Monday, January 26, 2015

Review I The Pop Up

This is going to be a super short review only because I didn't spend as much time as I'd have liked to in a new restaurant and was in and out in about an hour.

Also it was an extremely depressing day - cold, grey and raining, and the dimly-lit interiors only depressed me further.

Let's start with what I liked about The Pop Up. The concept is such fun. A restaurant pops up in the middle of the city for 90 days and then either appears at another location. (Apparently it's going to Goa next). Which is why the minimalistic decor with strings and odds and end and old furniture only adds to the charm. I loved the chalkboards all over the restaurant and the brown paper mats. The menu is easy and quick - lots of grills, lots of veggies.

Here's what I didn't like about the place - the service. Pretty sad. I am normally not one to diss the service staff, but it was rather disappointing. I don't know how they managed this but they were inattentive and intrusive at the same, quite strange no? Oh and the dim lights at 12 noon. I mean,come on - either let the sun stream in or turn up the lights - otherwise it retains that sleazy Tonic (the bar that it replaced) feel.

The menu sounded so promising. But the food had its hits and misses.

As soon as you sat down a freshly baked bread and some tomato jam and chilli oil made its way to the table. So fab, I loved both the bread and the jam. And we went on to the meal almost immediately.

I loved the baked brie that arrived at my table first. It was delicious and gooey. Served with a portion of a greens on the side and some fig jam and some toasties, only thing missing was a nice drizzle of balsamic reduction. Otherwise it was just perfect.

Next up was the Chilli Chicken strip dusted with rice flour and served with a side of vegetables such as green bell peppers and spring onion. Highly highly missable. Yes, they were trying something different but the result was an extremely oily and overpoweringly spicy dish. The chicken strips were not crispy and with each bite you felt you were swallowing a teaspoon of oil.

We'd ordered a warm winter vegetable salad with Kalari Cheese (a ripened Kashmiri cheese). This was really quite delicious - caramelised carrots and sweet potatoes and even some yam. So yum! And it was warm, quite the thing to hit the spot.

For our mains we ordered the garlic risotto and the bacon and cheese doh'nut burger. We loved them both! The risotto was light and easy on the palatte and flavours of roasted garlic shone through beautifully.

But the star of the afternoon was definitely the burger - a savoury doughnut stuffed with creamy chicken and dusted with bacon bits and parmesan. Honestly to-die-for. The doughnut in itself soft and chewy and had a hint of sweetness which made it quite delicious. Oh and the thick cut fries. Just perfect.

It was so good, that we ended up ordering the vegetarian version of the same  - with mushrooms and that did not let us down at all.

Finally, dessert time - we ordered the carrot cake and the berry crumble with ice cream. A word of advice for those who love carrot cake - DO NOT ORDER HERE, It was perhaps the worst possible cake I've ever eaten. It was burnt, fallen and eggy - and I have no idea why in the world the chef would send something like this out.

The berry crumble was soooo much better. It had lovely tart berries masked in a crisp of the crumble and served with Vanilla ice cream it was so delicious.

Here's what I have to say to the peeps at The Pop Up. I know you're here for a short while, but please please pay attention to the basics. The goodwill will go a long way.

For others, go to The Pop Up for a fancy sounding menu and SOME good food. Otherwise catch it in Goa, where I think it'll be sunnier and so much nicer.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Baking I One Pot Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Have you ever felt this overwhelming need to bake? Or just create something that gives you instant gratification?

I have. And very often because I'm running super short on time, I just want to bung everything into a bowl and just get it all done and over with from start to finish in under ten minutes.

The thing is, somedays I crave a good old fashioned cake so bad, that I have to do with watching an old Nigella Lawson episode or find one with Heston Blumenthal. Other days, I am content just stirring the pot and making something yummy to eat on the stove.

But there are some days where I just have to get something into that oven. With barely anytime to spare I am looking at doing something quickly. Super quickly.

This cake is something like that. It all starts with some buttermilk. And if you don't have buttermilk handy in the house, with some milk and vinegar. All you have to do is stir in all the liquids together and top with all the dry ingredients and give it a quick whisk. Pour into a tin, bake while you watch a rerun of a soap and by the time you know it, the cake will be done.

There's only one piece of advice that I will give about this cake. Use good quality oil. If possible use Olive Oil versus any other kind, but regular cooking oil will also work.

Oh and don't over mix - otherwise you'll end up with a very dense cake - just some light mixing will do. And then a bit of love to make it an amazingly moist easy to eat yet decadent cake.

One Pot Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Serves 8


1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup hot water
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips


1. Take a large bowl and add the milk and vinegar in it. Let it stand for five minutes while you collect the rest of the ingredients.
2. Add the egg into it along with the vanilla and oil.
3. Add hot water.
4. Throw in all the dry ingredients and whisk well once.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Pour into a prepared pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 180 degree in a pre-heated oven for 40 to 45 minutes,
7. Cool and frost as per your hearts desire