Bloggers….. What is your profession? Food Food Food Food!
Sounds like a cheesy rip and replace from King Leonidas’ rousing monologue in the movie 300 no.
But then again, when a zoman warrior, accompanied by his ilk lay siege to a blogger’s table, the sight is nothing short of an epic battle scene.
Unsung heroes of the blogging world coming face to face with seriously large amounts of food, in the higher interest of giving the masses a recommendation. A heroic tale worthy of Homer’s Illiad.
While the zoman warrior has his lovely damsel for company on most quests, this account is slightly different. Relieved, that her services weren’t needed on this particular quest, my damsel handed me my zoman weapon (phone) and sent me packing to the rendezvous point.
Arriving at the scene, the zoman warrior was quickly acknowledged by the leader of the zoman army. A seasoned and truly guiltless foodie, she quickly assembled the blogger army that had gathered, and before we knew it……. The quest had begun!!!
And this, my good zomans….. Is how we went to Grand Thali, for a blogger’s table event.
End of self-gloating fantasy warrior story. Begin Review
Last Friday, saw the zoman warrior being invited by Nishkala & Arvind, notoriously known as the Guiltless Foodies, for a blogger’s table event hosted by the Grand Thali folks at Tip Top Plaza. While, food is always the core agenda of such gatherings, hanging out with a bunch of like-minded peeps and often heard twitter handles, is an awesome side-effect of the event. And this event saw both those agenda items ticked off perfectly.
Someone, somewhere has spent a considerable amount of time in doing this place up. Yes, there’s a hotel where this place is at, and the hotel specializes in quite the posh weddings. So you’d be in your right mind to assume that the ambiance should be commensurate, but I quite liked it beyond this consideration as well. There’s that premium feel to the whole place and the restaurant is quite huge. The seating is comfortably laid out and doesn’t seem very tightly packed, adding a posh feel to the place.
ME SAYS. FEELING GRAND ALREADY!
A zoman warrior knows battle trained skills when he sees them and thali restaurant servers in most places are the ninjas of the F&B world. The servers at Grand Thali whizzed around our table dishing out food faster than the speed of light and with their hand gesture codes for various menu items, they’re a sight to watch in action.
Being a part of a blogger’s table has its own perks in terms of the treatment you are meted out. The GM and RM of the place were constantly around to see to it that we were force fed like geese bred for foie gras and every query that a curious food blogger might have was dealt with in a manner akin to Rahul Dravid batting on the second day of a test match.
ME SAYS. IF CUSTOMER SERVICE IS A DRUG, THESE GUYS SURELY SNORT SOME OF IT BEFORE EVERY SHIFT. THEY’RE PERPETUALLY HIGH ON IT!!!
We were introduced to the exe chef and chef Kunal who does the fusion part of the thali, before they started doing that wow number on our taste buds.
The thali we sampled had over 30 items in it. Even a small sampling of the lot could leave you gasping for air. Only a seasoned palette, the likes of the zoman, can stand toe to toe with this thali behemoth.
They started us off with mocktails which were quite nice although I don’t recollect their names
The Grand Thali take on a dhokla’ish dish. Didn’t like this one bit. I thought it was simply too moist and a little bit on the saltier side for my taste.
I was told, this dish is made similar to how wada is made in khopoli. A very thin coat of batter and a near about white stuffing inside that had a wonderful touch of garlic in it. Fried to golden perfection and served piping hot. This dish was a total delight.
A good dahi wada, but certainly not the best one or even close to it. The dish had all the elements that a good dahi wada calls for. Soft and spongy wada, perfectly sweet and sour yoghurt, and the right tempering that goes into the whole thing. Somehow it didn’t seem to stand out over other dahi wadas of the world.
CHEESE CORN BALLS
Cheesy little spheres of awesomeness these were. I quite loved how these were made. The right amount of balance in the stuffing, perfectly done seasoning, and fried to crispy golden perfection. This was one of the best dishes in the thali if I were forced to pick favorites.
While this dish was quite good, it sort of paled in comparison to its competition. The paneer was soft, fresh, and cooked to perfection. The gravy, was rich and creamy but lacked spice.
ALU PALAK RAJWADI
This was the one dish I disliked the most. I couldn’t figure out what it tasted like and the potato and spinach components of the dish didn’t look like they fit in together at all.
Im not a huge fan of anything aubergine, but this dish had me converted. From now on, I will never pass up an opportunity to have bharleli wangi. That is how good this dish was. The aubergines were perfectly cooked and the nuttiness of the gravy was wonderful. Totally loved this.
Picking favorites is not a thing this zoman warrior is much accustomed to, but serve me a dish like this and I am yours forever. Hands down, one of the best veggie dishes I have come across in a long while. I absolutely, thoroughly, and totally loved this. The broad beans were cooked so perfectly that were solid when you saw them, but would melt like cream the moment they’re in your mouth. The spice level was mild and the dish was so aromatic, I’d take a sniff before putting every morsel in my mouth.
