The world on your platter: Flags, Colaba, Mumbai

I was quite intrigued when I heard that there was a restaurant called Flags. Feastguru approached me to review this Colaba based restaurant for them. I requested our friend, Jamshed, who has seen the world and eaten the best it has to offer to accompany me.

A little reading up on the restaurant indicated that they serve cuisines from all parts of the world. Just the sort of thing for yours truly,
the international man of food. Yes, I can at least be the 007 of the food world, a license to eat, demolisher of plates…

Well I’d better get back to Flags before I get carried away!

The menu at Flags did live up to its international food billing. Where else would you find mutton rogan josh, lamb mussaman curry and Sri Lankan mutton curry beside each other in the same menu card? In fact they test your geography skills at Flags. They have put arrows from the food items to a world item leaving you to guess where the dish comes from. Though they have promised to put the names of the countries on the menu soon.

I must confess that I was a bit sceptical about the concept. Indian cooks, remembering their NRI days, a bit of everything on the menu… it had the potential to be a recipe for disaster.

I was quite happy with what I saw by the end of the meal.

So let’s start with the tipple quotient. I had a green apple Margherita which was quite nice. The green apple flavour was subtle and the salt on the rim of the glass was a nice taste breaker. I later tried a Mojito which was again refreshing and well balanced. My only grouse was that Halle Berry didn’t pop up in a bikini after I took a sip. Jamshed tried a spicy Bloody Mary and seemed quite happy with what he got.

I also tried a pomegranate Martini. The folks at Flags were quite proud of their fresh fruit Martinis. This didn’t work for me though. It was a tad too sweet. I guess I don’t like my spirits to be healthy.

Our international jaunt then started with the appetizers.

We had a Creole Cottage Cheese (USA, Rs 225, 4 USD). The sight of this set made the mouths of us die hard non vegetarians water. It was a really beautiful dish. The cottage cheese had a nice bite of red chilly flakes. What I liked is that this offered vegetarians a flavour of an otherwise sea food dominated cuisine from New Orleans. See, and people say I am not kind to vegetarians!

We tried the buffalo chicken strips (USA, Rs 250, 5 USD) next. This had a nice tomato based barbecue sauce. The dish really came alive when one had this with the accompanying garlic mayo dip. Interestingly this was a boneless chicken wing dish. So one could enjoy the tender cut of meat without the usual mess one associates with chicken wings.

We then shifted to slightly more exotic locales with the Columbian Aji prawns (Rs 500, 10 USD). The prawns were huge and fresh and char grilled to perfection. It had a burnt edge without being hard or over cooked. The prawns were very juicy and had a strong, spicy after taste which hit you a bit after you bit into it. This was quite thrilling. The experience was slightly marred as the dish was a bit salty. I pointed this out and they would hopefully get the balance right in the future.

We shifted to the main course after a fairly pleasant start. Normally I prefer the starters to the main course. But I must admit that I was blown over by the main course dishes at Flags. They were truly memorable.

I tried a Greek (!) pizza (Rs 350, 7 USD). This Greek take on a quintessential Italian dish was a master piece. I had it twenty minutes after they brought it to the table as I was busy photographing the food. You would expect the pizza to become chewy and the cheese to become a lump? Well the Greek pizza remained miraculously soft, light and crispy despite being out in the open for a while. The toppings of feta cheese, chicken, olives and ‘Greek dressings’ was a fantastic combination. I would strongly recommend this to pizza lovers. This is one battle where Alexander seems to have left good old Julius Caesar behind.

We then had a Grilled Chicken Pontablo (USA, Rs 300, 6 USD). This chicken steak was served in a lovely wine sauce. I am not much of a steak person but Jamshed liked it quite a bit. The chicken was quite tender despite the breast pieces. They apparently avoid my favourite cut, leg pieces, as they prefer to serve boneless cuts at Flags.

Flags has a great bread basket. I love good breads and nothing gives more joy than soft, slightly crusty, well flavoured bread. This is not complementary at Flags though and is priced at Rs 125 (3 USD).

We then headed to the Far East where we had a vegetarian Khauwse (Burma, Rs 300, 6 USD). I had wanted to try this dish for long and I seemed to have come to the right place. This coconut milk based noodle dish tasted heavenly. The sauce was mild and creamy. Yet it had a strong coconut overtone reminiscent of the Far Eastern tropics. We mixed the accompanying crispy noodles, fried onions and vegetables which would give sudden, cheerful crunches in between the maternal bites of steamed noodles. I didn’t miss the lack of meats at all.

