Restaurant Review: Set Lunch buffet at Hard Rock Cafe Andheri

Many of my fans have requested that I must and should start writing reviews of recipes/dishes and restaurants since I come across as an avid food lover with deep interest in all things that comprises up to  a perfect dish.

Well I dont think I can write a review ;since for me, review is a strong word, however people may take it as. Even if you go to sites like zomato, you will see people writing reviews basis their one time visits, maybe on a particular dish or a particular service request not being served or anything else. I wouldn’t want to term that as review since one specific element of the whole umbrella of attributes associated with a place be  it food, service, ambience etc cannot falter. Hence overall it may be a good place for some while on a said day it could be a disappointing day for the other.That does not term the place good or bad.Unless of course everything about that place falters on one particular aspect consistently.Like anything fantastic needs to be consistent so is the case with a sour experience . That needs to be consistent for it to be termed bad.

So for me, what I set to pen down here is just a list of my personal experiences .Good, bad ,whatever based on my understanding, belief, knowledge about food and brand expertise, coz food at times from a known brand is all about brand marketing as well. Its not always about food. many a times its just the ambience that appeals which make you love the average food as well. Like my experience with the new set lunch buffet that Hard rock cafe has just introduced.

Well, I was already a fan of Hardrock Cafe ever since the first time i visited its outlet in Singapore decades back when it didnt set entry into India.For the past few years though ,I have been vising that place  either on work or pleasure and hence psychologically i was positively inclined towards their new offering.So by the end of the meal, i loved everything about the new concept.So its about your psychological barrier also at times.I think

And yesterday that I chose to visit my neighboring HRC outlet for lunch. That’s the 2nd one in Mumbai and I couldn’t believe that it was in my neighborhood when they launched. Like I mentioned, i used to visit the worli outlet pretty often when I was working with a corporate house towards based in South Mumbai.It made sense then to catch up with friends then,In fact “burger lunch” with colleagues was a monthly affair. That’s how I fell in love with their “legendary burger”.All  varied toppings and spreads.More so , we had a sponsorship deal with HRC(as it is called) ,hence on the professional front, the association with hard rock cafe was a part of our brand visibility and mileage strategy, hence visits were frequent ,food and burgers became part of our visits, the rock shows were enticing.. So that’s how it was, although personally I am not a fan of rock music and don’t think can stand the same music for more then 1 hour. Hence there is a different category of people that are loyal to HRC. You see them frequently , enjoying, singing, dancing away to glory, just having fun..That’s what is nice about HRC, even if u don’t enjoy the music yet you see people having fun and sway away in the music.

So coming back to my lunch,we decided to try out the new ‘set buffet lunch’ assuming it would be perhaps a mix of burger and fries.  Honestly i wasn’t too keen since Burger for lunch is not my type, but it was more of an excitement , intriguing, curious to know what ‘s hard rock coming up this time to enchant their customers? So that’s how we landed up and yes it was an ‘easy on the pocket’ kind of “set buffet lunch” with unlimited soft drinks. You have the option of adding extra 100 rs and get an additional element.

I know how difficult it is to strike up a final 3 course meal. You wouldn’t know what to add or delete .You need to let go off few things coz tastes are all subjective. And finally to arrive at a menu that has something for everybody even if it is a small meal(for a small eater like me it was too much). While chatting up one of the guys told me that this set menu is across the country but different dishes per region..Am not sure though.

Furthermore,to deviate and break away from the normal brand image of the legendary burger and fries while trying  to attract walk-ins/footfalls(i guess that”s the brand thought and marketing strategy behind this concept) through a versatile menu offering indian cusine including rice is quite a task.Yes, it a good way to attract  people who are not hard core HRC fans or Burger fans  to walk in and enjoy a scrumptious meal in a great ambience. As you can see the choices are appealing considering its a 3 course meal and a  a mix of Chinese, indian, oriental cusines .

Now the second risk of doing something like this for any brand is to ensure that the new offers stand perfect. here the product is the new menu.The service anyways is world class. As usual, we are helped by their staff, a personal assistant is always by your side making you comfortable and even chatting you with you at times. Well, that’s a brand promise that HRC delivers accross the world.It comes in brand packaging, food, and customer service.

