North/West Bangalore

District 6

Back in September, we heard this fascinating piece of news that Malleswaram got itself a microbrewery! We decided to go there at the very first opportunity. The long weekend in the beginning of October gave us just that – four days of holiday meant that we had enough time to get to the Sheraton (where it is located) and back. (never mind the publishing date) Speaking of the Sheraton, if you try to access District6 via the hotel’s main entrance, you’ll be asked to go right back, take the entrance just before Orion Mall and you’ll find the valet immediately to the left.

The place has a grunge wood exterior, and on a Saturday afternoon, didn’t really have the buzz that one normally sees in a microbrewery. In fact, it seems more like a fine dining restaurant which also happens to serve craft beer, and you’d realise that mostly because of the gleaming vats. There’s a seating area outside where you can sip beer and watch the world go by.

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High Ultra Lounge

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Sometimes when you’re high, you begin to brag, and sometimes it really can be justified – like when you’re a lounge on the 31st floor of the World Trade Centre, (map) making you one of the highest located dining points in the country, and when you command a breath-taking view of the city that’s arguably unparalleled. It is very rarely that you can get a sense of the city as a whole (outside of Google Maps) and the 180 degree view that High offers is almost humbling. But that’s enough of a high, let me give you the lowdown on the place itself.

It’s open from 5.30 -11.30 PM, and reserving in advance is a good idea. There are different kinds of High, each serving a specific purpose – High View is the lounge space, High Dine is more of a fine dining experience, High Mix is the place for a cocktail do, and High Edge is a private dining area. There’s a sense of shifting moods through these sections, brought about by the colours used and the lighting. Yet, despite the individual personas, all of these flow seamlessly into each other. The seating is trendy and comfortable across the spaces, and on a Saturday night, with music in the background, and the bright lights of Bangalore spread out in front of you, it is easy to feel on top of the world!

It didn’t really make sense to leave ourselves high and dry in such a wonderful ambience, so we quickly scanned the drinks menu – a mix of signature cocktails, classic fare, some interesting mocktails and everything else you’d need in a bar! From the signature drinks, we tried the Moon Lighting, the Spell Bound Bellini and The Last Order. I’d asked for the first, and the vodka based pink-orange coloured drink got me a few smirks from the guys, but that was settled by the Bellini, which was completely lady-like in its pink frothy (and tasty) avatar. The Last Order was a more subtle drink in all respects. The one mocktail we tried – Fame of Passion – was peachy and quite refreshing.

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The food menu, with a lot of focus on appetisers and short eats, is a mix of Asian cuisines – Japanese, Korean and Thai. We began with the salmon sashimi, complemented well by the wasabi and ginger, but preferred the Red Snapper Nigiri over this. Also in good form was the vegetarian dish we tried – the mildly spicy Shichimi-spiced Maki with tenkasu. The Pork Belly was quite good too – well cooked meat with a lime based tangy topping that gave it a flavourful pop. The Prawns Tempura also found a lot of takers – fluffy and crisp batter with succulent meat. The starters ended on a high with the fantastic Chilly Beef Asparagus, spicy enough even for the seasoned palates.

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On a relative scale, there aren’t a lot of choices in the main menu, and a couple of dishes weren’t available, but the remaining did suffice to make a decent meal out of it. The Beef stew was nowhere near what we’d consider a stew, but well cooked meat and mildly spicy flavours meant we didn’t really complain. The San Bei Chicken was a tad too salty for our liking. We had the Soba rice noodles with chilli to go with these and it was liked mainly thanks to its zesty spiciness. The seafood noodles was surprisingly insipid.

It’s a lounge, so understandably there aren’t many dessert options. To be precise, there are three, and the Banoffee Pie was an easy winner given that the competition was a fruit platter and homemade ice creams. The dessert wasn’t bad, though I can’t claim it was the best I’d eaten.

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At a height of over 420 feet and spread across 10000 square feet, High sets the bar high, literally and otherwise. Special thanks to Guru, who in addition to being wonderful at his job as the resident mixologist, also charmed us with his child management skills! An energetic yet relaxing ambiance, good appetisers, superb service, and a view that might remain unmatched for quite a while, High has everything going for it.  A meal for two would cost around Rs.3500 (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) The pricing might make it seem a little for the highborn, but hey, the experience is difficult to top!

High Ultra Lounge, Roof Top, World Trade Center, 31st Floor, Brigade Gateway Campus, 26/1, Dr. Rajkumar Road, Malleshwaram West, Ph: 08045674567

The Great Kabab Factory

The last time I was in the vicinity of Mantri Mall, I had some awesome food thanks to Partha Jha. The place we visited – Chandu’s Military hotel also sends lots of traffic to the other blog, thanks to a totally (food) unrelated post I wrote then. :)

This time, the visit was to an eatery inside the mall, for a Bangalore Mirror review. Parking at the mall is much better than in the initial days! Our destination – The Great Kabab Factory was a franchise that has operations in many parts of India and the Middle East, including the third floor of Mantri Mall.

The space has been utilised well, though the decor is pretty functional. The cutlery tries to lend a grand touch. The colours are also restrained except for the bright blue shades in the form of lighting, but these don’t help remove a general dimness. Interestingly, though the staff wear overalls to go with the factory idea, the theme ends there.

