It was Saturday, the Fourth of July. My Twitter timeline & Facebook / Instagram feeds were heavily populated with updates on fireworks and parades, summer barbeques and picnics, and all manners of patriotic festivities from across the globe. Meanwhile, I was sitting holed up in my cubicle at work, feeling increasingly restless.
It was the first Saturday of the month, also translated in my life as ‘The Working Saturday’, a.k.a the Worst Day of The Month! Agreed that its only ONE Saturday, and that’s not nearly half as bad as being compelled to work EVERY Saturday like some souls more unfortunate than I. But trust me when I say this, no amount of comforting encouragements and personal pep-talks have enabled me to accept what I like to dramatize as the most egregious bane of my corporate existence!
So what do a group of Cribby Cribbersons do when they are compelled to remain cooped up in an office on a weekend? They Eat! And collecting a big group is imperative, misery loves company after all!
So come Saturday, a whole bunch of us get together, deliberate and ruminate over the best restaurants that are (a) new, (b) nearby and (c) acceptable to most, somehow arrive at a consensus and eventually make our way there for our monthly Saturday lunch ritual!
The latest in a long line of restaurants to be paid a visit was The California Boulevard (TCB), located in Sector 29, Gurgaon. I hear TCB Gurgaon is following in the footsteps of its older and very well-appreciated sibling located in Rajouri Garden. But that’s a part of the city I would never voluntarily head towards, and it’s easy to surmise that I had never been to either of the two.
I headed to The California Boulevard with Zero expectations, the only groundwork I had done was a cursory glance through the menu on Zomato.com enroute to lunch. The restaurant I walked into was large, spacious and welcoming. Spread across two floors, the décor was (no prizes for guessing this one) inspired by California, and Hollywood in particular. There’s a Walk of Fame, a huge TV Screen playing old classic Hollywood movies, and a bright red Tram that doubles up as the Bar.
The onslaught of food began with the Vegetarian Bruschetta. Sadly this was better in appearance than in taste. The topping of artichoke, rocket, tomatoes and Greek feta cheese was bland and the bread had become soggy.
We then ordered the Crystal Chicken Dim Sum because, well, I can’t see this on the menu and not order a plate. Unfortunately for this dim sum devotee, these were just average. While the filling had its moments of displaying flavor, the skin it was encased in was slimy in texture and just a bit insipid.
Next up was the Prawn Spring Rolls and luckily for us, third time’s the charm. These were cute and crispy, stuffed with a filling of prawns, glass noodles, shiitake mushrooms, peppers and carrots. The juicy prawns tasted even better dipped in the sweet & tangy, quintessentially Thai, Chili Sauce.
We also had the Hunan Chili Lamb, the crispy little slivers of lamb were super spicy thanks to the fiery chili flakes they were tossed with, but they were a bit too salty for my liking.
For the main course, we began with the Diced Chicken Ma Lha, wok tossed chicken with dry red chili & Schezwan peppers. Served with steamed rice, this curried chicken dish was spicy as hell and bursting with flavor. More and more enjoyable with every sizzling bite.
The Peri Peri Chicken Pizza was absatively delicious! Topped with tomato, mozzarella cheese, bell peppers, jalapenos, chicken and pickled red chilies, there was a certain pungency of flavor that was all-pervasive yet endearing.
The California Veggie Pizza was pretty good too, in its own non-meaty way! With baby corn, broccoli, eggplant, red onions, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella and tomato sauce, there was certainly a full house here. But there didn’t seem to be any turf war going on and no single ingredient was trying to overpower the rest. All the toppings blended well together.
And finally, for dessert we had the Classic Tiramisu and the Trio of Crème brûlée flavoured with coffee, blueberry and vanilla; both were really quite good. The vanilla flavoured Crème brûlée being my favourite.
The Last Word: The food was a mix of hits and misses for me, but I’d go back just for the Peri Peri Chicken Pizza. I can see why The California Boulevard is such a popular joint, though! It’s a jam packed menu, with plenty of options for all kinds of tastes and palates. Service is polite and efficient, albeit a bit over-enthusiastic. The servers were constantly hovering around our table, eager to serve and clear, which is good. But almost removing my plate when it was clearly not empty and when I hadn’t even closed my plate yet is far from good and just a sign of poor training. Overall though, TCB is a reasonably priced and enticing option for residents of Gurgaon.
Have you been to The California Boulevard, in Rajouri Garden or in Gurgaon? What were your impressions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
So, what are you eating next!