East Bangalore

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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Boondock Bistro

This place caught our eye right at the time Whitefield became a serious contender for ‘home’. The name does have a self deprecating charm. So when the plan for a Mallu movie at Inox, Forum Value Mall was made, Boondock Bistro (map) was an easy choice for dinner. The restaurant is on the third floor and on your way up, the scrawl marks on the lift walls offer some entertainment. :)

The place somehow conveys an easygoing, unpretentious nature and one immediately feels comfortable. Loved the music posters – the Bob Dylan concert one was my favourite. There are also a couple of fun little Bangalore caricatures. In essence, a great place to lounge around. I think it would do even more better if there was alcohol. The music was superb, until they reached a point where MLTR tracks started playing in a loop. More

The Bungalow

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Whitefield is slowly but surely trying to carve a piece for itself in the eatery map of Bangalore, and one of the latest contributions is The Bungalow Bar & Kitchen. (map, valet parking soon)  Let me take that up one by one. A classy white door leads into a space that totally lives up to the name. A huge hall with a high ceiling and an eclectic mix of seating is what one first notices. Plush leather sofas, bar seating, and high chairs, all of which represent different dining styles, make up the ground floor. A couple of stairways lead to more seating options, including a balcony that overlooks the bar counter. Speaking of the bar, it isn’t open yet, but will be soon. The overall ambiance pretty much demands spirits, (that should have happened by now) and we could immediately imagine two kinds of crowds. The first is the one that will chug down beer, hang around the pool table and be devoted to the gigantic TV screen that can be seen from almost all the tables. The second is the kind that will listen to the soulful jazz and classics that made up the playlist when we visited. Lastly, the kitchen. The spread is not overwhelmingly huge, but the interesting fusion attempts and the seemingly handpicked dishes from various cuisines give one the feeling that it might require several visits to do justice to the menu. That completes the dissection of the name, but the sum of the parts in this case is indeed greater than the whole. The courteous staff, the little technology that allows you to press a button to activate the service staff’s watch and tell him that the table needs attention, the way the space has been done up, all promise to provide an experience that goes beyond the food. Judging by the crowd, Whitefield seems to have taken notice.

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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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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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Stomp

First published in Bangalore Mirror, though I had no hand in that unintentionally hilarious USP! 

I whined when I was asked to do this review, because it was in Whitefield! The Koramangala snobbery in me called it a 2D/1N package, specially thanks to traffic. But it was a good thing that I finally visited. A visit to Stomp manages to bring out both the meanings of the word. I can imagine people stomping their way (angrily) through Forum Value Mall (map) trying to find the place. They have hidden it well in a corner! But once they manage to get in, I can understand why they’d want to stomp – dance with a rhythmic stamping step.

There’s a small alfresco section, but the rest of the ambiance immediately reminded me of Richard O’Brien’s Crystal Maze – this would be the Medieval zone, with some ‘Industrial’ thanks to the large pipes. Add to this a Gothic touch, and the picture would be almost complete. Almost, because music is an integral part of the pub’s character as well. I loved the church-like stained glass ‘windows’ featuring Ozzy, Hendrix, Morrison and so on, and the quotes by famous artists that pop up at a few places. With all of that as the backdrop, we were mildly disappointed when we walked into a James Blunt song video playing on the giant screen. But that was quickly redeemed with a blast of Floyd, Dire Straits, Guns N’ Roses, The Police, Bon Jovi and videos we hadn’t seen in a long time! A hark back to the days of my youth, but as the night progressed, the playlist became younger. Avicii woke me up to the fact that I was older and Icona Pop reminded me that “You’re from the 70’s, but I’m a 90’s b***h”! The food proved to be a good distraction, and I let the non-veg mafia croon ‘Don’t you worry child’ in their own comforting way!

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The menu is mostly Indian, and even when they do stray towards Continental and Mexican, there’s an Indian touch to it. The good news is that alcohol is relatively cheap and there are some interesting cocktail options. We tried the Purple Slurple, made from cabbage juice and white rum, and the strong and frothy Whisky Lass-y. The white wine Sangria was also different from the standard, apparently using a pulpy soft orange. The complimentary Guava Martini wasn’t bad either. Solid consumption began with the Beef Chilli Fry, which was quite tasty – well cooked meat and spicy. A house special – Ghaati Chicken Sukha was up next, and it reminded us of the coastal Sukka dishes. This was our favourite non veg starter with a mildly spicy masala and finely grated coconut for texture. Baingan Burani tha, in fact it was quite good and in appearance and flavour reminiscent of chaats. The Chilli Pork was the last of the starters to arrive, and except for the animal involved, was a replica of the beef dish we’d had earlier. But we had been  warned, so I wouldn’t really complain.

