July 7, 2008

The sun peeking out from the sky after an extended spell of cloudy days in Bangalore had us planning a leisurely lunch that brought in a whiff of the outdoors. We settled on lovely Sanadige, off gorgeous Crescent Road near the Race Course. Crescent Road consists of magnificient colonial villas and bungalows amid bougainvilleas and lush greenery; but there are also plenty of restaurants in the area, including the Malayalam actor Mohanlal’s Harbour Market. Sanadige is located in the Goldfinch Hotel and serves Konkan cuisine – marvellous food from Kerala, Mangalore, Maharashtra and Goa. Flower decorations in earthern pots, traditional brass lamps and Kathakali masks decorate the restaurant which has two seating areas – indoors and outdoors. I recommend that you sit in the outdoor area which really a covered patio fringed by a small garden. Natural light from the netted ceiling streams into the restaurant giving it a feeling of spaciousness and charm and, more importantly, sparrows twitter in the background and fly in and out of the garden – a rare sight in Bangalore these days. Tanks with live crabs, prawns and fish, menu cards in palm folders and waiters dressed in traditional caps made with betelnut leaves add to that coastal feeling.

When you are in the West Coast, act like, well, you belong! So we tried the Kokum Kadi, a pink concoction that contained the marvellous sourness of the kokum fruit that gives Konkan food its distinct flavour. The tamer cardamom-laced lemonade was good too – and so was the gentleman’s choice of whiskey on the rocks. Spiced sago chips/papads (sandige) are freebie starters that are offered in a basket. We ordered the succulent pomfret tawa fry (the fish was picked fresh from the tank) infused with ground Mangalorean spices and it was a huge hit –made just right, lightly pan-fried, not too soft or crisp and without excess oil. We also sampled some Maharashtrian favourites – corn pakoras and crispy kaju kothambir vada, both very tasty. Main course consisted of basale kadale kadi and chicken sanadige and soaked it up with pan pole, the neer dosas from Mangalore – lace thin rice dosas fried on one side as well as fluffy Kerala appams. The chicken sanadige was good – boneless chicken in a coconut, onion and mint gravy. The basale kadale kadi consisting of a spinach and black channa in a tomato based sauce, a favourite of one of my favourites, was normal. We rounded off the meal with superb desserts. The sweet lovers tried the kashi or pumkin halwa while the dairy kings and queens lapped up the ada pradhaman, kheer or payasam from God’s own country made with plenty of cashews and raisins, thickened milk and sweetened oh-just-right with jaggery.

Sanadige is an excellent choice if you are looking for good Konkan food – not hugely authentic, but good. Service is reasonable. The outdoor and leisurely flavour of the place is a huge plus – the no scrambling for tables and no hurrying over your meal reminds one of Bangalore two decades ago. Patrons are mostly families and older professionals. I recommend this place for a laidback lunch with family or friends. A meal for two will cost around Rs.1000 depending on the seafood you order. Valet parking is available.

Sanadige is located at The Goldfinch Hotel, 32/3, Crescent Road, High Grounds, Off Race Course Road, ph: +91 80 41291300.


Barbeque Nation

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!

Pink Pepper

March 13, 2008

This review is also available on burrp!

Multi-cuisine restaurants mostly disappoint – they try to satisfy too many people without being particularly good at any one type of cuisine and end up being mish-mash, confused places where you can order anything from panner tikkas to schezwan chicken.  However, they usually do not have names like “Pink Pepper”.   I went there expecting continental cuisine – and found that my friend and I were the only people in the place.  As expected there was quite a bit of pink, but not in a bad way.   The upholstery has pink stripes and one of the walls is done up in various shades of bold pink and unfortunately for the waiters, they wear pink too.

The restaurant does not have a liquor license yet – but has some interesting-sounding mocktails.   I tried the peach iced tea and it was good.  The menu has Indian, Chinese, Thai and Continental dishes.  The choices are not very creative and cover pretty much the usual five or six options which come to your mind when you think of these cuisines.   Although I would have preferred to eat continental food that day, the choices did not sound exciting enough and we decided to stick to Indian.  For appetizers, we tried tandoori prawns, which were ok – nothing spectacular.  They had a strong taste of ajwain and my friend dismissed them as not a patch on his mom’s cooking.  For the main course, we tried the murg methi makhani and the tandoori rotis.  The chicken had too much methi in it and almost had a bitter after-taste as a result.  The rotis were ok.  The dessert choices sounded too usual and boring and we skipped them.

All in all, a very average dinner.  My recommendation to Pink Pepper is to hire a chef who does a fantastic job of one cuisine or type of food and stick to only that.  Mediocre is definitely not the answer.   Beware, the restaurant is located in that part of Indiranagar where namma Metro is coming up – so you need to through dust and narrow roads to reach the place which is located on a cleaner side road.  Service was reasonable and there is parking available on the side roads.  A meal for two is approximately Rs.500. 

For address and phone number, click here.

Via Milano – Update 1

March 3, 2008

This review is also available on burrp!