We closed our dinner with a Massaman curry (Malaysia, Rs 350, 7 USD with lemon rice). This tasted quite authentic and took my back to our holiday at Malaysia a couple of years back. The curry had a nice blend of tanginess from lemon grass, nuttiness from peanuts and was held together by creamy, coconut milk. Jamshed, who had begun to miss rice by then, enjoyed the lemon rice which came with it. Both of us were floored by the quality of lamb. These were astonishingly tender and were interspersed by the occasional, seductive bite of fat. It was clearly one of the tenderest cuts of lamb that we had ever had.

Our world tour ended in a pretty sweet manner. We had a chocolate ganouche torte (Rs 250, 5 USD). The mousse base was firm with the right amount of sweetness. The quality of chocolate was very good and there was a strong taste of liquor. It was served cold which was soothing after the heavy dinner.

We also tried a Banofie pie (Rs 250, 5 USD). The staff insisted on this so I thought I’d indulge them. The result was a quite a mind blowing and formed the perfect, sweet end to the night. It had a nice condensed milk like taste which I am particularly fond. I finished quite a bit though I was stuffed to the gills by then.

And the true international man of food, Jamshed Adrianvala, gave Flags his stamp of approval.

So how would I sum up the Flags experience?

You should go here if you want to ‘sample’ cuisines from all over. Especially, if you want to try those that are not as easily available at Mumbai. The pricing (average dish price of Rs 400, 8 USD) seems to be at par with restaurants of its standard. In fact the pricing is probably a bit on the lower side given the exotica at offer. It is also a good place to come to if you are in a group where people have different preferences or can’t decide on what to eat.

The ambience is muted and classy – a lot of wood and dim lights. It gives you a sense of privacy and yet has a buzz. Though I must say that I didn’t find the d├ęcor distinctive or very impactful in comparison to places such as Moshes, Indigo Deli or Out of The Blue which are my favourites in the same price range.

You would do better at specialty restaurants if you want to explore specific cuisines such as Thai, Japanese, etc in depth. But like I said this is the place to come to if you want Japanese, and Turkish and Brazillian.

They don’t serve pork or beef at Flags which slightly limits the international experience.

Disclaimer: the food and drinks in the review were sponsored by Flags restaurant.


cool...especially when you want to go somewhere with people who all want different things.
Scarlett said…
You had such awesome exotic food for free?? Way to go!!
RJ said…
Loved reading your blog. I'm not usually a fan of places that mix cuisines, and I've had some pretty average food experiences in Houston, where i'm currently based. Anyway, the Banofie Pie looks great, and now I know some places to go to, when I come to india for my vacation in May/June. Have a lot of reading to do on ur blogs :) so will drop by regularly. Drop by sometime when you have the time, although I'm just kicking mine off..

Anonymous said…
The pictures are very tempting!
Theres one Flags in Malad too.
I havent been there. But i think it would belong to the same chain of restaurants. Will try it once.
Talking about restaurants moving into suburbs, recently Indigo Cafe opened up in Andheri. I saw Saifeena dinning out there. Nice place but very Xpensive.
Gaurav said…
i had dinner there a while ago and was impressed. been a snob to go in coz they originated out of Malad and everyone i spoke to said bad things about them.

however i was pleasantly surprised the mushroom melange stood out!!!

good stuff.
Serendipity said…
The once that I had been there, we ran a bill of 5 grand between 3 people. but it was worth it.

I cant wait to go back and have the prawns in black bean sauce.. deelish. :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Jessica: guess that ends half the turmoil on a dinner table
@Scarlett: hope the folks at feastguru feel that way. They got an original 'knife' for free too
@Ranjeet: nice blog and all the best. Thanks for dropping in. Shoot in your questions about Mumbai or Cal if you plan to visit either. Old Monk zindabad
@Pavan: Indigo Deli at Colaba, near Regal is not that expensive though. kareena must be enjoying life after her ill advised experiments with love and vegetarianism are over
@Gaurav: I didn't know they were at Malad. We Bandraites are equally snooty as you South Mumbai-ites ;) The vegetarian dishes were quite good actually and would cater to someone like you who likes to try out new food
@Serendipity: I love a good black bean sauce. Was it dry? Yes they have good old Chinese amongst the Ethipian and Belgian stuff. In fact they had two Bengali dishes - I was quite tempted to put them on to the acid test by ordering those