Dinner at Food Inn

After having been stood up on a dinner engagement, Amitabh and I walked from Regal to Food Inn, which looked fine from outside. We decided to have dinner in the AC section upstairs. I didn’t notice anything, until Amitabh wondered: “Anand, why is it that there’s no one in this whole place except us?”

Well, there were, actually. 4 waiters, all standing with their backs to the same wall, with a tray in the hands, equidistant from each other. Looked like those thugs in movies who’d move away from the wall at the villain’s orders, and say, “Yes Boss!” Our hypothesis was that the place was run by the Mumbai mafia, and was the meeting point for the shady deals in the city.

It struck me as a fabulous idea, and I started writing it down. Only to notice a waiter peering at me. And then another. And yet another. To the innocent, it may appear that they gathered to take our order (which, incidentally, they did). Neither Amitabh nor I could be considered ‘innocent’ in any sense of the word, though. We quickly ordered (Amitabh mustering enough courage to crib that the dishes were being served too fast), and left, before the mafia arrived.

Nothing much to comment on the cuisine. The standard North Indian menu.

Someone Like You

Amitabh, Shyam and myself finally managed to see “Someone Like You” at Sterling. I arrived a bit early, at 10PM, and the show began at 10:45PM. The wait was well worth it, because it seemed to me that the who’s who of Mumbai fashion were parading about the theatre. Not that I recognised anybody, but then, not that I would recognise anybody anyway. We got corner seats, unfortunately, with the AC directly above us. The three of us sat huddled in the corner, trying to warm ourselves. Fortunately, the movie proved a hilarious piece.

Pizzeria

Dikshit and I had a 12″ Spectacular Spinach ‘Over The Edge’ pizza (Over The Edge means that the pizza is thin and the topping is thick right till the edge. The pizza has spinach, mushrooms and jalapeno peppers) and a fettucini with pesto sauce at the Pizzeria. Fettucini is the flat pasta, as opposed to macaroni (which looks like sliced tyres) or spaghetti (noodles). I had pesto sauce at London a couple of times, and loved the taste. At Rs. 400, the bill was a little high. But we had a beautiful view, sitting at the Pizzeria, of Marine Drive. It started raining as we were there, which at Marine Drive is a sight to watch as well.

Vittal

Saurabh and I had Pav Bhaji and Bhel Puri at Vittal. The place was a pretty small outfit, like the Kamaths or the Sagars. But the dishes were among the best that I’ve ever had. Not expensive — we finished at Rs. 75 between us, including an extra pav bun.

Then we watched Miss Congeniality at New Excelsior. The theatre didn’t have a balcony, which is pretty surprising, but it appeared larger than Regal. The movie was produced by and stars Sandra Bullock as an FBI agent in a beauty pageant. Extremely funny, and without any message, thankfully.

Movie tickets

I missed seeing Someone Like You at Sterling. The show was to start at 10:45PM. At 10:30PM, four of us were deciding on a go/no-go for Rs.200 in black. We figured, having come all this way, may as well go for it, and hunted for the chap. Not to be found. In the meantime, there’s another offer for Rs. 250. We spend a while over it. Finally, yes, it’s probably worth it. We go hunt for him again. The guy says wait, and wanders around trying to buy tickets. That’s crazy! But we waited. By which time it was 10:45, and the market rates rose to Rs. 300, and only two tickets were available.

Xavier told me that the Titanic once sold for Rs. 500 a ticket. I would’ve thought there was something seriously wrong here, except that I’m the kind of guy that would probably pay something like that for a movie. Anyway, we walked back to Just Around The Corner, discussing why the theatres weren’t taking the margins of the black-ticket sellers, decided it was a governance issue (as the manager was probably taking a cut anyway), got drenched in the rain, and still couldn’t figure out who the blonde poster at Just Around The Corner was.

