Restaurant Review: Odeon Social

Restaurant Review: Odeon Social

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Thinking of school always brings back fond memories, and that is bound to happen when you visit Odeon Social. Styled like a school, only with much better food and a huge bar, this outlet of Social is definitely the coolest in terms of the décor concept. From the large wooden staircase with a bell on top, to the wooden desks with study lamps, medals and trophy cabinets, a swing in the smoking section, and the servers dressed in school uniforms, the concept is carried through very well in the interiors.

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I was invited here to sample their all-day breakfast offerings, and came back so full that I was questioning whether lunch or even dinner would be possible. Social has introduced the concept of breakfast trays, which are whole, hearty meals consisting of different elements, all paired with tea/coffee. The trays, more than sufficient to satisfy an above-average appetite, are also very reasonably priced.

I started the healthy route, with Harmeet’s “Chic” Breakfast, which consisted of muesli with fresh cut fruits topped with yogurt and granola, sweetened mildly with honey, and served in a jar. The dish played with different textures, which was really interesting- the muesli had soaked the yogurt which made it really creamy, and the fruits provided a freshness and zing, while the granola acted as the crunchy element. It’s hard to believe how a dish this healthy could also be this tasty.

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Next, I tried the Blueberry Pancakes with Maple Syrup. The pancakes were light and fluffy, and were cooked just right. They were infused with blueberry compote, which provided a nice burst of flavor, though I would have liked the pancakes to have more blueberry. The maple syrup was thick and not too sweet. Overall, a nice dish for pancake lovers.

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Hardy Bhai’s Ishtyle Breakfast: This tray had keema ghotala with pao, bun maska, cutting chai with khari biscuit and Parle G biscuits. The keema ghota, which was a take on the Parsi-style keema, had juicy and perfectly spiced keema with peas, topped with a fried egg, which had a runny yolk. The chai was served in the typical street-style glasses, and the khari biscuits, which are essentially puff pastry bites, were light, crisp and flaky. But my favourite part of this tray was the bun muska. It was a fruit bun which was lined with butter and sugar in the center, and dusted with icing sugar on top. The bun was incredibly soft and had just the right amount of butter and sugar, and was simply delightful.

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Dhingra’s Punjabi Breakfast: A typical Punjabi breakfast tray, this included a parantha, stuffed with a mixture of potatoes, onions and paneer, served with chole, samosa, aam ka achaar, pyaaz, dahi, karare aloo, lassi and chai. The parantha was very well-stuffed, soft and flavourful, though it could have been cooked a tad more on the edges. While the samosa had a crispy shell and nice filling, it had nothing extraordinary about it, but the chole served alongside were spectacular. They were perfectly cooked, they still had a bite to them and were really tangy. The karare aloo, which were basically deep-fried potato pieces, topped with some masala and chili powder were crisp and extremely tasty. The lassi was thick, creamy and adequately sweet, and the chai, served in a mitti ka kulhar, was well made and got a nice earthy flavor from the clay pot.

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Anda Parantha with Seekh Kebab: Another delightful dish, this consisted of a flaky parantha, covered on one side with a spicy egg batter, served with juicy seekh kebab. The parantha was extremely well made and along with the kebab, this was a match made in heaven, and a dish worth having again and again.

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Anda Bhurjee with Bun: The bhurjee was a bit different from the regular ones, as it not only had scrambled eggs, but also chopped boiled egg white and juliennes of fried egg, and was topped with aloo lachchas and fresh tomatoes, so there were varied textures in the bhurjee. The bhurjee was served with a soft bun and the entire dish was plated in a tin tiffin box, reminiscent of school days.

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No good meal, be it even breakfast, is complete without desserts, so I had:

Layer Cake: The cake, which had layers of flourless chocolate cake, dark chocolate mousse, caramel mousse and nutty chocolate mousse, not just looked resplendent but even tasted divine. It was served with hot chocolate ganache, which when poured on top of the white chocolate disc covering the layer cake, melted the disc and spread the liquid goodness across all the layers and made the cake even more decadent and soul-satisfying.

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Chocolate Blood Bath: The dessert consisted of loads of chocolate variants- chocolate cake, chocolate brownie, chocolate truffle, gooey chocolate fudge, chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse, all topped with white and dark chocolate sauce. This is the ultimate dessert for all chocolate lovers!

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Overall, Odeon Social delights you with a fun concept, energetic vibe, delicious food and reasonable prices, making it a must-visit!

