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Joy in a jam jar

Quirky interiors and delicious drinks set this Andheri eatery apart. The carbs need some refinement, though. Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi writes.

mumbai Updated: Dec 29, 2012 01:40 IST
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

The food
Quirky interiors and delicious drinks set this Andheri eatery apart. The carbs need some refinement, though.

Jamjar Diner
Where: Shop No 7 A&B, Versova JP Road, Aram Nagar 2, Opposite Subway, near Washing Bay Laundry, Andheri (W)
When: 9 am to 1 am
Price: About R2,000 for a meal for two with one drink each
Call: 2636-8880, 2635-8880
Opened On: December 12

Jamjar Diner could win an award for most whimsical staircase wall in a restaurant. Angled wooden shelves that look they would spill their contents at a touch are filled with vintage metal cigarette and pencil boxes, a small but eclectic selection of books (Dostoevsky's The Idiot, issues of Archie Comics, The Godfather), ceramic whiskey jars, pickle jars, milk pails and more.
Right past the door, at the bright blue entrance, are a couple of booths patterned with heritage mosaic tiles, followed by a jukebox and high tables by the bar.
Upstairs, a few tables with hooks in their legs (for ladies' bags) stand on a (faux?) wooden floor.
The terrace seating is a few steps away. Here the chipped-tile mosaic is in playroom pastels; the space smells of the kitchen, though, and not in a pleasant way.
It's all very quirky and pretty.
The restaurant gets its name from the containers in which juices, cocktails and even some desserts arrive - jam jars with handles.
We looked over the menu while we sipped on successful twists on the Bloody Mary (a Watermelon Mary, less spicy, as delicious) and caipirojka (Twist Caipirojka, with vanilla, basil and rosemary).
On the menu are diner staples - burgers, sandwiches, Tex-Mex, pizzas, and eggy breakfasts, including pancakes and waffles - with some flavours firmly set here.
Our fried okra and lotus stem appetiser with a tamarind-chipotle dip, for example. While the okra reminded us of under-spiced Rajasthani bhindi, the lotus stem made a perfect chakna with our drinks.
Our savoury jalapeño-cheddar waffle would have been a lot more fun if the cheese and chilli had not been overridden by the slightly soapy bitterness of too much baking soda.
Carbs at Jamjar seem to need a bit of tweaking - the nachos alongside our pulled pork burrito were chewy. The burrito filling of rajma, rice, veggies and meat was delicious, but we discarded the undercooked, all-white tortilla.
We loved the chicken pesto, feta and pickled Thai chilli topping on our pizza, but we also wished it had had a crisper base.
Jamjar's Rocky Road sundae comes with cubes of dark chocolate loaded with bits of biscuit, nuts and marshmallow; cherries; and toasted chunks of pink marshmallow with vanilla ice-cream. It's a simplified, not-too-sweet rendition of the dessert that kids love.
We chewed blissfully on ours while a kitty group giggled downstairs and a couple out for a lunchtime beer flirted sweetly at the next table.

PizzaExpress
Where: Dhanraj Mahal, Apollo Bunder, Colaba
When: 11 am to 11 pm, except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it is open till midnight
Prices: About R2,200 for a meal for two, without any drinks (Alcohol is served, though)
Call: 6656-2633
Opened On: December 21
D'ough!
Another week, another new pizza joint in Mumbai. PizzaExpress follows close on the heels of Di Napoli, Serafina, and Pizza Metro Pizza. It is in good company in other ways too - Shivaji Marg and other lanes between Gateway and the Regal circle are home to several popular restaurants. Which makes it important for PizzaExpress to stay competitive.
The London chain's first India outlet tries, by being extremely child-friendly, having a wide selection of über-fresh pizzas, and offering USA-style ultra-friendly customer service.
PE's black and white brand colours jump out at you immediately, and other details register shortly after - metal screens with quotes by Kipling, nautical motifs to reflect the outlet's location, and possibly the most fascinating open kitchen in south Mumbai.
As at its outlets around the world, PE's menu is centred on the dough. It is showcased in baked dough balls (exactly that, served with a tub of garlic butter) that are quite pricey, at R140 for what is essentially a tiny bread basket.
It is highlighted in the 'originale' bruschetta, puffy discs with a tasty but ungenerous topping of bright, spunky pesto and diced tomato. Strips of baked dough also flank the Bosco house salad, a passable mix of mushrooms, avocado, mozzarella and mustard.
And, of course, the dough forms the base of all the pizzas. The toppings on our pizzas were good enough to pick off and eat by themselves. The melanzane picante had lush slices of eggplant marinated in spices, and bits of jalapeño. The American had thin, tangy, salty, fatty discs of pepperoni and delightfully stringy mozzarella. The tomato base was so delicious, we ate it with a spoon.
As it turned out, the crusts turned out to be our biggest concern. The Romana was thin, as promised, but nowhere near as crisp as the menu had promised it would be. The Classic could have done with more time in the oven.
In a restaurant where the dough is promoted as the superstar, it really ought to shine a little more.
- Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)

