Restaurant Review : The Pint Room, Vasant Vihar

The Pint Room is a nice cozy place with a varied selection of Beers along with delectable food on offer. We attended an exclusive evening hosted by the promoter of the chain – Mr. Pradeep Beer Gidwani – to learn more about beers.

The Pint Room is a nice cozy place surrounded by important looking embassies all around. Besides the embassies, equally important looking banks are scattered across the market this place is located in. The day I was invited, was a rainy one and as usual, Delhi got clogged. This proved to be a blessing in disguise as I could get up close and personal with the promoter of the chain- Mr. Pradeep Beer Gidwani. The others invited were all stuck in traffic so I spent time with one of the top authorities on the knowledge of beers and spirits in the country.

We started with him giving his own career snapshot over a few pints of Heineken. I asked him what he felt about the multitude of microbreweries in Gurugram, so he replied candidly that few of them were actually brewing beer. He says that this is a fad like many others that will come and go.

The others arrived eventually and by around 8 pm we started our beer tasting session. Mr. Gidwani introduced us to various types of beers and then we started with different kinds of beers. We started off with a bit of Foster’s and followed it up with Stella Artois. Mr. Gidwani feels that the latter must be entry point of beer drinking as the former or its prototypes such as Kingfisher are not good quality. He explained that Indian beers or even whiskies contain a lot of sugar molasses as India produces lots of sugarcane. This is much like American beers being dominated by corn by products and East Asian ones having lots of rice. And that is why European beers will always score over due to the balance between malt, hops, barley (usually not always) and water.

Along with these beers, we were served chicken wings cooked apparently with bhoot jolokia which is one of the hottest chili varieties of the world. The wings were well cooked with a dash of coriander on top. The bhoot jolokia was probably eased off as my tongue did not really burn as expected. We also had some meat tacos to go alongside. Next up, Mr. Gidwani served us some Australian craft beers. The first of these was brewed near an orange farm and thus had this distinct citrusy flavour. The next one was milder. Both these beers were smooth and flowed easily. The host also made us try an apple cider. Then we went on to discuss the differences between ales and lagers. We also discussed about the Pilsner variety.

During the beer sessions, we tried to keep the food to a minimum in order to feel the purity of the drinks. Now with the subtleties done, we were brought a meat bonanza pizza. More than the beers, I feel it is pizzas that The Pint Room does really well. A litmus test for evaluating pizzas is often whether they can be folded like any bread and that is what these pizzas were able to. The crust was thin yet crisp. The flavours of the different meats were quite easily distinguishable. This was a clear sign of flavoring not overwhelming the taste of the meat itself. We also ordered a prawn item with lemon and paprika. This item was a slight disappointment. The prawns seemed to be not fresh enough and the flavoring in this case overwhelmed the raw taste.

We ordered two more rounds of Hoegaarden to which The Pint Room added its own unique improvisation. A piece of lemon was added inside the glass on top of the drink. This added a new dimension to conventional Hoegaarden.

Mr. Gidwani was so hospitable that he felt almost disappointed at us having no capacity left to eat or drink anymore. So as a good night drink we had a Dunkel which is a dark German lager. Overall, a great evening spent. I personally learnt a lot about beers from our host, Pradeep Beer Gidwani, accompanied by good food and drink.

Jamie’s Pizzeria- all style no spice?

It would be interesting to see how people respond to Jamie’s Pizzeria in an all ready crowded pizza segment with likes of Sbarro, NYC. Pie, InstaPizza, Pizza Express who are serving some mind blowing pizzas.

 

Spicy Meat Ball
Spicy Meat Ball Pizza

Before anything else, let me tell you I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver- the celebrity chef from UK who has taken the internet webs by storm with his easy peasy recipes and cute looks 😉 More than anything i love his cook books.

Last week we were invited to try the newly opened Jamie’s Pizzeria in Pacific Mall, West Delhi.

While the decor captures the relaxed fun spirit of Jamie’s style, the flavours seem to be a miss. The meal left us little underwhelmed, maybe we had huge expectation but when a brand like Jamie Oliver is involved you don’t expect anything but the best!

The use of freshest & choicest ingredients does little to compensate for the taste of the food. The meal began on a positive note with the delicious Hand Stretched Cheesy Garlic Bread served with garlic butter, rosemary & olive tapenade. Since they aren’t serving the alcohol as yet, we ordered the Homemade Ginger Beer which tasted so saccharine and lacked the fizz!