Dosa Diner

Sumit & I had dinner at Dosa Diner. I was fairly absorbed in a discussion relating entropy, evolution and free will, hence did not pay much attention to the place or the menu. But what remains fresh in my mind is the long green tunnel you walk through to get to the place. It used to be a discotheque earlier, and the tunnel had been painted black completely. At least its brighter now, but green is almost as discotheque as black if you ask me. But then, at least I don’t wear black nailpolish (as opposed to green 😉

The place was spacious and well lit. Considering that they served only south Indian, the variety was surprisingly good. We tried idiappam, a rava dosa with ‘mushroom masala’, and sheera. Tasted quite good, and came out to around Rs. 300.

Regal

Having spent several hours at office, Amitabh and I walked down to the Regal Cinema Hall to watch “The Emperor’s New Groove”. Given that it was a saturday afternoon, and a Disney movie, we were expecting only to see a family crowd, and weren’t disappointed. Tickets, as always in Mumbai, were a bit more expensive than we were used to. Rs. 60 and Rs. 80. We took the Rs. 60, and discovered that there was no difference between the two. Well, there was, but not much.

Regal is pretty spacious, with comfortable (and new) red chairs. And as Amitabh always checks out the quality of a place by the men’s room, I accompanied him to hear his verdict first hand. “This is not bad, for a cinema hall,” he declared. Regal is hence eminently visitable.

The movie is hilarious. Just 75 minutes of pure fun, completely devoid of any moral lessons or take-aways, and a first person narration. It’s about this punk emperor (aged 18) who lays off his minister (or ministress?), who poisons him, and he becomes a llama, and the guy whose house he wanted to destroy to build a summer palace saves him, and they live happily ever after. No, I haven’t spoilt any of the suspense for you, and its still worth a watch.

Gaylord

Amitabh, Xavier and I, after considerable deliberation on the choice of tonight’s restaurant, ended up at Gaylord, again in the Churchgate area. We sat at one of the tables near the entrance, informed a (relatively young, clean shaven) waiter that we’d like a seat inside ASAP, and we’d have drinks in the meantime. Just to be on the safe side, Xavier confirmed with him that it was OK if we got a seat in-between our drinks and we could take the drinks inside. After a few rounds of explanation, he seemed to get the point, and nodded. But the explanation must have done him more harm than good, because he forgot to make our reservation.

We ordered drinks in the meantime. Amitabh, a Bloody Mary (whose recommendation is “don’t have it.” Incidentally, Amitabh benchmarks drinks in a restaurant by Bloody Mary. So his recommendation actually translates to “Don’t have anything.”), Xavier, a Margarita (he didn’t enjoy it all that much either, but was less vehemant about it), and myself, a Virgin Mary. As its the first time I’m having it, I had to enquire (a) if it was non-alcoholic, and (b) what on earth is it? Turned out to be tomato juice, with salt on the rim, and a lemon hanging from a stick poking through it. The salt was tasty. (OK, I’m kidding, I fairly liked it.)

And then there was Paneer Alu Croquet, a starter that sounded interesting. Turned out to be mashed paneer and alu filling made in bonda style. Xavier walked down to the nearby bakery and bought chocolate muffins (very nice), a custard muffin (fairly nice), and a chocolate croissant (OK), while Amitabh ran into an old flame. By this time, we noticed that most people that came after us were being let in, and after a fair amount of screaming and threats, managed to get a place inside. It’s split into two floors, the first overlooking the ground, and we were seated above.

At this point, Amitabh wants me to write that their men’s room is pathetic. (To Amitabh, the loo is an important benchmark, again. If they take care of it well, they’re bound to take good care of the kitchen, etc.)

We settled on garlic bread, vegetable Au Gratin (pretty good), Canaloni Indiana (pasta cooked with spinach and tomato sauce — excellent), between the three of us. The service inside was acceptable. It’s a smoking restaurant (pity), and as always, I was flabbergasted to observe that there were more women smoking than men. There was a bar inside, too. The food was fairly filling. On the whole, I think I’ll come back here.

