Reviews

The Pawn

The Pawn in Hong Kong

The Pawn in Hong Kong is a lovely gastro pub, set over three stories and featuring two distinct dining experiences:

There is the Living Room, the Dining Room and the Roof Terrace. The Pawn is located in Wan Chai at 62 Johnston Street and the place is definitely worth a visit.

While the Living Room has simpler and more casual fare, the Dining Room focuses on modern British cuisine with a daily changing menu, and both are absolutely delicious!

The design of the restaurant is very appealing in a “purposeful deconstructive” kind of way, which gives it a welcoming and cozy feel, but is still fresh and modern at the same time.

Check out their funky website for a taste of their style and feel: http://www.thepawn.com.hk/


Joss

Joss in SoBo

And here I was, thinking that I knew all the non-Indian places in South Bombay – and I was wrong! I discovered this lovely Eastern-fusion place, called Joss just this week. It is where it is for quite a long time, but for some strange reason, we never went – big mistake!

Joss has a nice interior – the picture doesn’t do it quite justice – it is way more stylish and the ambience a lot more pleasing – and the menu is quite a revelation.

Not necessarily haute cuisine, but solid, good Asian-fusion! Everything from sushi to stir fries and laksas. Well executed and authentic in taste and presentation.

It is opposite Jehangir Gallery just off M.G. Road in South Bombay. Don’t miss out on the place the next time you are in the area!


best Italian in SoBo

Vetro in the Oberoi

There are a couple places that serve Italian food in Mumbai, some are good, but few are great – Vetro definitely is!

A jewel of a place right on Marine Drive in the Oberoi hotel one should not miss:

The interior does its name justice: Vetro means glass in Italian and the style is very contemporary. Next to the dining room, the restaurant also sports a tasting area for wine with quite knowledgeable sommeliers guiding you through a nice selection of wines from all over the world with a little taste of cheese to go along with it.

But the highlight very clearly is the food: real authentic Italian fare, beautifully presented and created with a lot of attention to detail and an experienced hand.

Eating our way through the menu written in Italian – with English translations, no worries – we didn’t have a dish that didn’t please.

I really fell in love with Vetro again. I’ve been there before and somehow had forgotten about this gem of a restaurant, a mistake I shall not make again – I can’t wait to go back very soon!


Mumbai Boss

sesame egg on chives

Good press is a wonderful thing and I am very happy to be the subject of a lovely article in the popular Mumbai Boss blog:

“It’s not often that a restaurant enlists an artist to cook a nine-course sit down dinner. But Cariya Breemen, an American culinary artist, as she calls herself, is not your average brush-toting creative soul. For one, she has degrees in psychology and sociology, and in addition to being a full-time painter, is a professional cook who also dabbles in couture.

For another, despite being vegetarian, she is able to masterfully plate up non-vegetarian dishes based on how they smell and feel (for the record Breemen was once a carnivore). Her Italian-influenced style of cooking is entirely self-taught, born out of 30 years of experience rather than through cooking courses.

Having already served as a guest chef at Valhalla last October to great success (the event was sold out before invites were even issued), Breemen returns on Tuesday, April 6 and and Wednesday, April 7 to serve up a nine-course pre-plated treat for 60 guests. The menu is carefully planned, with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options including hot gruyere thyme gougeres, chargrilled prawns, pea cappuccino and blue cheese mousse. The rest of the menu can be seen here.

To make a booking, call Abby on  96191 95237.”

To take a look at the actual article, please visit: http://mumbaiboss.com/2010/04/05/the-fine-art-of-cooking/ and to see and read more of the really cool Mumbai Boss blog, just go to http://mumbaiboss.com/

Thank you, Tara!!!


Happy Birthday, Indigo!

happy birthday

Just a quick note to praise a very, very good restaurant in Mumbai: Indigo in Colaba, South Bombay. A hit with Mumbaikers as well as foreigners for the last 11 years, Indigo is celebrating their 11th birthday this Sunday.

Happy Birthday, Indigo!

If you would like to join the celebrations, there will be a special 11th birthday brunch on Sunday, April 4, 2010 from 12pm onward.

For further information on Indigo, their menu, location and to make reservations, check out their website at http://www.foodindigo.com/


Roomservice

Room Service

Room Service is a very nice addition to the many, many restaurants that are already there in Hells Kitchen along 9th Avenue. Located between 47th and 48th Street on the East side of the Avenue right in the middle of the block, it sports a beautifully designed dining space with bar area.

The food is Thai – now I am not quite sure why Hell’s Kitchen needs another Thai restaurant, the area somehow seems to develop into little Bangkok – but the cuisine is very well executed and quite authentic.

The decor at Room Service is definitely worth mentioning and the gigantic chandelier in the middle of the room is gorgeous, even though it takes up a lot of space.