 

Quick Facts

Location: 23, 1st Floor, Odeon Building, Radial 5, D Block, Connaught Place
Phone No.: +91 11 4565 2737

Restaurant Review: PhoneBooth Café

Restaurant Review: PhoneBooth Café

Overall Rating: 4/5

PhoneBooth Café, a newly opened chic café at Hudson Lane, is one of the numerous places at this location, offering food at reasonable prices. But what sets it apart is its absolutely delicious food, with some really innovative and tasty dishes.

Styled to resemble a street café in London, with a large red phone booth at the entrance, iron lamp posts, a mural of a bustling street on one wall and large windows on the other, the place has a quaint charm about it. The restaurant also has a private dining room fashioned like a phone booth, with a rotary dial-up phone in tow. The menu is huge and ranges from Indian to Chinese, Thai and Continental, all with a desi twist of course. All the offerings have generous portions and are very reasonably priced.

We started off with a Chocolate Brownie Shake and the very different Blueberry Pie Shake. While the brownie shake was thick, luscious and loaded with brownie bits and chocolate syrup, and absolutely delicious, it was the blueberry pie shake that stole the show. It was creamy and had lots of sweet and tart blueberry compote in it, and was topped with a generous dose of whipped cream, and was simply spectacular. They have some other really unique shakes on the same lines, such as red velvet shake and banana split shake, so these should not be missed!

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They also have some interesting flavoured mojitos on their menu, like cola, kiwi, etc. We tried the Aam Panna Mojito which had the perfect balance of sweet, sour and minty flavours and was very refreshing.

We then tried:

Nacho Salsa Chaat: While we’ve had nachos at many places, these were a bit different, and much tastier. The nachos, which are made in-house, were really crispy, spicy and chatpata, were loaded with fresh house-made salsa, which had cubed tomatoes, onions, lime juice, jalapenos, olives, and generous amounts of coriander and also some cheese sauce.

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PBC Chili Chicken: A bit different than the regular chili chicken, this one was extra crispy, and was well-flavoured with a tangy and spicy sauce.

Dragon’s Kiss Pizza: The pizza had a really thin, crispy crust, and was topped with assorted bell peppers, jalapenos, chillies, pickled onions, chili chicken and the pizza sauce also had a touch of Sichuan peppercorns- a really nice and fiery pizza.

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Rosemary Grilled Chicken: The dish had a piece of chicken, grilled to perfection, and marinated overnight with rosemary to impart that earthy flavour. The chicken was doused with an extremely flavourful and piquant sauce, which really uplifted the flavour. The chicken was accompanied with mashed potatoes, a slice of toasted bread and some grilled vegetables. While the vegetables were cooked perfectly and flavoured well with oregano, they were just a tad over-salted, and the mashed potatoes could have done with a dash of lemon juice. But overall, the dish was really flavourful and definitely worth trying.

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We also tried a platter of their kebabs which consisted of Old Monk Chicken Tikka, Afghani Chicken Tikka, Chicken Tikka, Reshmi Kebab and Chicken Seekh Kebab. The afghani tikka was creamy and moist, and had a beautiful mild flavour, while the chicken tikka was marinated well and was spicy and absolutely delicious. The reshmi kebab consisted of chicken tikka coated with egg, and was quite nice, while the chicken seekh kebab was a bit dry. The old monk chicken tikka, something we had tasted for the first time, really had a strong and pungent flavour of rum and was quite interesting.

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They also have an interesting dessert menu, but since we were so full from all the delicious food, we decided to skip desserts on this visit.

Overall, PhoneBooth Café really scores on all fronts- an interesting décor, fast service, and delicious food at really reasonable rates! This place is a must-try!

 

Quick Facts

Location: G-14 B, Hudson Lane, Delhi University-GTB Nagar
Phone No.: 098112 94333

Restaurant Review: 24/7 Restaurant

Restaurant Review: 24/7 Restaurant

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday brunch buffets are meant to be lavish and bountiful, and if it’s grandeur that you’re looking for, you need to look no further than The Lalit New Delhi.

24/7, Lalit’s all day dining restaurant, has an elaborate and luxurious buffet and à la carte menu all days of the week, but the Sunday brunch is truly spectacular. The menu showcases a variety of cuisines, ranging from authentic Indian dishes to continental, Japanese and Pan-Asian specialties, and not to forget, champagne, martinis and other cocktails to go with your meal.

