Thursday, April 5, 2012

Restaurant Review - Azzuri Bay

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Azzuri Bay is a restaurant that I have been hearing about for ages, but never got around to visiting. And when I got the chance to review the place, I obviously said 'YES!'.

I arrived there on a balmy Wednesday evening, and was greeted at the ground floor who confirmed my table and sent me up the elevator after informing 'the man upstairs' that I was on my way. We were seated in the outdoor seating area which overlooks the river. The setting was was really pretty, and I hear is even nicer looking during the day. As I mentioned, the weather isn't great this time of year, and I was starting to feel a little warm. While we waited for our drinks, the first surprise of the evening turned up!
I don't know how many of you have had these, but I loved these growing up. I don't know if there is a more correct name, but we called it 'Pepsi cola'(pictured above). Makes no sense at all because it has nothing to do with Pepsi, and you almost never find a cola flavored one! As kids, we didn't care that it was just tons of sugar, synthetic flavors and colors mixed with water (from who knows where!) and frozen in a questionable looking plastic satchet. We LOVED it! This was a real blast from the past for me. This time it was fresh juice, and very refreshing. A tad too sweet for the grown-up in me, but very appreciated! Thank you, Azzuri Bay, for the trip down memory lane!

When I told this friend of mine that I was going to be reviewing Azzuri Bay, she said, "You have to have the Thai Iced Tea(pictured below)!" And so I did.
I wish I hadn't listened to my friend. I really did not like the drink. The other reviewer who ordered the same drink agreed that the flavor of lemon grass was so overpowering that you started feeling a little sick. He managed to finish his drink, but I couldn't get past three sips! The restaurateur kindly replaced my drink with a fresh watermelon juice, and all was well with the world! I tasted the San Fransico Iced Tea and didn't much care for that one either. My favorite of all the drinks that evening was a Virgin Pina Colada which was surprisingly light and very refreshing!

Then the starters began to arrive. And they kept coming, and coming and coming.

Of the ones that I sampled, the biggest hit was the Grilled Shrimp (pictured below)! It was so succulent, perfectly seasoned and the spices did not overpower, allowing the star of the dish - the shrimp - to shine through. I ate a fair number (which I will not specify), and enjoyed every single bite of it!
The other starter I enjoyed was the Double Cooked Chicken Pepper Strips. I loved that the chicken was really well cooked, and not at all overcooked. It was moist and very flavorful. There was another black pepper based dish which was the Garlic Pepper Fish, which I loved in terms of flavor, but found the pepper way too coarse for my taste. I hate biting into almost whole peppercorns and that kinda ruined it for me. But just like the chicken, the fish was very well cooked too.

The Crispy Chilly Beef was tasty, spicy and really yummy, but I think it should be renamed. No sign of any crispiness. But as chilly beef, they hit the spot!
For me, the biggest let-downs were the money bags (pictured above), and the momos - both the vegetable and shrimp momos. While they were juicy and well-cooked, they totally lacked seasoning and flavor, in my opinion. Very bland!
The other starters - Hummus and Pita bread(pictured above), Spring rolls, Veggie kebabs on sugarcane skewers were just okay. Definitely nothing to talk about!

At this point, we resurfaced from all the starters and took a few seconds to look at the menu and to look around us, and we noticed that the restaurant was full! Second surprise of the night... Amazing that they had such a large crowd on a Wednesday night!

Moving on to the mains, I went with one of my favorite cuts of meat - lamb shanks! I just adore lamb shanks and was looking forward to moist, falling off the bone, flavorful lamb shanks, and I am happy to report that I was not disappointed! The Lamb Shanks Sofrito (pictured below) was a total winner, and was the unanimous favorite among the meat eaters. Bizzare, because I usually have the worst luck at picking things off a menu! LOL :D
The baked potato on the side was quite disappointing. I know it's hard to make a perfect baked potato - crispy skin and fluffy, starchy interior - but I expected them to have nailed it. Sad. But the lamb shanks made me forget my baked potato woes.
Unfortunately, none of the other diners were too impressed with their starters. The wine in the Chicken Milanaise was overpowering, the pizzas (pictured above) had a lovely wood-fire oven baked crusts but the toppings were flavorless, the vegetarian lasagna was waaaaaaay too creamy, and the Chicken Penne Alfredo was pronounced 'just okay'.
The worst luck of the evening belonged to the steak lovers. Every single steak (one of the steaks is pictured above) was terrible, in my opinion - either overcooked, undercooked or had unimpressive flavor. Honestly though, I don't think it is a problem with the dish or the recipe. I feel that these dishes were let down by the execution. It needed to be cooked & seasoned right. You know how bad a badly cooked steak can be, right? I really felt bad for the guy in the corner fighting his T-bone steak with a carving knife, and losing the battle.