Just Around the Corner

Kamdar’s Just Around The Corner is, in fact, just around the corner opposite Churchgate. It’s supposed to be Raveena Tandon’s favourite hangout, so hopes ran high. Rajesh and I walked in, sat down, and started discussing the the hope that the man in a white chef hat sitting at the adjacent table would come over. After a few minutes, we figured that

  1. Just around the corner is a self-service restaurant, and
  2. the man in the chef’s hat at the adjacent table was a guest.

So we got up, walked down the food aisle through the exit gate. (The manager gave us a dirty look, but I’m hoping it was because he was jealous we were thin enough to squeeze through.) There were soups, salads, pastries, sandwiches, and burgers. Except for the salads, the items were 75% non-veg. But the variety was fairly good, despite that. A bit on the expensive side, with sandwiches at Rs. 80, salads (a side order) at Rs. 70, and my apple pie at Rs. 45. But the ambience was nice, so were the people around. There were just 3 or 4 groups dining, while the place could seat several more.

Towards the end of the meal, a rather interesting black and white poster caught our eyes: Cindy Crawford, with the caption “I love my eggs the sunny side up.” She was lying with nothing on, and her posterior was just covered by the caption. Intrigued, we moved on to the other posters (all black & white).

  • The Beatles: “It’s been a hard day’s nite, And I feel like a hot dog.”
  • Nicholas Cage strangling John Travolta (clearly Face Off): “I was in line first”. (This one was placed where we had to queue for the food. Clever.)
  • Madonna: “Always Mad-on-a frozen creamy milk shake.”
  • Schwarzenneger (in Terminator): “You’ll be back for more!”
  • Bruce Willis (in Die Hard): “Pack me a soup-salad combo to go! Hurry, or you’ll die hard for it.” (I don’t remember this scene — he’s on a phone in a cut-sleeves vest. Is it Die Hard 2 or 3?)
  • Mr. Bean: “I can’t go wrong with beans on toast.”
  • Julia Roberts: “Fresh salads always make me a pretty woman.”
  • Vivien Leigh: “Care for some mayo or mustard on your sandwich?”
  • Clark Gable: “Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn.” (Gone with the Wind)

There was also this poster with a girl that reminded me of Brooke Shields. I wasn’t sure. Since I was attracting enough attention walking down each poster and writing the captions, I figured I may as well call someone and ask them. So I went up to a cleaning boy, who professed ignorance. So did the cashier. Finally, they called the manager over, and the two of us studied the picture intently. (While we were doing this, at least two other groups who were dining, were doing the same — while staring at us in-between.) Finally, the manager came up with a tentative “Cindy Crawford?” I had to lead him up to Cindy’s “eggs sunny side up” poster, point out her mole, and say, “No way.” We promised to find out who that was and get back to him.

PS: It’s not Brooke Shields. In case anyone drops by, please have a look at the poster next to Mr. Bean. The caption is “Nothing comes between me and my french fries.”

PPS: It WAS Brooke Shields! I got confused. And she’s a Princeton graduate in French literature.

Samrat

I’d been to the Samrat restaurant (near Eros theatre) with Vinod. A bright and clean place, serving Gujarati cuisine. Having decided to try only new items, We picked corn bhel and fried baby corn for starters, and makai nu shakh with reshmi paratha and rumali roti for the main course. Makai nu shakh is “cream corn, cooked in milk with coconut, coriander and green chillis”. It tasted rather like Au gratin, and rather nice, in my opinion. Corn bhel was excellent — just bhel, except corn was used instead of puffed rice. Figuring there was too much corn on the plate, we had onion rings (instead of fried baby corn) which taste the same pretty much everywhere, I suppose.

The service is what really impressed me. The waiters were always there at the right times, invisible when they weren’t needed, taking orders instantly, clearing plates at the right moments, and so on. Given all this, and that our meal cost Rs. 283, it’s a great place to eat.