Koramangala

The Local

Originally appeared in Bangalore Mirror.

If, in Koramangala, Jimi doesn’t give you enough of a high, perhaps you should try a stairway to heaven, led by messaging on a steep flight of stairs. Subtext apart, there’s a new watering hole in this part of town, or rather, a ‘terrace drinkery’, that goes by the name of ‘The Local’. (map) The logo sets the tone quite clearly – it is inspired by a bottle cap. If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, perhaps the messaging on the stairs will. It’s too long to recount in entirety, but the message is that this is a place that celebrates the ordinary, and all the kinds that make up a great hangout. The talk is easily backed up by the relaxed ambiance. Quirky is going mainstream, but The Local’s décor is certainly a candidate for tastefulness. An assortment of seating options – indoors and al fresco, featuring a motley group of chairs, stone benches, and surprisingly, greenery in the heart of Koramangala! Add to this, beer served in ceramic mugs, the little blackboard menus, offers like Tap Tuesdays and Tequila Thursdays, it’s easy to imagine an evening spent lazing around. And then there’s the music! We started the evening with classics – As Time Goes by, Uptown Girl and so on, quickly moved on to New York City Speed and such, and ended the night with everything kids listen to these days!

When the drinks menu occupies as much space as the food on the menu, it does seem like a good start. It gets better when you figure that they actually do have the stuff. There’s no end to the number of pubs which have Hoegaarden and Asahi on the menu, and on the menu only! However, their in-house specials are nothing out of the ordinary. We asked for a Strawberry Margarita and it arrived in the form of a Strawberry Martini! Someone at the bar was definitely having a few *hic* cups. They did offer to replace it though, after we pointed it out. The starters took a long while to arrive. The Veg platter which had Paneer Tikka, mushrooms, cauliflower and Basil Haryali Kababs. The last was an easy winner, since the tikka was only average, the mushrooms rather insipid and the cauliflower suffered from a mustard overdose.

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The good news had been that the Chilli Beef had arrived first, the bad news was that it forgot to cook itself! That was unfortunate because the flavours were really good. The Portuguese Patra in name and appearance was similar to the Parsi Patra ni Machchi, but this one had a chicken version too. Wrapped in banana leaves, this was easily our favourite starter and was well complemented by the peanut based dip.

The main course options consisted of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, pasta and a few steaks. We began with the Meat Lovers Pizza, which was a chicken, pork and cheese extravaganza. They did play their parts well, but the pizza itself was burnt. The BELT was our favourite mains dish, the acronym (and the dish) being made up of bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato. Despite the ingredients, the sandwich was light, with subtle flavours. The Penne Alfredo (we had the veg version) was only average though the cream sauce promised much. The Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers sounded quite interesting – bell peppers stuffed with cheesy rice, served with baked apple and red wine sauce. It looked quite the belle too, red and green bell peppers looking pretty in the company of the apple. But looks proved deceptive, the dish wasn’t great, the barely cooked rice being the chief culprit! We were in the mood for desserts, but they didn’t exist!

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For about Rs.1800, you could share a couple of drinks, two non veg starters, and a main course dish. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) The Local makes no pretence to being a fine dining destination, and bills itself as a ‘my kind of place, come as you are’ hangout. The décor, music and the general buzz manages to do that quite well, but it has a long way to go in terms of the quality of food served. If the general idea is only to lounge around in Koramangala with beer and sides, and in a relaxed atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed. But if the expectation is more than casual ‘drinkery’, then the terrace might fall short.

The Local, 467, 80ft Road, 6th block, Koramangala, Ph: 2550 5119

bon South

Five years have passed since we visited the first version of bon South, in Koramangala. bon South had soon shifted to Malleswaram, and the original location now houses Prost, I think. The new version of bon South is where Ping (#youremember) used to be – the one way from Intermediate Ring Road towards Jyothi Nivas. (map) They have valet parking.

We went there for lunch on a Sunday, and think we were lucky to get a table without reservation. The place was packed! They seemed to have learnt from the earlier experience – there was no cold welcome towel and there is a clear shift from extravagance to value for money. They only have a buffet (menu) – different rates for weekdays/weekends and veg/non veg. Special rates for kids. Smart. They seem to have more space than Ping used to, and while the flooring and walls seem to have been left unchanged (from the previous owner – some multi cuisine placeholder) they have added some decor elements that lend a touch of authenticity to the theme. The old fashioned light shades deserve a mention here.