Thankfully, the meal ended on a bright note! The desserts were excellent! The Chocolate-Cointreau mousse, and the Apple Pie were tasty but nothing to rave about.

The Mississipi mudpie - a chocolate crust, filled with coffee gelato and topped with fudgy chocolate sauce - was very tasty and was the most popular dessert with the majority of votes - not mine though. The popularity, I think, was mainly due to the wonderful flavor of the coffee gelato. The crust was way too frozen  (and kinda thick), and so we couldn't cut through it till all the gelato was gone and the crust thawed out.
My choice of dessert - the Pomegranate panna cotta (pictured above), scared me at first. It arrived on a plate, floating in some really weird looking pink, watery, milky..... stuff. It took me a while to work up the nerve to taste it, but once I got past the sloppy presentation, I was quite pleased with the flavor and the texture of the panna cotta.

I also asked if could sample the Double Chocolate Gelato. The first spoonful made me go 'Wow!' and then as it melted I noticed something very strange. The third surprise of the evening for me - the gelato wouldn't melt. It just became un-cold, but remained the same in consistency and texture. Strange! After about 5 minutes, I was left with a thick, creamy, chocolate-y bowl of something very close to a fudge sauce, but still held it's gelato shape. Being so thick and rich, I could not eat more than two spoonfuls! I though gelatos were supposed to have a lighter base?

In my last post, I mentioned that I made quark after eating a quark-based dessert at a restuarant. I was talking about Azzuri Bay's dessert...
...the Gentle Aphrodisiac(pictured above).


It was really good! I loved the sweet cheesecake with hints of sour from the quark topped with the bright red, tart raspberry sauce. Overall, the combination was lovely and light, but most of the others at the table didn't seem to enjoy it as much as I did. I didn't complain. I just ate most of it myself.

Overall, I had a lovely meal at Azzuri Bay! My starters, main and dessert were delightful and well-cooked, and so I guess if you know what to order, you can be sure to enjoy a lovely meal in a beautiful setting!
I must mention that Azzuri Bay serves Thai, Chinese, Italian Mediterranean and Chettinad food (please don't ask me to explain this strange combination of cuisines!), and is definitely worth a visit! I mean, if they have full seating on a Wednesday night (that too in the outdoor seating area in our weather!), they must be doing something right!

I think I will go back soon!

P.S. - Please come back for a special Easter post tomorrow! :) I am pretty excited about this one!

P.P.S. - If you are waiting for that quark-based recipe I promised, don't hold your breath. We ate all the quark!!! Will get around to posting a recipe after I make some more quark!
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Aarti said...

neat review...lovely pics.

why is there a box towards end of the post?

theharriedcook said...

:( I don't now. It's been there since this morning and I don't know how to get rid of it!!!

Mary Bergfeld said...

This sounds like a wonderful place to eat.The food looks great. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

ping kay said...

That's telling them, gurl! :)
I'd go for the lamb shanks too ... love lamb shanks! (Hmmm, you could be right about the twin bit) altho I do love me a good steak but from what I gather here, I'd better bring along my chainsaw. You're right about the pannacotta ... I'd be scared too ... you should have poked at it with your fork first and see if that bloody eyeball looking thing blinks back at you ... yeek!
I'm curious about the chocolate gelato that doesn't melt .... maybe they cheated and used gelatin ... or something. I mean there's an eyeball looking thing already, who knows what strange concoction that could be .... just sayin'...

AlchemyInTheKitchen said...

Coolpops I think they're called - in Ireland anyway. Sounds like the meal could have been really stunning with just a little more effort. Great pics!

theharriedcook said...

Got rid of it! Thanks for that link... :)

theharriedcook said...

Thank you, Mary! It was a lovely meal :) Have a wonderful weekend!

theharriedcook said...

Coolpops! That's nice to know :) You're right! A little more effort could have taken it to another level :) Thanks for stopping by!

theharriedcook said...

You are right! I didn't see the eyeball before, but I see it now! Gosh if it had blinked at me, I would have freaked out! LOL :D The lamb shanks dish was delicious! You would have loved it, I'm sure :) I love steak too, and I am so glad I went with the shanks this time :) You may be right about the gelatin thing... The consistency was really strange! Thanks for the comment, Ping! You rock! :)

Prema said...

So a colleague just asked me if I'd been to Azuri Bay, and I was able to say 'Nope, but I read a review just this morning' and I sent her the link to your blog. I'm feeling really well connected at the moment. :-) Hehe..

Three Cookies said...

They might as well become a restaurant that sells only dessert/sweets. 

Magic of Spice said...

Great review! My kids are big steak eaters so I don't think they would enjoy, but some of the starters sound good :)

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