Honest Food Reviews: Kitchen Garden by Suzette, Swey, Lotus Café and Epigamia
Fiery red muhammara, lamb cutlets and Feel Good Smoothie – here’s what we loved (and didn’t) at these restaurants.
Kitchen Garden by Suzette
A hot favourite with Bandra’s expat crowd and weight-watchers, Kitchen Garden continues growing from strength to strength. Their latest additions for the season – made with organic mangoes – give us the perfect excuse to check out some of their staples as well.
The new Mango Cold Pressed Juice is going to be our favourite beverage for the month, combining organic mangoes and pineapples with passion fruit for a not-too-sweet, ever-so-slightly tart drink that instantly refreshes. A less sweet option – and a worthy substitute for breakfast is the Feel Good Smoothie, with luscious low-fat Greek yogurt, berries, bananas and chia seeds.
If you prefer eating light, The Greek is a reliable salad with the usual suspects – lettuce, cucumber – sundried tomatoes, olives etc – tossed in olive oil and lime dressing. Being our indulgent selves, though, we can’t resist the burrata that’s one of the best we’ve had in Mumbai. It is teamed with sourdough baked in-house by co-owner Jeremie Sabbagh, who lovingly calls it his baby. Indeed, the bread is fantastic, as is the creamy burrata, accompanied by house-made pesto. We could eat this all day, every day.
Another special for the season is the Mango Tiramisu, although we aren’t sure why it merits that name. Raw nuts and honey biscuit form the base, topped with low-fat Greek yogurt and an alphonso mango coulis that’s a little over-sweetened for our preference. Our number one pick for dessert remains the reliable cheesecake, which is done better than most upscale eateries in the city can claim to.
What we like
Fresh ingredients, fantastic sourdough
What we don’t
Sparse indoor seating
This might be the biggest F&B space we have been to in a city where space is one of the biggest luxuries money can buy you. Replacing the rooftop turf – and a whole lot more – at the in-the-process-of-reviving Atria Mall in Worli, Swey is an easygoing, charming space that can be whatever you want it to be.
Stop by in the evening, and it’s the perfect open-air space for a sundowner; dinner – with subtle music and enough space between tables to enable privacy and intimate conversation or a crazy party – one that can hold lots of people without getting too stuffy. It helps that the F&B selection is pretty great too.
Boneless Chicken Wings are a safe option to begin with, while the Squid Chilly Fry is a more imaginative dish. The unusual combination – which throws in pineapple salsa and a spicy, tangy mayo — is an unexpected hit. More gluttony follows in the form of melt-in-your-mouth 20 Hour Braised Buff Cheek sliders that we were tempted to order seconds and thirds of.
Those who want a light tipple can definitely begin with Annabelle, a delicate gin-based cocktail with tart lemon and pomegranate flavours. Vodka lovers will delight in the Kale & Hearty that uses spinach, cucumber, kale and ginger in pretty much the most palatable manner one can.
Whisky fans should be suitably impressed too. Once Upon A Time and Drunken Garden are simple, yet effective drinks that deserve repeats. The former is akin to a Whisky Sour with a tinge of burnt orange, while the latter adds chamomile tea to smoked whisky with fantastic results. A stiffer option is the curiously named Who Knows Donald, with bourbon soaked cranberries and house bitters.
For mains, don’t skip the Buff on Buff, which is a generous portion of buff tenderloin, a wonderfully cooked buff cheek ragout and some baby carrots and mushrooms thrown in for some colour and texture. A lighter but equally hearty option is the Market Fish – the catch of the day being red snapper. Ours came pan seared with minimal spices, sitting atop a bed of creamy risotto.
Since we’re all things mango this season, the Mango Tart seemed like a good idea but was let down by its buttery-but-too-thick shell. The dollop of ice cream, however, was top notch. Don’t let that deter you, though. We’re heading back to Swey to checkout more of the menu soon, and so should you.
What we like
Spacious setting, imaginative menu
What we don’t
Lack of an indoor section
Arabic Food Promotion @ Lotus Café, JW Marriott Juhu
Middle Eastern food has always gotten us excited given its clever use of fresh ingredients and deceptively simple cooking. The hummus – a staple for many of us – is the biggest example, and at this festival, we had plenty of it.
But that doesn’t mean we ignored the other dips. Baba Ganoush or Mutabal, a must-try for aubergine lovers, is creamy and rich. Our favourite from the section is the fiery red muhammara that is made with red peppers, but is more muted in flavour largely thanks from garlic, walnuts. Also impressive is the labneh, that we used as a dip with pita and an accompanying beetroot salad.
The shawarma, on the other hand is not so impressive. Maybe this is the real deal, and how it’s meant to taste – given that the chef behind this promotion works with one of Dubai’s top hotels and runs an acclaimed Middle Eastern eatery – but we find ourselves craving the bastardized Mumbai version featuring French fries and more. Fish Harra is marinated with an interesting spice mix, but the tiny pieces prevent them from absorbing any of the flavour properly, and they end up chewy instead.
What we do enjoy are the grilled lamb cutlets which, again, go very well with labneh. Rounding off our meal is an indulgent portion of Baklava, a dish we crave so often but rarely find on menus in the city.
What we like
The dips, lamb cutlets
What we don’t
We love the brand for their wide assortment of yogurt flavours – blueberry, strawberry, mango, honey banana, green apple and more. Now, they’ve gone a step ahead and introduced a special selection of Snack Packs, which are targeted as a solution for 5 pm hunger pangs.
The four variants include two savoury and two sweet ones, and we’re pretty much blown away, especially by the former. Jalapeno Greek Yogurt (actually pretty ‘spicy’ and doing full justice to the flavour) and Cream and Onion Greek Yogurt (not too different from the popular dip you might’ve had at parties) both come with a side of fibre-rich barley puffs that are crunchy, addictive and go very well with the yogurts.
The sweet variants are mango and strawberry flavours teamed with chunky granola, which are nice enough, but after being blown away by the savoury variants, we don’t find ourselves too excited. Priced between Rs 50-60, they are a bit on the steep side given the small portion, so as much as we’d love it, a daily indulgence wouldn’t bode too well on our wallets.
What we like
The savoury variants
What we don’t like