On to the menu. The dinner and weekend menu offers a selection of six kababs, followed by a biriyani main course and four desserts. The weekday menu is priced lower because a couple of kababs and desserts are taken out. The combination of kababs change  daily, and you stand a chance of getting the same combination only once a fortnight. But the signature dishes are available daily and after a round of all the kababs, you get to repeat your favourites. Ditto for the desserts. They also have a a well stocked bar, and given the price of the Fresh Lime Soda, you’re definitely better off guzzling beer. The prix fixe (set menu) weekday lunch is priced at Rs 449 plus taxes and weekends and dinners are at Rs 599 plus taxes. The price is the same for veg and non veg versions. Considering the options available, this is rather steep. (check comments for update)

Among the non vegetarian fare, the Galouti Kabab was the winner with its finely minced meat that puts it in the ‘melt in the mouth’ category. Roll it up in an ulta tawa paratha and you’re sure to ask for a repeat. The Taj Kabab with bell pepper and coriander was excellent too. The Shoolay Murgh Tikka, a mildly spicy kabab,  and the Shammi Kabab were also favourites. However, the signature Barrah Kabab was missing, and the Machhi Amritsari and the Lasooni Chooza were disappointing. The Phaldhari Chaat, roasted apple with chaat masala, was the redeeming dish in the veg menu. But charging the same rate for the veg fare seemed unfair. Especially since they were not great. The Paneer Tikka Kalimirch was bland and the Peshawari Aloo did nothing to impress either.

The Murgh Dum Biriyani was greasy and the Murgh Qurma accompanying it couldn’t do much to salvage it. Its veg counterpart, Vadi Pulao, wasn’t great either. The Shahi Tukda was the pick among the desserts though the Gulab Jamun had some competition to offer.  The Doodhi ka Halwa, made from bottle gourd, sounded promising, but didn’t actually work out.

The staff is well-trained and as each dish is brought to the table, give you a rapidfire tutorial on how it is to be consumed. The service is prompt and ensure you don’t feel too bad about the 10 per cent service charge.

The Great Kabab Factory does live up to its name and manages to produce quite a few delectable kababs but unfortunately, they don’t really come at Factory Outlet prices. So, unless you have just completed a bhook hartal or are gifted with phenomenal maas consumption abilities, the price of the kababs might make you go ‘Sheesh’!

The Great Kabab Factory, T-40, 3rd Floor, Mantri Square, #1 Sampige Road, Malleswaram, Bangalore 560003, Ph: 22667360

Coastaal Express

Hmm, while you could be pardoned for thinking about a special coastal train with piped music, its actually a restaurant and judging from the piped music, I don’t think a love for music had anything to do with that being the name. I’m guessing numerology.Don’t even think Ekkspress, evil soul!! :p

So, this place is a bit away from  our regular haunts but since we had to go to that part of town for some other purpose, we thought we might as well drop in at Shivananda Circle, especially since my previous experience there was wonderfully fishy :) . Here’s the map, and if that is confusing, lets make it simple. MG Road- Raj Bhavan Road-Race Course Road (Taj West End), take a right when you see Petals on your right, as soon as you turn, you’ll see the Solitaire Hotel on your left. Keep going straight and you’ll hit Shivananda Circle (its the next traffic signal) and see Coastaal Express on your left, but the other side of the road. So, don’t take a left turn at the junction, just go straight and turn left at the next bylane and another left, where you can park. Then just walk up the road, and you’ll have the place on the left. (Why do I get this feeling that these directions turned out more confusing, just like the erm, Left?) The first floor has the a/c section, and that’s where we went.

The ambience is quite good – they have this quaint display of old cooking utensils as soon as you enter, and the  seating is quite comfortable. We reached there around 8.15 and quite surprisingly, found only one table occupied, though by the time we feft an hour later, most of the tables were full. The menu starts with coastal food, but I also found an extensive Chinese section, complete with about 8 veg and non veg soups each, and a huge selection of starters and main course dishes. Ditto for the North Indian section (without the soups though) While you might wonder about the intelligence of this, i have seen enough people eating chow mein and dal makhani at such places for its presence to be justified. No, not that combination, thank God.

In the sea food section, there are different versions of squid, prawn and crab, even chinese and tandoor versions. Choices of fish too – anjal, kane, pomfret, silverfish, bangda. Mussels are not available, you could try a marvai sukka though. And to go with that – kori roti, moode, appam, pundi (rice balls) or if you’re a larger group, a coastal basket which has all these. And there are quite a few veg dishes too. There are thali options for lunch – veg, fish and chicken at Rs. 55, 80, 85 respectively.

We started with an anjal (king fish) masala fry – a single piece, we thought would be enough, a half portion of chicken ghee roast, and to go along with that, a plate each of moode and appam (2). Serving time will be at least 30 mins, the menu says. Bingo, and when the food got to us – we asked for it to be brought together, we realised that we would need one more plate of appam and also ordered a kane rava fry. The anjal fry would’ve been great if not for the all pervasiveness of salt, ditto for the chicken, in which you have six pieces with a pasty ‘gravy’. It went well enough with the appam and moode. The kane rava fry was excellent though – crisp and crunchy. The appam was made very well, and so was the moode. Moode tastes similar to sannas, but is  smaller and more cylindrical.

One word of caution here – the kane and anjal are priced according to size, so you might want to ask the price beforehand. We actually didn’t bother, and realised that one anjal piece cost us Rs.180, which was really not worth it. The kane rava fry (2 pieces) cost us Rs.160, over priced, we felt, but was at least worth it.

The dessert section had the usual suspects, from fruit sald and ice cream to gajar ka halwa and gulab jamun and caramel custard. For those who are wondering, they serve liquor too.

The total bill came to just over Rs.700. I’d say Something Fishy is a much better bet.

Coastaal Express, 6/4, Shivananda Complex, Sivananda Circle, Ph: 22355094/95

Menu at Zomato