Restaurant Reviews

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

Bombay Brasserie

I suspect I’ll have to lunch/dine out pretty much every single day at least for a month if I have to keep up with the number of restaurants that are opening in Indiranagar. One of the most prominent places that have sprung up in Spring-Summer 2017 is Bombay Brasserie. No prizes for guessing that it’s on 12th Main, though on the side closer to 80 ft Road. (map) I think they must have hit a wall trying to find space on the other side. (The Dravids stay there. #getit 😉 )

Anyway, we landed up on a Sunday afternoon without a reservation, mostly because they wouldn’t take a reservation. It was crowded as expected, and we were told that there would be a waiting time of around 45 minutes. I pictured myself braving the Whitefield-Indiranagar traffic on another weekend, and immediately expressed my deep appreciation for the short waiting time. But the lady at the reception was absolutely ‘crabby’ – tough countenance but total softie inside, since we got the table in less than 20 minutes! And that too, a lovely swing from which one could see the road. The decor consists of what is now becoming a standard – quirky furniture and showpieces (that Remington typewriter!), and a white-teal-blue colour scheme. But this has been done really well, with plenty of well arranged seating space, giving a lively yet relaxing vibe. I’m sure it looks even prettier at night.

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Float

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Take a deep breath and imagine this – a Moroccan themed rooftop lounge and restaurant serving Japanese and North Indian, located in the concrete abomination called Outer Ring Road. Whatever floats your boat, you might say, and Float is exactly what you now have in Kadubeesanahalli. (map, same building as Jashn) Truth be told, they have actually done quite a decent job with the ambiance. In addition to the standard tables and bar seating that offer a good view of the cityscape and probably the sunset as well, there are comfortable cabanas that amply justify the lounge tag. And if that weren’t enough, there are hookahs too, which seemed to be quite popular, judging by what we saw. But wait, there’s more. We were all in agreement that the dinner was just about average, but around the time we lef, there was a burst of affection for the place from the ladies in the group. Sounds fishy? It literally was, because the gamechanger was a mini fish spa located right in the middle of the restaurant, which was discovered only after our meal had ended. If you think this is surreal, let me share a quick note on the music. In the space of an hour and a half, I heard Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay and Backstreet Boys! The place might be named Float, but one way or another, it will leave you floored.

The menu makes you think, on multiple levels. Considering the place is fairly new, how could the menu get so dirty so fast? Beyond that distraction, the first drink we tried was the schizophrenic sounding Luv U Like A Women that added to this perception by being just a Cosmopolitan by another name. The group was unanimous that I needed a drink named “For Taller, Stronger, Sharper” – a warm combination of Brandy, Horlicks and honey. That wasn’t as bad as I had feared though it could have been mixed better. The second drink we tried from the Dawa Daaru section was what they called Sarkar’s Prescription. The description sounded like the Hot Toddy/Doctor’s Prescription available elsewhere – apple juice, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, honey and brandy. But trust things to go bad when the Sarkar gets involved! I was also punished later for giving the Scotch Float a chance – after all, what kind of person would ask for a drink that mixed whiskey and wine! One drink that worked relatively was Knock Out – a vodka, green chili, tabasco shot floating in beer. The mocktail we tried – Flying Kiwi – was colourful enough to be a kids drink, but was fine in terms of taste.

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Communiti

One of the best things about long weekends is the traffic, or rather the lack of it. Communiti had been hitting my Insta and FB feeds since it opened, and the long Republic Day weekend gave us the perfect excuse to make the long distance trip into town. It’s right next to Taj Gateway on Residency Road and very hard to miss! (map) We got there before 7 on a Saturday night and easily found a table in the al fresco section. If you get the right table, there’s a good view of the road to be had. The decor is typical gastro pub – quirky lighting fixtures, long benches, and so on. Their brewery will start only in March, we were told.

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The Teal Door Cafe

First published in Bangalore Mirror

“Cafe with a soul” is how The Teal Door Cafe describes itself, and it does live up to that on at least a couple of levels. The building it occupies is 25 years old and absolutely looks the part as it majestically stands out from the more standard ‘inhabitants’ of a small but busy road at one end of Indiranagar. This was Bow Barracks (for those who have been in Bangalore for a while). (map, you’ll have to make do with street parking) And while great food in itself is a good cause, the cafe does its bit for society too by employing underprivileged women. The highlight of the place, though, is its decor. Across four floors, there are alfresco as well as indoor seating options and several elements have been added to the wonderful red brick interiors to lend it an easygoing charm. The furniture for instance is far from constant – benches to sofas to bar stools to large cushions – but somehow they all seem to fit well together. The soft lighting gives the space an elegant yet cosy air, and if you start paying attention to the details, you’d notice that many of the things you see around are recycled. We sat on the first floor, enjoying the soft breeze from a large open window and it took the grill – made from the parts of an automobile – to remind us that we were here for a meal!

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Broadway Gourmet Theatre

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Even as recently as a decade back, going to HSR required a strong stomach, because very few roads even had streetlights! But times have changed. These days, I’m finding it difficult to digest the fact that more new eateries are opening here than in the neighbouring restaurant paradise (and our favourite) Koramangala! Broadway Gourmet Theatre is the latest attraction. (map, you’ll have to make do with basement/valet parking – a very helpful security guard!) The signage is bold enough to make it visible from afar, but for the kind of showbiz character the restaurant has chosen to have, we found the ambiance a little underwhelming. It isn’t as though the space is unrefined or cramped, it’s just that we expected a little more flair and grandeur. There is one way in which it redeems itself though – an outdoor section that offers a splendid view of not just HSR on one side and the busy Sarjapur Road on the other, but the greenery of the army land across the road. We spared a thought for the jawan guarding the compound border, probably sitting on duty for most of the day in the shade of lush trees, even as we prepared to do our duty and sample what the restaurant had to offer. Food, after all, knows no boundaries!

The elegant looking menu is an eclectic mix of various cuisines and we intended to try out as many as possible. Our original choice of Indonesian soup wasn’t available, thankfully so, because its replacement was the well presented Magic Mushroom soup. Though our hopes of ‘magic mushroom’ went up in the smoked porcini, the deliciously thick soup that also had button mushrooms and truffle was exactly what a wintry Bangalore night demanded! We did wonder why exactly the tender chicken stick that came with it was called a solder though. The Labneh Patty that followed was creamy awesomeness. The soft cheese, made from strained yogurt, was the melt-in-the-mouth variety and the patty’s crust provided just the right texture. The pork dish we wanted wasn’t available so we decided to swim with the tide and ordered a Tawa Grouper. The fish fillet had a chilli masala that provided an excellent contrast to the milder fare we’d had thus far. More