A revisit to Via Milano for lunch confirmed most of my previous experiences –  heavenly Italian cuisine in  cool ambiance.   The contemporary furniture with its clean lines and red and white colours, retro black and white hanging lamps, chic white window shades gives the restaurant a neat look without taking away any of the warmth.  The white leather sofa by the picture windows which overlook Koramangala’s traffic-filled roads looked very inviting and was the perfect place for a leisurely afternoon tete-a-tete.  

There were quite a few kids in the restaurant that day, since it was a Saturday, including my own – but it was still not overly noisy or boisterous.  Two Americans discussed business over beers in one corner, a smartly dressed lady worked on her laptop in the bar area and there were two other families and a group of women.   I am going to change my earlier recommendation of classifying Via Milano as romantic and say that it is perfect for business lunches and get-togethers with family and friends.  

Via Milano has some nice imported wines by the bottle.  The choices for wines by the glass are however pretty sad (two to be precise) and when we asked for the zinfandel we were told it was replaced by two other choices – one of which was a Grover’s red wine.  I did not like it.

 The delicious bread basket with the fresh plain and olive breads and breadsticks along with the six dips and sides appeared – the diced tomatoes, ground basil and garlic, creamy potato mayonnaise and the virgin olive oil, delicious chilli olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   My daughter munched on these continuously and had a whale of a time making her own bruschetta. There are only two soup options available – both non-vegetarian – we tried the chicken and mushroom soup with gnocchi.  Gnochhi is a small pancake usually made with potatoes (in this case it was) and has a melt-in-the-mouth quality like good cheese.  The soup was very good although a bit too filling for one.

The rocket salad which came with pears and lettuce and very strangely a sesame-flavoured, asian-influenced (?) dressing was good though not everyone in our group agreed with me.   The mozzarella and zuchinni balls which were deep fried were awesome.  The margarita pizza with tomato, basil and mozzarella was good so was the penne pasta which had my daughter licking her fingers.  Basic stuff but very well made.  I had the spinach and ricotta annellini – it was ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese was delicious.   The most interesting looking item which we ordered was the potato pancake with vegetables.  Thin-cut potatoes were fried to form a crispy pancake that was piled with multi-coloured slivers and twists of vegetables including carrots, red and yellow capsicums and zucchini.  Very, very good!

Service was good and prompt. Valet parking is available and a meal for two, including alcohol is approximately Rs.1000.

For address and phone numbers, click here.



September 25, 2007

This review is also available on burrp!

So you think you live in the boondocks of JP Nagar 7th and 8th Phase and there are no decent restaurants around you?  Here comes Rasilaas to your rescue!  Seemingly the usual ubiquitous mutli-cuisine place, Rasilaas redeems itself by serving fresh, hearty and tasty fare and doing an excellent job with quick 20 minute door delivery.  I would not recommend going there for a sit down dinner or lunch, the décor and atmosphere is extremely average.  But I do definitely recommend that you order from them even upto 11 pm in the night.  On the whole, I think that their veggie options taste better but on the same note, some of my friends thought that their chicken dishes good too.  Some highly recommended choices – baby corn koliwada, chilli panner, palak malai kofta, tandoori rotis, jeera rice and dal bukhara.  Excellent choice when you don’t want to move from your couch to face the B’lore traffic J

For address and phone number, click here.

Sri Krishna Kafe

September 20, 2007

This review is also available on burrp!

For the Tamilian missing authentic veggie meals, Sri Krishna Kafe is a must-do trip that will satisfy you.  Absolutely no frills whatsoever but just plain good food served in banana leaves, this Bannerghatta Road outlet is newer than the Koramangala main branch.  It is located on a tiny lane (right next to Inscape, the roadleads to Strides factory) right opposite IIM B and is more reminiscent of a wedding dining hall than a restaurant.  Basic tables and chairs and a counter where you collect the coupon and pay for your meal form the ambiance and the place is packed with bachelors satiating their taste for home food.  You are quite likely to find families as well and some elderly gentlemen reading Tamil magazines such as Ananda Vikatan!  Waiters in veshtis and plastic gloves serve food out of stainless steel utensils. 

For lunch, the regular and deluxe meals are available.  They are unlimited in quantity so make sure you are hungry! Clean your banana leaf and lie back and enjoy your food.  There is usually two dry vegetable dishes such as roasted yam (yummy!!) and beans and a kootu or a gravy made with vegetables (such as spinach) and dal.  An applam (papad) and a very delicious fried dried chilli stuffed with spices in curd  (called more molaga) is plonked on your leaf.  Rice is then served and you have a choice of four gravies – more kuzambu or curd curry, sambhar, rasam and puli kuzambu or tamarind curry.  All are fantastic so make sure you ration your rice and try each.  Then you can finish off with the rice and curds and their truly amazing fresh pickles.  The deluxe meals have pulav and raita and varuval or fresh chips as well.  Dessert was delicious jaggery payasam.  All this for Rs.65 to Rs. 75 per head. 

Sri Krishna Kafe is good value for money and an excellent bet for true Tamilian food in Bangalore. Just don’t expect frills or sophistication as part of the experience.  Parking is available outside the restaurant. 

For address, click here.