Restaurant Reviews

The Glass House

Though we’ve been hearing a lot about this place on Lavelle Road, (map, they have valet parking) a love for my internal organs had made me resist it every time D made the suggestion. But for her birthday dinner, we decided to finally drop in there. The place is indeed lovely, especially at night, when the roof can be seen in full glory. Some of the open air seating on the ground floor makes for a good setting, but we preferred sitting upstairs in a corner overlooking the next compound and a jackfruit tree! We arrived early and had a table reserved, but it did get crowded by around 8.30, so you might want to book a table.

They have a pretty impressive wine list and we tried the Malbec Bodega Norton Coleccion and Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Redvale ‘Rivergum’. The first had a sweet spice hint and the latter was more full blooded with a berry undertone. We asked for a Bacon and pickled chilly hash, served with a three cheeses dip. That was just average since the flavours mentioned in the name never really appeared. D volunteered to finish my wine so I could try a Tennessee Coffee. JD, coffee and chocolate were all very well represented in this one, and I enjoyed the play of the flavours.

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For the mains, there were quite a few pizza options available, but I decided to try a TGH chicken lasagna and D asked for a Chicken Breast Grill with Chimichurri marinade and Red wine shallot butter sauce served with Parmesan & Black Pepper Mashed Potato. Despite all the sidekicks the latter had, I preferred the lasagna – the cheddar and parmesan cream were fantastic and the herbed tomato provided that little extra zing to the dish. The Tiramisu had been highly recommended but I chose it halfheartedly after seeing the chocolate options. Thank God. Fantastic stuff!

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The service is quite helpful and prompt. The ‘happy ending’ hid a bill of a little over Rs.3900. Yes, the kind of place where you’d go for a fancy dinner with an enormous choice of wines, reasonably good food, at least one great dessert. You then hope you can live with just that one kidney ;)  Actually, for the location, ambiance, service and food, it’s not that high priced.

Those shoes in the desserts display were quite cute though I wondered if anyone ever ate those chappals. Ok, heels!

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The Glass House, 25/2, Lavelle Road, Ph: 65419999

P.S. Also noted that Java City is being demolished. So many life defining conversations and experiences have happened there. :(

Oliver’s Pizzas

First published in Bangalore Mirror

The name Oliver immediately reminds me of Charles Dickens’ character and his famous words “Please sir, I want some more.” Ironically, I came *this* close to uttering those very words, thanks to a little ‘bait and switch’. Allow me to explain. Oliver’s has become quite famous in the Whitefield area for their pizzas and when I heard that they had an expanded menu, I decided to check it out immediately. Unfortunately, Oliver’s had a twist in store for me and the said menu wasn’t yet operational.

But hey, there was beer, pizza, pasta and more waiting to be had, so we settled down. The ambiance is as casual as it can get – a nondescript alley that leads to a house converted into a friendly neighbourhood joint. At some point during the meal, thanks to the combined effect of the spirits, friends, and soulful Knopfler tunes, I looked up, hoping for a profound moment of star gazing, and end up staring at tarpaulin! Actually, on Friday nights, even these moments could be occasional, as the George Michael song you’ve been listening to suddenly gets a Savage Garden touch and Guns N’ Roses uncharacteristically begins asking questions about Alice. No, it isn’t the beer talking, it’s what happens when Oliver’s excellent playlist collides with the voices of people who think they are singers, all thanks to the karaoke nights at Opus next door! And it’s all good fun!

The starters on the menu have not been designed for a starring role, that’s for the pizzas and the beer, so you’ll be looking at the likes of Chicken Wings and Chilly Paneer. We began with a different-sounding Spicy Kim’s chicken. It was spicy as promised but had a rather strong thing going on with mustard. The Pepper Chicken was rather mild in comparison, had some salt bombs and was fried a little too much. Spicy Potato Wedges were up next and they probably should’ve spent more time in the kitchen getting baked. The Cajun Chicken Fingers, on the other hand, were superbly cooked and left no room for complaints.