The live counter items are served on the table along with the choice of welcome drink. (beer/bottled drinks/kokum juice/buttermilk/mocktail of the day) D chose the mocktail which turned out to be a fruit punch, and I had a buttermilk. The fruit punch was strawberry heavy and just okay. The buttermilk was cold but a bit diluted and wasn’t the spicy kind I prefer. The menu differed a bit from what we’d seen on Zomato. The pick of the starters for me would be the podi idly – small, soft, spicy! This would be closely followed by the spicy grilled chicken and the thair (curd) vada. The mutton patties, the steamed fish (raw mango  flavoured and served in a banana leaf) and the uthapizza (I’m calling it that because it was an uthappam served in a pizza-like slice) were also very good. The corn, and the glazed pineapple were decent. The not-so-good items were the paneer, prawns (both were bland) and the veg patties.

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The main course is the traditional buffet style – you have to go to the food. :) The photogenic pickle and podi spread grabs your attention before anything else. In the main course, we skipped the soup options (mutton stock, rasam) and began with the fish, mutton and chicken (all gravies) The appam/porotta/dosa/podi dosa will be brought to the table after you tell them what you’d prefer. A good idea would be to order this just before you pick up the dishes. The fish turned out to be quite bland and D didn’t like the crab masala she’d picked up. The chicken and mutton were both curry leaves based, but differed in taste. I thought the mutton was really good and D favoured the chicken. The appams were very good, as were the podi dosas. (I’d gladly pay for that podi if they’re selling it!) The Kerala Porotta and the dosa were decent enough. In the next round, we tried the chicken biryani, which wasn’t that great. There are enough veg options, it’s just that we skipped them – except for the stew, which was really good.

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We barely had space for desserts but bravely soldiered on. The elaneer payasam is magic and a must try. I had 2 mini glasses. D loved the jalebis as well. The phirni, pastry, pradhaman, jamun and rasagullas were standard fare. We were too stuffed for the gola! :( The meal ended with a filter coffee.

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It cost us Rs.1200 including service charge and taxes. I think that’s excellent value for money, especially given the location. The service deserves a special mention – enthusiastic, pleasant and prompt! I’d definitely drop in again.

bon South, 130, 1st Cross, 5th Block, (behind Sukh Sagar) Koramangala Ph: 2552 6362 / 6363

The Mirage

First appeared in Bangalore Mirror

I came upon The Mirage quite by chance on the web, and for a few moments, when I was hunting for its precise location in Koramangala, I did wonder about the name of the restaurant and whether it was literally that! Situated on the fourth floor of a building, it’s pretty easy to miss unless you’re specifically looking for it. At an eye level, look for the new Corner House. (map – though it has shifted to the other side of the same road) Parking on the street. When we visited, the place was relatively unknown because it’d been less than a month since it opened, and they hadn’t done much in terms of publicity. That probably explains why we were the only group there. Thankfully, the cliché of the service staff attacking as a swarm did not happen. In fact they actually seemed a little intimidated, especially when we ordered wine – they had difficulty finding it, and seemed confused on how to serve it! For now they are serving only wines, (though they plan to make it a full fledged alcohol menu soon) so it might be a good idea to train the staff on it. But once the initial fear of strangers passed, they turned out to be quite helpful and attentive! The décor is functional aiming towards lounge and there’s lots of ‘greenery’ – in the form of lighting, graphics and cushion covers. Marilyn Monroe seems to be quite an influence, appearing in various avatars, the most interesting of which is her quote “I don’t want to make money. I just want to be wonderful.

The menu is a mix of many cuisines – Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and even a smattering of Vietnamese. From the more than a dozen options available, we began with a Sesame Potato Bites in Chili Sauce. On hindsight, we needn’t have ordered this since everything else came with potatoes anyway! There was something funny about the oil in this dish, and it wasn’t the kind that would make you look forward to the rest of the meal. The Fried Calamari served with Garlic Aioli and chips was up next. The squid was well cooked, the dip complemented it well and if you can ignore the general greasiness, it’s not a bad dish. The Highnoons Special Fried Chicken was the last to arrive, and was served with the mandatory chips and a ‘Mayo-Tard’ sauce. The chicken itself was decent, except for a couple of undercooked bits, but the sauce, which was already a cause of much mirth thanks to our juvenile vowel movement jokes, actually had a funny taste, most likely thanks to a mustard overdose.

