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America's ode to Italy

Anamika Butalia | Print Edition: June 12, 2011

Since its launch in India, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has opened new outlets around office spaces. The first one was set up last year in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) while the newest property is in High Street Phoenix (HSP). Both have but a small percentage of residences in the immediate vicinity. Another similarity is that both outlets accommodate 180-covers at a time. CPK HSP seems larger due to the undivided indoors while CPK BKC has an indoors and an al fresco seating arrangement. The allwood interiors at HSP lend a grown-up look and feel to the diner and on weekdays, not surprisingly, one sees many business suits enjoying a pizza.

The layout of the diner is very clean. It showcases an open kitchen which is divided by a long bar counter, and the rest of the diner has more comfortable booths than tables. The chain has its origins in Beverly Hills, California but CPK's menu is like a tour of popular culinary destinations like Italy, Mexico and even Thailand. The Thai Crunch Salad is an interesting mix of ingredients like shredded Napa cabbage and julienne carrots along with grilled chicken, crispy wontons and peanuts. These are tossed with limecilantro and Thai peanut dressings and give the salad a wholesome flavour. Don't miss the Baja Fish Tacos. Although sauteed fish is rarely ever added to tacos, this innovation is delicious. The hummus appetiser is delectable and has a new twist, with the addition of soya sauce in it.

The original BBQ Chicken Pizza (regular crust) seemed to leave a lot more of the BBQ sauce taste on one's palette than necessary. But the Pepperoni Supremo made in Italian pomodoro sauce with pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh herbs kept its top spot by being as aromatic and flavourful as expected. The Chicken Asada is unmistakably the Indian-addition on the menu and the only one at that. Its toppings include grilled chicken, fireroasted mild chillies, onions, cilantro pesto and mozzarella, and it is served with a side of roasted tomato salsa.

The pizzas can be teamed with flavoured Italian soda (raspberry makes for a fine choice), a beverage unique to CPK. Desserts available here are regulars like tiramisu, cheesecake, brownies and chocolate cake. Food apart, their selection of teas is truly fantastic.

CPK has what it takes to hold its own despite sharing Phoenix's premises with some of the most regularly visited restaurants in the city like Indigo café, ManU café, Canvas and Gajalee. The only flipside to its location--parking woes and the mad rush of people to this mill compound which is a popular somethingfor-everyone shopping destination.
 
Meal for two: Approximately Rs 1,200 without liquor.
Address: High Street Phoenix, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai.
Phone: 022-65558888
 

A tryst with soul food
Tryst MusiCafe has what it takes to become the friendly neighbourhood hangout for foodies in Delhi.

Anushree Basu

If one restaurant succeeds at an upscale shopping destination, expect a whole bunch to mushroom sooner than you can say hungry. The newest and possibly the busiest eatstreet in Delhi, with a line up of Spice Market, Punjab Grill, Orange Hara, Sattvik, and Aquum, is feeding hungry shoppers visiting the malls in Saket. Tryst MusiCafé is the newest addition to this list. That it toes the line of a young and trendy lounge bar with comfort food and live music seems to have worked in its favour.

Step inside and you will find a live band belting out some regular Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi numbers (they ought to work on their playlist). To your right, there's a huge projector screen dishing out the live telecast of the day's IPL match. Take a seat on one of the comfortable white sofas that go well with white wainscoted walls and chandeliers in glass frames.

My meal began with a rather delightful yet not a very filling starter. Seven-a chef's speciality-is a combination of cacik, mumara, ranch, hummus, green garlic mayo, peanut dip and cheddar cream, served along with pita and cucumber batons.

Up next is Cognac Garlic Prawns that were tender and lived up to their name. Calorie watchers can feast on the restaurant's wide variety of salads; I sampled the Tryst Caesar with chicken and anchovies that were fresh and flavourful. The restaurant's signature dish, Tryst Special Jamaican Jerk Chicken served with tomato basil rice is fiery, so stay away if you can't handle the hot stuff. The chicken's taste and texture is spot on, and this dish is an easy winner for those who like spice in their dishes. The Spaghetti Rust Rusty Rustica with grilled veggies, jumbo garlic slices, olives, parmesan, and chilli flakes failed to make an impression.

A gold leaf-wrapped Motichoor is clearly an Indian accompaniment to the desi offerings by the restaurant and is served hot and mean. The homemade Tiramisu, while edible, could have been a tad richer in texture. Overall, Tryst MusiCafé is experimental and unpretentious; much like a soulful meal from mum's kitchen.

Meal for two: Rs 2,000 plus taxes sans alcohol.
Address: Salcon Ras Villas Mall, Behind Select City Walk, Saket, New Delhi.
Phone: 011-462911391
 
Second innings
Chutney-Bar and Tandoor at The Metropolitan Hotel flatters with its presentation but falters with the food.

Anushree Basu

After working on a facelift for several months, The Metropolitan Hotel has pumped some much needed zing into its look, feel, and taste. Its restaurants too, after an image overhaul, have been completely revamped. The latest to join the league is Chutney-Bar and Tandoor. This Indian restaurant on the ground floor now possesses the hotel's only bar. It is a compact space with cubicles and minimal décor in wood and muted tones; light, breezy curtains over a wooden mesh frame separate the bar from the restaurant area. A very relaxing space.

The new menu is sharper, with a focus on grills. Chutney, as the name suggests, is as much about the accompaniment as the food itself. At the restaurant, I am told, they make over 200 varieties of chutneys. On my table there was a good spread of hearty coriander, mild mint and yogurt, and pretty papaya chutneys to be savoured with th papads (crispies) as I waited for my starters.

The Sunehri Macchi ( a buttery sole topped with spinach paste), Samundari Leher (grilled king prawns in tomato and chilli batter garnished with red and yellow bell peppers), Rasooli Tikka (creamy chicken tikka), and Paneer Tikka are delicate and delectable. But Kankar Seekh (seasonal vegetables wrapped with lentils) was too dry and lost in comparison. The Zaffrani Murgh soup too was watery and mediocre to merit a mention.

As hope dwindled, redemption came in the form of the main course. The Chutney Dum Biryani can easily be called the high point of a meal here. The biryani comes wrapped in a tandoori roti and is dumcooked. The restaurant gets full brownie points for presentation and of course the flavours.

I wrap up my meal with an Angoori Paan and Shaahi Tukda-safe bets as desserts-for a sweet finish. Overall, Chutney's a great place to dine, but the menu needs to keep up with the decor.
 
Meal for two: Rs 2,500 without liquor.
Address: The Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi.
Phone: 011-42500200.

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