Skip to main content

Where there was Rain...

A few years ago, Bombay had a stylish watering hole called Rain. Set in the winding bylanes of Juhu, purposely obscure with no signboard in sight, this restaurant was a place where you would go not just to eat but to mingle, gawk and have a fabulous evening. Every time I spent an evening at Rain, I left with a special feeling that comes from perfect food, perfect ambience and perfect service (that grey haired uncle who would find you just the right table and the right drink).

Then, some two years back, Rain closed down, and someone replaced it with Café Penne. Gone were the brilliant frozen Red Eyes; my standard order of Cottage Cheese Tortillas & Mexican Corn Rice and the complimentary bread basket that had more appeal than anything I ever ordered on their menu. Instead, there was this slightly casual restaurant claiming to serve Italian food.

Penne took time getting it's act together. My first couple of visits were not disastrous but mediocre. So it was after a year and a half that I found myself at Penne again last week on a friend's insistence.

The restaurant has a large martini selection that turned out to be moderate to good – friend’s appletini was great and my esspressotini okay-ish. The appetizer (deep fried stuffed mushroom) had a delicate herb flavoring and came with an equally good dip. Breads could have been better; but they won me over with their Neapolitan Pizza. Thin, crisp and just perfect for folding over and eating like you would do in Italy.

And yet, Penne misses the buzz of Rain. Where there used to be a jostle to get to the bar, there is a mass of empty tables at prime dinner time. And I think I know why : good it may be, but fabulous it is not. Penne's biggest shortcoming is that it isn't Rain, and can never be!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Healthy Spinach Rice for Microwave Potluck Party

Is it really two years that Srivalli has been running her innovative microwave cooking event. She's prompted me to try my microwave for more than just heating several times. Just like last year, Srivalli celebrates the event anniversary with a potluck party. I took a dessert to the party last time around, but this time I was rooting for something healthier. I turned to last year's roundup, and there was this spinach rice. Valli, hope you don't mind getting the same dish on the menu again.

To make spinach rice, wash and soak 1/2 cup rice. In a microwave safe dish, heat a tsp of ghee for 30 seconds. Add 5-6 peppercorns and heat for another 10 seconds. Now add a small onion, chopped finely and microwave for another 30 seconds. Add a cup of finely chopped spinach, 1/2 a tsp of garam masala and another 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Add rice to the bowl, and a cup of water then pop it back in the microwave for 5 minutes. Bring it out and…

Tales of A Female Nomad

This month, our book club goes on a nomadic tour. We traveled with Rita Golden Gelman, a writer who sold everything she owned after the shock of a divorce and became a nomad. Not a tourist, because Rita stays away from everything that a tourist does and instead, tries to live the lives of people she visits.

From Mexico to Israel to Galapago Islands, Rita goes the way least traveled, always preferring to stay as a boarder with natives. And sometimes, going to places not even locals will go, places so secluded yet beautiful that Rita's description takes your breath away, urges you to become a nomad yourself.

Yet even nomads sometimes find their roots. Rita found hers in Bali where she spent eight years. Starting as a boarder with a prince, she eventually became a part of the family. I instantly knew I wanted to cook something Indonesian. I picked Nasi Goreng, the Indonesian fried rice.



There are as many recipes for Nasi Goreng as there are cooks. Some use tomatoes, others tamarind.…

The Bread Whisperer

What do an electrical engineer, a monk and an IT trainer have in common? These are all the things Abhilash was before he turned his attention to bread baking. Not the one to pick an easy path, Abhilash started with the most temperamental of breads - the sourdough - as his baking adventure. At first, he was baking these loaves for himself. Accolades from friends and family quickly followed and much to the delight of this writer, he turned his passion into a full time career six months back.

For the uninitiated, a sourdough bread is made by fermenting the dough with naturally occurring yeast, making it harder to perfect than the bread made with commercial yeast. The bread's signature tang and the open crumb, with lots of holes, is only made better with a high hydration dough that is super tricky to master. While extremely popular around the world, good sourdough is an elusive commodity in Mumbai and there are only a handful of bakers I would trust when I am looking for bread.

Thoro…