Restaurant Reviews

The Workshop

First published in Bangalore Mirror

The new restaurants that open on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar seem to be giving a hat tip to the traffic by having an automobile connection in their names. At least, that’s what struck me when I saw our destination – The Workshop – exactly opposite a restaurant called Horn OK Please. The restaurant has outdoor seating, which, if you can get over the blaring horns, does look like a comfortable place to watch the world go by. We chose to sit inside, where, on comfortable sofas or functional but aesthetically pleasing chairs, you can watch the IPL season go by. The wall graphics continue the theme (of the name) by creating a workshop impression out of kitchen utensils and the cooking process. The overall effect is bright and cheerful, and does a decent job of creating a relaxed, casual dining ambiance. The menu offers a mix of café fare and more elaborate dishes from Continental, Italian and North Indian cuisines. With the background of pop from the earlier part of this decade, we decided to begin.   More

Toast & Tonic

Monkeys thankfully evolve, such is the nature of things, and one such has now done exactly that to become Toast & Tonic: East Village Style. (map) Our East Village experiences have been limited to a couple of trips around Shillong and Gangtok (no need to get technical about directions, now!) and we’ve never actually been inside a barn, so back in March, we decided to broaden our perspectives on both counts and celebrate D’s birthday there.  It was meant to be a surprise for her, and since I’d heard that it was usually packed, I reserved a table a day before. But we got delayed a bit thanks to our neighbour-friends surprising us both with a cake. While on our way, I wondered whether I should call and request them to hold the table. Before I could do that though, I received a call from them confirming our visit. They also asked whether they should arrange a cake for D because they wouldn’t allow food from outside. Very classy, and professional. Impressed even before I got there.

From the very second visit, the front door of Monkey has given me a “TARDIS feeling”. Partly because of the door panel shape, but mostly because the space inside is much larger than what I’d have imagined from outside. T&T feels even bigger – the chipped wood ceiling seems higher, and somehow the overall place is roomier. It could partly be because only a couple of tables were occupied when we got in, but even when fully packed (which was the situation by the time we finished lunch) it doesn’t really feel congested. Everything from the bar and decor to tableware exudes a casual elegance, making it a perfect spot for a lazy Sunday lunch, which was what we were there for.

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Equation – Punjabi by Nature

If we go by the number of eateries found soon as you get down the Domlur flyover on the Indiranagar side, you’d think there is a famine on the other side. To add to Hoppipola, Mainland China, Barbeque Nation, Rajdhani and so on, we now have a Punjabi by Nature as well. We’ve liked the one at Koramangala, but found the Whitefield version  a bit meh. To give it a fair best of three, we decided to try out Equation – By Punjabi by Nature, one Sunday afternoon. (map, it’s in the same building as Linen Club)

It has a couple of floors, and the terrace seating area, I’d think, would be fantastic for a night out, but on a Sunday afternoon when Bangalore was beginning to show its summer self, we decided to sit downstairs. If they’d kept the railing a little lower, we’d actually have a great view of 100 feet Road.

A few of the Zomato reviews had given us the idea that this had a microbrewery just as the others did. I found no vats during our little tour, but still had hopes when I asked the service staff. They confirmed that they didn’t serve craft beer. I cried a little and then asked for an Acharoska. D felt so bad that she asked for a Peach Lassi, not even a cocktail. My drink wasn’t bad at all, the alcohol presence was well felt, though the Achaar was a bit over the top. The Lassi didn’t taste as well as it looked, and wasn’t particularly peachy, literally and otherwise.

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Mighty Small

First published in Bangalore Mirror

One of the ‘perks’ of getting into 1MG Mall from the Indiranagar side is that you get to play/watch NASCAR in the last stretch. After the Trinity signal, you’ll swing wildly to the left, because you have to turn into Kensington Road, cutting through the blaring horns (with vehicles attached) that want to continue on Swamy Vivekananda’s path. Then you’ll swing sharply right to catch the mall entry, again zooming past irritated folks who just want to go straight. If you’re wondering what this has to do with a restaurant review, well, it sets the mood for Smaaash, whose eatery – Mighty Small – we will now focus on. Smaaash is a gaming and entertainment center, and locating Mighty Small within it reminded me of Crystal Maze! In line with everything around it, Mighty Small has a carnival theme, and one must admit that it holds an appeal and charm for kids of all ages, including those in their late thirties. The popcorn machine, the red and white colour palette, the desserts display, the circus-tents and balloons, all create a bright and cheerful ambiance. Add to that a DJ who set a peppy tempo to the proceedings with everything from Karz to Avicii, and we had all in readiness for the circus!

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Horn OK Please

First published in Bangalore Mirror

The last thing you need on 100 feet Road Indiranagar is a signage that proclaims “Horn OK Please”, but hey, that’s what the new restaurant and bar is called. What adds to the twist is that it is right below the very musical sounding B Flat & Highnote. (map) True to its name, you hear the place before you see it. As you step out of the lift, you are greeted with the sounds of a Bollywood remix, and that’s one of the décor themes as well. Reworded Bollywood titles – Brosnan in Dabond executed superbly on a corrugated sheet, Rajinikanth in Endiranator and so on. Stallone would punch someone if he was saw ‘Rocky Rocky Rocky Sawant’, but it does deliver the LOL. The rest of the décor – bright an vibrant colours, truck art, lanterns and some of the seating – makes you think of a stylised dhaba. One element that really deserves a mention is the wordplay on the menu – from Palak Dikhla Ja to Skewer ka Baccha to Pathar Late Than Never, the pages are packed with puns that add a fun element to standard dishes.

