Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Coffee Culture–The hip, trendy joint

IMG00589-20110415-2058I'm thinking loud music. I'm thinking hep youngsters. I'm thinking teenagers with fancy hairstyles and flashy clothes. I'm thinking watching cricket on the big screen. I'm thinking trendy couches. I'm thinking Coffee Culture.

Coffee Culture – the latest, hip youth hangout place in Surat. Coffee Culture happens to be an all vegetarian and a little expensive eating joint located opposite Sargam Complex. The foodie Suratis don’t seem to be minding this as I always find the place full, especially with teenagers.

Coffee Culture boats of a huge range of hot and cold coffees, mocktails, pastas and pizzas. Their coffees are nice. Don’t miss their interesting non-alcoholic mocktails. They keep the orginal names like Mojito, Dead Woman Walking and Pinacolada, but it is obvious that they are all virginDSC00191 drinks. I’ve tried their Mojito and fell in love with it instantly. Mojito is a lemon and mint drink which acts like a superb refresher, especially in this hot, humid weather.

I called over a small group of friends there for a get together and we had an excellent time ordering drinks and snacks at leisure, while watching the IPL on the big screen. In case the group is big, you can order a particular drink in their pitcher (in the pic). It looks beautiful (as does the rest of their crockery) and is quite fun. We ordered 2 Indian flavoured pizzas (Punjabi Addiction & Desi Culture) and a continental one (Farmhouse Feast). I cannot decide which amongst them was the best. The Desi pizza had garlic and peas topping, apart form the usual paneer, onion, capsicum and tomatoes. We were left longing for more. I strongly recommend their pizzas.

I did find the place a tad expensive. With a group of 7 people, we got a bill of Rs. 2,500, which is a bit too much for a coffee joint. I recommend this place for couples or trios, intending to spend easy time without ordering much. Maybe, just a coffee or a drink. Definitely not a place to give treats at!

Well, they also have a small room for kids or group parties.IMG00588-20110415-2034
This is a fun place catering to tastes of all age groups. Come to this place and you will be infused with vibrancy and zest.

Average price per person, in case you go for coffee / drinks only, would be Rs. 150. In case you like to order food too, price may go upto Rs. 350/400.

I would categorize Coffee Culture as a lavish coffee joint but worth each penny. Perfect for a once-in-a-while visit.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Real Taj of Restaurants

Dinner at Taj - always gives a plush, prestigious feel. Taj is still considered to be an expensive affair, meant only for the rich and glamorous. A meal at Taj may still be considered as an illustration of extravagant living. Well, it definitely is good to spoil oneself once in a while. In my case, it has started happening a little more than ‘once in a while’, though.

My love for food and the wide plethora of food offered at Taj is what pulls me there again and again. Any celebration has to be at Taj. Well, eating out without any reason also happens at Taj frequently. I hit Taj Gateway, Surat recently, on occasion of my birthday, and had a memorable meal.

DSC00162I started off my meal with the juice of the day called Fruit nectar. It was a mixed juice with heavy flavour of pineapple and passion fruit. I decided to head for salads, before taking the second helping of Fruit Nectar, as the salads looked very inviting. Cold Chicken and Fish salad, Pineapple and Mayonnaise salad, Bean salad, Brazilian Veg salad, Chicken Hawaiian salad could be had by adding salad dressings and oils like Rosemary oil, Basil oil and Thousand Island dressing. I could easily ignore the main course and go on with salads.

Before the main course, there were soups and pastas to try. Various types of plain and flavoured breads and croissants can be had with soups. The Chole-Aloo chat got me hooked on to it. I didn’t even want to leave out the 4 types of raitas and pickles there.

Pastas are made to order. You can ask for vegetarian or non-vegetarian pasta in sauce of your choice. We ordered for a veg pasta in red sauce (in the pic) and it was heavenly.

Though I am a non vegetarian food lover, I found the vegetarian dishes interesting. Vegetables in green Thai curry. Spicy Noodles, Mixed vegetables cooked in Avadhi style, Brinjals cooked in South Indian style were some of the dishes I couldn’t say No to. One of the up sides of Taj is that it caters to all kinds of tastes – Various national specialities, Asian and European. No wonder, you see Gujaratis, North Indians, Muslims, Japanese and Europeans regularly flocking into the place in good numbers.

Main course included fish in white sauce, Chicken in Sarso Saag, Lamb Masala, Hakka Noodles and Singaporean Noodles. I wish I could eat more. But I was already full and we were yet to attack the desserts.