From the pizza section we ordered the Spicy Meat Ball Pizza & Jamie’s Super Greens on our server’s recommendation. They do only one size i.e. 11 inches and one style of crust- which is hand stretched thin crust! Also they use fresh dough which clearly makes the difference! Both the pizzas were thin, crisp and well baked! One thing that stop out was the fermented dough which made the pizza base fluffy unlike the other flat thin crusts which we are used to eating. While the Spicy Meat Ball pizza was nice but nothing extraordinary, the Super Greens one was loaded with leaves like spinach & coriander. No doubt the ingredients were fresh and high quality, the fact remains the taste profiles need to be matched well. The heavy use of the coriander leaves simply killed the pizza, I couldn’t taste the cheese nor the sauce! The secret of a good pizza is the balance which was clearly missing in this one! Also couldn’t really understand the idea of chopping the vegetables in huge pieces or for that matter using the whole vegetable!

The pasta of the day was – Lasagna which was an extremely small portion, with very little cheese and way too much tomato sauce & lots of green leaves on top. The sauce was simple and fresh with a nice herby taste but again nothing special about the dish.

The Baked Fish in a bag which was a sole fillet was the most disasturous dish we ordered. Simple rustic style of cooking fish with some whole fresh veggies wrapped in an aluminium foil is one thing where in the fish gets cooked in its own juices & vegetables while   bland, tasteless and undercooked fish is another. This one lacked any flavour to say the least. Also the veggies on the side were chopped in most stupid fashion- a broccoli piece as big as my palm? That surely not my idea of rustic!

Also if you like ketchup or mustard with your pizza then you better carry your own- they don’t serve any of the two. Really doesn’t matter to me but we all know how much our countrymen love the two!

Lets talk about the best part of the meal- DESSERTS! We ordered two sorbets, Mango and Strawberry Rasberry which were fresh, tangy and chunky! The portion is tiny and it will leave you wanting for more. I just hope they are using fresh fruits and not some industrial grade fruit pulps. I am definitely going back for the sorbets if not the pizzas.  The Almond Tart with vanilla cream was trademark Jamie style-rustic, fresh and flavourful & with a twist! The tart was crumbly from the outside and spongey cake texture from the inside and smelt of butter. The vanilla cream with hint of lemon zest was the perfect accompaniment.

It would be interesting to see how people respond to Jamie’s Pizzeria in an all ready crowded pizza segment with likes of Sbarro, NYC. Pie, InstaPizza, Pizza Express who are serving some mind blowing pizzas.

I would love to go back once again to try some more pizzas before completely writing it off but then as they say calories are precious 😉

Check some lovely pictures!

Super Green's Pizza
Super Green’s Pizza

 

Baked Fish
Baked Fish

 

Garlic Bread
Garlic Bread

 

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Almond Tart

 

Berries Sorbet
Berries Sorbet

 

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Thats how good the table looked!

 

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Closer look- Lasagna

My First Food Raid – The Brick House Diner – A Vegetarian’s Perspective

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.
 
So today was the day when I went for my first “FED raid” as they call it. It was so frickin’ brilliant. Bunch of foodies gathering together, literally ordering everything possible from the menu. As I was going to visit this place, I was reminded of the episode from How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall waits 8 years to eat the best burger in New York.

And as today I was coming back from the “raid”, my sister’s first reaction after coming near me was that I smell of food. So mission accomplished.

A yummy non veggie burger, look at the cheese dripping out. Yumm !
So we all, as decided, went to a place called The Brick House Diner, located right in front of Venky (the college). The best part about the “Diner” is its location. As soon as you turn left towards Venky, you can spot the shiny neon sign.

The interiors are, as the name suggests, made of brick, although the space is short for large gatherings. It is a comforting, non formal setting and that is what works I guess when you open a diner opposite a college.

The Raiding Party, waiting patiently for their food to arrive
The Raid Party, from another angle

So I heard that the place was famous for its burgers. There are very few places in Delhi which serve good burgers and that too vegetarian ones (and no I am not including Mc Donald’s in the list, for the love of god people, come on). There has been Hard Rock, American Diner and News Cafe. The last one i haven’t been to, but have heard a lot. Burgers have always been a non veggie paradise and I still have yet to come in contact with the best burger in Delhi. The best vegetarian burger!!!

