East Bangalore

The Irish House

The Irish House had opened to much fanfare, going by my Insta feed, but we dropped in a few weeks later. That, and the fact that we were there relatively early in the evening – 7.30 PM – led us to believe that we’d get a table easily. That wasn’t meant to be, and I suspect that it has something to do with the Happy Hours till 8. First impressions weren’t great – the person they’d left at the door had no idea how to handle things when the place was full. We had to coax him to take down our number, and let us know when there was a table available. He kept letting people in (they never came back as they waited at the bar and took a table when it got free!) and was probably there just to open/close doors, and the lady who occasionally made a visit to the front door was probably in charge of this. But we could see that the poor thing was hassled enough, multitasking! Lesson learnt, we should reserve a table anyway! We thankfully got a table in 20 minutes.

A lot of wood, Irish green frills, and standard pub posters make up the decor, though the place is quite lively, especially the bar area, which has quite a lot of international beer brands on display. The balcony area did look promising, though we didn’t venture out. I took a picture of the hanging bike, just to ensure that I wasn’t imagining things on account of pub vapours! We had to wait quite a bit for someone to take the order, and when that happened five minutes after 8, we demanded justice – happy hour extension since we were seated and ready with our order before 8! It took a bit of debate, but they were nice about it. Yay!

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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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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