Mumbai Food 2016: Best and worst of the year

Updated: 05 January, 2017 13:52 IST | Krutika Behrawala |

2016 was when the Bloody Mary grew up, a Manhattan paowalla came to Mumbai and we got our first candle-lit bar. Krutika Behrawala sifts through to pick the best and worst of the year

Overlooking Carter Road promenade, the venue is lit up solely by candles; (inset) restaurateur Zorawar Kalra

Best Bar in the City: MasalaBar
A bar lit up solely by candles would've been a far-fetched idea if it weren't for restaurateur Zorawar Kalra. Overlooking the Carter Road promenade, MasalaBar not only offers one of the best views of the Arabian Sea through its magnifying glass encrusted windows (the work of The Busride Design Studio), but also a menu that guarantees a high, with potent concoctions like Mumbai Matinee topped with sattu fizz and Malabar Point infused with vodka, apple and camomile. With bar bites such as 

Litti Chokha Profiteroles, a visit here makes for the perfect boozy night-out.
TIME: 12 pm to 3 pm; 5 pm to 1 am
AT: Level 1, Gagangiri Apartments, Carter Road, Bandra (W).
CALL: 67701793

Chicken Dum Biryani

Best VFM Delivery: The 99 Kitchen
2016 saw a spurt of delivery joints with interesting concepts - whether it was Chilli Flakes, a venture by the folks behind Charcoal, offering gourmet half-pizzas, or Paleteria that delivers quirky frozen popsicles, including a Red Wine Sangria variety. However, the BKC takeaway launched by BTP Hospitality scores for its value-for-money deal, where you pick options from a wide menu - pizzas, pastas, Indian meals, soups and biryanis - for Rs 99. It has often been our saviour in these demonetised times.

Co-founders (from left) Ajinkya Naik, Narender Singh Atwal, Gaurav Menon and Atul Srivastava. Pic/Poonam Bathija

DELIVERY AREA: BKC, Bandra (e), Santacruz (e), Vakola.
CALL: 8080410000

Philly Cheese Chicken Sandwich

Best Concept: The Boston Butt
As the city's first bar, smokery and charcuterie, it recreates the vibe of a Southern American diner right in SoBo. Deriving its name from a wider cut of the pig shoulder traditionally used for pulled pork recipes, the restaurant sticks to the theme with its plaid corner couches, Prohibition-era drinks and smoked fare in a menu curated by Siddharth Kashyap.

Siddharth Kashyap, chef and partner at The Boston Butt 

TIME: 12.30 pm to 1 am
AT: Rampart Row Building, K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda.
CALL: 9892447669

Dishy Bartender
Mixologist Myles Carroll, who flew down from Philadelphia as part of the 1 Tippling Place craft cocktail pop-up at the Olive Bar & Kitchen, won us over with his theatrics and superb bartending skills. Helps that he's a looker, no?

Street Snack of the year: Twisted Potato
This monsoon, Mumbai's rasta food scene was hit by the Twisted Potato tornado when 42-year-old businessman Bharat Nisar adapted a popular snack from South Korea and Thailand at a stall in Irla lane in Vile Parle (W). Priced at `50, it features thin and crispy, deep-fried potato spiral sprinkled with peri peri masala. It is topped with a variety of mayo sauces, served on a long stick. No wonder even six months later, queues here refuse to die down.
TIME: 11 am to 9.30 pm (all days)
AT: Shop No 4 and 5, Irla Society Road, Vile Parle (W).

Ceviche Classico with cubes of seabass and sweet potato confit

Exciting new Cuisine: Lima
In a year crowded with Asian offerings, a Latin American lounge bar, that too from the stable of Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, came as a breath of fresh air. Deriving culinary inspiration largely from Peru, Lima (Peruvian: lime) introduced Mumbai's palate to the region's robust-flavoured cuisine through ceviches, a popular appetiser featuring cubes of fish cured with the zesty leche de tigre (tiger's milk), and Pisco cocktails, besides signatures like Churrasco Grills.