The litchi ice tea. The transparent thing is the litchi Jello-O, superb
So it started out quite differently than usual with 2 drinks coming our way. The first one being a frappe and the second one was a litchi ice tea. The frappe tasted like any other nescafe frappe and it wasn’t until my friend pointed out that it was sweeter and chocolaty than normal frappe. I am not much of a coffee person and frankly couldn’t make out much. But the litchi ice tea was quite a surprise. It was regular ice tea with a hint of litchi. Pretty good but the surprise was a litchi jelly masquerading as an ice cube. For the longest time, I was wondering that why wasn’t the ice cube melting. Very clever and innovative. This has potential to be a sure hit with the campus crowd.
Finally starters for the vegetarians, one in green color, the other in brown
Some non veggie starter, looks fantastic.
Again something for Non-vegetarians
Shrimp Tapsa, the non veggies couldn’t stop eating and we couldn’t stop looking and get jealous

For starters, there was a tapas platter containing two veggie skewers. One green in color and the other brown. The green one had peanuts and peas and I couldn’t make out about the other one. The former was definitely better than the brown one and overall made for quite a good start.

The Erstwhile Garden burger, ahem
The Non-Veg burger again (don’t know which one) in its full glory

After the drinks, came the main course. There were a million varieties for non veg burgers and only 2 for vegetarians. But the chief chef had cooked up a very special, experimental 3rd variety for the health conscious, calorie counting campus crowd, which is not on the menu. The chef was trying it out for the first time and was asking us for opinions about the same.

The experimental one was a garden burger, another one was a veggie’s delight and the third one was a beetroot and corn burger. We ordered one of each variety but sadly due to a mix up with the waiters, we got 4 garden burgers and one veggie delight.

Fresh and crispy French Fries – They did a great job with those

Now I am fundamentally and conceptually against healthy food. And I am generally not excited when anything is named after a salad. The garden burger was kinda dry and for the first time I was missing a tomato slice in it. (FYI I hate tomatoes). I have always wanted my burgers to be juicy and succulent and this sadly wasn’t. There was no cheese (gasp gasp). But still a decent effort and considering that it was made specially for the FED raid, it was very sweet of the chef. But here’s hoping that it never makes to the final menu .

The second burger, the veggie delight, was juicier and thankfully had cheese. However, I could not taste any of the garlic mayo as promised. The third burger never came but honestly would love to see what they do with beetroot in a burger.

Pestolicious Pizza, it really was pestolicious
Melt in your mouth Pizza filled with Cheese, Superb !

The pizza we ordered was a pesto based veggie pizza. Now too much of pesto can really screw up a pizza and make it bitter. But here the pesto was in moderation and unlike the usual tomato based pizzas which are oh-so-common. The best and I mean the best part is the base of the pizza. It is a secret recipe and is made by mixing two kinds of dough and what a dough that was. The base was soft and melt-in-your-mouth kinds. The veggies nicely cooked and the cheese strands literally filling your mouth coming together with the oh-so-soft pizza and perfectly cooked veggies. People were sniggering at my tendency to put mustard on it but hey I liked it better with the mustard.

The best part about the place is the pricing. It has its pricing spot on, aiming at the campus crowd. Burgers for Rs. 80 and pizzas for Rs. 150-170 something, this was a shock in these Rs. 500-700 ranged burgers available nowadays.

The big daddy of ’em all – The Ghost Burger, three layers of patty and you can see the half fried Egg in between
Chicken something Pasta – Looked heavenly
The pasta again, 2 seconds before it vanished from the plate
The non veggies on the other end of the table had huge grins on their faces as they gorged on the “Ghost” burger (3 layers of patties and a half fried egg (hmm??) in between) and chicken pasta and some such. The place clearly has more varieties for non veggies as most burger joints are. There was a vegetarian version of the Ghost burger too, which was prepared using the same ingredients as the Garden (erstwhile) burger. Loved the size of the burger (it was incredibly huge) but think will stay away from it as I wasn’t a big fan of the garden burger to begin with.
Laurel and Hardy

And the regret of my life, the greatest Pic of the GHOST Burger, the veg version

I am especially interested in their “Man v/s Food” contest where patrons have to eat 5 big ghost burgers in 1 hour. And it will have a wall of fame and a wall of shame too. And of course their jello shots which fellow FEDs got after I had left after eating my share and that too ON THE HOUSE (WHAT THE HELL!!!). They couldn’t stop talking about it too and then posted a pic to make me jealous.