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My Bar

No, not mine, it’s just a name. Located above Kobe in Koramangala, (map) it occupies a couple of floors, both offering my favourite kind of road-view seating. That’s probably what prompted a second visit. The place has a lot of knickknacks – lanterns hanging from the roof, and everything from compasses to framed Someecards adorning the walls. While the first visit was on a night when D and I were not really hungry, the second was a Sunday afternoon when the bellies were mostly empty! Their bar menu has quite a few interesting cocktails. On our first visit, we tried a Kala Khatta – a mix of vodka, black salt, chaat masala and raw mango mix, with mint, and a green chilli. Quite good, with multiple flavour pops, the only spoiler being the extended presence of crushed ice. We also tried a couple of starters – Beef Pepper Fry and Coorgi Pork. The first was (mostly) well cooked beef with the pepper corn adding a spicy touch. The braised pork was served with Kadamputtu, the pork itself was mildly spicy and juicy, but the accompaniment could have done better for itself.

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Twist

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Straight off the bat, I have not yet been able to figure out exactly why this new lounge in Koramangala is called Twist, unless I factor in the occasional ‘twists’ in the dishes. I’ll admit though that it does have its little quirks in décor – the cutlery themed door handles, the retro electric switchboard, the fake grass flooring and the copper balti washbasin, which, I hear, is fast becoming a norm in new restaurants. Being a rooftop lounge, it is able to takes full advantage of the lovely Bangalore weather, though I wonder what would happen when it rained. The place was reasonably packed when we visited on a Saturday night. For a lounge, I thought the tables could have been a bit more spread out. It also didn’t help that the rattan seating got a bit uncomfortable after a while, enough for a couple of my friends to twist and turn and make me wonder about the name. The other thing that made me reflect on the name was the spelling of ingredients in the menu – a whole bunch of them have been twisted around! Meanwhile, the service deserves a special mention for their friendly demeanour and promptness.

Given that the starters get a disproportionate share of the overall menu because it is a lounge, our focus too was on this section. Rather uncharacteristically, we decided to begin with a salad. My natural aversion to this gastronomic species was reinforced when the Thai Chilly Beef salad failed to deliver the spicy punch it had promised in the description. It probably had something to do with the Naga Chilli not turning up for the show at all! The Pesto Cheese Skewers had every ingredient in attendance but the pesto wasn’t really in a participatory mood, leaving the dish quite bland. More ‘greenery’ arrived in aquatic form – the Charmula fish. The basa was cooked just right and the marinade had enough flavour to turn the tide. The Pandi Papdi lived up to its interesting name – pork served on a crispy version of lavash. The well-cooked, mildly spicy pork and the texture of the lavash made sure it was a reasonable success. The Mozzarella Chicken Sish (sic) was another combination that aroused curiosity. The mince was marinated with Awadhi masala, and tempered with cheese stuffing. Not a bad attempt at all. Our favourite dish was the Chicken Chettinad Puff – fluffy-not-flaky pastry stuffed with tasty chicken morsels – unanimously voted the dish of the day. More

Big Pitcher

Microbreweries have been sprouting all over the place and Big Pitcher was one of the couple that we had not been to. So on one of those Sundays when I had craft beer on my mind, we decided to drop in there. (map) Five floors on Old Airport Road, I thought that was indeed a brave business decision! The first floor was closed during lunch time, so we made our way to the second floor. The place has a theme straight out of some old western movie, complete with guns, Chuck Norris posters and swinging doors!

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Malabar Bay

On one of those evenings when we were in the mood for our very own Mallu food, we decided to check out a place that had been on my list for a while now – Malabar Bay. This is on the Dairy Circle side of The Forum and off Taverkere Road. (map) There used to be a Kairali here if I’m not mistaken. We reached there by 7.30 and could choose a seat, but it did get crowded later. The place is quite large and portions of it have quite the Kerala touch when it comes to decor. We chose to sit in the AC section upstairs but you better be prepared for Siberia-like temperatures if you plan to do this. I wasn’t!