The wine list is tiny, but the prices are great, and the food menu is quite extensive and allows for great choices for carnivores as well as vegetarians.

Definitely a great addition to the many choices that are there already – worthy of many returns!


Union Square Cafe

Union Square Cafe

Union Square Cafe

USC – an oldie, but goodie!

I know there are very mixed reviews out there and I am sure they are all justified – the experience at this lovely Union Square dining spot does vary!

Yesterday I had a very good one though and it most certainly was due to the great, great service we received. Our waitress was knowledgeable, friendly and very switched on. We had a somewhat intoxicated has-been celebrity on the next table and were very swiftly moved to a table out of earshot when said person tried to resurrect their singing career.

The food was quite nice as well, even though some of the advertised ingredients indeed were missing. E.g. the blood orange, fennel and arugula salad didn’t have any arugula, but was nevertheless absolutely delicious.

The main courses were very good too and because we couldn’t make up our mind, we combined two starter sized main courses into one and ended up with a taste of 3 main courses and a side dish. Everything interestingly enough on the sweet side, but definitely nicely composed.

The wine list is beautiful and again our waitress did not disappoint and made a great suggestion that accompanied the food perfectly.

All in all it was a very positive experience and I very much would go back there any time!


Pizza on the LES

Rosario's

Rosario's

Now Rosario’s Pizza doesn’t fit in with my usual dining places, but it is a great destination nevertheless!

The owner Sal Bartolomeo is a wonderful guy and he whips up the most amazing italian food and especially his pizza is the real thing – NY style! Rosario’s is a true Lower East Side experience at a very good price, located at 173 Orchard at the corner of Stanton.

In case you are wondering why Sal has a restaurant called Rosario’s, that is because his uncle opened it in 1963 and his name was Rosario.

If you crave a real NY pizza made by a real Italian, don’t miss out and stop by at Rosario’s!


Le Zie 2000

Le Zie 2000

Back in New York – yeah!!!

One of the first places we hit first when coming back was Le Zie 2000 – a rather strange name for a lovely little place on 7th Avenue between 20 and 21st Street. The food is Venetian inspired Italian. Not michelin star quality, but solid good food at a very reasonable price.

Definitely try the truffle mac & cheese and their hand made pici. The mixed appetizers are also delightful – if you are vegetarian, they cater to that as well – and if you are in the market for fish and meat, the selection of the little mini plates offers a wide variety of culinary delicacies!

It’s worth a visit – try it out!


Stella: stellar!

Stella at the Leela, Mumbai

Stella at the Leela, Mumbai

India so far doesn’t have Michelin stars, but when they come, Stella at the Leela Kempinski hotel in Mumbai most certainly deserves at least one!

The restaurant is not necessarily conveniently located coming from South Bombay, but a wonderful stop-over on the way to the airport for those great “middle of the night”- flights. (Everybody, who ever has flown out of India most likely had the “pleasure” of having to board one of those flights conveniently departing between midnight and 4 am in the morning! Don’t ask, it is an India thing and has to do with the arrival times in other parts of the world – you get used to it and in the end it does make sense).

Anyway, back to Stella: the restaurant serves lovely high-end, creative Italian fare and is definitely worth a visit. The bill is not for the faint-hearted, but the quality makes up for the stiff price tag!

Next time, to (or from) the airport, or just because, stop by at this wonderful 8th floor restaurant for an exceptional dining experience!


Jim Thompson: Thai in Singapore

Jim Thompson on Dempsey Hill

Jim Thompson

And another review from my recent Singapore trip – this time on a Thai place in the relatively new Dempsey Hill area:

Now Jim Thompson is a very beautifully done Thai restaurant, a bit outside of town. The Dempsey Hill area, close to Holland Village, used to be the Central Manpower Base and also housed former British barracks. Now it is home to a nice selection of restaurants and bars in a beautifully lush setting.

Jim Thompson, as you may know, has restaurants in other Asian cities as well and quoting from their website, here some background information on the company:

“Jim Thompson, the Thai Silk Company, was founded in Bangkok in 1950 by the American architect Jim Thompson and six Thai investors. Thompson disappeared mysteriously on vacation in Malaysia in 1967, but his initiative succeeded in reviving Thailand’s craft weaving industry. Today the Thai-owned firm is the world’s largest maker of hand-woven fabrics, with some 3,500 employees in Southeast Asia, Japan and Europe.”

“Inspired by the legendary hospitality offered by Jim Thompson himself at his Bangkok mansion, The Thai Silk Company began its food and beverage operations in 1997 at the Jim Thompson House Museum in Bangkok. There are now four Jim Thompson restaurants, bars and cafes in Thailand, as well as My Thai restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and 2 restaurants in Tokyo’s premier Ginza and Akasaka districts.”

