Innovative cooking and a Punjabi punch – here’s what we loved (and didn’t) at the city’s latest restaurants and pubs.
For the old guard, it is a reason to celebrate. Razz, an iconic Juhu watering hole opened doors this year with a revamped menu mentored by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar and an array of tasty cocktails. For the young ones, the city now has a late night dig to party into the wee hours of the night without any restrictions (it’s a part of the Juhu Hotel, hence the bending of the rules). Divided into four sections – and four menus – this is not a one-visit-only kind of place. The property opens into the sea with a private lawn (which also hosts open air gigs), a bar and live music area, a Mediterranean-style bistro and a members-only private club on the second level for the rich and famous. The outdoors are lush and beautiful, perfect for Sunday brunches or evening dates (if the weather permits). The bar is fun too, as is the cute-sy bistro. The private club (if you get a membership – we are still waiting for ours) retains the flavour of the original pub – single malts and expensive wines, mahogany high back chairs and antique reading lamps, where men with successful (and expansive) equators can have informal meetings, a quite dinner, a casual read or just a cigar and a glass of scotch after a hard day’s work. Needless to mention, this is my favourite area (yes, my mental age is 65).
Chef Brar has done a crackling job with the menu, striking the right balance between Indian and global flavours and techniques. The Wasabi Beetroot Hummus with Ricotta is a flavoursome start to a meal. I loved the Chicken Nukhti Kebabs with Rose Paratha Tacos and a Radish-Walnut Chutney. The Grilled Kasundi Prawns is definitely a highlight of the menu – delectable, juicy and packed with flavours. Also try the Gochujang Tandoori Tikka and Gosht Mulayam Seekh from the deck menu. And yes, I know what you are thinking – can I order from any of the four menus? Thankfully, you can.
The cocktails are a delight too, with casual twists to popular choices. The Pisco Sour, the Razz Sour and the Cold Brew Old Fashioned are my picks from the bar. For mains, start off with the Shredded Chicken Ghee Roast Moussaka and then dunk into the soft-centre Scotch Egg Qorma served with a Cheese Chilly Kulcha. I am a massive fan of egg curries and this one was the warmest-tastiest-homeliest egg qorma I have had in the city. Definitely try the Hyderabadi-style Kachhi Yakhni Gosht Biryani – succulent meat and a fine balance of fragrance and flavours – the qorma and the biryani are the stars of Razz. If you survive the food coma, definitely do the Malpua Mille Feuille with Rabdi Cream for dessert – it’s the Big O on a plate.
WHAT WE LIKE
The private club area, Grilled Kasundi Prawns, Scotch Egg Qorma and the Kachhi Yakhni Gosht Biryani
WHAT WE DON’T
Too many menus. Just put them all together when you let everyone order from all the sections anyway. It is a tad confusing.
MW SCORE: 4/5
Anyone who knows me, knows that I secretly wish I were Punjabi. So, when I heard about a Punjabi pub with Punjabi food, Punjabi cocktails and – wait for it – only Punjabi music, I teared up a little. In this crowd of fusion food being served up at every bar-pub-pop up, I would love me some authenticity.
Turban Tales (by the Mini Punjab family) is done up in kitchy truck art, rope cots and beer bottle chandeliers for a rustic “thek” vibe (not the most innovative décor idea, of course). Kick off with the Jalebi Chaat – definitely works up the appetite – followed by the Tikka Supreme (Chicken Kebabs with a gooey cheese centre) and the Lamb Roti Kebab. Packed with flavours and pair well with all spirits. The chefs also sent over the famous Mini Punjab Fish Koliwada which I, quite honestly, am not a fan of. Don’t bother with the Tikka Momos – tandoored chicken dumplings with a roti skin – because they feel like a stuffed paratha ball (if that makes any sense) and don’t taste that great. If it’s a cheat day, feel free to try the Naan Pizza (naan base with an array of toppings) and the Seekh Paratha (kebab and paratha in holy matrimony). For mains, I wanted to try out dishes that are classically Punjabi and hence, called for the Rajma-Choul, Butter Chicken and Daal Makhni. Absolutely disappointing. The rajma-chawal barely had the flavours in place, tasking bland and lacking a spice punch. The daal makhni, which had supposedly been cooked for a long time was runny and tasted starch-y and average. The Butter Chicken was blasphemously off the mark. When I asked why it tasted so tangy, I was informed that, because certain Mini Punjab patrons find Butter Chicken too sweet, they have sour-ed it up with tomatoes. Here’s a thought: Don’t mess with Butter Chicken. And if your patrons don’t like your Butter Chicken, change your patrons, not your recipe. The dessert menu is not that exciting but the Paan Ice Cream is definitely a good note to end a meal.
Paan Ice Cream served Apple Murabba
As the owners are teetotallers, their friends helped them put the bar menu together. If you ask me, they need friends who know their alcohol. Out of 23 cocktails, they serve only 1 whisky cocktail. And, said cocktail, the Thekke Da Bag, is a dessert – Whisky, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, hibiscus syrup and foam of jasmine and vanilla. If you have a WTF on your face right now, I totally understand. Most of the cocktails have an OD of ingredients which create confusion in your mouth. Sample this: The Amarsar To Thailand involves “white rum mixed with sugarcane juice, galangal, kaffir and mint leaves, balanced with lime.” What exactly are you “balancing” with lime when you already have galangal and kaffir lime leaves in it? Pick the Love From Southall (gin-melon-ginger-rose), English Breakfast (spiced gold rum-orange marmalade), Sharabi Kala Khatta (vodka-kalakhatta-cumin syrup-lemon) and the Chuski-rita (flavoured margarita popsicles – delicious) instead.
WHAT WE LIKE
The Tikka Supreme, The Love From Southall and the Chuski-Ritas
WHAT WE DON’T
The Butter Chicken and the Daal Makhni, the inexperienced bar menu
MW SCORE: 2/5