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Tippler on the Roof

On one of those Sundays when we felt like visiting a completely new place, we chanced upon Tippler on the Roof on Zomato and decided to make a trip to Indiranagar. I think mid-morning trips in Bangalore are also instances of time travel – not only do you cover distances much faster, you also start noticing old buildings and establishments that are usually blocked from view thanks to traffic. Meanwhile, from the address, (map) I figured that TotR had replaced Khaaja Chowk.

I remember Khaaja Chowk having an alfresco section, but there’s a retractable roof now. The layout itself has been completely changed. There’s a stage and some plush sofas next to it. Seating is mostly along the remaining three walls with a few tables in the central space. These are mostly functional seating with a touch of grunge. The walls are where Russia meets pop culture. Star Wars and Breaking Bad posters hang out with Stalin and Communist propaganda. Makes for an interesting mix!

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Tom Yum Thai

First published in Bangalore Mirror

I realised recently that if you want to save on the time and expense of international travel, and yet explore the cuisine of Southeast Asia, all you have to do is travel from one end of 12th Main to the other – The Fatty Bao, Mamagoto, One Night in Bangkok, Phobidden Fruit! These establishments though, are largely gastro pubs, and barring very few exceptions, end up costing as much as that international trip! And thus I wondered how a Thai restaurant on CMH road would play it. Though on the main road, it’s pretty well hidden, and the presence of a clinic on the ground floor might intimidate or assuage, depending on how you see it. (map) Perched on the top floor, its terrace section easily outscores the indoor option. So much so that we saw people waiting for a spot outside, even though there were tables vacant inside! The high roof, the Buddha, all lend a certain sense of calm, and with the kind of weather we’re having, the ambiance outside is spot on for a good dining experience. It also manages to minimise the potential damage that can be caused by “Hits of MLTR” playing in a loop.

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Aroi

This post is about Aroi in Kadugodi, Whitefield. For the Aroy in JP Nagar, see Aroy

I’ve always wanted to do that Wiki kind of redirection! 😀 Once upon a time Aroi used to be called Mekong and had outlets in Sarjapur Road and Park Square Mall in Whitefield. The latter has now been closed, and shifted to Shigehalli. (map) No, it’s not as bad as it sounds, and is only 15-20 minutes from Whitefield.

One evening, D was particularly in the mood for Thai food, and we knew from prior searches that the options in our neighbourhood were very limited. We had almost decided to make a trip to Indiranagar when I found, buried inside Zomato, the Aroi listing. It seemed relatively new, and since we had liked Mekong quite a bit, we decided to try our luck.  More

The Riverside Bar & Kitchen

First published in Bangalore Mirror (That headline! It wasn’t me)

The name Riverside, in Whitefield, might bring to mind visions of a frothy water body that’s infamous in the area, but thankfully the restaurant’s ambiance does a great job of helping us tide over it. The canoe near the entrance, the superb lighting, and a very enticing bar are some of the highlights of a décor job well done. Unfortunately the section upstairs wasn’t open for service, but our outdoor seating – with the bar on one side, and more standard liquid (water) flowing on the other – was quite pleasant. The other element worth a mention is the music. It was quite the ‘mixtape’ of 80s and 90s. From Lionel Richie to MLTR and “Nothing’s gonna change my love for you” to “How Bizarre”, it was quite a trip.

In keeping with the name, the menu does have a lot of focus on aquatic food. Add to this multiple cuisines – Coastal, North Indian, Chinese and Continental – and you have a menu that travels really far, and across a lot of pages. The predictable problem with that though, is the unavailability of dishes. The good news is that, thanks to the elaborate menu, there’s still quite a lot of choice.

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Watsons

From the time it had opened, I’ve had fangirls (and some boys) telling me I really should drop in. But something or the other, mostly the move to Whitefield, kept me from the place. But finally, in a very un-elementary way, it was my desire to push myself out of a post-dengue lethargy that got us to make the long trip to Ulsoor. (map) The map is perfect, and that building is a mini Church Street now in terms of eating options! This place was deserted when we were staying in Cox Town. (2006-08) There is nothing that indicates though, that Watsons is on the fourth floor! We saw floors 3,5 and 6, (those last two are eerily silent and desolate) and finally walked into Watsons at about 6:45. The plan was to reach at 6 and watch the sunset, but we had an Uber driver who hasn’t discovered gears beyond the first. We just about managed to find a table in the corner that offered a great view. I don’t know if they take reservations, but on Saturdays, I think it’d be a good idea to come early and park yourself. By 7.30, there was a constant stream of people waiting outside.

Decor elements are the standard contemporary ‘happening pub’ variety – wall art, dim lighting, a well stocked bar in the centre, a mix of high tables and standard ones, fun posters in the loo and so on. But forget all that, it’s a damn good place to nurse a drink and watch the city skyscape. Sigh. More