When I had started this blog I had meant to review restaurants apart from share recipes but the change in diet restricted the ‘eating out’ sessions. During the last year however, I found that quite a few restaurants are open to idea of a vegan diet and come up with good alternatives. When I pay I expect value for money in terms of food (taste and presentation), ambience, attentive staffers and cleanliness, not necessarily in the same order. I have touched on all these points here.
What do you think adds to a good eating out experience? Do share with me. I will look out for those too next time, as long as it does not lead to any embarrassing experiences, of course. I do not generally look into the washroom unless forced to, though a clean washroom is I believe, a cue to overall cleanliness!! I have never requested to be shown the kitchen though that is what makes me curious, out of fear of being told ‘no’. Have you ever asked?
Meanwhile, hop on and let’s go on to ‘kebab korner’ at Hotel Inter Continental located at Marine Drive, Mumbai.
Hotel: Inter Continental
Restaurant : Kebab Korner
Specialty: Tandoori items and kebabs
Phone No.: 022 – 39879999
About the hotel:
Inter Continental hotel located at a visually aesthetic and a prime location in Mumbai, caters basically to visitors from abroad or business executives. The location is central as it is close to “The Gateway”, Nariman Point and the stock market. You can read more about the facilities offered at their site.
This review is restricted to one of the restaurants housed in this hotel – Kebab Korner. There are two other restaurants – Carleone which specializes in Italian food, and Dome which is a rooftop hotel.
About Kebab Korner:
(Specializing in North Indian traditional cooking and kebabs, located on level one of hotel Inter Continental)
The Staff: Excellent service though a tad slow. 3/5
To me the attitude of the staff is important when I eat out. How is one to enjoy the food if the hands that serve are not friendly? I would rather eat at a street side dhaba if I find the owner friendly and nice than dine at the best restaurant if the staff has an attitude problem, which is very common in India. On one occasion I remember the maître d’ smirking when I pronounced an Italian dish incorrectly! I did not react but the smirk was disturbing. Since that experience I make it a point to check the pronunciation of dishes on the web but I hate display of attitude where it is absolutely unnecessary!
Kebab Korner knows its PRgiri well, I am glad to say! The receptionist was quick to guide us to the lift. I noticed that they had got my name wrong which is not uncommon – earlier I have been called Hirani or Haarini- this time it was ‘Shahini’!
The maître d’hôtel, an affable Sardarji was obviously skilled in sensing the tastes of his customers and came up with some good suggestions for substitutes and served perfect vegan food that satisfied even my non-vegetarian friends. The men waiting at the tables were well-mannered, pleasant and attentive though I felt that the service was slower than at most other places. On a weekend I would not have noticed that but it was a weekday and we had to get back to work.
Other reviews point out the slowness but some refer to the staff as unfriendly. I felt the staff was reasonably amiable. We were there for lunch and not to stay, of course.
The ambience: 5/5 – Good music and sober decor.
Since it was afternoon and this being an upscale restaurant at Marine Drive, it was not even half-full. The tables were set wide apart giving us enough space to talk without resorting to whispers. We took a table next to the french windows that gave us a wide view of the Marine Drive promenade. I liked it better because that gave me good scope to get some nice photographs! The music was a soothing sitar instrumental. The air conditioner was set to the right temperature. I mention that in particular because I hate having to rub my arms to keep myself warm. I like feeling cool but not freezing cold! The decor deserves a special mention. It is just right for an official meeting with a client as well as to take your mother out. We did feel that the tables at the other end of the room looked a tad too sombre but our side was receiving a good bit of the afternoon warmth so it felt good. I liked the fabric flowers that had been knotted on to a spring and used as rings for the table napkins. I think I will try out a few for my home too. They are inexpensive and good looking a the same time. See?
The food – 6/5 (1 extra point for the sheer readiness to serve vegan food! Usually I am met with an apologetic look that says – so what can we do if you are vegan?). Otherwise great food.