TIME: 12.30 pm to 12.30 am
AT: Maker Maxity, next to NRI, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (e).
CALL: 30005040

The spread at the pop-up

Tastiest Firang Pop-up: Paowalla brunch

chef Floyd Cardoz

Celebrated homegrown chef Floyd Cardoz flew down from USA to tease our tastebuds with a two-day Paowalla brunch hosted at The Bombay Canteen. The New York-style affair offered a delectable spread from his latest venture in Manhattan. From Kokum Solkadi Ceviche to Ghee Roast Benedict, Charred Sweet Potato Parantha and Dosa Waffles, the smorgasbord of flavours left us in food coma. We're still drooling over those sponge soft, piping hot Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Naans.

Basu's Pork with Bhut Jholokia

Home chef find: Subhasree Basu

In the cauldron of home chefs brimming with a variety of flavours, the one that stood out was Subhasree Basu. The ex-media professional began offering pork-laden pop-ups at her Wadala residence via her homerun venture, Hungry Cat Kitchen. The must-haves include Pork Pot Pie and Pork with Bhut Jholokia. She was also roped in by Cafe Zoe for a One Night Stand Chef pop-up.

Mushroom Galawat with sourdough bread

Best vegetarian menu: GourmArt Kitchen
Though vegetarian menus have expanded their girth to cater to the 'bored-of-paneer' folk, Mumbai lacked a stellar all-veg offering that would appeal to carnivores too. Until Ranveer Brar (in pic) decided to open GourmArt Kitchen within the premises of TAG (The Amateur Gallery), that is. While we loved most of the dishes from a range of world-inspired options - from Japanese-style Konyakkuyaki to an Awadhi-style palm heart and jackfruit biryani - the most memorable one was Mushroom Galawat, umami-flavoured melt-in-your-mouth kebabs that would make one forget their non-veg counterparts.

TIME: 7 pm to 1 am
AT: Kamala Mills Compound, SB Marg, Lower Parel.
CALL: 24972424 (only by reservation)

Chicken A La Kiev

Golden oldie salute: Gaylord
While many old-timers have bitten the dust due to the inability to cope with inflation or changing tastes of Mumbaikars, Gaylord continues to hold fort by pleasing palates with a melange of contemporary and classic Indian and Continental fare. These include signatures like Chicken A La Kiev, which used to be a favourite of Yash Johar, along with modern fare like Kulhad Ka Kukkad, a dish presented in a pressure cooker. A month back, the iconic landmark on Churchgate turned 60 with aplomb in the presence of its owners - the Delhi-based Lambas - and its loyal guests. Cheers to that.

Gaylord's loyal staffers, 88-year-old retired CeO AN Malhotra with manager Noel D'Souza

TIME: 9.30 am to 11.30 pm
AT: Mayfair Building, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate.
Call: 22821259

Best cocktail experiment (We have a tie!)
Liquid Som Tam
A unique take on the Asian salad, the vodka-based Liquid Som Tam (Rs 350) at Mr Baozi is a delicious spicy-sour medley of raw papaya juice and lime juice infused with coriander and bird eye red chilli. The concoction offers a crunchy flavour too, served in a glass rimmed with crusted peanuts, with a cherry tomato skewer and sweet jaggery on the side. Trust us, it's as soothing as a Thai massage.
TIME: 12 pm to 4 pm; 6.30 pm to 1 am
AT: Mr Baozi, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.
CALL 7666569300

Hickory Bong
The Hickory Bong (Rs 850) at Theory, Kamala Mills' newest baby, is made using tomato water, Scotch, black pepper sauce, hot peppers, brine, coriander and black salt. Closest to a Bloody Mary in terms of ingredients, this savoury cocktail is, however, far more complex, with an umami flavour. It also swaps out the vodka for a refined Scotch, giving you a Bloody Mary that's all grown up.
TIME: 6 pm onwards (Mondays closed)
AT: C Wing, Trade World, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.
CALL: 66666506

  • Tea Centre, Churchgate
  • blueFROG, Lower Parel
  • Cafe Nemo, Worli
Honourable mentions

Kudos to these names who lit up Mumbai's culinary scene in diverse ways

Chef branches out: Theobroma chef Kainaz Messman Harchandrai moved to the hot kitchen with the sumptuous burger eatery, Three Chicks And A Bear, in Lower Parel.

