Look, I'm not a foodie," is the first thing Gaurav Gera says when we ask him out for our weekly Star Review.
Only after confirming that he won't be eating by himself, he agrees to play critic. The actor and spoof-specialist picks Versova's Rice Boat because it's close to where he lives and it serves South Indian cuisine - one of his favourites.
"I also love Chinese, Punjabi and Kashmiri food," says the 31-year-old as he calls for two vegetarian thalis. "They are easy and safe because I can hardly understand any of the names," he says, barely glancing at the menu.
Usual suspects "I usually have a favourite dish at a restaurant. Every time I go there, that's what I order," says Gera as the starters - chembaaram (spiced buttermilk) and rasam arrive. "They're spicy .. just the way I like them," he smiles.
The pungent rasam gets a thumbs up too, though suddenly he's a little worried about digestion, "You know, I haven't eaten anything since morning. Starting on such a spicy note might not be a good idea." He gulps the rasam down anyway .
One of them is about a couple at a restaurant. The man is trying to make conversation while his date (Purbi Joshi), goes around collecting food from all the tables and packing it up in a lunch carrier.
As Gera reassures me that he'll do no such thing here, the thalis arrive.
The Malabar parathas are promptly sent back and Gera calls for appams instead. "What's the point of eating parathas? I can make them at home if I want to," he reasons. This man can cook.. So he can cook? "Yes," says Gera, none too modestly adding that rajma and kadhi chawal are his specialities. The appams arrive and there's silence as Gera goes at them with gusto. The kadala curry (chana in gravy) is relished.
Gera dips into all the bowls in the thali. "What I love about South Indian cuisine is that it's so light." Soon, the second appam arrives, is packed off and Gera says he's done.
He sits back to give his tummy a break when the server comes by with two glasses of non-alcoholic champagne which look slightly out of place.
"It tastes like cranberry juice with soda," is Gera's instant reaction. But it does seem to make him feel better because he returns to the thali to try dessert. Spices over sweets "I'm not much for dessert," he grins, "I'm more of a namkeen person." Having said that, he demolishes the adapradaman (jaggerybased pudding).
"This is nice because it's not too sweet," he grins, guzzling the rest of the ‘champagne', as he waits for me to finish. "How about I make a gag out of this Star Review?" he jokes. When we leave, he's still wondering whom to cast as the journalist.