The table setting – simple and nice. I liked the crockery used. It had stripes and was white and I am partial to both:D. I liked the cutlery used as well. I have been meaning to buy something similar but they come pretty expensive. It would be a waste since I have many and I don’t generally have parties at home – not the kind that would use a knife or fork, at least! We use Nature’s own fork – our fingers at home:).
We started with juices and a few starters. I asked for a cooler preferably something non-alcoholic as I had to return to work. The Sardarji said he would keep in mind and gave me a ‘adrak jeera sharbat‘ (Rs.215.oo) which was just what I needed. It was a basic pomegranate juice punched with a dash of lime and lightly spiced up with ginger and roasted cumin powder – wonderfully cool!
My friends, Deepa and Annie settled for ‘aam ka panna‘ (Rs.215.00) and affirmed that the concoction was just right.
On the menu card there are hardly any vegan dishes and the restaurant suffers from the most predictable Indian fixation – paneer or cream! Most dishes contain paneer or milk in some form or the other but the good thing about this restaurant was their readiness to come up with vegan custom made dishes. The choice was limited even otherwise, but a limited menu gives both the customer and the kitchen an advantage. The kitchen staff specialize in those signature dishes and the customers get tasty dishes rather than ‘one masala for all dishes’ formula adopted in middle-level restaurants.
As per Sardarji’s suggestion, I ordered a ‘subz nawabi seekh kabab’ (Rs.565.00).
The chef had kindly added a few portions of ‘stuffed tandoori aloo‘ to the seekh kababs for me to try out, when he learnt the diet preference. I really appreciate that! Both were made well, but it is the seekh kababs that were to die for. The insides were soft but had a slightly granular feel which I think was made of green peas, coarsely ground cashew apart from a few basic spices mixed with gramflour. They were skewered and grilled to perfection in a tandoor. 10/10 for this one, especially for the mildness and the almost no-oil look. The potatoes were crusty on the outside, stuffed with mashed potatoes and spices and rolled over a masala paste. I guess people who have a spicy tooth would have loved this one but its not something I would take again. I would prefer a dusting of chaat masala rather than the paste. Deepa and Annie ordered ‘Murgh Afghani’ (Rs.655.00), which they said was very good – just rightly cooked, not rare, not overdone and not excessively spicy.
Mains – Only biryani as there was no room for more!
Next we looked into the menu for rotis and subzi but the portions of ‘starters’ had been quite filling for three mild eaters so we decided to wind up with a biryani or pulao instead of stuffing ourselves too much. Remembering of course, that we did not have time for an afternoon siesta as work beckoned! The ‘subz biryani’ (Rs.695.00) was cooked ‘in dum’ meaning that the flavours of the spices were preserved by sealing the mouth of the vessel with a layer of wheat dough, and baked in the oven. Cooking this way looks and feels authentic. Deepa was the lucky one who was served immediately after the wheat layer was cut open and she got a heady whiff of spices that Annie and I were denied.
The biryani was made well, each grain long, aromatic and separate, few vegetables and mildly spiced. Sardarji again came to my rescue and said that usually the biryani was cooked in yogurt and ghee but this time he would ask the chef to use olive oil and omit the yogurt. Deepa is one big foodie and probably eats out more regularly than anyone else I know and even she could not make out the omission so what can I say?? The biryani was ‘laajawab’ meaning outstanding.
We skipped dessert for obvious reasons – we did not want to sleep at work!
My next halt is ‘bade miyan’ near Taj but I do not know when. Bade miyan opens up after 7’O Clock in the evening which means I will get home late. I think we will keep that for May and I will try and keep you posted on the restaurants I visit.
Did you like this review? What else would you expect from a review? Please leave your opinion. It is always criticism that draws out the best from me so feel free to criticize without malice!
BTW, I would go back to ‘kebab korner’ again despite that small complaint about slow service. In fact, it is perfect if you are planning to propose to your partner – lots of space, no intrusion, great food, soft ambience and so what if the service is slow, you want to get lost in your partner, right?
Areas for improvement:
Quickness in service required. They do not serve water unless asked to!!
Asset: The Sardarji
Price: Rs.2,880/-(Rs.2,560/- + taxes) not including the tip.