With interactive open-plan kitchens to a grand wine cellar, the whole place is simply vibrant and looks splendid in the day time due to the abundance of natural light that filters in through its large windows. The cherry on the cake is the alfresco extension of the restaurant, which is ideal for both, a sunny brunch or a romantic dinner date. The layout of the alfresco section has been beautifully designed, and it’s the kind of place where you can sit for hours and enjoy the weather, and keep the conversations flowing. It also has many interactive live counters like stalls for waffles and pancakes, fresh oysters and desi-style anda paranthas, which is a really nice touch.

We started off with a khao suey soup which was fragrant and had a beautiful, mild flavor. We were then presented with a gorgeous cheese platter, which had an array of delectable cheese, juicy grapes and prunes, dried apricots and walnuts. We also had some crackers, crostini and dips like blueberry compote, olive tapenade and a honey and yogurt dip to go with the cheese.

We then tried out the live grill section, which had an amazing selection, ranging from lamb chops, to chicken satay, prawns, grilled vegetables, potato wedges, chicken tikka, and malai tikka. There was also a live station doing baked potatoes in the traditional style, and you could select the toppings to go with it. And these toppings were quite exotic as well- sour cream, guacamole, bacon, etc.

Moving on, we went to the buffet section in the indoor dining area, which had, among other things, a host of vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads, soups, a pasta station for your choice of pastas, and a live pizza station where the chef can conjure up a pizza with any toppings of your choice. There were also kitchens for Oriental, Continental and Indian cuisines- the Continental kitchen had some amazing dishes like grilled aubergine, mushroom fricassee, spinach crepes in saffron sauce, bacon wrapped tenderloin, pan seared sea bass in orange sauce, roasted chicken and grilled lamb chops; at the Oriental kitchen, apart from the dishes, you could tell the chef to customize your noodles for you; and at the Indian kitchen, there were dishes like Chicken Biryani, Rara Gosht, Malabar Fish Curry, Matar Methi Malai, Yellow Dal Tadka, their iconic Dal Baluchi, and even some unique dishes which you normally don’t see in buffets, like Badam Mawe ke Kofte, Baingan ka Bharta, Aloo Hara Masala and Gobhi Musallam.

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Already feeling full from all the delicious food we had devoured, we moved to the most delightful section of any buffet- the dessert section. And here as well, the restaurant had put up a lavish selection, with exquisite and mouth-watering desserts to please any palate, such as chocolate mousse, lemon soufflé, orange cheese cake, walnut pie, black forest roulade, pineapple upside down cake, fruit trifle pudding, carrot cake, chocolate brownie and even some Indian desserts like gajar halwa, ras malai and gulab jamun. But the highlight of the dessert table was the chocolate fountain. The sight of pouring, oozing liquid chocolate, with little knick-knacks to dip into it, makes the child come out in all of us.

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One thing which stands out in each and every dish, is the quality of the ingredients. Be it the sundried tomatoes, which were simply bursting with flavor and perhaps the best we’ve had, to the juicy prunes, the flavorful cheese, moist chicken or even the fresh herbs, each ingredient was fresh and of top quality.

The entire meal, from the soup to the coffee and everything in between, was an absolute delight, and is the perfect way to spend time with your family over a sunny afternoon, while indulging in the delicious array of food in the sublime setting and atmosphere of this restaurant.

On the service front as well, there are few that can match Lalit standards. The servers were extremely attentive without being imposing, and made our entire dining experience even more pleasurable.

Overall, the elaborate Sunday brunch buffet at 24/7 with an incredible variety of delicious dishes, beautiful ambiance and impeccable service, is certainly worth multiple visits!

 

Quick Facts

Location: The Lalit New Delhi, Connaught Place
Phone No.: 011 4444 7777

Food Delivery Service Review: The Grill Kitchen

Food Delivery Service Review: The Grill Kitchen

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Grill Kitchen is a newly launched food delivery start-up, with its focus on healthy, hygienic, authentic and most importantly, tasty Indian food. I was sent some of their food items to sample and though there was a small problem with the delivery, it was promptly fixed by the owners. The food arrived hot and nicely packed, though it would have been even better if they would have sent some cutlery and paper napkins as well.

In the starters, I tried Dahi Kebab, Hara Bhara Kebab, Chicken Haryali Tikka and Mutton Seekh Kebab. The dahi kebab had a thick bread covering, and it would have been better if it were a bit thinner, but inside, the kebab was creamy and packed with flavour. The hara bhara kebabs also were really tasty. They had a crispy covering, and were moist and well-spiced inside. The non-veg kebabs, though nice, could not match up to the delicious veg kebabs. The chicken tikka had a nice, herbaceous marinade and the mutton seekh was spiced deftly, but both of them lacked the required juiciness.

