Central Bangalore

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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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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SodaBottleOpenerWala

Jacques La Brasserie had been on my list for a while now, and the only reason I missed out was because its neighbours like Biere Club and The Glasshouse seduced me away. Given that we’re now in Whitefield, a trip to Lavelle Road is pretty much counted as a weekend getaway! But thanks to the hype that SodaBottleOpenerWala has been getting on my Instagram feed, a visit was warranted. Jacques La Brasserie was my fallback option in case we didn’t get a table, except that when we got there, we realised that JLB had given way to SBOW! Such is Bangalore’s restaurant scene. The place is right opposite the Harley Davidson Showroom (map) and they have valet parking. To note, of course, that your car could disappear. They don’t take reservations, ensuring that there is always a crowd outside waiting to get in. Thankfully, we got a table immediately. High stools and close to the bar, but hey.

The space is not huge, though it manages to pack in tables with enough room in between. They have also ensured that all sorts of group sizes can find a place. Irani Cafe with a modern finish, that would describe the ambiance. The decor ensures that quite a few adults (like me) behave like kids in their favourite store, pointing out interesting things to those with them. The framed photos, the signature, red-checked table cloth, the little bakery, the old fashioned switchboard, the wall signages – make sure you take the time to soak it all in. Do not forget to look up and catch the toy train. D spotted it, I was too busy with eye level sights. The music, when we got in, was complete retro Bollywood, played really loud. Somewhere during the night, it switched to contemporary pop! The television was tuned to some gags show.

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The Glass House

Though we’ve been hearing a lot about this place on Lavelle Road, (map, they have valet parking) a love for my internal organs had made me resist it every time D made the suggestion. But for her birthday dinner, we decided to finally drop in there. The place is indeed lovely, especially at night, when the roof can be seen in full glory. Some of the open air seating on the ground floor makes for a good setting, but we preferred sitting upstairs in a corner overlooking the next compound and a jackfruit tree! We arrived early and had a table reserved, but it did get crowded by around 8.30, so you might want to book a table.

They have a pretty impressive wine list and we tried the Malbec Bodega Norton Coleccion and Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Redvale ‘Rivergum’. The first had a sweet spice hint and the latter was more full blooded with a berry undertone. We asked for a Bacon and pickled chilly hash, served with a three cheeses dip. That was just average since the flavours mentioned in the name never really appeared. D volunteered to finish my wine so I could try a Tennessee Coffee. JD, coffee and chocolate were all very well represented in this one, and I enjoyed the play of the flavours.

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Tapwater

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Wimpy’s is one of those Bangalore icons that serve as a good indicator of how long one has been in Bangalore. You can categorise Bangaloreans based on whether they were around when Wimpy’s was.  When I gave N the directions (map) to Tapwater, (on Brigade Road) her immediate reaction was “OMG, it’s Wimpy’s!” That iconic outlet no longer exists, I pointed out, and also realised that the new gastropub that has taken its place happens to have a name similar to something that is fast becoming extinct in Bangalore – Tapwater! The name actually seems to come from a key offering – beer on tap, which was yet to start when we visited. The basement location, the wooden benches, the lounge seating in the fringes, the lighting – all attempt a new age hangout ambiance. What kills it quite a bit is the musical hat tip to its underground placement – Pitbull, at volumes – in sound and quantity – to cause permanent damage! It was only fun at some points when the Kabaddi action happening on the other screen seemed to match steps with the music! The most interesting thing we noticed about the place was the crowd – a completely random mix of college kids, elderly families, foreigners, and Malayalis in traditional mundu! We drank it all in before moving on to what we came for – food and beverages.

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Bierre Republic

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Church Street has been getting quite a high these days – Social, Tapwater, and Bierre Republic. Pavilion Mall, where Bierre Republic is located, seems like a sandwich with nothing in between – the ground and top floors are active but the two floors in between looked unoccupied.  There’s no valet parking but they have space in the basement. The huge signage outside serves as a beacon of hope as you trudge past two floors of desolation and alien-looking faux vegetation to finally land up, ironically, near a man in a sailor suit! You could choose to be boring and take the lift too. Another small flight of stairs gets you to the dining area with many parts to it – alfresco with a few enclosed portions, a smoking section, a smaller lounge area, and even an ‘upper deck’. The furniture is almost all wood, except for the plush sofas in the smoking section and some other elements, and that includes the décor consisting of ‘barrels’! It was edging towards tackiness, but the beer posters manage to pull it back a bit. The alfresco section is the perfect place to be in typical Bangalore weather and offers a superb view of the Public Utility building. A live band was in the house, and except for a massacre of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”, which almost provoked us to violence for the sake of silence, they were quite good! Meanwhile, as the evening progressed, the service began reflecting the ‘ship’ theme – they were totally at sea, and were finding it difficult to manage the orders, despite the valiant efforts of their active crew, whom we felt sorry for. More

The Tao Terraces

The Tao Terraces has been on my radar ever since this one once commented that they serve a good Khow Suey. On the Diwali weekend, (yes, I know!) we decided to get out of our regular gastroturf i.e. Koramangala/Indiranagar and head to 1 MG, (map) which to me is the new UB City in terms of #posh. The experience at Blimey wasn’t really fantastic, and since then I tend to look at the entire mall with suspicion. But go there we did.