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Understandably, the main course section has fewer options compared to the starters, but what was disappointing was that quite a few dishes were unavailable. All dishes are served with Indian bread/rice variations. We had to go with the Dal Gosht because the Dabba Gosht, Maamsam Koora and the Sri Lankan Beef Stir fry were not available. Unsurprisingly, this bland dish proved to be the least favourite. The Prawn Chilliajo made up for it with juicy, brilliantly cooked prawns in a delicious onion and pepper based thick gravy. The only vegetarian in the group tried to interest us in the Pesto Penne, which was quite good, though heavy, according to her, but we were preoccupied with the superb Chicken Farfalle in Makhanwala sauce – thick, flavourful and an example of a happy cuisine marriage.

There are only four dessert options and the house special wasn’t available. The Gulab Jamun turned out to be quite good, though not extraordinary. The shocker was the Shahi Tukra. Though they weren’t stingy with the milk ‘sauce’, it wasn’t really rich, but the bread was the kind that could be successfully used for interrogations. You must pray that the tooth prevails!

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For about Rs.1800, you could share a couple of cocktails, two non veg starters, a non veg main course dish and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) The service is friendly, but occasionally careless. They also need to be coached on dishes. I had to wonder how many people coming to Forum Value Mall would be interested in this kind of an offering. A pity because once you find your way in, the only thing that could piss you off is the lack of a toilet – you have to use the mall’s common facilities. Despite all that, I think the combination of good food, excellent ambiance, and different and interesting meal deals through the day will help this wonderful hangout establish a stomp of authority in Whitefield’s pub scene.

Stomp, 12A, Ground Floor, Forum Value Mall, Whitefield, Ph: 080 49420000

Like That Only

One of the pleasant side effects of writing reviews on Zomato are gift vouchers – I got a couple for Like That Only. Though it is far from our regular haunts – in Whitefield – the end of season sale at Phoenix helped the first time, and a long weekend, the second time. This map is pretty accurate, and they have valet parking. The ambiance is totally unique – especially the decor elements. From a retro scooter at the entry to the tub shower and funky garden seating, it shows off a quirky, whimsical side very well. There are other seating options as well – inside, and a lounge section off the main passage.

The menu is mostly Asian, with a skew towards starters and ‘small plates’. The drinks section is also worth a look – quite a few signature cocktails that are not found on standard bar menus. The one drink that we tried on both visits was the LikeThatOnly, which has hot and cold versions. I haven’t seen Earl Grey in a lot of cocktails, add to that gin, triple sec, dark rum and cinnamon bars, and you have a hot hit! We also tried the Fru Fru Colada and the LTO Style 3G and both were good. The complimentary bread basket is worth a mention as well.

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During the first visit, we tried out a few ‘small plates’. General Tso’s Chicken has crispy, fried chicken in a chili sauce, but it’s not too spicy. The LTO Char Siu has BBQ pork on a flat bread – it had a cloyingly sweet flavour which we didn’t really like. The Beef Carpaccio has really thin slices of fillet and mustard cress with wasabi mayo, and was really tasty. During the second visit, we tried the Spicy Chicken and Celery Gyoza (pan seared dumplings) and it was spicy and fantastic.

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The couple of main course dishes we tried were the Filipino Chicken Sizzling Sisig and the Steamed Snapper curry. Actually we wanted the Beef tenderloin stew in Pumpkin shells, but that was not available. The chicken dish had grilled cubes of chicken topped with a fried egg and served with Jasmine rice. It was spicy and also had an excellent tang, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t Jasmine rice. The coconut flavour was really subtle in the snapper curry but the gravy was flavorful and was complemented well by the basil rice. Choosing desserts was a difficult process since we had a number of options we wished to try, but in the end the ‘Snicker bar’ won out. The LTO version has a crunchy nut base and a mousse on top of it and some wonderful salted caramel cream. Turned out to be an excellent choice.