But here to excel in your new offering is a task. And they did it so well.Am not sure if they hired a new chef to prepare this menu but the rice, the paneer kadai, the bhuna spring rolls, the tomato pasta ;each had their tastes right there in place.

I mean we most often do not eat chinese in a udipi or a north indian joint coz we know that’s not perfect nor do we eat pizzas in a north indian reataurant, yet at HRC they ensured the dishes which are out of their comfort zone, the Mexican, indian dishes were almost near perfect. The paneer kadhai gravy seemed more like the makhani gravy but then you give them the benefit of doubt.It couldn’t have been perfect in HRC is my belief , hence  a litlle off the track in their indian dishes is ok i guess.We weren’t looking at an authentic Punjabi gravy in HRC anyways.  Every dish was piping hot when it reached the table, which isnt the case in many well known restaurants. Hot and warm food lifts the taste of the dish as well.The bhuna chicken that i took was moist, succulent and hot enough to burn my lips, so was the corn samosas.

The pasta was a safe one chosen for the menu I guess, the regular paste with tomato and basil was hot and perfectly done. I didnt choose any dessert but chose the salad which was such a relief for me as that that helped me psychologically to belief that m having something healthy. As it is I needed to walk that extra mile later during the day after this heavy meal!!! As you can see from the menu, each category had a mix of dishes with choices. And for non vegetarians you can take a mix of veg and non veg like I chose a non veg starter and salad  while for the main course I settled for the veg pasta. The desserts too were a choice of 4.You wouldn’t know which to choose .

Like i said, there must been a strong research done to arrive at the dishes for a 3 course meal. For a huge spread its just so easy but for a mini buffet its equally tough to finalize a menu. Coz you never know what appeases to the taste of people. And my assumption is that since the idea is to increase walkins from all categories, they had to include indian dishes coz tht’s how families could perhaps walk in. Similarly chinese, mexican and a little oriental.Its a complete mix of choices which is an attraction to any non lover of HRC food like me.. I mean i wouldn’t like to go and have a burger all the time i visit the place.At times i have often cancelled my evening plans going there just coz of the food. So in that sense its  perfect that there is a choice of varied cuisines. Schewan chicken/ jerk chicken burger/ roasted chicken with cilantro sauce or perhaps a chicken thai curry with rice  and and indian dessert of bread pudding with icecream is a good mix if you wish to satiate your cravings of a good combination of indian and non indian cusine . And the unlimited soft drinks is mindblowing.. Awesome during a summery day..My lemonade kept being filled, did i love that!!!

But on the flip side, I did feel that there could have been at least two choices for salads which was lacking. The salad was a cold salad and many may not prefer a cold salad. Also with another option it would have been a mood lifter. I mean probably i would have liked another option of chickpeas(kabuli chana) salad or sprouts along with the aloo chaat. Similarly with the chicken salad there perhaps could have been something else just as an option.

Additionally, perhaps they could have added another version of non veg in terms of something else apart from chicken, perhaps one dish of fish.As an after thought, I am sure this menu would be the most affordable in terms of cost ,hence the said menu.But still, too much of chicken is at times boring even if you choose non veg, There is a certain diabolic disregard to the whole spread then, so perhaps one choice of fish starter or meat or one of the main course could have been something else.

Well thats”s for the management to take note and understand ,but overall  the concept of a set lunch that which comprised of a melange of dishes borrowed from different cuisines and most importantly so “pocket friendly”is great.And to do that with perfection and great elan is the sign of a great brand. The service, ambience and the hot and warm food is a great feel. Am not sure if it works for them to garner footfalls and hence revenue growth, but its a great brand strategy is my belief for increasing footfalls. With the right kind of marketing mix be it social media, and BTL activities like they are doing through newspaper inserts and perhaps visibility through their face book page ,they will be able to achieve their target or achieve their business objective of retaining footalls/ attracting new customers and finally revenue growth..

I dnt know if that”s their objective but being a branding and marketing professional, i believe that could be the strategy and hence this amazingly new concept of an affordable set lunch

Whatever it is, for me its a thumbs up ..great thought and with a  little changes to the detailing of the dishes like i mentioned, and proper marketing done to promote the same through Fb contests, inserts, perhaps on air radio promos and their current “groupon” coupons it could be a big success to see the lunch hours full at HRC and a greater way to convert non HRC guys to its fan club….

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