3) INDIAN BREADS
They served us PURIS, PHULKAS, and a different take on a PARATHA, as breads to go with the grub. Must say, nothing out of the ordinary and worth elaborating on. But all the variants were nice nonetheless
Another same old same old pulav, albeit with a posh name. Just about your typical pulav with a good dose of veggies tossed in it. Tasted good though
Absolute bloody creamy goodness glooped onto your plate. That would be my 1 liner for this dish. Instantly coated my palette with a creamy goodness that only a marriage of rice and lentil can provide. Much like a warm peck on the cheek from my damsel, after a cold winter’s day.
Take the plain khichdi mentioned above and throw in some masala into it. Seemed like a dish with no extra effort going into it. If it wasn’t for the additional helping of khichdi I had, this dish had the propensity to ruin the evening for me. Lucky me, it didn’t!
I think I took an opinion poll from everyone at the table and we agreed unanimously that this was a really fantastic dish. Creamy lentil stew with a wonderful tempering of spices. I cannot get more British than this, but this masala dal I tell you. Absolutely wonderful
More like the Maharashtrian varan, this was a slightly sweet preparation. It is good for drinking along with your meal if the spice level begins to climb higher, but I wasn’t a huge fan of them adding peanuts to the fare.
My apologies to my gujju brethren, but this is one dish I have never really enjoyed. To me it feels like, someone was asked to make a stew, but instead decided to make dessert. In the end when the outcome horribly messed up, they decided to serve it nonetheless as gujarati kadhi. Consequentially, I didn’t like this on the Grand Thali menu either.
6) FUSION MANTRA
An intriguing touch, serving Chinese and Italian fare along with an Indian thali. But surprisingly, I really liked it. I mean it had its hits and misses, but overall….. Nice Touch
Both the pastas ARRABIATA and ALFREDO were decent. If this were Prego or Quattro, I’d expect more. But serve me Italian like this in a thali restaurant and I’m a happy camper.
The VEG SUPREME PIZZA was actually quite a surprise. I mean I was expecting a really bad pizza, but wound up eating a really nice one. I would any day pick this over the crap they serve at Dominos’ and the likes. But of course, from a pizza point of view, it seemed quite indianized.
SCHEZWAN NOODLES & VEGGIES IN GREEN PEPPER SAUCE. Like a horrible marriage where you have a supermodel of a noodle being forcefully betrothed to a really ugly green pepper sauce gravy. If you get the analogy, you’ll get the fact that the noodles were really amazing, while the gravy was something I’d pass off even if I was hungry.
Imagine a game of poker and yourself being dealt a pair of aces. The flop that is then dealt brings up another pair of aces. That’s 4 of a kind aces. A hand that you’d basically win everything with. The dessert fare at Grand Thali was pretty much like the situation I described.
Shame on my Kashmiri genes that I never had this before. Luckily, my first flirt with the dish had to come in the awesomeness of this one. Beautifully balanced sweetness, with a rich helping of ghee, and wonderfully roasted walnuts. Cannot get more premium than this.
Another well churned out offering on the dessert menu. Rich, creamy, and perfectly sweet
India is a country where the best gulab jamun is something you can search for decades but not find an answer to. The options are countless and each one is excellent in their own right. Let’s us leave this one on that parting thought as well
We somehow stuffed this down after a walk around the entire place and I guess none of us could really appreciate how good this was. Definitely pale in comparison to the rest of the desserts, but a winner nonetheless.
ME SAYS. BURRRRRPPPPPPPP!
Priced at Rs 475 plus taxes, it seems a little premium. But the quality and the range of the menu does justice to the price tag. Then again, any decent place you’d go to would probably cost you the same if not more. So there’s not much to complain about anyway.
ME SAYS. LOOKS AND TASTES POSH, COSTS POSH TOO!
When the zoman army marches on to a quest, it conquers everything on its way. We did end up doing the same here as well, but the amount of stuff they served us made our quest a difficult one. With their premium’ish ambiance, amazing staffers, and a hit fusion formula on their hands, I am sure a lot of good stuff is in store for these guys.
For the peeps in Thane this is a definite must visit and for the townie or suburban populace, a trip to Thane that includes dinner can certainly have this as a part of the itinerary.
AMBIANCE – 4 / 5
FOOD – 4.5 / 5
SERVICE – 4.5 / 5
PRICE – 3.5 / 5
Grand Thali, Hotel Tip Top Plaza, Near Check Naka, Opposite Raheja Gardens, LBS Marg, Naupada, Thane West.
NB: This was a bloggers table event organized by Nishkala & Arvind of the Guiltless Foodies Fame (https://guiltlessfoodies.wordpress.com/) and the zoman warrior was hosted by the Grand Thali Restaurant at Hotel Tip Top Plaza