When a Pop Up lets you down

As a Image Coach, Brand Strategist, Food Blogger and conscious human being, my favourite word is ‘Value’.

 

I am a huge fan of home chefs, a community that is constantly striving to make good, authentic  and affordable food accessible to people. Pork is my favourite meat. Hokus Porkus, the porkstravaganza people have a pop up close by and the menu (check featured image) looks incredible! Brimming with aaalll this love, I decide to go for the Hokus Porkus pop up at Cafe Terra on Sunday. My first visit to this pop up and I am so so underwhelmed.

Cafe Terra is the cramped by but pretty terrace of Executive Enclave, a small hotel in Bandra West. Bright sunshine and lots of beer and sangria on offer, everything looks good till we check out the food.

 

3 home chefs with 4-5 dishes each. Savoury items are priced between INR 375 to 475; not bad when you compare with restaurant pricing and cut them some slack for rental they would be paying the hotel.

The biggest bummer is portion size followed by quality. 2 skinny, almost meatless ribs and a couple of grilled potato slices is one portion of Old Monk BBQ Ribs, the dish we have been dreaming of for a week. Two tiny sliders with a handful of chips is one portion of Beer BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders. We can taste neither rum nor beer. The pie is a reasonable size and looks good but is insipid with the white sauce having oozed liquid inside. And it had more potato and mushroom than sausage. The north eastern fare by Gitika Saikia is the tastiest. The quantity does not quite justify the price but the taste is good enough for me to try and overlook the quantity.

The two photos you see represent 1900 rupees of food and we do not even know where it disappears. You may not realise from the photos but the food is on side plates (all but the Pork Lai Xaak with black rice), so you can understand the size. Add to that the system of having to buy minute coupon booklets, like we would for food stalls in a carnival even though we are paying non carnival prices and the experience is a tad frustrating. We leave without trying the rest.

 

Doing quick mental math, a full meal would cost us, medium eaters, more than 2000 rupees per person, minus alcohol. The weekday buffet at Vista, Taj Lands End a few minutes drive away is INR 2006 inclusive of all taxes. Yes I understand home chefs pay more for ingredients because they do not have the negotiation power of large hotels, but surely that is not a deterrent to having reasonable portion sizes given that the price is of their choice?

 

As a foodie, I would be happy paying more for decent portions of good food. Who in the world serves 2 scrawny ribs!!! Given the size of ribs served, I could eat 4 without making a dent in my appetite. I would have be happy with pie slices or a pie that has more pig than vegetables and of course a non watery interior.

 

Give me value in some way. Give me small portions of incredible food and I am happy paying. Give me large portions of decent food and I am happy paying. But do not disappoint me both ways because that is a damn good way to put me off forever.

 

 

 

7 Comments Add yours

  1. This is sad. And, for home chefs, normally people go for great food (I repeat the word great) with standard quantity. But considering what I can see in the pic, even for Mumbai, is a let down for me …

    1. MCT says:

      I repeat, I expect very basic stuff from home chefs. Good quantity and comforting quality. I found it in another place, will write about it soon.

  2. Priyak mitra says:

    The biggest mistake pop up and home cooks make is keeping small portions. Even if the food is nothing to write home about…quantity often does the trick as eaters realize that the people running the stalls are not professionals

    1. MCT says:

      I don’t expect spectacular Michelin star referenced food from home chefs. I expect good, old fashioned, home style food which always translates into good portions and reasonably pleasing taste.

  3. Rhea Mitra-Dalal says:

    Hi Taraa,
    Really sorry that you were disappointed with your experience at our pop up.
    I do wish you had shared your feedback at the event itself, I would have refunded your money instantly because you weren’t happy, no questions asked.
    Of course, it is your prerogative to blog about it but we’d have all appreciated a chance to address your concerns right there.
    regards,
    Rhea

    1. MCT says:

      Thank you for responding to the blog. I guess I was not clear about my main concern which was not price but value. I would never ask for a refund unless served something completely foul.

      I would have spoken had the concern been taste related, but portion size is the most tangible aspect of a dish. Getting that right is basic.

      And I did try to voice my concern when I ordered the ribs and sliders. The lady was already frazzled and busy and had no time to speak. The gentleman helping her gave me an apologetic smile and shrug. I did not think of engaging with chefs post that.

      Regards,
      Taraa

  4. Wonderful and a great point raised. We have hosted Gitika in Kolkata for a Pop up but that was a fixed menu and people seemed to have no issue with the menu and it was a buffet . I am sure the issues will get addressed and the organisers and the home chefs will have that in mind

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