Friday, July 23, 2010

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Hangout - A Gourmet Bonanza!

When I was planning to go out for lunch today with one of my colleagues, little did I know that I was in for a Gourmet Bonanza!
My friend took me to a small and lesser known food joint called "The Hangout" in Belapur, Navi Mumbai near my office. Even though the name sounds pretty cool and hip, let me remind you that its just a small food joint where college people "Hang out!" .

In fact, earlier this place was called "Mostly Liquids" and was a juice-cum-mocktail bar! but due to a positioning mismatch and poor response, they later aligned it to the target customers' needs (college students) and revamped it to an Oriental food joint thus, "The Hangout"
So, here goes the review:

1. Ambience (First Impression isn't always the last impression):

The ambience was not very impressive, which I wasn't even expecting for, but the fact that it was spic-n-span was a comfort for my hygiene quotient.
There were around 8 of 4-seater tables, out of which only 3 were occupied when we walked in. There were two sections of the restaurant, one was the indoor A.C. section while the other was the outdoor seating arrangement section, which was dysfunct thanks to the merciless Mumbai rains!
Wimbledon match was being aired on the sole 21" TV perched on top of a big almirah at one of the corners, with the A.C.'s water leaking on top of it! There were frequent power-cuts during or meal, which added to some discomfort since there was no power back up option installed.

My Rating: 6/10

2. Customer Service (Not Applicable ;D):

The only waiter available was one of the most confused guys I have ever come across; the first dish I enquired about drew a blank from his side and I had to urge him to get some info about it from the chef and this process went on until we finalized upon our menu.
Then started the wait for our order to arrive. We were so irritated with the waiting time and the power cut that we decided to take a stroll outside while our order was brought. Finally, the food arrived after 20 long minutes! To put a cherry on the top(just an expression, please don't take it in the literal sense), the waiter dropped some of the food in my soft drink glass (and they expect a tip after such pathetic service!!)
Finally when we presented a credit card for bill payment, guess what! they don't accept cards (WTF! man and they talk of plastic money & smart cards!!)

My rating: 4/10

3. Food (Worth taking all the troubles!)

Well, on our way to the restaurant, my friend had described it as a Thai food joint, which I later found out as a complete tangent observation. Rather, after going through the menu I found it to be a mix of some Oriental cuisines with a few Thai delicacies thrown in. Since we didn't have much time at our hand, we did not go for an elaborate multi-course lunch but stuck to a rather simple lunch of a starter, a main course and some soft drinks to go with it.
So finally what we ordered was: Korean Chicken (starters), Chicken Pot Rice Peri Peri & Soft drinks (A 500 ml pet bottle of cola).
Now, when we were expecting an anti-climax, the chef thankfully proved us wrong. The food tasted heavenly, with the tender chicken morsels melting in mouth and the aroma of the herbs was out of the world. Even though the quantity wasn't much, but was just enough for two persons to have a decent fill.
While ordering the pot rice, I was thinking whether the chef even knew what Peri Peri meant, but the first spoonful of the sinful rice made me correct my thoughts. This chef really knows his job and we should not let the waiter's incompetence fool you into believing otherwise like me. In fact I was so overwhelmed with the food that I dared compare it with my favorite restaurant "5 Spice". Though this David cannot slay the Goliath, but then no one's expecting it to do so also. "5 Spice" definitely is way ahead of "The Hangout" on all the parameters but for food, where "The Hangout" has managed to Hangout to a very very close 2nd position. And for the foodie in me, as long as you give me good food, I care a damn for the Ambience, Customer Service or any other external factor!!! Hope the food-junkies out there would surely be able to relate with what I am saying.

My Rating: A very high 8.5/10

4. Pricing (Decent):

The prices were not dirt cheap, but were very decent, considering the target customer base of college students with most of the dishes priced in the range of Rs. 80/- to Rs. 100/- and the dishes ordered by use were in the highest bracket. Our bill details were as follows:

Korean Chicken (starters) - Rs. 85/-
Chicken Pot Rice Peri Peri (main course) - Rs. 165
Soft drinks (A 500 ml pet bottle of cola) - Rs. 30/-

Total Bill amount: Rs. 280/-

The only problem is that they accept only Cash. So, if you are planning to visit, keep some dough with you.

My Rating: 7/10

Overall Rating: 7/10

Caution: This place is not for fitness freaks, but for those who have a taste for junk will simply love it!