All the nice, new, and expensiveish restaurants are usually frequented by me on Date Nights. But in the future, I plan to do a lot more food reviews so perhaps there will be reviews even when I’m with friends and family; in which case you will get to know about a lot more dishes (both veg and non-veg).

D) I don’t want anything to come between this blog and the fact that I like to keep things real. So for now, please let’s live with this current situation and bear with my not-so-extensive, largely vegetarian, severely alcoholic, honest restaurant reviews. #Dhanyavaad

Now let’s dig in!

So I have been wanting to go to Sodabottleopenerwala ever since it opened in Bombay. It had already created a buzz in other cities and I couldn’t wait to sample it myself. Besides, have I ever told you about my undying love for Parsis and all things Parsi? I went to Jai Hind College in Bombay, and it is *filled* with Parsis. They’ve left an indelible mark on my life; in a good way. Like sometimes I randomly sit and think about how the Parsi community is diminishing and it makes me sad. I sound like a freak, but I’m okay with that. Anyway, now you get just how much I’ve been wanting to try this place.

It was a Friday night and we went there without reservation – bold move on our part! We were told we’ll have to wait for about 40 minutes. Now because I think I’m way-too-cool, I honestly thought they were fibbing about the time, as most restaurants do. So I bindaas proceeded to sit outside the restaurant (they’ve set up chairs) in the waiting area. Props to them for making an area like that, because a lot of restaurants don’t even have one. We were mighty pleased with the first look of the place, the inside looked all bright, happy, and cheerful. In terms of the crowd, it seemed to be mixed. There were office goers, and families, and college students, and couples. People were dressed up and not so dressed up. I smiled to myself as it’s one of the things I love about Bombay – you can just be. Even though we were impressed at first glance, we thought we’ll go in, have a drink or two along with a quiet dinner and walk out. But boy, we were so wrong.

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

A good 45 minutes later (as we had been correctly warned) we were getting antsy. Just then, we were asked to proceed inside. I was so happy to do this, because the wait made me feel like I had totally earned it. We were seated on a table quite in the centre but this didn’t bother us because the vibe of the place just took over. ­The quirky decor in splendid colours, the typical Irani Cafe chequered table cloth, the eccentric menu cards, and friendly waiters made sure we were absorbed from the word go!

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

I’m normally a diehard Old Monker but the cocktail menu really tempted me. So I ordered a Vodka based Mango cocktail called, get this, Rustom Bantawala which is served in a Banta bottle (complete with the marble, too). The boy, not half as fickle as me, ordered his Old Monk in a size called Bawa Peg, which is basically 150ml of Old Monk (that’s 5 small pegs, for the price of 4). The Old Monk was served in a milk bottle. The theatrics of our drinks impressed us greatly. My drink too was yummy, and I gulped it like a girl who is street shopping on a hot summer day. The way you would with regular Banta. This was not a great idea, as the taste of Vodka hit me later and I’m not a Vodka person. I promptly switched to Old Monk after this, like a true Parsi would. We went through multiple Bawa pegs in the course of the night, but then there are some details you don’t need to know. 😛

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

I was concerned about the food here, as we all know the Parsis are not known for their vegetarian fare. But let me say, right at the outset that the food didn’t disappoint. Not only were there enough options for me to choose from, we liked everything we ordered. We started with a cheese masala pav (One plate has 2 pieces) and this was delicious. It had cheese that melted in our mouths and was the perfect thing to go along with our drinks. We also had Mushroom on Khaari which was divine. I love mushroom and I love Khaari so this was a winner all the way! After a while we went in for the cheesy fries, these were not bad either. But I’d skip these if I were you, because the description said they come with thecha (which I assumed to be the Maharashtran spicy dry chutney) but they weren’t spicy at all. To be totally fair though, we were also sort of full at this point and that could be another reason we didn’t love the fries.

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Let me halt the food talk to tell you the main reason we loved this place. When we walked in, there was a DJ playing English retro songs. And we were loving his music! These songs reminded me of college. (I honestly talk like I went to college in the 60s – not true, FYI.) The bawa pegs were doing their thing and we were grooving to the music. From typical Freddy Mercury and George Michael kind of stuff, the DJ by this point had progressed to Peter Andre and literally everyone was singing along. But the DJ killed it when suddenly, he started playing Chaiyaan Chaiyaan. No one saw it coming, and the energy in the room just sky rocketed. He followed this up with 90’s gems like Humma Humma and eventually came to new age Bollywood like Galla Goodiyan. By this point, our date night had turned into a party for two. We were singing out loud, without a care in the world. Okay, can’t say without a care in the world because I looked around self consciously once and realized nobody was bothered. Everyone was mouthing lyrics, dancing in their seats (and later even out of their seats), and pretty damn drunk. It felt like home.