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In addition to the standard menu, there’s also a ‘daily specials’ display. Since the idea was to pig out, we decided to try the BBQ Pork from this set. It came with.. Ok, this is getting boring, so imagine potatoes as bodyguards and that no dish arrives on the table without them accompanying it in some form! But the pork dish actually turned out to be the first of the fantastic dishes – a superb mix of spice, tang and splendidly cooked meat. To even out things a bit, we then tried the Veg Dumplings in Hot & Sour Gravy which was served with Butter Rice. This was not in the league of the earlier dish, but the hot and sour flavours were complemented well by the mildly flavoured rice. The Cajun Spiced Grilled Fish with Dill Butter Sauce was up next. The fish was cooked well enough, but it was probably our least favourite, mostly thanks to a strange pungency. The Chicken Roulade turned out to be the dish of the day, with an awesome spinach filling, a mildly spicy herb sauce and butter rice to complete the package. From the half a dozen pizza options, we chose the Pepperoni & Bacon. They weren’t stingy with the meat and the caramelised shallots added a nice touch to the thin crust pizza.

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There were plenty of interesting options but we were pointed to the Brownie Caramel Fudge and the New York Style Blueberry Cheesecake, and thus we had a new benchmark of how meals should end! The brownie was just the right texture and consistency – neither too dry nor moist- and had some wonderful dark chocolate! Good chocolate dishes are always a tough act to follow, and the fact that the baked cheesecake almost beat it is testament to its quality. I wondered whether we should have started with desserts!

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For about Rs.1350, you could share a couple of non veg starters, two  non veg main course dishes and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) The Mirage actually lives up to its name in the sense that the restaurant’s appearance doesn’t do full justice to the quality of some of the dishes. Considering the Koramangala location, it manages to deliver value for money as well. A little more attention to the overall packaging, including some good music (instead of piping Radio Indigo) and it could be wonderful and make money!

The Mirage, #61, 4th Floor, Above Corner House, 7th Block, Koramangala, Ph: 080 65333533/633

Kanua

Kanua has been on our radar for a long while now, and D had loudly voiced her protests when I finally managed a visit with my office friends crowd. So, on a weekend when she had a craving for seafood, this automatically became our destination. Kanua is easy to miss if you do not know exactly where it exists. This map is accurate, but since the restaurant is on the top floor, it is not easily visible from the road. Parking is usually not a problem.

The decor has lots of elements that collectively give a feel that you’re at a traditional coastal residence. We chose a small two-seater that also gave us a good view of distant lights. The overall ambiance is fantastic and they have Karunesh and the likes playing at a moderate volume so you can have a conversation and listen to some soothing music as well. It’s probably because of the distance from the main road that at some points you can feel a silence, notwithstanding noisy kids. :)

We began with the Paanak, which was the most unique (non alcoholic) drink we saw on the menu. I think they serve wine – have had that on my last trip – though we were not given a menu. A herbal cooler – sweet, sour and spicy is what was promised, and the ginger based drink delivered on everything except sour. From the starters section, we asked for the Zalke Naked Masala – the Anjal (seer) version. The spicy masala was finger lickin’ good as promised.

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It was around this time that we figured out that the stamps on the menu weren’t for decoration! Duh! Also a good time to note that the menu is a fantastic job in terms of presentation. We were a little spoiled for choice, but decided to try out a Zalke Randhei and a Gawnche Chicken Curry with Oondies and Paanpole to go with them. The first is a fish curry with a red coconut based gravy, but it wasn’t thick as promised and I got an overdose of what I thought was turmeric, but it could have been saffron as well. D thinks it was mustard! We preferred the chicken dish with its ground peanut – based thick gravy! The Oondies – six in a plate – (seasoned steamed rice dumplings) were fantastic, and so were the exactly-right-moist and soft paanpoles. We also wanted to try the Khotto but they weren’t available. So we turned out to the dependable sannas and thankfully they were great too – fluffy and soft and a perfect combo with the chicken curry. Dessert was chosen after grueling rounds of elimination. The Raagi Manni was a raagi based version of a souffle and reminded us of the ada pradhaman Kerala payasam.  I’ve had the chocolate mousse earlier, and it is fantastic.

