Restaurant Reviews

Bar Bar

Whitefield scores high on beer, but is relatively less awesome when it comes to cocktails. Shizusan was a welcome relief, and we then found out that Bar Bar had opened right next door. The menu seemed very promising and we landed up there one Saturday evening, braving the Kumbh Mela in front of Phoenix. We weren’t early enough to catch the outside-facing tables, but were comfortably placed at a table near the bar. This portion was rather empty, and we didn’t mind the peace. There was no quiet because the sound system was blaring hits. We didn’t mind that either. The decor echoes the grunge look that Social made familiar, but the decor has more fancy elements and yes, better cutlery! 😉

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Brewklyn

In the recent past, whenever we look at “newly opened places” on Zomato, Kalyan Nagar is quite the dominant player. While I am yet to ascertain the exact difference in coordinates between that place and Kammanahalli, given that we’re in Bangalore, it’s probably just a difference on what side of the road one is on! Kammanahalli was mostly nothing when we used to stay in Cox Town a decade ago, but soon after we shifted back to Koramangala, the place started sprouting restaurants and that too varied cuisines! We still hold that grudge and that, plus the thought of having to cross Tin Factory, have kept us away from this part of the town. All we did was look at it guardedly on our way to the airport and back. It was the microbrewery that changed the equation.

And thus we headed to Brewklyn fairly early on a Saturday evening to beat the traffic. (map) I really liked the area – seems well planned, and in the context of eateries very well sorted! The same building has a Barbeque Nation, and across the road, we could see Korean, Chettinad and steak cuisines! Brewklyn is on the 4th and 5th floors, and since we found a nice road-facing spot on the former, we didn’t bother going upstairs until after we finished our meal. On a relative note, I found the ambiance downstairs a little more gastropub (despite the graffiti and the pool table) and the upstairs section more like a brewery. Downstairs, you could seat yourselves on some plush seating inside or like us, watch the skyline on bar stools outside. The view was fantastic, especially so since we reached around dusk.

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Shizusan Shophouse & Bar

The plan originally was to go Irish House or Social, but as we entered Phoenix Market City, we noticed a new signage. A quick Zomato search showed me a menu that was very, very appealing! So, after business as usual at the mall, we headed over to Shizusan on the food court floor. At 7 PM, we had no problem finding a table. We contemplated sitting outside, but the one seat that offered a good view of the mall was already taken, so we decided the well lit, very pretty indoors was the better place to be. The seating is largely functional, though the chairs do exhibit a sense of aesthetics. The greenery on the ceiling is unfortunately unreal, but thankfully doesn’t really take away from the effect.  There’s some very elegant art at one corner that brings out the cuisine theme, and the only sore thumb in this entire set up are the table tops, which reminded me of very old restaurants. I refuse to believe there is anything related to the theme at work here!

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Hoot

It absolutely was, and it had nothing to do with the food, service or anything that you’d normally judge a restaurant/pub on. Normally, nothing would get me to visit Sarjapur Road, but hey, microbrewery. That, and its photos on Zomato making it look like the sets of MTV Grind! (who remembers?)

Truth be told, the ambiance was quite good. Poolside would have been perfect, but we were told that the section wasn’t open because there was a rain forecast. We’ll get back to this. We got ourselves a table near the bar. The crowd was extremely mixed – fresh-out-of-engineering-college gawking kids, middle aged families, Sarjapur’s Page 3 equivalent, living ads of  Malabar Gold, probably businessmen, and so on. Hoot 1 – crowd. Not enough children though, so I didn’t have anyone to make faces at.

As we waited for our friends, we decided to get ourselves some beer. Out of the five craft brews, only two were available. D ordered a Saint Martin Abbey Triple, which was described as “liquid gold served to perfection”. After we tasted it, the only thing I was left wondering was whose liquid gold? Ugh! I had asked for the other available beer – Saint Martin Abbey Dark, which was described as “an uplifting experience”. This one delivered on the promise, only because it is easy to uplift anyone who has tasted that Morarji Desai prescription known as Abbey Triple! Our friends arrived by then, and after tasting both, decided to order wine an cocktails. No Rose wines were available, and no Bira, so the poor souls settled on Tuborg and a Blood Orange & Mint cocktail. My friend described the latter as Rasna with a hint of Vodka. The rest of us missed the hint.  More

Bloomsbury’s

Sometime back, we were super happy to see gastronomic progress happening in a building near the BMTC Depot in Whitefield. (map) Galito’s and Cold Stone Creamery were quick to start reperations, and we now regularly make up excuses to visit the latter! Bloomsbury’s looked very promising but had been holding out, until we began seeing lights inside around April. Side note – I think the same folks are behind all three, because it can’t be a coincidence that outside of Bangalore, all of them operate only in Kerala’s tourism hot spot – Lulu Mall. Though all three seem to be international franchises, I’m guessing that like most good things in life, these ones too have some Kerala connection. 😀

Bloomsbury’s proposition is a boutique cafe and artisan bakery, but let’s just say that from a menu perspective, you will have enough to choose from. In fact, that is quite a problem because you’ll find it difficult to preserve appetite for desserts. But we’ll come to that in a bit, because the decor is worth a shout out. Spread over two floors, the brick walls with chalkboard and illustrations, the cute teapot lights, the plant holder bulbs,  graffiti and the plush seating, all lend a lively yet cozy feel to the place. The staff do their best to make you comfortable too. For instance, when we asked to sit upstairs, we were told that it wasn’t open yet. Later, one of the other service staff let another party sit upstairs, followed by my cold glares. That last item was caught and they were nice enough to let us take a little tour upstairs, and move our food there if we wanted to. But we liked the area downstairs better.

