Mostly Grills – The Orchid Hotel (Andheri, Mumbai)

Mostly Grills screams “cheap package holiday”. I can ‘t help but think this is the sort of struggling roof top bar that would not look out of place on a strip in the Canary Islands, think Playa de las Americas (Tenerife) or Puerta Del Carmen (Lanzarote). I am talking about the type of joint that plays occasional host to the most unsophisticated, football-shirt wearing hooligans who might take their fake-tanned wrinkly wives on their day off from necking pints of beer and ingesting whatever bar snacks they can get their grubby mittens on (yes I talk about my fellow, predominantly Caucasian, countrymen).

Bar snacks? Yes, Mostly Grills has wheeled out a bowl of peanuts and fried potato puffs before I have had barely a chance to sit down. It’s been a long time since I have seen a bowl of salted peanuts before a meal. Apart from the outright uncouthness of eating peanuts before dinner, which I happily do by the way, it is a great ploy to get guests to drink more! I’m already two diet Pepsi’s down before the menu arrives and my dining partner is already scouring the drinks menu for a “wash-me-down”.

They have tried to inject a bit of life into the venue with a singer doing karaoke tracks and have accordingly placed some coloured par lights above-head to set the “mood”. The performance is akin to any of those displaced karaoke jocks (DJs) getting paid in free drinks and accommodation to entertain rowdy tourists in some gaudy overseas location . These toothless, tatted beings claim it’s just for the holiday “season” they are there as if there life is a jet-setter’s dream. No doubt though in the off-peak season they are to be found pulling pints and mopping the grubby tiles of the said establishment.

These recriminations aside there is something endearing about Mostly Grills, in a rather fetish way. It might be the charm of seeing a Jet Airways Boeing 737 being refuelled in the airport parking or the little flashing cat eyes on the airport track that get me. After all, the restaurant has laboured the fact that they have given me the “scenic” table, overlooking Mumbai’s domestic airport. Sitting on this rustic rooftop, you might even forget you’re in India; the rustle of a plethora of ceiling fans creates a synthetic breeze which is well appreciated in the post-monsoon heat and on a Friday night, there are scarcely one or two tables occupied.

Like much of The Orchid hotel, the food at Mostly Grills has probably seen better days. The tandoori paste used on the Tandoori Gobi is far too abrasive and left me grimacing at its acerbity. The Tandoori Broccoli with a white curd paste makes up for the former however. The small portion of Paneer Tikka Masala is passable, but lacked spice or fragrance. The green Veg Seekh kebabs were a touch dry, but soft and easy on the palette (probably the best dish of the evening). The butter naan is up to the mark.

At the end of the day, what has the food got to do with anything? There are a million other restaurants who can serve me similar food, Mostly Grills is not an outlier in any sense. The real point here is for good or for worse, the place has given me a twig of nostalgia, a sense of transportation and for that alone, I might be tempted to return…

Happy Diwali

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