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All of the above came to just less than Rs.2000. I really love the serene ambiance, and since the menu offers scope for more experimentation, we’ll definitely be back.

Kanua, No.1,Survey No.6/2,Kasavanhalli, (off) Sarjapur Main Road. Ph: 65374471/2

The Tuck Shop

Since the rain gods had been monopolising Saturday evenings, we had shifted to Sunday brunches. That provided the perfect excuse, in case we needed any, to try The Tuck Shop. It’s located in the lane opposite China Pearl (map) Parking for two wheelers is easy, and you’re probably better off parking your 4 wheeler on the main road.

There’s nothing fancy about the place, including the seating, which is functional but comfortable. But the decor is what really brings out the character of the place. Every table has tiny boards with quirky, funny messages; there are board games available; the walls have hand drawn graphics pop culture representations, and overall, there’s something that brings about a lot of home made <3. That story continues in the menu through the names of the dishes.

Abundance of choice meant that we had to plan our meal a bit. We started with The Puny God (bacon, chilli, cheese omelette) and this was quite tasty with a bunch of flavours popping up. It came with toast and baked beans, though we didn’t much care for the latter. We then tried The Foghorn (hot dog) The chicken sausages in this were pretty good and thankfully the mustard didn’t really spoil the party. All of this was washed down with filter coffee and masala tea, with the former being good enough to warrant a double repeat!

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The next round began with the Oh Basanti burger which had minced beef with an Indian spice masala and a BBQ sauce. Splendid choice, and the taste was awesome enough for us to forgive the dripping grease! :) We also tried the Dhanno On the Run (which we later figured went well with the first dish in terms of names!) – crispy sliced beef with a coconut tinge. This was one dish which could have been better – the meat wasn’t cooked well enough, though the masala was quite good! Unfortunately we were too stuffed for dessert, despite that inspiring tailor made message on our table!

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All of that came to Rs.640. The service staff was pleasant and friendly though they seemed very possessive of the menu and kept taking it back! But that won’t stop us from visiting again to try out the other dishes!

The Tuck Shop, 98/A, 17th B Main, 5th Block, Koramangala Ph 088 61 335567

Prost

Prost is only a short walk away from our house, but we delayed a visit, not just because of the fairly discouraging reviews, but also because their microbrewery had probably the most delayed start ever!  Some casual browsing recently on Zomato informed me that the craft brew was ready! So were we!

This is the same premise where bon South used to be, on the way from 1st Block Koramangala towards Sony World. (map) They have valet parking. The place has a very industrial feel to it (maybe a hat tip to its German name?) but some sections, specially the ones upstairs, offer alternatives. We chose the smoking section upstairs that faces the road, it has some comfortable non-bar seat ways to park oneself. We noticed that the brewery smell was fairly strong as we checked out the menu. Since beer was a big factor in the visit, we first ordered the Cider Rider and Spinner, and then the Bangalore Bolt a while later. The Cider did have a mild fruity flavour, though the apple-ness of it is arguable. The Spinner, which I had ordered for the hint of lemongrass and ginger, was more wheat beer than ale. It only disappointed because of the expectations set by the description, otherwise it is quite a decent drink. The Bangalore Bolt was standard wheat beer and doesn’t disappoint. 500 ml is the minimum quantity. Hic.

In the appetisers section, they have this neat half plate concept. We can order half plates of specific dishes and would have to pay the cost of the higher priced full plate. We ordered half plates of Sugarcane Chicken and Meatball Poppers. The Sugarcane Chicken was quite unique, with sugarcane skewers and mildly flavoured chicken that was complemented superbly by the Vietnamese spicy, tangy dip. The Meatball Poppers – with minced pork and tenderloin – was quite fantastic, and again, had a bbq dip that worked very well.

