Bangalore Mirror reviews

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

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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Barebones

First published in Bangalore Mirror

If you’re stuck between a 26 year old pub chain that’s iconic enough to go for an IPO (why is it so difficult to believe that Pecos filed for an IPO?!) and a microbrewery that’s arguably the town’s favourite you’d probably stick to the basics, make no fuss and figure out a unique proposition for yourself. (map, it’s above 3oh3 and yes, there’s valet parking) You’d also call yourself Barebones. (though I suspect the idea behind the name is more about a ‘come as you are’ attitude) A flight of stairs takes you to what’s primarily a balcony bar, with some amount of indoor seating. The first thing that hits you, or more precisely, your eardrums, is the music. We have much to talk about on that , so first, take a seat. You can choose between the outdoor space – dim lighting, a few high stools, and a reasonably good view of the road, and a cozy looking indoor area – well lit, some very interesting wall art, chalkboards that add a layer of meaning to the quirky sounding cocktails, and a bar that reassures you that you’re in the right place! So far, so good, but wait, there’s something clamouring for attention. Ah yes, the music. Under normal circumstances, this is the point where I’d whine about not being able to have a conversation thanks to the volume levels, but when the playlist starts churning out Sting, Counting Crows, Crash Test Dummies, Snow (Informer!) and so on, mixes it up randomly with the Bee Gees and Lou Bega, and in general takes me time travelling, it’s hard not to grin happily. But hey, let’s not get sidetracked by nostalgia when there’s food and drinks to talk about.

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Maya Firangi Indian Lounge

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Remember High on Thai? And then White Elephant? In a couple of years, this floor has seen three iterations. Given that the last version seemed to have lived up to its name – White Elephant – it will be interesting to see what the name Maya could do for the future of this establishment. The logo design is a bit of an illusion, one would have to know the place to find it. Once inside, there are two sections – one that houses the bar and is a closed seating space, and the other with an open kitchen and semi open seating. On a sultry Bangalore night, the latter is easily the better pick. The high seats offer a good view of the 100 feet Road, and together with contemporary pop remixes, set up a good mood very well, at least in the beginning. There was some unintentional entertainment thanks to a giant television screen that was playing Bollywood song sequences on mute. The steps for some reason matched the music perfectly! As the night progressed, so did the sound levels, until WhatsApp seemed a more viable conversation channel than speaking to each other! There was quite a college crowd in attendance, the DJ night might have had a lot to do with it.

Maya, meanwhile, has a suffix too – Firangi Indian Lounge. I brought that up during dinner and we tried to find the logic. Largely, the menu offers the answer. Though it starts off with an Indian and Oriental mix, the firangi representation happens in the form of pasta, pizza and sliders. There are also at least a few dishes on the menu that could be tagged as fusion. 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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Onesta

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Under normal circumstances, 7.30PM is a safe time to walk into a restaurant without a reservation – experience suggests that it’s too early for the twenty-somethings to have started their Saturday nocturnal agenda. But then one comes across places like Onesta that completely defy this logic. Onesta is on the Ooty Chocolates road off 100 feet Road Koramangala. (map) Best of luck on the parking. We barely managed to get a table, and in the two hours we spent there, there was hardly a moment when a whippersnapper wasn’t waltzing in and asking for a table, seemingly oblivious of folks who were already waiting. Having landed a table right at the entrance, we were at the receiving end of a ton of evil eyes, all of which were questioning the legitimate amount of time one should be allowed to spend with pizzas. This is amazing for an outlet which has been around for only a month, and it immediately raised hopes of some fantastic food. But, according to the menu, you need to wait for 25 minutes before the food reaches you. So let me attempt to distract you with the ambiance. Imagine walking off a Koramangala road straight into a cobbled street in Europe, complete with a tiny fountain, white walls and shutter doors. In the first ten minutes, we even had a two-girl band crooning to lyrics sourced real time on a mobile phone! Music reminds me, there’s a heavy metal fan right next to the fountain, and while the idea (coolness in summer) is indeed sound, it does result in water sprays every five minutes if you’re seated anywhere near it. That notwithstanding, the yellow flower pots, red and black chairs, the quaint lampshades and glass bottles, and paneled wood tables all contribute to a bright yet chic elegance that’s warm and charming.

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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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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

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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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

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