The exhibition
What: Saww Kahaniyaa (One Hundred Stories), an exhibition of 100 paintings by underprivileged children and youngsters
Where: Sir JJ School of Art, 78, Dr DN Road, Fort
When: December 26 to 30, 11 am
to 7 pm
Call: 2262-1652
Entry Is Free; art works on sale for Rs 5,000 each
Frozen on canvas and framed on a wall, a young boy flies through the air on a winged palette, painting white clouds and a vibrant rainbow.
Nearby, in a stark work in black and grey, a man sits under a banyan tree and prays to Buddha.
Elsewhere, a mother and her two sons walk through fields to their village hut, Warli figures dance and play outside a yellow school, and village women dressed in identical pink saris collect water in earthen pots.
These works are among 100 paintings by underprivileged children and youngsters aged 12 to 25, being showcased at the Sir JJ School of Art.
The exhibition, titled Saww Kahaniyaa (A Hundred Stories), has been organised by NGO Navjeevan Centre, which runs homes for underprivileged children in Murbad, Thane.
"We wanted to let people know that, given the opportunity, underprivileged children can create beautiful art," says project consultant Dolly James. "They live in difficult circumstances, but have a lot of talent and the urge to succeed."
A month ago, Navjeevan Centre invited applications from 16 NGOs from across Mumbai and Thane.
After screening 300 applicants, 100 were selected to attend two painting workshops conducted by faculty members and students of JJ School of Art. The institute then offered a hall as a free exhibition space for the five-day show.
All the works displayed are up for sale, at a flat rate of R5,000 each. The proceeds from each sale will be given to the child who created the art work.
"I enjoyed the workshops because I got to see others' paintings and learnt to paint on canvas, which I had never done before," says Ajay Kharat, 11, who applied through the Salaam Baalak Trust and submitted a village scene painted in the Warli style.
- Riddhi Doshi

The event
What: Screening of documentary Mera Apna Sheher (My Own City)
Where: Bhau Daji Lad museum, 91/A, Rani Baug, Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Marg, Byculla
When: Sunday (December 30), 6 pm
Call: 6556-0394
Entry Is Free
The screening of director Sameera Jain's film, about the experiences of women in public spaces, had been planned at the ongoing BMW Guggenheim Lab Mumbai much before the outburst of anti-rape protests across the country.
Now, as anger about our cultural attitudes towards women simmers following the gangrape and brutalisation of a 23-year-old in New Delhi on December 16, Mera Apna Sheher (My Own City) has become an even more topical film.
The 64-minute documentary, made in 2011, is an attempt to answer several questions about how women negotiate public spaces in Mumbai, how free they feel in these spaces, and under whose surveillance.
"For a long time I have wanted to look at the pervasive 'unfreedom' in our lives," says Jain. "Sexual violence is present in very ordinary ways all around us. It is an indignity that has been normalised." The film, says Jain, is an attempt to share the perception that this is not normal at all.
As a technique, Jain has made frequent use of spy cameras in the film, which, through their passive gaze, reveal how our everyday reality is heavily gendered.
Sunday's screening will be followed by a public discussion between Jain, filmmaker Surabhi Sharma, sociologist Shilpa Phadke and heritage conservationist Prasad Shetty.
- Aarefa Johari

The concert
Musical tribute
Every year since 1994, the Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre has organised a concert in memory of renowned vocalist Khadim Hussain Khan (1905-1993), one of the pillars of the Agra gharana.
This year, 51-year-old vocalist Shaukat Hussain Khan from Ahmedabad will perform at the concert.
Shaukat is the son of late Agra gharana singer Sharafat Hussain Khan, best known for his mastery of rare ragas such as Dhanashree, Patmanjiri, Devsakh and Khemkalyan.
Shaukat Hussain trained under his father till the latter's death in 1985. He was then under the tutelage of Purnima Sen, a senior pupil of his father.
On Sunday, expect a performance featuring all the intricate elements of the Agra gharana-the alaps, bol taans and layakari that make for such a lively interaction with rhythm.
"I try to incorporate all these elements in my presentation," says Shaukat Hussain Khan.
- Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Listings | also check out
A Women's-Only panel discussion on the safety and comfort levels for women in Mumbai's social spaces. Panellists include social researcher Zainab Bawa, social activists Hemangini Gupta and Sohini Chakraborty and photographer Gauri Gill.
WhERE: Bhau Daji Lad museum, Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan, Byculla
WheN: Saturday (December 29), 5.30 pm
CALL: 6556-0394
Entry Is Free (Event open only to women)
A Discussion on author Dilip D'Souza's new book, The Curious Case of Binayak Sen, about the jailed activist. The discussion will be led by D'Souza and writers Azad Oommen and AV Ramani.
Where: MCubed Library, Princess Building, D'Monte Park Road, Bandra (West)
When: Sunday (December 30), 5 pm
Call: 2641-1497
Entry Is Free

Beauty Matters, an exhibition of works by New York-based artist Neha Majithia. The exhibition showcases paintings inspired by Hindi film posters from the 1970s, complete with make-up, jewellery and costumes, as the artist attempts to explore the visual references that Indian women draw upon to create their identity.
Where: Jehangir Art Gallery,
B-161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda
When: December 24 to 31,
11 am to 7 pm
Call: 2284-3989
Entry Is Free
Sharada Sangeet Utsav, a Hindustani classical music festival. The programme will feature tabla artiste Yati Bhagwat and vocalists Nila Madhav Mohapatra and Rattan Mohan Sharma on Saturday and sarangi artiste Rudraksha Sakarika and vocalists Deepika Bhide (above) and Dhanashree Pandit Rai on Sunday.
Where: Sharada Sangeet Vidyalaya, Madhusudhan Kalelkar Marg, Kalanagar, Bandra (East)
When: Saturday and Sunday (December 29 and 30), 5.30 pm onwards
Call: 2659-0433
Entry Is Free