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We had quite a debate on the next round of dishes – whether we should order one more set of half plates or one full plate starter and a main course dish or two full plates. Massive analysis over beer on a Sunday! Beef won anyway, but unfortunately wasn’t available. So we asked for a Chicken Topper and a Crackling Stuffed Fish. The Chicken topper consists of open mini burgers with spicy chicken mince. Quite decent with a mayo dip. The stuffed fish was very good – tending towards bland but well cooked. For desserts, we asked for the Chocolate Decadence, expecting some monster levels of chocolate, but it  was rather tame. Not bad, just normal.

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All of the above cost us just over Rs.1800 including taxes. The service was prompt and helpful, and on a Sunday afternoon, it was not really crowded. After all those negative reviews, I think our expectations were minimal. But it wasn’t so bad, and we’ll definitely drop in again.

Prost, 749, 10th Main, 80 Feet Road, 4th Block, Koramangala Ph: 25534989

Fenny’s

This review first appeared in Bangalore Mirror.

Fenny’s is almost opposite Raheja Arcade in Koramangala, on the third floor of the building next to Food World. They have valet parking, and those with a more modest and lesser set of wheels can park in one of the many side lanes and walk it up. The map and menu are at Zomato.

The word ‘Fenny’ (though usually spelt feni) can mean different things to different people depending on what happened after they consumed it, but there would definitely be a Goa connection. So it is a bit funny that a restaurant named Fenny’s does not serve Goan food. But the owners clarified that the name symbolised a connection in spirit to Goa, further emphasised by a tagline “Happiness Everyday”. This was my third visit here, and I can confirm that the lift is most definitely a slice of Goa. It moves at its own pace, rocks, (though more in an effort to mimic waves) is mostly crowded, and starts and stops exactly when it wants to. But much like Goa, the niggles take a backseat as soon as you enter the place. The menu is a mix of Mediterranean and European, and is backed superbly by an ambiance and décor that’s probably one of the best around, and manages to easily transport you way out of Koramangala.

We began with the Basil Bell Pepper Soup – the tomato overshadowed the bell pepper, but we enjoyed it courtesy the spicy flavour and a dash of tang. The Crispy Ola Breads with Fenny’s signature dip turned out to be four standard and largely unimpressive dips including salsa, Baba Ghanoush, and Hummus. The Peri Peri Mushroom was easily a better veg starter – grilled mushrooms with a vegetable stuffing and mildly spicy Peri Peri sauce. The Devil Beef Chunks had tender meat with a spicy sauce that also had chilli flakes in it. We also found this sauce’s cousin in Fenny’s Paprika Chicken, but it was spicier, fairer in complexion, and tastier as well. From the drinks section, we tried the ‘Dom’my Gun, which was unfortunately dominated by a guava flavour that mercilessly gunned down any taste of the vodka or the Fenny’s Special Mix that might have existed. You are more likely to have a better chance of success with ‘Vicky Donor’ -the other cocktail we tried – with its good mix of lime juice, vodka and spicy green chilli. But the winner proved to be the mocktail – the creamy Strawberry Delight, which also had pineapple, orange and cinnamon playing support.

In the main course, the Fiery Hot Vegetable Pizza arrived first, and despite the double adjective, needed some assistance from chilli flakes to make it truly worthy of its name. But that didn’t take away from its awesomeness – crisp onion, bell pepper, chilli and mozzarella cheese proved to be a great combination. The Supreme Chicken with Mushroom Sauce gave us a sense of déjà vu – except for the abundance of mushroom, it was a near replica of the sauce in the starters. The rice that came with it was boiled a little more than it should have, and the dish was soon neglected. Another dose of déjà vu – though a milder one – appeared in the form of the Fish Grand Milano. But though it was reminiscent of the soup, its spicy, creamy nature soon stopped comparisons.

We didn’t have much of a choice in desserts – the only options were a Chocolate Mousse, a Brownie and a Sticky Toffee Cake with Butterscotch sauce. The last one screamed for attention and got it! Richly deserved, I must add. It was moist, with an excellent texture and the rich butterscotch sauce complemented it beautifully. If it wasn’t closing time, I think we might have ordered one more!

