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Mumbai Food: Hog out crisp fries dripping in BBQ and chocolate...

Peri Peri Twister. Pics/Sameer Markande
Peri Peri Twister. Pics/Sameer Markande

The led lights fitted in 3D wall panels engulf The Pabulum (Latin: food) with a violet glow that spills on to the street. Standing next to a chemist and a stone's throw away from a farsan store, the QSR off SV Road in Santacruz, which promises 'fiery fries' and 'sexy shakes', resembles an alien spaceship.

The counter has a slot that holds these BBQ Cheese Fries served in a conical container
The counter has a slot that holds these BBQ Cheese Fries served in a conical container

Our analogy isn't far off the mark as we step in and overhear a middle-aged couple, curious to know what Nacho Fries and Cheesy Potato Twisters actually mean. A millennial helming the service station explains the dishes. He points to staffers working in a bot-like fashion, adding dollops of Mexican salsa to golden fries and slicing potatoes to create spirals on a stick in an open kitchen. The couple places the order and moves to one of the two dining counters in the space, launched last month by three foodpreneurs - 21-year-olds Himanshu Jain and Mayank Jain, and their friend Deepak Joshi, 26, who runs a catering business.

A staffer preps the fries in the kitchen
A staffer preps the fries in the kitchen

The menu is The J-meets-Keventers-meets-Irla's Twisted Potato. It features French fries served with a host of vegetarian toppings - from aioli garlic to tandoori mayo and Schezwan sauce. They also offer Jain fries made with raw banana. From blueberry and rose to popcorn and Parle G, an array of ingredients make their way into the shakes, along with four varieties of twisters.

Death By Chocolate
Death By Chocolate

A-peeling twist
We begin with the Peri Peri Twister ('69), a 12-inch long tornado of spicy flavours. The potato spiral - deep-fried and crisp but non-greasy - is piped with a fiery, paprika-and-garlic infused mayonnaise instead of a powdered spice mix. This enhances the stick, where the mayo's slight tang balances the heat. We wash it down with Popcorn Caramel Shake ('149), a lip-smacking, creamy rendition of the munchie with just the right hint of burnt brown sugar.

Popcorn Caramel Shake
Popcorn Caramel Shake

The BBQ Cheese Fries ('99) feature crisp-till-golden, starchy potato fries doused with a peppery, slightly sweet barbeque sauce with an oh-so-good smoked taste that balances the sharpness of the cheese sauce. Our friend remarks, "They are better than the ones at The J."

The Poppers & Fries ('149) comprise three deep-fried cheese balls perched on a bed of fries, doused in chilli garlic sauce and mayonnaise. While the tangy-spicy sauces complement the dish, the poppers are underwhelming, and stodgy.

Try a dessert fry
Heading for a carb crash by now, we pick the apt climax - Death By Chocolate ('149). Coated with generous amounts of Nutella and chocolate sauce, the crisp, unsalted fries, topped with grated cheese, make for a great dessert. We exit with a promise to return, once we're cured of a potato hangover.

Time: 11 am to 11 pm
At: Shop No 3, Tagore Kunj, Saraswati Road, Santacruz West
Call: 8080805775 (delivery via Swiggy and Zomato)


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