We chose the seating on the ground floor, by the little pool, partly because we’d read that they only served a limited menu in the lounge on the second floor. (though when we asked whether this was true, the service staff said this was only true for the starters, and anything in the main course could be ordered upstairs as well) The seating is comfortable, and this section is dimly lit with a lot of Buddhist/South East Asian decor elements. The music is generic lounge and the overall effect is quite soothing.

On a whim, we skipped the Dim Sum and appetisers and asked for the Spicy Tuna Maki roll, but since that wasn’t available, decided to go for the Nigiri Sushi. (salmon) On a relative scale, we’re sushi n00bs, (both of us have always felt some kind of a strange revulsion!) and didn’t really have a benchmark to compare against. I experimented with the Wasabi paste and soy sauce and found my preferred combination in the third and final attempt. I liked the texture of the fish and the overall dish and am emboldened enough to keep experimenting. We’d also asked for the Laska Lemak Malaya (Chicken) soup. Spicy, tangy, with tofu and chicken, this was probably the best dish of the day. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

For the main course, we predictably asked for the “khau-swe” and since both of us were reasonably hungry also ordered a Wok Tossed Smoked pork and Jasmine Rice to go with it. The Burmese dish was reasonably good, though a tad too heavy for my liking. Also, the coconut flavour seemed to have come from a packet. The pork dish was quite salty with a standard smoked smell that even the jasmine rice couldn’t neutralise.

We would’ve loved to try out the Kafir Lime Tiramisu and the Wasabi Ice Cream but we were too stuffed! In all, except for the soup, it was an average meal that cost us a bit over Rs.2400. The service was reasonably prompt, though they always had an ‘are you sure’ expression on their faces.

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The Tao Terraces, 5th Floor, 1 MG Mall Ph: 9986988444

Lan Thai

Lan Thai has been widely regarded as a sort of hidden gem, and for some reason, had been appearing on my various timelines for a while now. It had been a long while since we’d been to Brigade Road – there actually aren’t many reasons for us to do so – but since I had books to sell at Blossoms and since D and I don’t need a lot of encouragement to make trips for the soul (yes, by design) purpose of eating, we decided to drop in at the 5th Avenue mall, where this little place is located. It’s in what can be called the atrium space of the mall – open – and shares its premises with a juice shop. The seating is functional, and we managed to find a little corner.

We had to rebuff the advances of the juice shop guys and wait a while before we got the menu. There’s also an extra seafood menu, but we had already more or less figured out what we wanted to eat from the main menu and didn’t think there would be any space left! We ordered everything together because a) we would then have to eat it even if we were reasonably stuffed (we’re strange like that) and b) some main course items seemed suspiciously similar to starters!

The bubble milk tea arrived first, ice blended and a tad less sweeter than we expected, but still good enough. It reminded us of the Cendol we had during our Bali visit, but that is probably an unfair comparison because it had coconut milk and palm sugar and was in a class by itself! The Chicken in Coconut Milk and Galangal came next and though on the thinner side was fantastic in terms of flavours! No stinginess in terms of ingredients and reasonably spicy as well. The other soup we tried – noodle with chicken – is probably the only dish we’d avoid. It had a vaguely cloying (though mild) sweetness and not many other flavours. We took the help of all the sauces available on the table to modify its taste! Those bowls are big, by the way, and almost a meal in themselves!

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The Spicy Minced Beef Salad had chilli flakes in it but wasn’t really spicy. (probably by our standards) That, of course, does not mean that it wasn’t tasty, and the meat was well cooked except for a couple of pieces that I got. The Pad Thai was the last to arrive, and despite what I thought was a mild overdose of bean sprouts, was absolutely awesome. We really didn’t have the space, but asked for desserts anyway. Unfortunately, there weren’t any! :(

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All of the above cost us Rs,1200. I don’t think they accept credit cards though. The service is friendly though they do take a while to get to you. Thankfully the delivery of the food is really prompt. We probably will drop in again when we have a Thai food craving.

Lan Thai, 5th Avenue Mall, Ground Floor, Brigade Road

Carnival de Goa

Published first in Bangalore Mirror.

Around the time when most of our friends were busy watching a blonde ‘Russian’ battle it out with zombies, we decided to get ourselves a little more authentic Goan experience…in Ulsoor, courtesy Carnival-De-Goa. It’s on Ulsoor Road, above The Grill House, and there’s valet parking. Bollywood did not take the decision kindly and sent a variety of obstacles – divine and natural – which did their best to play spoilsport. To begin with, we came to know that the day we landed up was a dry day in Ulsoor, courtesy a holy procession! Ironically, it rained so heavily on the ‘dry day’ that we had to choose the indoor seating option, though the verandah is quite appealing. The décor – yellow walls, paintings, caricatures, tiled tables, and the colourfully attired service staff with their hats, all screamed Goa, even as we got ready to experience a Goa without alcohol. Thankfully there was live music to lift our spirits! If you’re ok with some amount of Boyzone, MLTR, Backstreet Boys in your life, you’d enjoy it too. Speaking of lifts, the lift to the second floor gives a romantic twist to the restaurant’s Goan theme and does its best to convey that “three’s a crowd”, but don’t be put off by it. The way to paradise is fraught with trials, but if you soldier on, you will be rewarded for your efforts!