Fenny’s has managed to create a fantastic setting in the middle of Koramangala. The food is quite good, though in some cases, the portions are arguably small. They also have an interesting bar menu; all of this explains the increasing buzz about, and in the place. You’re better off reserving a place, especially on weekends.The music was a little louder than we’d have liked but is not really a conversation stopper. The service was prompt and helpful. The person who took our orders was really good, and the only spoilsport was another member of the staff who almost dropped our main course all over us and didn’t even bother to apologise! With a cuisine that’s not very common in this part of Bangalore, and an amazing ambiance, it’s probably only the lift that holds it back from reaching greater heights! (As you might have guessed, I did get stuck in it!)

Fenny’s, 3rd Floor, 115, 7th Block, Koramangala, Opp Raheja Arcade, Ph: 080 65658000

Tilt

If Koramangala needed one more addition to its eateries to tilt the balance in its favour, it’s done! Tilt is a gastropub on the same road as Truffles Ice & Spice. There is no valet parking so if you have a four wheeler, you’re probably better off parking in that lot next to Empire, and walking it up. Plenty of space for 2 wheelers though. Tilt bills itself as Bangalore’s first destination gastropub. I know a certain Monkey who might pick a joust over that, but since Koramangala IS Bangalore for a lot of people, we’ll let that pass. When we’d dropped in at Tilt a couple of months back, we had the luxury of choosing our seating at 8PM on a Saturday, but the second time – a few months later, people who walked in at that time didn’t even have a choice of where to stand. The place was packed – the ground floor, the mezzanine seating, and the outdoor option! I get the feeling that a certain Dj TT had a hand in it, but even otherwise, judging from our experience – the food and the general vibe – the place deserved it.

Tilt has outdoor seating and in the indoors section, has a ground and mezzanine floors on two sides. There’s also the mandatory giant TV screen. The interiors include hat tips to music in the form of posters all over, but we wondered whether the grunge look had gone a bit overboard. However, the rest of the experience easily takes over before you start paying attention to the details. ‘Familiar’ is the word that Tilt uses to describe the music it plays, and it was exactly that. A sea change from the 2010-hangover music we heard the first time. It was still a bit loud, but everyone seemed to be having a blast, and that brought the painful realisation that age was not really tilting in my favour!

The drinks menu was under construction the first time with print outs being given to us, but things had changed since then. The first time, we asked for a Sangria and a ‘Crazy Mango’. The sangria was reasonably good and had brandy in it, though measly in terms of quantity but the mango drink (aam panna based) was awesome, and highly recommended. The latter wasn’t available the second time though. The Tilt Kiss (mocktail version) was not bad either, but the Cosmopolitan turned out to be too sweet.

The main menu is an eclectic mix of various cuisines, with many fusion twists. In addition to the regular menu, there’s also a bar snacks menu. The first time, we tried Oriental stir fried pork sausages. The sausages had lemon grass and soy glaze, giving it an excellent hot and sweet flavour. The second time, a rainy night menu meant that we had to try a soup. The Broth of leeks and charred Za’atar flavoured chicken got a few points just for the unique presentation, and the mildly spicy soup didn’t disappoint on taste either. We missed the German snail sausages in the dish, but the Pork Cocktail sausages and the superb sauerkraut seasoning quite made up for it. Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles was up next – grilled seafood, mushroom ceviche, crisp Basil chiffonade chicken with chlorophyll mayo and Peruvian bread. We found squid, prawn, and fish; the mayo deserves a special mention for the flavour it lent to the dish. The Old Monk Chicken crispy chilli hot wings has been a favourite and continued to be everything it promised.

Technically, the mini wharf burgers are part of the bar snacks menu, but given we were a few drinks down, we tilted it towards the main course! I was warned that their appearance was deceiving and they’d be quite filling. I think there is some tasty truth in it. The Fusilli in creamy pesto with mushrooms was thick and creamy but might have felt a little ignored in the company of meatier dishes. Capriscisico calebresse was our pizza of choice, mostly thanks to its name dropping among ingredients – ham and bacon, to be specific. But the thin pizza was only average, though quite filling! For those interested, there is also a Man vs Burger championship that’s always on! The Penne Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo was quite creamy and tasty. The quantity was also decent. The ‘Interpretation of Kozhi Porichathu’ took some more time and the presentation was quite fantastic. The dish itself was only average. The chicken could have done with a little more cooking, and the Beurre blanc seemed to be made of coconut milk powder and that took away a little bit. 