Best farm-to-table experience: At Masque, a fine-dine at Laxmi Mill Compound, chef Prateek Sadhu and foodpreneur Aditi Dugar have foraged across India to bring myriad flavours on your plate — seabuckthorn berries from Ladakh, apples and saffron from Kashmir and feta from a goat farm in Mysore.

Old meets new: The Clearing House at Ballard Estate revamped what is possibly Asia's oldest ice factory into
a 4,000-sq ft modern European restaurant, with two separate dining rooms, sporting an industrial-chic look with the factory's original iron roof and pulley system on display.

Best debut culinary writer: Smita Deo for penning Karwar To Kolhapur Via Mumbai, an autobiographical cookbook laced with heartwarming memories, anecdotes and traditional recipes spanning the coastal regions of Karwar in Karnataka, Kolhapuri cuisine and Maharashtrian favourites from Mumbai.

Mixed Signal Salad at Sequel

Thumbs up
Health on your plate: From vegan, gluten-free and organic joints like Sequel, Kitchen Garden and Vibe Liquiteria to the salad bar, Ministry Of Salads, 2016 saw a burgeoning tribe of healthy-but-delicious eateries crop up in different pockets of the city. Another buzzword of 2016 was homemade - try the in-house colas and bitters concocted at 212 All Good.

Polish-Style Roast Duck stuffed with apple and vodka, by Pia Promina Dasgupta Barve as part of her Kolkata Christmas pop-up

Stand alone, stand out: Stand-alone eateries came of age by offering mini menus focused on specific dishes or cuisines, whether it was the kunafa, a Middle Eastern dessert offered by Foodeementals; Japanese Cheesecake whipped up by Daniel Patissier; Oh Dough's cookies oozing of crunchy goodness; the North Indian staple at Butter Chicken Factory or the Mexican fare at Coma Coma.

Regional tribute: Going beyond the typical Northeastern, Bohri or Bengali fare, home chefs dug deep into their roots to offer authentic meals; whether it was Nepalese food from Assam, the fare whipped by the Bhagnaris (a sub-caste of the Sindhis), what the Jews of Calcutta binged on or feasts from the royal kitchens of Malwa. A couple of stand-alones like Soul Fry and The Bagel Shop offered East Indian cuisine in the form a festival or as a separate menu. May their tribe increase.

Kitchen Studios spruce up: From pizza and sushi workshops to pop-ups, cookouts and chef showcases, the kitchen studio spaces in the city were put to better use, especially with the launch of Magazine Street Kitchen (from the owners of The Table) at Byculla.

Thumbs down
What's the hype about? One of the most surprising damp squibs of the year was Jamie's Pizzeria, a QSR chain by the legendary Brit chef Jamie Oliver, which opened in High Street Phoenix. It left us disappointed with its underwhelming pizzas and overpriced bruschettas.

A trend that needs to die: It has to be the mismatched Indo-Western fusion that many restaurants and patisseries are getting away with, be it dotting cheesecakes with bits of gulab jamun or dousing pastas with desi makhani sauce.

Bad adaptation: Unless you've been living under a rock or don't own an Instagram account, you'd know what a bao is. The Chinese version of the steamed buns have been bastardised into tacos, which come in all colours, and are filled with the most bizarre ingredients like raw bananas and pear ganache. Can our chefs adapt the methods along with the fare, please?

First Published: 30 December, 2016 08:18 IST

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