Bungalow 9 (Bandra, Mumbai)

“Can you tell me a little bit more about the baked camembert please, Sir?”

“It’s a cheese” the waiter informs me as if revealing some profound inner working of the universe.

For those who have read my other reviews, you can probably guess where this is heading…I’m now sitting none the wiser about the baked Camembert, but to be a sport, I proceed in good faith.

Four small pieces of cheese arrive with enough crackers and block of Cranberry jelly to feed the Chinese Army. This is a gesture more skinflint than my ancestors who use to fill up guests with cheap starch (the Yorkshire puddings) before judiciously serving the good stuff: the meat course. I appreciate imported produce is expensive, but recently a number of excellent artisan Indian cheese producers have sprung up. With risk of labouring the point like a Steve Ballmer speech, it’s all about “sourcing, sourcing, sourcing , sourcing, sourcing, sourcing”.

I do question the sourcing at Bungalow 9: is that really Yorkshire Belly Pork on the menu at 700 INR? I guess that refers to, in the most truthful case, the rearing of large White pigs locally rather than ones free to roam the open country side of the Yorkshire Moors, snorting “Heathcliff, Heathcliff”. Likewise the Moroccan Paneer Pita Pockets are far from the description, paneer in chewy bread with an unidentifiable green dip on the side (80 INR at Carter’s Blue for similar gruel…)

The Cottage Cheese “Steak” gave me a frightening flashback to one of my 3 worse plates of food I have ever been served. I was a precocious eleven year old back then on a family holiday in Diano Marina, North West Italy. Each evening, the food in this wallet friendly hotel was wheeled around a 100 cover restaurant on a silver trolley and spooned out to diners like inmates on Shutter Island. On this occasion, I’d settled for an egg and ham “bomb”. To briefly describe the atrocity, it was a wobbly congealed scramble of luke warm egg and acrid, smokey processed ham, with a crusty layer from sitting on the trolley. The paneer steak at Bungalow 9 had a similar strangely congealed texture (perhaps from mixing with other fillers?) and a crusty (do not read “crispy”) outter layer.

Why am I telling you all this all?

For me, reviewing restaurants is a carthatic process. Some like to confide experience in friends, some like the brown leather couch of a psychiatrist (think Sopranos) but I prefer notepad and pen. We all need some avenue for expression.

Why should you listen to it?

I might just help you avoid costly food made without pride and without love.

“Be good to the lad that loves you true… whistle and I’ll be there.”

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