 

For dessert, we asked for a Gianduja hot chocolate souffle which had fried chocolate biscuits and a chocolate vanilla creamy ‘soup’. That took an inordinate amount of time. Apparently the chef had forgotten about it! Thankfully it was worth it. The two chocolate components beautifully complemented each other in terms of texture and flavour. During the second visit, we chose the Chilled strawberry bisque and the Crème Brule. (sic) The former also had pistachio quenelles and ricotta cream, which complemented the strawberry flavour but couldn’t really elevate the dish. The Crème Brulee was crunchy and custardy, but the custard was a little too hard.

 

For about Rs.1500, you could share a drink, a non veg starter, a couple of main course dishes and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) Tilt has a lot of things going for it – good food, energetic vibes and from a few experiences, superb music! What it can work on are the details eg. dog-eared menu cards, and probably some character – something that for instance, Monkey has oodles of. If they do, there’s nothing that stops the establishment from going ahead full tilt, even amidst the gastronomic abundance that’s Koramangala.

Tilt Gastropub, 99, Ground Floor, 4th B Cross, 5th Block, 1st Main Road, Koramangala Ph: 25530520

The second visit has been chronicled on Bangalore Mirror.

The Black Pearl

Pirated from Bangalore Mirror

There’s something very ironic about ‘borrowing’ a ship’s name from The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and using it to run a restaurant with a pirate theme! Even more ironic when it’s located right next to an establishment called Empire! (map) But that’s exactly what The Black Pearl has done, and they have obviously invested a lot of effort into doing justice to the theme. Across three floors – the top floor akin to an upper deck with open sky above – there are décor elements that accentuate this – anchors, cannons, mannequins, chains and ropes, skeletons, swords. There is a tinge of tackiness too, like the huge bones that became the butt of many jokes, and it was a little funny to have pirate-costumed service staff valet parking and speaking in Hindi. But ambiance is only part of the tale – the service, and the food had a role to play too, and that’s where the seas got rough! In the end, keeping with the theme, looting did happen, in the form of a bill.

Except for some pirate lingo, there was hardly anything on the menu (though the one we got was quite different) that went with the theme. When we began ordering the starters, we realised it was pointless to navigate the Continental and Chinese sections since they weren’t available. That went for some of the more interesting (sounding) drinks as well! From the Indian menu, we asked for a Til aur Paneer ka Tikka, an Afghani Mutton Boti Kabab, Aatishi Murgh and a Pirate Special Macchi Tikka. The veg representation was superficially spicy, though the paneer itself seemed quite fresh. We were served what was claimed to be the chicken, but easily sensed that it wasn’t. For a while, we pondered the various possibilities, until we were told that it was just the mutton dish. A little too bland. The Aatishi Murgh made an effort to live up to its name in terms of spiciness, and was quite a favourite. The Macchi Tikka was mildly spicy and quite tasty. In addition to some standard fare, we had ordered a Masala Cola. That turned out to be a Hajmola cola in disguise, with an overdose of masala! Exactly the opposite happened with the Pomegranate ‘N’ Tamarind Martini – it had no trace of a tamarind flavour. In the meanwhile, the ship was under aural attack – a singer was methodically gunning down favourite numbers!

It took so long for the main course to arrive that we joked that it had to be brought from the mainland! The Dal Peshawari was watery and had none of the butter and cream that was promised! We unanimously agreed that the Navaratna Korma deserved a spot in the desserts section! The Malai Gosht turned out to be its near-cousin, the only consolation was that the meat was well cooked. The Murgh Matka suffered from a methi overdose, though the boneless chicken was tender. The Ulte Tawa ka Paratha was mentioned in the menu as a must-try, but was nothing special. Ditto for the Afghani Kulcha, which had a few dry fruits slivers tossed into it for the name’s sake! The excitement was delivered as Crispy Roomali Roti – another ‘must try, but deservedly so. It was huge and we thought this was the Family Naan we’d ordered! When we realised it wasn’t, we had a sinking feeling, soon justified when we saw the size of the actual Family Naan! Gigantic and they obviously had the Indian joint family in mind! Thankfully, it was quite good.

