Restaurant Reviews

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

Hangover

First published in Bangalore Mirror

It’s not often that you see a Volkswagen van on the first floor of a building in Indiranagar. That, requires a Hangover. Inspired by Thai cocktail trucks, this is one of the bright spots in the latest addition to Indiranagar’s pub scene. (map) The ground floor seems a little drab compared to the first floor, which thanks to the van, chalkboard and some fancy lighting creates a peppy ambiance.

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Bangalore Brew Works

Bangalore Brew Works had been open for a while, but we didn’t want to go all the way there until the microbrewery was up and running. That happened just in time for Oktoberfest and that’s when we landed up there. ‘Up there’ is probably the right description because it’s on the 10th floor. Thanks to that, a fantastic view of the city is on offer for a few tables. The others have to be content with a slightly less breathtaking view, visible if you allow yourself to see beyond the bar counter. The seating is mix of high tables and bar stools, and plush sofas near the bar, relatively low seating in the area that offers the superb view of UB City, and a rather haphazard arrangement of functional furniture in the centre. On Saturday night, there was a DJ playing some very good EDM. Rather loud, I’d add and at least a couple of groups were complaining. :) There’s the mandatory big screen, of course.

We had asked for a table reservation but were told we could just walk in. The place is quite suited to large groups.

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1522

First published in Bangalore Mirror

We hadn’t visited Koramangala since we shifted to Whitefield, so I took the restaurant review as an excuse to plan a 2D/1N weekend getaway at B and N’s place. 😀 After a beef and pork extravaganza the previous night, we visited 1522 on a Saturday afternoon.

The usual story is a restaurant doing well in Koramangala or Indiranagar and then branching out to relatively uncharted areas. But this time, we have a plot twist. Imagine two storylines moving in parallel from the beginning of this decade. Amidst the deluge of fancy cuisines and posh experiences in Koramangala, an old warhorse holds its ground. It’s an icon after all, with a signal named after it, and the number of times a cab/rickshaw driver has been told “From Maharaja signal..” must be approaching infinity. Meanwhile, in the relatively conservative environs that make up Malleswaram, a new generation, riding on the legacy of a White Horse, slowly begins to make a name for itself. It’s called 1522. Cut to 2015, and quite against the conventional tide, a little bit of Malleswaram appears in Koramangala! (map) More

Whitefield Social

We heard about its opening (in Phoenix Market City) in the first week itself, courtesy Instagram and the ” 2 Beers for Rs.2” promotion, but could drop in only a day after the promo ended. It was a Saturday night, and that meant we had to wait for more than an hour to get a table! The open area in the mall made that quite easy, and we sat gawking at people, and watching movie trailers on the giant screen outside PVR.

When we finally did get a table, it was a community table! Thankfully, our request for a different table was soon granted. The plush, comfortable seating in the outdoor section, was most definitely better. The place was quite crowded that night, so I couldn’t really get a good look inside. But a visit later, on Christmas day morning, gave me the chance to look around, since the place was almost empty. Pravesh, who seemed to be in charge of the outlet, gave me a little guided tour when he saw me snooping around. One of the walls has a history of Whitefield (wiki-like) and another has a huge blow-up of Whitefield’s first citizens. The  bar decor includes tiles like the ones found in Irani cafes, there are some antique chairs and in essence, the place has a uniqueness even while somehow retaining the standard ‘social DNA’.

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One Night in Bangkok

First published in Bangalore Mirror

If you’re looking for a travel post, stop! ONIB is the name of a Bar & Grill in Indiranagar, run by the folks behind Plan B and Mother Cluckers. Reaching Indiranagar 12th Main is only marginally easier than getting to Bangkok, so we wanted to make sure that our trip wouldn’t be wasted, and tried to reserve a table. But that, we were told, wasn’t possible. Visa on arrival, just like Thailand! Street parking it is, all the very best!

A sliding door and a thick black curtain lead you into a relatively small seating area, though they have used the space really well. At 7.30, we had the place pretty much all to ourselves. That meant we could really look around, after adjusting to the darkness, at what’s being positioned as India’s first Thai dive bar. The Buddha statuettes, the Muay Thai wall painting and the menu itself easily take care of the Thai part, but I think the place is a dive bar more in spirit than in actuality, judging by the prices and the décor. The bar stands out like a beacon of hope in the otherwise dim lit ambiance. Despite mostly high seating – wooden chairs – the place somehow manages to give out a plush feel. The stylish dinginess, together with the DJ’s groovy playlist based on 80s music ensures that the place has the potential to become a favoured neighbourhood joint, probably for a crowd older than the standard pub/lounge set.

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The Lost Caravan

From our current environs – Whitefield – getting to Church Street can be classified under ‘travel’, and that’s probably why I took to the theme of The Lost Caravan immediately! (map) The building it’s housed in reminded me of old hotels – the kind you used to see in the 80s and early 90s. A lift sometimes takes you to the second floor. (Bangalore and power cuts, you know the deal) A reassuring large bar and peppy interiors greet you as soon as you get in. The walls are full of curios – clocks, a neat open-suitcase way of showing travel paraphernalia and a/c ducts covered up with maps of all sorts! Also check out the post card sized travel photos. Fantastic stuff. That Mars-Venus touch on the loo doors – nice. :) We had reserved a table for 8, but got there early and sat in the smoking section, which has the kind of street-facing view I really like.

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