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Dhaba by Claridges

We had spotted the place during our visit to Sly Granny, and liked the look of it, so at the very next opportunity – which happened to be our anniversary – we decided to drop in. (map) It was also the first day of my new job, so it turned out to be a double celebration. At 7 PM on a Monday we had the place all to ourselves, at least for a while. In fact, I think we disturbed their prep meeting! We really liked what they have done with the decor – it’s bright and has classic Dhaba signs and messages, some of the seating is inspired by classic vehicle interiors, the music is absolute Bollywood, and even the loo continues the Dhaba messaging. The thing though, is that it is all done classily – Dhaba fine dining all the way.

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Sly Granny

With a 4.0 rating at Zomato, and the “oohs and ahhs” I heard from folks, Indian culture demanded that we visit the elderly lady in Indiranagar and pay our respects. That’s how, helped by the relatively peaceful Bangalore roads on the Easter long weekend, we ended up at Sly Granny on the more peaceful side of 12th Main. (map) Either Granny was in a cantankerous mood or snootiness runs in the locality (Bombay Brasserie also turned up its nose recently), I couldn’t reserve a table. Our way around is to arrive early enough, so at 7 PM we walked up to the 3rd floor, eyeing Claridges’ Dhaba (2nd Floor) on the way.

Granny lives on two floors – the lower one is divided into a Lobby Bar (where you can wait if you can’t find seats) and a Dining Room, while the upper area is the Living Room and Terrace. The Dining Room is where she’ll likely entertain people of her age (and ours) since despite the risque art, the seating is more conservative and ‘proper’. The terrace and the stairs leading up to it are much more livelier and prettier, I’d say. The seating as well as the alfresco setting gives it a more relaxed feel. Sitting there though, was unfortunately not an option for us since there was some private party starting there soon. In fact, one suited gentleman rewarded us with a delightfully funny scowl for disturbing the peace (uncharacteristically, since the staff is otherwise polite and friendly) as we took a little tour before we went down and meekly took our corner table.

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The Brew & Barbeque

First published in Bangalore Mirror under my more famous pseudonym 😉

In the steel and concrete drabness that goes by the name of Outer Ring Road, it takes a sense of irony to name a mall Soul Space Arena! But maybe there’s hop, my Malayali mind thought, when I heard that a microbrewery had begun operating there. That’s how we landed at The Brew and Barbeque. To be honest, I didn’t really have a good feeling about this- the last time we visited a microbrewery operating in a mall on Old Madras Road, we had a very bitter experience! But to be fair, once you step inside, it’s easy to forget the mall environment. Part of it is to do with the spaciousness, the place is huge. The simplistic furniture – mostly bare wooden tables and functional chairs – allows efficient usage of space, making it seem even more roomy. A DJ and a giant screen to complete the pitcher!

In what is a departure from menus I’ve seen recently, the place has a fairly simple, small and what one might call an unambitious menu. What it smartly does is focus on dishes that go well with a mug of beer. Speaking of that liquid, there were three kinds available, and we asked for samplers. The wheat was what you’d call barley passable! The lager was much better in terms of flavour and feel. The red ale was milder than what I expected but likeable enough. The other kind of drink we tried was a mango lassi, and while it tasted fine, the flavour was packaged mango and not any real fruit.

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Nasi and Mee (Whitefield)

Our visits to the black box VR mall have been predominantly for the happy hours at Irish House. On one such visit, we were super thrilled to see a Nasi and Mee ‘coming soon’ sign right next door. We’d been really happy with its Koramangala version. But for the longest while, the sign was all there was, and we had given up! On the 1st of April, we decided that it was as good a day as any to check if we’d continue to get fooled. But voila, it was open, with the familiar Edison lamps (though every restaurant now sees it as the passport to coolth!) no-nonsense seating, and those shutters that remind me of a place from long, long ago.

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Since we were early, we easily found a seat, especially since we chose to sit in the alfresco section. I don’t think they’ve publicised the place much, since it wasn’t really fully occupied even when we left around 9. A far cry from the Koramangala version, which would’ve had a crowd waiting outside for a table!  More

Rural Blues

First published in Bangalore Mirror

For a few seconds after you’ve entered Rural Blues, you might get the notion that you’re in Santorini, and not Sarjapur Road. While some uncharitable souls might claim it’s because of the distance you’ve had to travel to get there, (map) it’s actually more an effect of the Mediterranean colour palette that has been used very well. The open courtyard section with the little waterway, and smart use of mirrors make for a very relaxing ambiance, even as a stage for live music gives it a dash of verve. The seating inside is more standard fine dining in comparison, with lounge chairs, sofas and functional furniture. The lighting adds to the elegance, and the only thing that sticks out literally and metaphorically in the scheme of blue and complementary colours is the red cola fridge in the bar area. Speaking of sticking out, I did wonder whether the spelling of some words in the menu – noodels, carribian to name a couple – gave it an unintentional rural touch! ‘Herbes’, in particular, could be a sore spot for a restaurant that’s meant to be fine dining!

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I am now beginning to think there’s some deep conspiracy that involves the state of menus in newly opened restaurants. This one practically came apart in my hands! While on conspiracies, the one we did discover later in the meal was that the place served cocktails. No, it’s not on the menu, but when asked, we were given a range to choose from – mostly vodka and rum based! By then, it was too late – we were well into our second beer. I briefly contemplated singing Kaisi teri khudgarzi – a song featuring Ranbir and the beer brand we were consuming, but refrained when I realised the risk of being berated for it. Flat beer joke, I know! More