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A meal for two would cost between Rs. 2500-3000. The service was prompt on both occasions, and the ambiance is delightful enough for you to want to visit again.

Like That Only, 14/31A, Hagadur Road, Behind Forum Value Mall, Whitefield, Ph: 65475610

Windmills Craftworks

We’ve been hearing good things about Windmills Craftworks for a while now – that though we might be considered tourists given the distance between Koramangala and Whitefield, it was worth dropping in. We had tried once earlier, but they had an event and all the seats were taken. This time, though, we agreed to meet, and an OlaCabs booking was promptly made! That was a massive risk, given that they had left us high and dry only the previous night, but I persisted. When I didn’t get the cab details half an hour prior to the planned departure, I called up OlaCabs and they said I’d get the details in 5 minutes. True to word, I did get a call in 5 minutes, to tell me that there had been a mistake, and I would not be getting a cab! An auto, a Volvo and another auto later, we managed to reach on time! This accurate map really helped!

The ground floor itself is business-like, and has nothing to offer in terms of directions. Your first task is to find the lift, then all will be clear. The floor which houses the establishment is a better representative of Total Environment Hospitality though. Once inside, there are bookshelves and comfortable seating options indoors and a smaller space outside from where you can see the IT parks that surround the building. Despite all that concrete, the latter is still a wonderful setting, and we chose to sit there.

The menu is available on an interactive tablet that gives more scope for the appealing food visuals and you can order on it as well. The staff will also confirm the order with you. Though I was tempted to try the samplers, we went ahead with half pints (Rs.195) of Golden Ale, Hefeweizen, a pint (Rs.295) of Dunkelweizen and later a half pint (Rs.225) of the India Pale Ale as well. The Hefe, with its low bitterness, was the most popular, though I liked its darker cousin Dunkel too! The Golden Ale, which is probably the lightest around, was also quite good, and the Pale Ale, true to its name, paled in neglect at our table. Chicken in Pigs Blanket was our first starter, and though in itself it was quite good and not stingy on the bacon either, they could’ve given us a better dip. We then tried the Chicken and Smoked Bacon salad, which had some amazing flavours on the veg leaves that I otherwise ignore! But the pick of the starters was the Beef Picante, which will give any of my favourite Kerala preparations a run for its money. Superbly hot and sweet with very well cooked meat, highly recommended!

This was about the time that we decided to skip the main course, since we couldn’t have done justice to it. So D decided to test out an Indian starter – Dill Chicken Kebab. It wasn’t bad, but by then the beef had set the bar really high! Given the dessert options, we jumped right in and asked for a Chocolate Pudding, Shahi Tukda, and an Orange Bread and Butter Pudding. The Chocolate was really dark and a little too bitter, though the strawberry helped a bit. The other pudding was fantastic, as was the Shahi Tukda.

The service was prompt and helpful, and all of the above cost us, including charges and taxes, over Rs.3800. (3 people) Costly? Yes, but then the experience is quite worth it. Like a friend said, you probably can’t go there regularly, but for special occasions or to try the place out once, most definitely.

Windmills Craftworks, #331, Road No:5B, EPIP Zone, Whitefield. Ph: 26592012

Trader Vic’s

Our visits to Phoenix Market City are biannual, since the End of Season Sale is the only time we can buy most of the stuff that gets sold there! This time, in addition to the wardrobe makeover, we were also looking forward to visiting Trader Vic’s. While the food court at the mall was not bad, and we specially loved the chocolate momos, meals there were getting a bit monotonous. The restaurant is on the same floor as the food court, right next to Rajdhani.

There are about three seating options – the bar itself, a lounge, and a terrace – though that faces the parking lot. We sat in the lounge, and though we ended up right next to the stage – where a band began to perform later – we didn’t really mind, because the music was good. I quite liked the ambiance as well – a reflection of the restaurant’s overall Polynesian theme – check out the various carvings around.

