Mumbai's Most Overrated Restaurants
Determining how highly rated a restaurant is involves a number of subjective factors: it is a combination of buzz (press and how much it is talked about among people we know), respect/recognition (“awards” and the opinions of people and publications we respect) and popularity (how much business we think it does). Each of these factors is in turn based on the restaurant’s food, service, ambience, and a fourth, highly subjective criterion, value for money. In the second of a two-part series on Mumbai’s most underrated and overrated restaurants, here are six establishments that get more love than they sometimes deserve. You might nod in agreement or be enraged, but either way, it’s food for thought. Post your comments below.
The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, near the Gateway of India, Apollo Bunder. Tel: 6665 3366. Extn: 3111.
Zodiac Grill has been the jewel in the Taj’s crown for over 20 years, and superawesome-outstanding-genius “Grand Executive Chef” Hemant Oberoi’s baby since he took over the hotel’s culinary helm. Serving classical French food in a stuffy setting, it has white-gloved, Raj-era type service that remains its best feature. The problem lies with the food; it really isn’t that good and certainly doesn’t offer much value for money. The famed camembert dariole is excellent but is simply a well-executed cheese soufflé, and you get better steak at a lot of other places. There’s also little innovation in the menu; the signature dish is still the Kahlua mousse—a dessert that was novel two decades ago. Go once for the experience, but don’t go back.
OLIVE BAR & KITCHEN
Pali Hill Tourist Hotel, 14 Union Park, Khar (West). Tel: 2605 8228/9.
A. D. Singh is widely regarded as an astute businessman. He has clearly hired some great PR consultants—Olive continues to attract the pretty people. Which could explain why it’s still in business, given what it claims as food and the watered-down drinks it sells at silly prices. It is, as far as we know, the most expensive place to get a bottle of Dom (at Rs40,000; Harbour Bar at the Taj sells one for around Rs14,000). The pizzas are passable; the pastas usually terrible in both sauce and texture; and the lumpy risotto once made us die a little on the inside. The food has improved since Manu Chandra took over as chef, but for us it remains a culinary shame.
4 Mandalik Road, Colaba. Tel: 6636 8999.
Indigo changed the way this city looked at stand-alone restaurants; it was the first of its kind to go all out to please the customer. A decade on, the service is still impeccable, but the problem lies with its food, which simply isn’t consistent. Every menu of the past ten years has featured some great dishes but also several failed experiments. These include the coconut risotto that tasted more like Thai curry with rice, and their savoury souffle (the desserts ones are usually impeccable), which delicious as it is when cooked properly, can just as often be flat and runny. Even their signature pan-seared rawas has a Panchamrut-inspired sauce that doesn’t complement the fish well. Indigo tries hard to be innovative but more often than not, the combinations don’t work.
No7, Minoo Manor, Captain Prakash Pethe Marg, Cuffe Parade. Tel: 2216 1226/66.
Chef Moshe Shek is a very good bakery and patisserie chef. The dessert at Moshe’s is likely to be good, the breads are usually fresh, and it’s a great place to get mint tea. Just don’t go there for a meal. When it opened in 2004, there were very few choices for mid-bracket Mediterranean fare but recently, they’ve gotten complacent with both the food and the service. The quality of the cheese used for the fondues is so poor that we wouldn’t be surprised if they used Amul; the gnocchi is usually lumpy and dry; and Falafel’s does better hummus. The waiters are often seeing loitering around like they really don’t care. Shek is talented and knowledgeable, and it is a shame to see his flagship restaurant serve sub-standard fare. His newer outlet, Cafe Moshe in Colaba is far better and does pretty good sandwiches, especially the salmon bagel and the chicken hot dog.
13/14, Sukh Sagar, Hughes Road. Tel: 2363 2174.
We spent much of
our childhood visiting Kobe and, like all Sylvester Stallone films, we wonder why we liked it in the first place. Loyal customers still rave about the chilli cheese toast and the tenderloin sizzlers, but we’ve had the opportunity to eat at a wider variety of restaurants in the past decade or two and can report that the ingredients used at Kobe are simply inferior. Masking the taste of everything with an overwhelming sauce doesn’t really work on us anymore. It hardly seems worth the time waiting outside to get a table; it’s quicker to drive to Yoko Sizzlers in Juhu for that. We’ve grown up and moved on; we wonder when Kobe will.
145 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda. Tel: 4039 6666.
Like Kobe, Khyber is another childhood favourite that fails to live up to our memories. The restaurant is as crowded as ever thanks to guide-toting tourists but locals have so many more choices now. Zaffran and Kareems do a better butter chicken; Kebab Korner and Kakori House do better kebabs, and any hole in the wall on Mohammed Ali Road does better bheja. The service is terrible unless you’re a regular; we’ve had something as basic as a paneer tikka served to us cold, hard and stale. The kulfi, however, is still excellent.
Devendra Das likes a bong, all Bongs and while not preoccupied by either, chronicles his gluttonous experiences.
Mumbai’s Most Underrated Restaurants