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Moving on the mains, here again, the veg dishes outshone the non-veg. The dal tadka was home-style and simple, but was really tasty. The paneer dhaniya adraki had a creamy white gravy and looked as if it would be really rich and heavy, but actually had beautiful, subtle flavours, and both the coriander and the ginger were highlighted well, while the paneer was really soft and creamy. While the chicken do pyaza gravy was tangy and spicy, the chicken itself was a little tough as it was a bit overcooked. The Bhuna Mutton had a thick, flavoursome gravy made with while spices and was really well made.

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Overall, it was a pretty good North-Indian meal, with nice, robust flavours, and surprisingly, the vegetarian dishes were better than the non-vegetarian ones. This place can definitely be tried!

To find out more about The Grill Kitchen, check out their website here.

Restaurant Review: Hive

Restaurant Review: Hive

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Situated in the main Green Park market, which doesn’t have many dining options apart from QSR chains, Hive, a new restaurant serving European and Mediterranean dishes with a mix of Indian fusion, definitely has a locational advantage.

The restaurant spans across the second and the third floor of the building next to the famous Evergreen. A lift takes you to the second floor, which though not too large, has been done up to incorporate a lot of natural light, using large windows and a glass ceiling, which has water flowing over it, creating a nice effect.

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We were invited here for a tasting and we tried:

Herbed Roasted Mushrooms with Goat Cheese Mousse and Classic Basil & Tomato Bruschetta: The bruschetta had a crisp bread as its base, and the one topped with basil and fresh tomatoes was simple and classic. The mushrooms on the other bruschetta were flavourful and nicely sautéed and the creamy goat cheese complemented the earthy mushrooms really well.

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Patata Bravas: This is a typical Spanish tapas dish and it was done really well, with cubed potatoes in a spicy Pomodoro sauce, and then topped with some sour cream, which counter-balanced the tangy and spicy sauce nicely.

Spicy Chicken Wings served with Paprika-Mayo Dip: The wings were crunchy and well-cooked and were drenched in a delicious tangy, spicy and flavourful sauce. The sauce was absolutely finger-licking good.

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Indian-style Spiced Paneer: The dish had large chunks of soft, creamy paneer in a tomato sauce, which was spiced beautifully and served with herbed rice. Also, the portion-size of the paneer gravy was huge.

Braised Lamb Shank: The lamb shank was juicy and succulent, and was breaking apart easily, while still retaining some texture. The lamb was served with a flavoursome and robust red wine jus and some creamy mashed potatoes. The only criticism here would be that the mashed potatoes could have done with some lemon juice to add more zing to them.

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For dessert, we had Red Velvet Cake and Chocolate Orange Cake, both of which were fresh, airy and adequately sweet. While the chocolate orange cake had nice, citrusy flavours, the red velvet cake lacked the required zing and was a bit bland.

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Along with our meal, we also tried two mocktails: Orange Blossom (a mix of Orange peel and honey with cranberry juice and lime juice topped with ginger water) and Clove Lemonade (Green apple, muddled cloves and cucumber topped with lemonade). The orange blossom is good for those who like their mocktails sweet, but we preferred the clove lemonade, which was light and refreshing.

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Overall, the food at Hive is good and the décor is fine, but doesn’t really have a consistent theme running through it. However, the service really needs to be improved as there were long waiting periods between courses. This place can be visited when you’re in the area, and are looking for a change from the overcrowded HKV market.

Quick Facts

Location: S-27, 2nd Floor, Main Market, Above Fab India, Green Park
Phone No.: 011 4170 6637

Food Delivery Service Review: ThaiCrate

Food Delivery Service Review: ThaiCrate

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

ThaiCrate, a new home delivery service, is bringing to our doorsteps authentic Thai food made using fresh and high quality ingredients. They have a strong focus on robust flavors, locally sourced fresh produce, and imported sauces, pastes and dry ingredients to ensure authenticity. What sets them apart is that they stay true to Thai flavors and recipes, and there is no “Indianization” involved in the recipes, though the taste still appeals to Indian palates. They are also open to customizing orders based on the desired level of spice.

What’s also great about them is their packaging. They use ice-cream tub-like re-sealable containers, which are not only good to look at but are also stackable, reusable, microwaveable, and freezable, making them super-convenient.