From the menu, we ordered a Koondal (squid) Roast. This was our second choice since mussels weren’t available, but turned out to be a good one. It was spicy and the squid was cooked just right. We also ordered a Podhi Chicken, since this wasn’t something we found on the standard Mallu menus. Wrapped in banana leaves and moderately spicy, this was quite fantastic too. It isn’t boneless though.

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The Warehouse

First published in Bangalore Mirror.

The Island has turned into a Warehouse, (map) and the refurbished outlet now sports a casual bar look and feel. An open bar and extra seating that takes complete advantage of Bangalore weather, a basement area that aims to give an underground tone, a stage on a higher level to host special events, and a basketball court (!) all contribute to a very energetic vibe. Apparently the place turns into one massive club on weekend evenings. The seating is a bit skewed towards larger groups but that’s probably because the audience they want to cater to typically hang out in herds. The walls have an industrial look, complete with exposed bricks and warning signs, which accentuates the name of the place and its underlying theme. The music is upbeat and I got quite a few dirty looks from the rest of the group for using the spring seat to good effect!

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The bar was well stocked on paper, including a few standard cocktails.  A few beers though, were unavailable. I tried a Pain Killer, usually a rum based drink, but this one was Whiskey and one of the best I’ve had. It wasn’t stingy on the alcohol but managed to balance it out really well. The LIT was also quite heady. The Spicy Margarita used chilli powder for spice and the drink in itself was just about fine.

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The Biere Club

When Whitefield and beer intersect, our choice is usually Windmills Craftworks, which is my favourite microbrewery in town. But this time we decided to check out the Whitefield version of The Biere Club. I have also seen it being referred to as 153, Biere Street, though that seems an outdated usage. This is located behind Forum Value Mall, (map) on the road which once hosted Like That Only. We walked in just as the power went off, though they recovered in a couple of minutes. The Biere Street name is actually quite apt since they have created a street-like appearance with a row of shops. There are about three separate seating options, and the alfresco one was completely reserved. We sat inside, near the microbrwery vats.

The menu is fairly similar to the one used in Lavelle Road, though I think there have been a few additions since this one was uploaded.  I started with a Stout N Cola Shandy and D asked for a Biere Sangria. The Shandy (except for the glass in which it was served) was perfect with just the right amount of cola for the stout to shine through. The red wine sangria, though it had a fairly large role for ice cubes, was enjoyed as well. I then tried a sampler of the Club Special, but didn’t like it much, so went back to the trusted wheat beer.

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The Black Rabbit

Am I the only one who finds it funny that Sunny has been replaced by a bunny in Indiranagar? Anyway, The Black Rabbit has been open for a while now, (map) and getting good reviews from all who had visited. That seemed a good enough carrot for us to ferry ourselves away from Koramangala’s ever growing dining options. They have valet parking, or you could just park on the lane parallel to 100 feet Road. They don’t take reservations during the weekend. Tables are easy to find around 7, but an hour later, you might have to wait.

They have a pleasant outdoor sitting area, and after a little tour to take a look at the options inside, (a couple of floors) we figured we liked the outside just a little more. Thankfully there weren’t any smokers around either. There’s a fairly comprehensive liquor menu with a few house cocktails thrown in as well. We chose the Currylicious and the Cuba Libre. The first had gin, sweet & sour mix, and just the right amount of curry leaves to give it that extra zing. The latter was a refreshing mix of light rum, cola and lime juice.

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Gilly’s

First published in Bangalore Mirror

I’d been hearing about Gilly’s for  while now, and when I figured out that the crowd on Saturday nights would lead us to a Hoppipola-like experience, we decided to land up on a Saturday afternoon.  Despite that, the place was reasonably packed and there was definitely a peppy vibe about the place. There are two sections – the indoor area is dim lit and has more of a retro pub feel to it, and the outdoor is brighter, seems more cheerful, and if it weren’t for the bar stools, you could mistake it for a fun café. The walls are adorned with pop culture posters, typical pub humour, and occasionally glass paintings. The music is exactly what the 20-somethings would order and the decibel levels increased as the afternoon progressed. The focus on short eats, both in terms of menu items as well as portion sizes, ensures that you’ll not need to worry about your beer not having sufficient company. More