We hoped to drown our sorrow in what served as the closest substitute for alcohol – mocktails. The Ice & Fire, a chilly drink with lime chunks and lemonade, unwittingly set the tone for the dinner – spicily superb! The Kokum Cordial did try to match up, but its Tabasco sauce and chaat masala didn’t have the requisite punch! The “Goan Style Chicken Cutlets” was the first starter to arrive, and though a tad crumbly, the chicken mince and potato coated egg did their job wonderfully well. The Chilly Beef was the next to arrive, and completely lived up to its name. The meat was well cooked and the chilli was kind enough to allow a roasted masala flavour to make its presence felt. The Goan Sausage Chilly Fry was excellent as well, and in addition to the spice, also had a tang. Both the beef and the pork go very well with pav, so that’s something you might want to try out. A display tray with all sorts of aquatic life posing for us (and a board that actually had ‘Salman’ amidst aquatic life) finally convinced us to go for tiger prawns (with masala) and what a choice that turned out to be! Superbly cooked prawns with a spicy masala that had a variety of flavours in it, this was an excellent way to end the intro act!

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We began the main course with a Roast Beef with Goan Pav. The mini ‘burgers’ managed to give some respite to the flaming tongues and deliciously so. It’s probably a cardinal sin to try vegetarian fare in a meat carnival, but the Mushroom Xacuti did the veg section proud with its roasted spices and fresh coconut. Went quite well with the Goan rice. The Pork Vindaloo arrived next, with Sannas, and quickly made its way up the charts with its hot-sweet-sour burst of flavours and a strong vinegar presence. A lot of open mouthed admiration happened for this dish, some thanks due to its extreme spice levels as well. The Goan Style Chicken Curry was the last to arrive, and under normal circumstances would have been well appreciated, but it was a bit like Dravid batting in the era of Tendulkar!

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Bebinca was a given in desserts, but we also tried out the Alle Belle and a Caramel Custard. I’m not a Bebinca fan- actually hate it – but this was probably one of the best I’ve had. The Alle Belle, coconut filled pancakes, actually reminded us much of a Kerala dish! The Caramel Custard was excellent and etiquette was completely ignored as we attacked it.

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If, somewhere in Ulsoor, you come across a larger-than-life milestone that says Goa is 0 km away, treat it as a message from the heavens, and travel two floors upwards to experience Carnival-De-Goa. A well designed restaurant, with friendly and energetic staff, who are extremely confident about the food they serve, and superb food at great prices, (for about Rs.1250, you could share a mocktail, a couple of non veg starters, a couple of main course dishes and a dessert) it’s sure to give you an awesome taste of Goa.

Carnival De Goa, IInd Floor, Kensington Point,  Ulsoor Road, Ph: 080 – 25580093, 7676767620

Blimey

Blimey had been making quite a few appearances on Facebook and outside and that meant that we chose a lazy Sunday afternoon to drop in. For those not yet aware, Blimey is an Irish Gastro Pub on the 5th floor of 1, MG. (map) The mall has parking at rates that would make you go ‘Blimey’ in a not-so-positive way. It also has these strange escalators that allow you to see alternate floors (2,4) like stations where the train doesn’t stop! Thankfully, Blimey is on the 5th floor along with a few other restaurants, and can be reached without a step-by-step instruction guide. :)

It’s spread over 2 floors, including a rooftop (I’m told) but we were fascinated enough by the view from the lower floor to not even explore further. The place has quite a funky ambiance – musical instruments hung from the roof, trunks and posters, coaster-text, bar games, and of course, a fantastic view of Ulsoor Lake and surroundings!

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We decided to start with an Irish Dublin, and an 1886, and from the food menu, a Sausage Four Ways. The Irish Dublin was the relatively better drink, with its banana flavour. The 1886 was spicy enough, but it didn’t really work for me. My biggest problem was with the glasses which seemed to have a default fish flavour! (smell) The sausages were the meal’s saving grace, and in a rare show of unity, the combined German, Irish and English forces gave us something to really cheer about. This one is highly recommended! For the main course, I asked for a Chicken Crock Pot, and D took a Shrimp & Scallop Pasta. The pasta arrived first and though it wasn’t really bad, the marinara sauce had a very feeble presence and the shrimp wasn’t as cooked as D would’ve liked. The chicken came with a complimentary bread basket and a superb gravy. But it was actually made for two, I’m sure, and after a while, I found it too tiresome to finish! That also meant that we had to skip dessert. :(

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The service was quite prompt and cheerful. The bill came to more than Rs.2600 and I checked to see if we were also sponsoring some Irish cause! We weren’t, and I felt it was quite a lot, despite the location!

Blimey, The New Irish Gastro Pub, 5th Floor, 1 MG Road. Ph: 08022086777, 9886587930

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