Review by frickinpunk

Spell-check doesn’t work today!
Now I’m a regular at the Galleria in Hiranandani, Powai and have seen it transform beautifully from a ho-hum and dead place into this modern day vivid and happening avatar. Most of the change can be attributed to the quality restaurants that have mushroomed in the last 2-3 years. This one is only a month old and already getting rave reviews. Let me ink mine.

I’m no admirer of the Arabs. I only like the way they’ve traded ‘black gold’ for money, wedded super-models, driven hummers, brought Amr Diab, Dubai and their SWFs on the world-map. Yet, their cuisine has always remained humble and unknown to the taste buds world-over. Health preferences and the great Middle-East influence have changed the picture, bringing the Hummus and Baba Ghanoush in the same frame as Noodles and Pizzas. This place does more than justice to the trend and welcomes the suburbs to another winner.
Difficult to locate and very small in size – this eatery is best visited at off-peak hours and with limited number of guests. The guys can manage only 12-15 pax inside and the waiting area is non-existent. We got lucky on a Sunday evening but the 20 odd newborn slaves of Levantine magic might have reluctantly done a take-away. The menu is clearly divided into the salads, hot appetizers, sandwiches, mains and drinks. We decided to follow the routine and ordered the Fattoush – garden veggie salad with fried pieces of flattened bread. Brilliantly herbed and super fresh, it made for an apt start. Next came the Manakeesh Zatter with the customary Tahini dip – made of ground sesame seeds; (here’s a suggestion for the guys there – you may need to redo the names for a few dishes. Zatter would sound better and authentic if called Za’atar; ditto for Baba Ghanoush. Nevertheless, the food shall still be the same sinful bit). I think this was the best of the lot we had. The za’atar spread on the bread gets you into another dimension altogether; this reminds me more of a traditional Marwari ‘choora’ of mint & kasuri methi sprinkled on hard bread. There are striking resemblances to Indian herbs here, but the mix and presentation make all the difference.
For mains, the veggie options (on the menu) get restricted to Arabic pizzas, paneer shawarma, shish tawook and a veg biryani. But most dishes can be customized for a vegan or vegetarian with suitable replacements. We tried the paneer shawarma; the classic non-veg version is shredded vegetables with a filling of meat or mixture of various meats tucked into pita bread. At first glance, this seems like another roll but I think the herbs again were at work and made every bite a sheer delight (did I just get plagiarism in me?). The tawook (taouk) is their version of tikka on a charcoal grill and can be avoided unless you’re a fan. I am!
The only disappointment came from the prices for the juices. Standalone, I won’t complain – but if your juices are priced at almost the same as your mains, maybe you’re overdoing it. However, we tried the laban (butter milk with dried mint leaves), which by origin is more Armenian than Arabic. This is another winning point here – there is no allegiance or bias towards Levantine food like other eateries have; Bistro Grill has a smart collection from other regions in and around Arabia. Some cappuccino and carrot-beetroot juice and we called for the cheque. Minimal damage for one of the best food I’ve had. Some 600 bucks for a four-course. And also if yoll have ladies that complain of your over-sized belly that requires extensions on the seat belt – this is the elixir. The food is frickin’ healthy and light.
Other suggestions – You just CANNOT not have Arabic music at a similar-theme restaurant. This makes me take away half a star; but I add an extra half for the great décor and more importantly – neatness for such a small joint. I strongly recommend a dine-in here rather than take-away or delivery; unless of course you prefer not to wait in queues that I bet shall only get longer!

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