Though they had a very appealing Sunday brunch priced at Rs.1500 + taxes, we chose to go à la carte. You can take a look at the drinks menu on Zomato and a more detailed food menu at Burrp. The Mai Tai is said to be invented by the restaurant chain’s owner, something that is heavily contested by one other party as well. Since we didn’t want to take sides, we decided to share a Mango Taj, despite the Mai Tai temptation. Even if it wasn’t fresh mango, we really couldn’t spot the difference in this concoction of orange juice, vodka, gold rum and a dash of spices. Superb drink. They also gave us a complimentary nibble, which turned out to be really good. Polynesian papad, you could call it, with an excellent dip that complemented it superbly. If the Tom Kha is on the menu, it’d be a rare occasion when we didn’t order it. This one turned out to be slightly less thick that we liked, but made up for it with the flavours. Didn’t have the standard lemongrass and galangal though.

  

For the main course, I resisted the Thai curries and asked for a Wood Fired Trader Vic’s burger, and D chose a Spicy Chilli Fish. The burger patty was superb, and the peppered bacon and caramelised onion played their parts well too. Massive amounts of french fries as well! The Chilli fish was actually quite spicy, but since it was paired with jasmine rice, it ended up quite a good dish. The only snag was that we were too stuffed for desserts!

  

The service was reasonably prompt, the music was really good, and so we didn’t really mind the Rs.1800+ bill (including taxes and service charges) I really want to try that Sunday brunch at some point, but it requires skipping many meals to ensure the Rs.1500+taxes is well spent! 😀

Trader Vic’s, 2nd Floor, Phoenix Market City,  Mahadevapura Ph: 67266237/8

Elements Heritage

In terms of heritage, Elements used to be quite liked for its continental menu, while on Nandidurga Road. I was looking at the photos on their site, and wondered how I managed to miss it. 😐 All’s not lost though, as the new Elements Heritage, on Mosque Road, (just after Savoury, diagonally opposite Empire, just before Mosque Road meets MM Road – map) scores heavily on ambiance, and only differs in cuisine focus. Parking shouldn’t be a big problem, more so because there are enough side lanes around.

Apparently, this was a really old Raj bungalow which has been revamped. As soon as we got there, we were shown a table, but also encouraged to take a little tour to see more seating options. That included a section upstairs with a live counter, but apparently, that was for the buffet diners. So we got back to our ground floor table, which was neat enough. The ambiance is really super, and the spread out table groups, not visible to each other, ensure that you feel the restaurant buzz, but still retain the exclusive dining experience. The lighting is dim, but the only discomfort that caused was in the photography.

The menu is below, the last one was the buffet menu for the day, priced at Rs.550 + tax. (click to enlarge) While I was struggling to take the photos, the owner, presumably, who was taking another set of guests on the restaurant tour, offered to send me the menu by mail. I was almost through though, so I didn’t take up the offer. (seeing that quenchers page, I should have :\ ) That only adds to my feeling that the guys who run the place want to add a personal touch and make the dining experience really good.

From that large selection, which included many many things we wanted to try, we skipped the shorbas and went for a “Seekh ‘e’ Elements” and a Bheja Fry. The former  consists of 4 seekh kebabs, each with an idiappam. Quite good, but the winner was clearly the Bheja fry, spicy and cooked superbly.  This was the part where I was caught between getting a good photo and devouring the food. The latter won out, as is obvious.

For the main course, we ordered a ‘Meen appam’, and a ‘Kozhi Mulagh Ittathe’. Most of the dishes come with neer dosa/rice, so ask before you order naans/ appam/ rice separately. The meen appam actually turned out more like an ada than appam, with fish stuffed in it and cooked in a banana leaf. It comes with a sauce that seemed to have a jeera flavour, which worked well to complement the taste. Though we felt that the ada overpowered the fish filling, its still a dish you could try. The chicken dish came with two kinds of rice (one of which was the Kerala style boiled rice) and 4 neer dosas. We expected this to be really spicy, but it was actually more flavoursome, despite me eating up one of the large chillies.

We debated a biriyani, but then decided to behave in a more un-glutton manner and  debated whether we should ask for a halwa of the day or a Shahi Tukda. The former wasn’t available (thankfully, on hindsight). The Shahi Tukda was really good – less heavy (ghee) than usual, and is highly recommended. All of the above cost us a little less than Rs.1000. The service is brilliant, offers to help and the place probably has the promptest delivery time I’ve seen  recently.

Elements gets into our favourites list for many reasons – a menu that’s not very common, an ambiance that’s really awesome, excellent service and overall, a wonderful dining experience.

Elements Heritage, #55, Mosque Road, Frazer Town, Ph: 41144146/8

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