Desserts. My favourite part of the buffet. Taj always offers around 10 variety of unique desserts during each buffet. This time they had Pineapple Crumble, Doodhi Halwa, Lemon Soufle (in the pic), Mango Blueberry Mousse (in the pic), Strawberry Burfi, Strawberry Swiss Pie, Rasgulla (my favourite), Kiwi Catalana (in the pic) and Chocolate Cheesecake.


I didn’t even know unique combinations such mango and blueberry make up such wonderful, yummy foods. My tummy were at the optimum level by this time and I could eat no more. Alas. All good things come to an end.

Taj Gateway is a spacious, peaceful, elegant place witnessed by the upper crust crowd of the city. A buffet at Taj means a getaway from the usual, daily humdrum and to rejuvenate. The staff is courteous and you are sure to have an undisturbed, balmy time here.

Buffet dinner costs Rs. 650 per head.

I am already waiting for the next occasion when I can celebrate at Taj.

The Mouthwatering Food of Surat

If you are a foodie and love Indian food, Surat should come on top of your list. Surat is known for things other than its flourishing diamond and textile industry too. The variety of the foodstuff here will amaze you. From Gujarati specialities to Bombay pav bhaji, Surat offers it all. Suratis are crazy foodies. Even if you are not an outdoor person, the enthusiasm and energy of Suratis will rub off on you.

Surat is essentially a vegetarian place. Here reside people who do not even consume eggs and then, there are the Jains, who do not consume anything with onions and garlics in it. There are very few restaurants offering non vegetarian food.

But Surati food preparation will make you non vegetarian lovers leave non veg aside for a while (believe me; I am saying it with experience). The yummy silk khaman, the buttery paranthas, cheesy sandwiches, the malai kulfis, the delectable ice golas, the adorable golgappas, the array of chats from Delhi and Rajasthan, the variety of handvos – I bet you won’t be able to select just one dish. You will be enticed to overeat!

Sunday rush at the popular chat place, GanghaurSurat offers some Surati specialities like Lochu (A paste made of gram flour and flavoured with garlic and other spices, served with Oil and coriander chutney). Try Lochu at Jani Farsan (Opp. Sargam Complex, Parle Point) and the variety of chats and kulfi at Gangor, God Dod road.

Saturday and Sunday are peak crowd days. No one stays at home on weekend evenings! People troupe out in huge groups– to eat, to socialize and to roam around generally. From the Kamrej Chowk (where the highway starts) till Magdalla (the other end of the city), each thela, ice ream parlour, dhaaba and restaurant is crowded, with people waiting outside for their turn. Surat is probably the only city, after Bombay probably, where people flock in even at 11:00 pm in restaurants.

Here exists a unique practice which I call ‘Footpath eateries’. I don’t think this system exists anywhere else in our country. On both sides of the Surat-Dumas road, in Piplod area, are lined with people sitting on footpaths and eating. The footpath is lined with several hawkers selling paranthas, pav bhaji, corn, sandwiches and frankies. The hawkers spread chatai in front of their thelas for their customers. If not, people just bring their own food DSC00157and have it there. I had never tried this before but wanted to experience it. And I did so recently; though on a weekday, when the crowd was scanty. And I assure you, you are going to love the experience of sitting on the wide footpath, the shiny lights of Iscon Mall, Big Bazaar and Chroma gleaming over you and cars zipping past. This is a strict don’t-miss if you are visiting Surat. You cannot leave from Surat without experiencing the footpath eateries.

You will find the hawkers to be gracious, cheerful and kind. They actually enjoy feeding people. One such paranthas hawker gave us an extra parantha by mistake and refused to charge us for it. Not only did we eat the extra parantha, we also paid him the full money. After all, his paranthas are to die for.

The foothpath attracts joint families (I needen’t mention joint families specially, because Suratis ALWAYS travel with their extended families) and college kids.

Suratis are generous, warm and energetic. There is a lot to learn from them. Visit these eateries, especially during the weekends, to see how Suratis enjoy. No one does it better than them!


263 kms from Bombay
255 kms from Ahmedabad
Regular trains run between Ahmedabad and Bombay, the 2 commercial capitals of 2 important states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Popular food rates:

Lochu (per plate) – Rs. 50
Parantha (per plate. Curd, chutney, pickle complimentary) – Rs. 40
Handvo (per plate) – Rs. 40-60
Malai Kulfi – Rs. 40
Chats (per plate) – Rs. 30 - 60