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.

http://barbeque-nation.com/

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.

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Mugen

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.

Southindies

May 15, 2007

This review is also available on burrp!

If gongura chutney, rasam and idli-vada are what you crave, head over to South Indies. This new vegetarian restaurant specializes in cuisine from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Andhra and has a sit down restaurant area, a live kitchen, a bar, a business lounge and a party terrace. Interesting, the people behind the restaurant include a 19-year old entrepreneur, a well known chef and cricket commentator and one of the co-founders of Deccanet.

It is located in Indiranagar in a beautiful house converted into a restaurant. Décor is a mixture of contemporary and classic with comfortable tables and chairs with some traditional pieces such as an antique Chettinad mirror and coloured stainless steel tiffin boxes and tumblers. I found the seating slightly crowded.

We visited this restaurant for the buffet lunch on Mother’s Day since I had this craving to touch base with my Tamilian roots. The buffet had live counters dishing out appams and parotas. The appams were excellent with the vegetable stew while the parotas went well with the vendaikai chettinad, ladysfinger in a spicy tamarind and pepper gravy. The tomato rasam was fantastic and so was the drumstick sambar and steamed rice and the beans cooked Andhra style. Other items including the Andhra vegetable biryani and the bottle gourd kootu (a gravy made with dal and vegetables) were good. Sides included papads, mango chutney, chutney pudi and pickles. Dessert included yummy semiya payasam and vanilla ice cream. I finished the meal with perfect filter kapi (it does not come with the buffet) served steaming hot in gleaming stainless steel cup and tumbler. An a la carte menu is also available and included tiffin/snack items like dosas, pongal, uppittu as well as main course dishes.

Valet parking is available. The buffet is priced at Rs.175 per head plus taxes. Crowd consists mainly of families. I recommend you go to this restaurant if you like authentic South Indian cuisine and do not normally eat this kind of food at home.

For address and telephone number, click here.

Herbs & Spice

March 11, 2007

This little eatery with a menu written on a blackboard offers the real deal for lovers of Italian food.

Located on a quite residential area off 100 ft road in Indiranagar, the decor here is basic and reminded me of a neighbourhood pizzeria or diner. A partial view of the kitchen with swing doors which lead to it, lots of wood, and an unevenly painted blue wall create a somewhat rustic, country and homely feel to the place. Loaves of bread are arranged in wicker baskets while the glass display case offers a view of homemade cakes and desserts.

We started our meal with a mushroom soup – I give it five stars – it was fantastic. We also tried the spinach soup – green and healthy – but I found it a little too raw-veggie-flavoured for my taste. The most perfect part of the meal was the salads. First one – pears, walnuts, argula and parmesan – luscious, juicy pears and crunchy walnuts in a bed of fresh lettuce! The second – I think this is probably the best salad I have had in Bangalore – figs, mozzarella and mixed greens in the most perfect citrus flavoured dressing ever! The salads come with a nice bread basket.

For the main course, we tried the smoked chicken and mozzarella sandwich and the grilled chicken stuffed with herb pesto. My vote goes for the second – it was really good with a sides of a salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green peppers) and just-cooked carrots and green beans. The sandwich was ok.

For dessert, we had the chocolate éclair and the chocolate fondue with icecream. The chocolate éclair was yummy with dense chocolate between homemade chocolate cake slices. The chocolate fondue had an half an hour of waiting time and was good, but not great.

The restaurant has a friendly, informal ambiance. However, service can be much better. The owner was great, but the rest of the staff need some training. The waiter seemed to mumble through any questions we asked about the menu and had a “I could care less” attitude. We initially ordered for the chocolate éclair and another dessert (I forget the name) which did not require us to wait. After ten minutes, we got our order of the éclair but no sign of the other dessert. After I called the waiter and asked him about it, he very sheepishly told us it was over. He should have told us about it immediately after we placed the order but did not think it necessary to do so until I asked him about it. Maybe he thought we would forget?

Parking is available on the road outside the restaurant. Herbs and Spice is a good option to visit with family and friends. Do make reservations, it tends to get crowded at peak hours.

For address and phone number, click here.

100 ft Boutique Restaurant

February 13, 2007

This review is also available on burrp!

Located in a remodeled villa in upmarket Indiranagar, 100 feet restaurant serves up food, as well some cool shopping. The boutique sells various artifacts such as wall décor, masks, nick-nacks and so forth and clothing including hip and funky party clothes, jewellery and scarves (and lovely beaded sandals – the kind that look good with a summery skirt – for Rs.600 – Rs.700); and the restaurant serves Mediterranean food.

The ambiance here is fantastic – you dine downstairs under the covered patio or up at the terrace, and it is an ideal place to catch up with friends. The terrace has a bar area as well. The food is not anything to rave about but is pleasant enough. The starters are quite good – try the garlic bread brushed with basil leaves or the bruschetta. Minestrone soup was passable. We went vegetarian that day – for the main course we tried lasagna and the spaghetti arabiatta (pasta in tangy tomato sauce).

All in all, no negative notes in the food – it was ok. Valet parking is available. Dinner for two with alcohol is approximately Rs.1100.

For address and phone number, click here.

Shiok

December 29, 2006

This review is also available on burrp!

Absolutely fabulous food in a classy ambiance with wonderful service – that sums up my experience at Shiok.

Shiok serves food from Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia and Indonesia and it sure tastes as authentic as what you would get there. For starters, I asked the steward for his recommendation and decided on the Pomfret in Drunken Sauce. Drunken sauce is a Thai sauce made with chillies, basil, garlic, white pepper and oyster sauce and it was delicious. The pomfret was crisp and fresh and knocked our socks off. I highly recommend this dish for a taste of heaven! For the main course, we ordered steamed rice and Sumatra fish curry, which is an Indonesian curry. It was delicious. Dessert was tiramisu – yummy! Shiok has a wide range of very exotic cocktails, mocktails and imported liquor. My cosmopolitan was very good.

The restaurant section at Shiok has an outdoorsy feel to it, while the lounge area section with its spiffy red walls and dark upholstery has a very warm and upscale flavour. The atmosphere was very comfortable and seemed to very easily accommodate a range of people – there were families, couples on a romantic date, friends chilling out, even a lone diner; and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

The service was really good –and took me completely by surprise. The steward and the waiter took the trouble to help us with our choices. We were wondering whether to order the crab when the waiter actually brought out the live crab to show us.

My complaint – the bathrooms were smelly. I told the waiter, who did get it cleaned immediately.

Shiok is located at 2nd Floor, #12, CMH Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore, ph: 41161800. It is open from 12 pm to 3:30 pm and from 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm. I was lucky enough to find parking directly outside on the crowded road but the website says that plenty of parking is available opposite the restaurant. A meal for two with a drink each is approximately Rs.850.