The Jello shots, which fellow FEDs got on the FREAKIN’ HOUSE (daaammmnn !), they look divine and am sure tasted that way too

So vegetarians can go to this place for its comfortable, non intimidating surroundings and jelly filled ice teas and surprisingly soft pizzas. Not so much for the burgers though. For non veggies, well by the looks of my fellow feds, they’ll be back for sure for more burgers and pastas and what not.

Mouthful of the Ghost Burger
The FED responsible for it all, Harbeer, having time of his life.
Shubam and this pic needs no caption.. hehee
Me looking at the carnivores go at their burgers, SIGH !
A satisfied bunch, with Chef and Owner, Bhuvnesh

PS The awesome, mouth watering, makes-you-wanna-drool pics are provided by none other than the Chief FED – Shashank, we should probably name him something like “Captain” or “General” !

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.

The Big Chill Cafe – Dessert-a-thon : A report from FED raid

The Big Chill Cafe, a name that has risen to incredible heights in food scene of Delhi over the last decade. I am not able to recall any other joint that serves non-Indian cuisine that is as popular as The Big Chill Cafe. And as surprising as it sounds, my first rendezvous with them was just 2-3 weeks back, and since then I have been there 4 times, my last visit being last night itself.

What started as as a single restaurant in East of Kailash, now has 4 outlets, the original being closed a few years back. They are known for their desserts, more than anything else, and with my limited experience with them, I am not surprised. Whatever I have tried there till date, I have not been disappointed.

Giving the reputation and my desire to visit The Big Chill Cafe, when FED had to call for a meetup, it seemed to be an obvious choice, and the agenda was very clear, to sample very single cheese cake on their menu and then some. With date and time decided, 10 of us descended on Big chill for a RAID. And order was made pretty much simple to the waiter serving us, get ALL the cheesecakes on the menu and if there were some not on menu, get those as well.

This is what out table looked like 😀
Chocolate Double Decadence
Mississippi Mud Pie
Tiramisu Cheese Cake
 There we were 10 of us, sitting on a table with about 10 cheese cakes along with Banoffie Pie, Chocolate Truffle and Frozen Yoghurt, though I do not recollect all the names and the ones I remember might not be accurate, however you will get an idea.  There was Mississippi Mud Pie, Chocolate Double Decadence, Blueberrry Cheese Cake, Tiramisu Cheese Cake, Irish Cream Cheese Cake, Plain Cheese Cake, Mango Cheese Cake,  and waiters looking at us in amazement. Then started the conveyer belt, the desserts started doing the rounds and we were digging in each one of them one after the other. Each better or as good as other other one, least favorite of someone was the most favorite of other. Surprisingly we reached a point where small amount of some cake was left on the table and no one wanted to eat it, no one was full, however the senses were overloaded. Now we needed to change the taste, enough with those ‘starters’ :D.
FEDs at The Big Chill Cafe
FEDs at The Big Chill Cafe
Garlic Bread
Fattoush Salad
Penne Pasta with Mixed Sauce
Spaghetti and Mushrooms

Chicken Lasagna
Veg. Peri Peri Pizza
 Then came the main course, here I must mention that every time I have been to the Big Chill Cafe, they have managed to surprise me with their service and efficiency. The rates are quite reasonable for current times and portion sizes are good. We ordered several things including Pastas, Pizza, Garlic Bread and Fattoush Salad, I personally cannot comment on authenticity of the food, however we enjoyed everything we had, and it was not different from my experience earlier where we had a Pesto Pasta, Four seasons Pizza and Mezze Platter.
Veg. Four Seasons Pizza

Mezze Platter
Overall my 2 cents say, Big Chill Cafe is about no pretensions eating, in a relaxed atmosphere. The place is almost always full, informal, chirpy and they do not accept reservations over the phone and waiting for a table is quite expected.

It was a great evening, and as I have mentioned earlier on FED, that joy of sharing food is like no other, and this is what we discovered on that day as well, and thanks to The Big Chill Cafe for making it a pleasant experience.

If I am asked to rate this place, I would give it a 4/5.

PS : All pictures in this post  have been shot using my mobile phone camera, so pardon the quality.