Restaurant Reviews

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

Serafina

Serafina sounds like a fantastic super villain from the Marvel universe, but this is about a restaurant in Koramangala. (map) I think I could easily associate charming or pretty if I had one word to describe the place. The brick walls, decor, furniture, lighting and the fantastic music (classics, played at just the right sound for one to enjoy it and yet have a conversation without a megaphone) lend it a touch of classiness. They have seating on two floors inside, and an alfresco option that faces the 80 feet Road. On a pleasant Bangalore evening, we chose the latter.

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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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Happy Brew

First published in Bangalore Mirror . Happens to be my 50th for the publication.

There’s always something brewing in Koramangala and the latest addition is a Gastro Café named Happy Brew. This is the place that was once occupied by Soul Courtyard. (map) Yes, they have valet parking! From the name, we did expect a microbrewery, but soon learned that the happiness was limited to Kingfisher, which gets branding space all over the place. Thankfully, the pricing and the ambiance ensured that we could adhere to Bangalore’s famous ‘Grin and beer’ philosophy. The place resembles a courtyard more than anything else, with the bar at the centre and ‘good times’ caricature adorning the wall. A flight of stairs leads you to an area which won’t let you get too high, mostly thanks to the really low ceiling! The walls here are made of wooden panels with some lovely black and white photos of smiling people. While it seemed like an excellent area to lounge on a weekend afternoon, the heat became quite unbearable in a while! The playlist was a nostalgia attack – we heard everything from Modern Talking’s “Brother Louie” to Geri Halliwell’s “It’s Raining Men”, and “That Thing You Do” – songs which the younger members in our group didn’t even recognise. But between the songs, the brew and the food, we were all kept reasonably happy!

The drinks menu consists of beer, ‘beer tails’, mocktails, coffee and a few milkshakes. Conveying our order turned out to be tougher than a Mars mission, since it took three attempts before the person who took our order convinced us he had it right! The only ‘beer tail’ that worked was Diesel. (lager with cola) The Beer Mojito and Kiwi’s Paradise (beer with Kiwi) sounded promising but fell flat on taste. The Blue Lagoon, tagged a mocktail, featured Blue Curacao and scored on looks, but that was it. It also didn’t help that a couple of drinks we asked for (including a Brownie shake) weren’t available. When there’s cheap beer, perhaps one shouldn’t hope for a lot more!

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