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

At some point the efficient waiters had come, cleaned our table and asked for our main course order. We skimmed the menu in a happy daze and ordered a Veg Dhansak for me and a Patra Ni Macchi for the boy. Both dishes were out of this world. We have had our share of authentic Parsi food made in the homes of our Parsi friends or at their weddings, but the food here was comparable. I’ve heard people differ on this, but that’s just what we felt.

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

A lot of people unfairly compare Sodabottleopenerwala to Brittania, Sassanian, Kyani, Koolar, etc and we’ve been to (and loved) all these places. But we must recognize that the concept of this place is to keep the Parsi culture, food and vibe alive and make it relevant to the more evolved restaurant goer. It also merges well in Bombay’s restaurant-scape because even though Irani cafes are part of  the city’s culture there’s nothing quite like this. For the amount of food and alcohol we ordered, I expected our bill to be sky rocketing…it wasn’t. I’m most certainly going back here, but not without finding out first if the DJ is playing that night.

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala
Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

PS: Did I mention we were the last to leave? Yes, you might be wondering “Konna Baap Ni Diwali?!” Let’s just say we were very, very happy. 🙂

Real Girl Eats: Sodabottleopenerwala

 

SodaBottleOpenerWala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Restaurant Review: Fable Juhu

Yay! Finally my chance to review a restaurant. Someday I will be invited to do this (as a lot of bloggers are) but as of now, I very much paid for my own meal…(grumbles inaudibly)…

So Fable at Juhu has been very talked about off late. I was almost a little skeptical to go there, because the ‘newly famous’ ones tend to let you down easily. But I will say right at the start that Fable didn’t disappoint. That buzz is not for nothing. 🙂

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I’ve heard you need a reservation so I called, but they said they don’t take reservations after 8 and since I’m not Jain (I eat after sunset), there was no way I was going so early.  😛

If you’re Jain, I’m sorry about my inappropriate humour. If you’re not, I’m certain you laughed at that.

Okay, I digress. So me and the boy showed up there sans reservation at around 9:30 on a weeknight and we promptly got a table. We were asked if we preferred to sit inside or outside and I appreciated the fact that we could choose. We chose to sit inside.

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The decor is the first thing that strikes you about this place. It definitely transports you to another land. And that’s the whole point of this place…it’s called ‘Fable’ for a reason. Once we were done marveling at the cute and whimsical decor, and the music had begun to soothe our senses, we checked the menu. The place only has wine (I’m sure it has to do with their license) so that’s quite a negative if you’re not a wine drinker. We were already told about this so we were prepared in advance. We promptly ordered the white wine pitcher. Now two things to be noted here: The pitcher is not even on the menu and there’s absolutely no variety in terms of flavours. There’s only white wine sangria or red wine sangria. I find this a little strange since I’m sure they could innovate in this department – more so because they only have a wine license, right?

Real Girl Eats 2

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Anyhoo, they brought the Sangria and it was lovely. Classic but good. To go with it we had two veg starters; the cheese chilly fries and the onion rings with wasabi mayo. There aren’t too many options for veg starters and that’s something I wish they would work on. Both the starters were nice but I *really* liked the onion rings – they were light and crispy and kind of perfect.

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For mains, we ordered one veg spaghetti aglio olio and one prawn aglio olio (yes, our food was twinning).

The veg aglio olio was totally satisfactory but not out of this world (Look at me acting like I’m judging Masterchef) but the boy had the best things to say about the non-veg one. The quantity looked tiny but those bowls were deceptive. I was quite intent on ordering dessert but abandoned all thoughts of it lest I wanted to be carried home.

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The bill arrived in a children’s book and this amused me greatly (I’m a sucker for theatrics), but it was steep and I sobered down instantly. 😛

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Though, to be honest, all new ‘fine dine’ restaurants in decent locations now fall under the same price range so let’s not be harsh. I’m just pointing it out so you’re prepared if you plan to go. Because I’m nice like that. Okay?

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Let me know what you thought of this review? Think I could make it as a food critic? No? Okay…Fiiiiineeeeee. Until next time then!

Fable Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Howrat Central

Hey! Here’s what you need to know about me and food:

  1. I live to eat. I know that’s not ideal, but I never said I was. So…
  2. I can’t cook, so don’t expect some fancy recipes here. I can however ask my mom (who happens to be an excellent cook) to share some of her gyaan with us. In fact, that’s a great idea. She can cook, I can eat, you guys can hear all about it. #PerfectPlan 😛
  3. I hope to do restaurant reviews here. I’m no masterchef but I am pretty opinionated when it comes to eating out and ordering in. So expect a lot of that here!
  4. I’m going to leave you with an image of something I do actually cook.

Maggi

Okaythnxbye!

 

Photo Courtesy: tribuneindia.com

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