The setting of the restaurant is impressive and the design absolutely beautiful – no surprise, they used a lot of Jim Thompson products.

The food is good. Not ideal for vegetarians – only two items on the menu were vegetarian and there wasn’t much creativity when the kitchen tried to come up with something additionally. My noodle dish had deep fried tofu and that was pretty much it.

However, from the looks of the dishes around me, the non-vegetarian options seemed more pleasing and if not for the food, the restaurant is definitely worth a visit for its design!

Sorry for the absence of a picture, but I couldn’t use any that were available and I didn’t bring my camera that night! However, for more info, you may want to visit their website at http://www.jimthompson.com/restaurants_bars/singapore.asp


Garibaldi: Italian in Singapore


Garibaldi - Italian Restaurant & Bar, Singapore

Garibaldi - Italian Restaurant & Bar, Singapore

Singapore was wonderful! Not as hot as I remembered it, clean and with fresh air – something special coming from beautiful, but slightly polluted Mumbai.

As promised here a review for a popular Italian restaurant close to the famous Raffles Hotel:

Garibaldi is very conveniently located, right in the center of the city, and therefore ideal for after work dinners. While Singapore is small, it is not very walkable, and a car (your own or a taxi) is highly recommended for transportation. Some may argue that the public transportation is great too, but after a nice dinner, I don’t want to hop on a bus or go onto the MRT.

Garibaldi is decorated rather minimalistically and kept in cooler colors. Personally I could do with a bit more warmth, but that is just me and the design is definitely tastefully done!

Roberto Galetti, the head chef of Garibaldi, does deserve mentioning! I didn’t have the pleasure to meet him and didn’t want to ask him to interrupt composing his creations, but I very much liked his food! Wonderful a la carte choices and very interesting additions from the daily specials.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that when I requested a change from said daily menu, I was offered not just one, but two choices! Both well thought through, and the one I had was lovingly done and very tasty!

The wines in beautiful Singapore tend to be on the pricey side – no change from India there – but Singapore restaurants tends to have a wider variety to choose from. We kept it reasonable, but if one wishes, there is the possibility to drop a significant amount of money on a bottle in this restaurant. A lovely Amarone from the ’70s for example can set you back over $2,000… Singapore dollars, but that is still a lot of money! The exchange rate is currently around 1 US$ to 1.35 S$…

However, even if you don’t want to break the bank for wine like that, you can find very good food for a fair price at Garibaldi. I definitely will go back for more next time!


Italian food in Casablanca

Casablanca

Casablanca

We spent our New Years in Casablanca, Morocco. I have to admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But having had the pleasure to visit, I highly recommend a trip to this interesting and exciting city in North Africa! And even my cravings for Italian food could be satisfied there. Not that I didn’t get my fair share of it in Venice. Or that the Moroccan cuisine in Casablanca isn’t fabulous. Or that they don’t have amazing French restaurants.

However, since I spent New Year’s Eve at Piazza and our New Year’s Day brunch at La Terrazza, which both happen to be Italian, I thought, I share my insights on those two restaurants:

Piazza restaurant in Casablanca

Piazza restaurant in Casablanca

Piazza is a lovely small restaurant that doesn’t advertise and also doesn’t have a website. I still found it through www.bestrestaurantsmaroc.com where it is listed. The owner and head chef is Hertzl Benmoha, a Moroccan-born Israeli, who speaks French. Not sure why Italian food is his cuisine of choice, but he prepares it amazingly well. We had a delightful dinner, the atmosphere was fabulous and the guests as well as the team there are tribute to a very well run, cozy restaurant. I am looking forward to a return the next time I am there and can only recommend this lovely place close to the center of the city.

La Terrazza restaurant in Casablanca

La Terrazza restaurant in Casablanca

Now La Terrazza is definitely in a different league than Piazza. Located directly at the beach as a part of the Tahiti Beach Club, this Italian restaurant is a real gem! The food is amazing, the service impeccable and the view breathtaking. Don’t miss this one for sure!!!

P.S. You also can find them on the www.bestrestaurantsmaroc.com website next to many other lovely places in this beautiful city.


Venice – always worth a trip!

winter in Venice

winter in Venice

Venice – the most beautiful city in the world? For many people it is and I am one of them! If you agree or not, it certainly is an amazing place that is very worthy of a trip any time of the year. Personally I prefer spring, fall and winter and rather stay away from La Serenissima during the crowded summer months.

After sharing my delight over this amazing kitchen of mine – even though it is only temporary – I couldn’t help myself and also had to communicate my general feelings about Venice: it is just such an amazing place!

If you have the chance, go and visit! All the other 20 million or so visitors every year aren’t wrong – at least in my opinion!