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I was sent some of their products to sample and all of them really packed a punch. The food arrived hot, without any spillage and right on time. I tried:

Spicy Sour Clear Chicken Soup: The soup had a perfect balance of spicy and tangy notes and the pungent flavors of the lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves clearly came through. Also, there was no dearth of chicken pieces in the soup.

Papaya Salad: Raw papaya salads is one of my personal favorites, and this one was done really well. The papaya was crunchy and fresh, and the dressing was zingy and spicy. The crushed peanuts on top provided a nice textural element to the salad.

Red Chili Chicken: This dish had large pieces of stir-fried chicken in a red-chili paste and lemongrass, and tossed with some spring onions. It wasn’t very spicy, and had a nice, tangy taste and was quite tasty.

Pepper Garlic Vegetables: Assorted vegetables, sautéed in chili and pepper, this dish was quite spicy and had a strong background note of lemongrass. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, and were still crunchy. A really nice and filling appetizer.

Tom Yum Chicken: This was another incredible dish consisting of chicken pieces wok-fried with tom yum paste, and was absolutely packed with flavour.

Green Curry Chicken: Normally, coconut milk-based gravies don’t appeal to me too much as I feel the coconut flavor often overpowers everything else. But this dish was made very well, and the coconut flavor was quite mild. The gravy had the perfect consistency, and was really herbaceous and fresh.

Hot basil Chicken: This was also a superb dish, consisting of minced chicken, flavored beautifully with fresh basil and red chili, in an oyster sauce. The balance of flavors in this was bang-on and the chicken was also really moist.

Yellow Noodles: The noodles were perfectly cooked and still had a bit of bite to them, and were not too oily. The noodles were loaded with vegetables and were flavored with a sweet soy sauce which gave them a really nice taste.

Chocolate Mousse Cake: This was perhaps the only item of all the ones I tried which I was not totally pleased with. While the chocolate mousse was dark, rich, creamy and luscious, the biscuit base lacked flavor and was a bit too hard.

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Overall, the food from ThaiCrate was very impressive. All the dishes were loaded with flavor and the portion sizes were also quite large. Delicious food, timely delivery and convenient packaging make this place worth trying for sure!

To find out more about ThaiCrate, check out their website here.

Food Delivery Service Review: Mukhtalif Biryanis

Food Delivery Service Review: Mukhtalif Biryanis

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Mukhtalif Biryanis, a new delivery service specializing in Indo-Pakistani food, has recently started services in Gurgaon. Backed by a team of chefs from around the country, authentic recipes, and months of research, Mukhtalif Biryanis delivers on its promise of providing delicious, hygienic and high quality food at the convenience of your home or office.

I recently sampled a few of their offerings, and have definitely become one of their regular customers. I tried:

Mughlai Chicken Biryani: Biryani is something not many get right. It is about getting the right balance of spices without overpowering the meat or the rice. And this biryani did all of that. The rice was perfectly cooked, and the spices flavoured the rice very well, but were still subtle and delicate. The spices had permeated into the chicken, and it was juicy and moist. The biryani came with a delicious raita which went so well with the biryani.

Shahi Mutton: The mutton chunks were cooked perfectly, and the dish had a thick, robust gravy. The spice level of the gravy was just apt, and the flavors were absolutely divine.

Dal Bukhara: The dal was really rich and creamy, and it was clear that it had been slow-cooked for a long duration to get the kind of depth of flavor that it had. It had lots of ginger juliennes as well, which are a personal favourite, and impart a nice zing to the dal.

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Sheermal: The roti was thin and had been very subtly flavoured with saffron and just a touch of sugar. While its mild flavour complemented the robust and flavourful meat really well, it was tasty enough to be had on its own.

Kimami Sevaiyyan: This was the first time I tried kimami sevaiyyan, and from the looks of it, it seemed like it would be too sweet, but the sugar level in it was just apt. The sevaiyyan had been cooked in a thin sugar syrup, been given a dark orange colour through saffron, and were loaded with chironji nuts, which imparted a nice textural element. Also, the sevaiyyan had chunks of khoya hidden in them, which was a lovely surprise, and provided another different texture and flavour, and took the dish to another level altogether. Overall, it was a delicious dessert.

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It is not just great taste that they bring forth, but also great packaging. All the dishes were sealed very well, to ensure zero spillage. A special note here on the packaging of the biryani- it came in a cardboard box, with separate compartments for the biryani, raita and onions, and was super convenient. So overall, Mukhtalif Biryanis is a must-try!

To find out more about Mukhtalif Biryanis, check out their Facebook page here.