June 23, 2008
Ten years have gone by since I last met her. Now she’s in Bangalore for ten days on work and we decide to meet up with our daughters for dinner. Where does one go with two four year olds on a busy week night, after work? I live in South Bangalore and her hotel is in Whitefield. On an impulse, I pick Barbeque Nation in Indiranagar – I recall that the tables are spaced far-apart so that the kids have adequate wriggling space and her and my conversations are assured of adequate privacy. Also, we are all non-veggies, so BBQ Nation, would be appropriate.
We are there at 7 pm to accommodate the kids’ dinner and bedtime. She looks as gorgeous as she did in college and her daughter is adorable. I have made reservations, but the restaurant is crowded already. We choose to sit upstairs in the covered terrace area. It’s a good choice – there is live music, plenty of space and adequate noise levels to drown out the chatter of the excited kids. The place is not breezy and feels pleasant and cool. The chairs and benches have a wooded ranch look. We have gifts for each others kids – the result is both the girls are wearing delicate fairy wings, a jewelled tiara and waving a magic wand. They look like little darlings – butterflies flitting about here and there. The singer is a young man who belts out soft numbers from the 90s with some popular oldies thrown in. The kids get on top of raised wooden platform near the bar – one pretends her wand is a mike and sings into it while the other dances away. Considering this is the first time they have met, they hit it off wonderfully – and why not, their moms did get along pretty well in college! The best part in all this is that this does not seem disruptive at all in the restaurant – the tables are full and people are busy in their own conversations. The crowd is seems to consist mostly of office goers having team dinners or a social evening. We adults catch up – who is doing what, our lives, our daughters. We have lived in different continents, travelled, loved, lost, won, and above all, experienced what it is to be a mother. All I can think of is how much time has gone by– we feel that both of us look the same (J) but god, have we grown up. Our priorities and dreams have completely changed, shaped by our experiences. You think you know it all when you are 21, but life sure softens you and teaches you stuff that one cannot even imagine at that age.
The waiter places skewered meat and vegetables into the built in grill on the table. We turn down the free fruit punch for the kids (who needs sugared-up four year olds at 8 pm?) and take turns rotating the skewers – the children are forewarned that they have to touch only the wooden handles– they seem happy to agree. The rosemary chicken is a big hit – more so because it is not spicy rather than any other reason. There is chilly garlic fish, tandoori chicken, prawns, capsicum and zucchini, baby potatoes and mushroom – all in separate skewers with a variety of sauces to flavour the starters with. The food is nothing exceptional, it is more the process of bonding over cooking (at least semi-cooking) food that makes this restaurant exciting. The best thing I like is a very Middle Eastern influenced flat bread which seems to be made of maida and eggs and sprinkled with pistachios. It is mildly sweet and tastes like homemade biscuit. The kids seem to like it too.
We are too full with the starters to bother about the main course. There seems to be a lot of variety – including biryani, rotis, the usual chicken, mutton and paneer dishes. We hit the dessert tray – there is a decent tiramisu, mango cheesecake and rabri and luscious gulab jamuns. The whole meal comes to about Rs.1000
I drop them back to their hotel. The kids are sleepy by then and settle into our laps. The lights from the software parks flit across the windshield. We hug and part with promises to keep in touch. I send her a little note later telling her how happy and emotional it was to meet her and her daughter.
To experience some leisurely bonding with long lost friends over a grill with a chilled glass of wine, contact Barbeque Nation at:
Plot-4005, 100 Feet Road
HAL 2nd Stage, Indira Nagar, Bangalore
Phone : 080 3250 3344, 3250 4455.
Valet parking is available. Service is patchy – the waiters were good, the chef stopped by for a chat, the maitre-de’s, well, I am not so sure. I think they could do with some soft skills training so that they smile a bit and not look so sulky.
For the much-ignored carnivores in South Bangalore, there is some cheerful news by way of a new BBQ Nation restaurant that is set up to open on Ring Road in J.P. Nagar, next to Daily Bread. If you can look past the flyover mess, that is.
June 10, 2008
Foodyfoodpecker’s review in combination with a craving for Thai food prompted me to try Mugen one Saturday afternoon and I was certainly not disappointed. Royal blue and deep red cushioned traditional high back chairs are paired with sleek silver settees giving the place a warm yet contemporary air. The lighting is soft and mellow but bright enough to read the menu. A bar with an excellent bartender stands in one corner and an open kitchen occupies the other end allowing a lovely and colourful view of noodles and stir-fries being tossed together and cooked up. The wall has beautiful carvings from the Far East and the pleasant music in the background sounded Thai to my untrained ear. Plenty of large circular tables remind you that this is a good place to catch up with big group of near and dear ones. Seating is spacious and comfortable.
For starters we tried the Thai cuisine and ordered the fried corn with pepper and garlic and the crispy fried vegetables in a plum sauce. Drinks consisted of White Sangria and unlike most places that mix up some stale juice with cheap wine, this was a wonderful surprise. A neat twist on the conventional red wine sangria, this had good white wine and was cool, refreshing and made to the T with tiny bits of fresh fruit in it. The appetizers were both delicious and what crossed my mind was that these people truly know how to cook their vegetables. No soggy, overcooked, over-spiced nonsense here. Each dish was cooked just right, flavoured perfectly and tasted different from the other. The crispy vegetables in the plum sauce were succulently exotic. We ordered soups as well – the chicken clear soup with glass noodles was perfect so was the vegetarian version of the same. The Tom Kha Pat, the Thai soup with coconut milk, lemon grass and vegetables was steamy, spicy and tasty. For the main course, we ordered the steamed rice and the Thai vegetable red curry and the Indonesian influenced Nasi Goreng. Nasi Goreng is fried rice and this one came with chicken and prawns, garnished with fried wontons and a fried egg. Scrumptious comfort food at its best! The Thai vegetable curry was wonderful probably the best I have had in a long time. The child ate vegetable Thai noodles and finished it in no time pronouncing that as well as the starters as delicious and “not at all spicy, mama”. We did not try the desserts as we were too full.
Mugen serves Thai, Indonesian and Chinese food. The service is excellent without being pretentious – they take the trouble to do a good job. Meal for two with drinks is about Rs.1200. Go there and catch up with your family and friends over a delicious meal – I highly recommend it!
For address and phone number, click here.
This review is also available on burrp!