2000 hours, Oct 23rd, 2015, Friday, Lokhandwala Complex:
Hard Rock is one of the world's most recognized and revered brand in the hospitality industry. With its various differentiated offerings like live performances, super food and drinks, and its fashion and music collectibles, it stands as a distinct identity in the milieu of other me toos. In India it has been ushered in by the Sanjay Mahtani - Jay Mehta JSM Group in 2005, the same group which has as many as eight brands (besides 29 outlets) under its belt. Having developed Hard Rock in six cities across India, JSM now operates some other famous brands such as Shiro, California Pizza Kitchen, Asilo, Pink Berry, Ginger Tiger, Plus 91, and The Big Kahuna.
I get to meet the Asst General Manager Mr Vasim Shaikh who incidentally, doesn't seem any less a rock star in his own right. Vasim has been with HRC since the last ten years, in fact being one of the first personnel to be associated with the brand. He seemed an authority on the place, regaling me with the history and the journey of the brand, and before departure, offering me a two cent tour of the place, specially the memorabilia section (Madonna, Tina Turner, U2 fashion statements, anyone?).
And I also learn that Vasim is progressing in life, moving off shores with the same brand. And hence I get to meet Shobesh Nair, the new Assistant General Manager of the place, who is equally enthusiastic about the brand. While in a tete a tete with him little did I know that his true enthusiasm would become evident only at the fag end of my journey. (Please check out the video clip on my blogsite).
HRC does not believe in a standard menu all round the year. They experiment with food, turn it upside down, give it newer hues and textures, celebrate a variety of festivals (Rocktoberfest at the moment) and do not shy away from innovation. The portions are king size, and the quality meticulous.
Our genie for the day was Feroz, a young lad who instantly evoked a bon homie around. He is a well informed person, and offers intelligent suggestions. And I also got to meet the Head Chef, Sandeep Mehrolia.
CARNIVAL FRIES: Whoa! The size of the platter made us nervous. We immediately raised a red flag. This was a generous portion of masala french fries tossed up with chicken sausage, mushroom and onion mix. Served with cheese sauce and tangy salsa on the side. And sprinkled with scallion and tomato bits. And what a super combination it was. We finished it between the three of us, to the last bit.
GRILLED FILLET: Tenderloin fillet marinated with fresh rosemary, olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices topped with a gob of white cheddar smash potatoes and homemade house gravy. Served with corn and exotic vegetables on the side. I am not a beef person, but I saw the brother relishing it completely.
TUPELO CHICKEN BREAST: Breaded boneless chicken breast tenders marinated mixed with chilli flakes and oregano, with barbeque sauce and honey mustard dip on the side. Deep fried yes, but what the heck. I gorged on gleefully.
MEXICALI BURGER: Mince pounded juicy chicken marinated with a mexi cali marinade. Hot chipotle puree. One of the yummiest stuff I have ever had.
KERALAN PRAWN CURRY: Southern curry, in a base of coconut milk, prepared with mustard cheese and curry leaves. Served with white rice and regular salad. Serving this in an all out American brand is a huge risk, and I wanted to test them on this. And boy, did they come out with flying colours! Not only the soft gobs of prawns were juicy, chewy and king sized, the slightly tangy, slightly spicy and slightly coconutty curry actually exhibited a deft hand behind it.
The accompanying drinks - a pomegranate based DOUBLE BERRY DELIGHT, and the-not-found-here-but-specially-made-for-me VIRGIN PINA COLADA - hit all the right chords too.
TRES LECHES: The sting in the tail was this Mexican dessert. Vanilla sponge cake and condensed milk infused with rum. Whipped cream, Kiwis and blue berries. Super, absolutely super.
HRC is a different world altogether. Its a whole combination of all the factors - the grandiose brand, the courteous and well informed staff, the fantastic music, the super food and drinks, and the breath taking mementos - which make the place special. To cap it, the impromptu YMCA show put up by the hosts was a marvellous sight and a memorable episode. I plan to return here soon.
The Food Quotient: Food Quality: 4.5/5, Food Choices: 5/5, Food Portions: 4/5, Food Presentation: 4/5
The Other Determinants: Location: 4 / 5, Cleanliness: 4 / 5, Warmth: 5 / 5
The Hygiene Factors: Ambiance: 4.5 / 5, Space Quotient: 4.5 / 5, Delivery Time: 4 / 5
The Conclusives: Pricing: 4/ 5, Honesty: 5 / 5, Overall Experience: 5 / 5, Will I visit Again: 5 / 5.
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