Meanwhile, penance was happening in the form of bottled water, which was being served for free! The singer, as though understanding his limitations, was now crooning ‘Please Forgive Me’

From about ten dessert options on the menu, only four were available, and that included ice cream! Considering the experience thus far, we decided to play safe and try just the Gulab Jamun. That was surprisingly not bad! By this time, the singer had reached ‘Take me home’, and we heartily agreed.

For about Rs.1800, you could share a cocktail, a non veg starter, a couple of main course dishes, rotis and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) But ‘Arrgo’ would be a pithy way to describe our predicament – six of us held hostage in a pirate-themed restaurant serving not-so-great food. Such is the restaurant scene in Koramangala that a new place needs to run a tight ship just to keep its head above the water. Shape up or ship out, as the saying goes, and it’s mercilessly enforced. There would be first visits courtesy the theme, and the place was full while we were there, but unless there’s a sea change in the service, food and pricing, The Black Pearl could soon be in Davy Jones’ Locker!

Black Pearl, Vikas Tech Park, 2nd & 3rd Floor, #105 1 A Cross Road, Koramangala Industrial Layout, Jyoti Niwas College Road, 5th Block, Koramangala, Ph: 080-64333111

Bak Bak Bar

the bak bak appeared on Bangalore Mirror first

The place has a bakstory – the Manchester United Restaurant and Bar. But after its game ended, the buck was passed on to Bak Bak Bar on Children’s Day in 2011. (map and menu at Zomato) It belongs to the same group as Bakasur, and even if you miss the mention at the door, you might find an odd stirrer or two that have the Bakasur motif. But there ends the connection. The theme stays true to the name, sometimes in the form of good advice – “Don’t walk into a bar. Use the door instead” (though the poster is inside) – and sometimes as great conversation starters – “Avoid nuts. You are what you eat.” Coasters, posters, plates, bak bak is all over the place. A special mention needs to be made of the music – from Modern Talking to Peter Andre to Coldplay, it seemed to be a soundtrack of an average 30 year old’s life! The volume level is generally toned down to allow bak bak, but Saturdays are a loud exception! But enough bak bak, and on to the bar and the rest.

It’s difficult to slot the menu into the regular starters, main course silos, so we’ll just proceed in the order of consumption and move to the next section at half time! The drinks have amazing names – mostly popular culture characters! It was difficult to believe that Captain Jack Sparrow was a mocktail, but even then it was more entertaining than Mary Poppins. We also tried Princess Leia. Yes, that does sound wrong given that she’s an (ahem) icon among males, and unfortunately, we found her lack of taste disturbing! Since the idea was to pig out, we began with ‘Porkalicious. Though the meat was well cooked, it was a bit bland given that it was supposed to have a green chilli presence. The Beef Kheema Pav made up for it though and was probably the best of the starters. In close contention was the Prawn Pesto cutlet, though we felt that the signature gunpowder mayonnaise that came with it did not live up to gunpowder standards. We’d also tried the Spiced Beef Baklet earlier, and it wasn’t bad either. The PCP (Perfect Citrus Potatoes) had an excellent masala coating, but (thankfully) was not as addictive as its more famous acronym. The Lemongrass Fish steamed riceballs were really strong on flavours, and if you find that too overpowering, its dip is a real help. The Chicken Sausage Kalimirch is usually a safe bet, but during this visit, was lacking in spice.

The Monk-Flamed Chicken provided some flambé entertainment, but was more or less a flame out. The Mushroom Tikki ‘bakwich’ was also very mediocre and it was only the Beef Burger (with the bacon contributing generously) which brought some respite. The patty scored well on texture and flavour, though it was a task to ignore the over-excited lettuce leaves which was forever trying to get in the way! The Lamb Seekh ‘Bak Wrap’ failed to evoke any extreme reaction and played a decent supporting role. The star though was the Chicken Roulade with Makhni sauce. The cheese filling was subtle and allowed the Makhni sauce to shine. The only tiny chink was the strong mustard flavour in the mashed potato. We had tried the Butter Chicken pizza (yes, you heard that right!) the first time we dropped in, and it was awesome, but the second time, it was a huge disappointment thanks to its unavailability!

The writing was on the wall (actually a plate, but you get the message) “Exercise is good, but desserts taste better” So we tried everything that was available. The chocolate easily won – Ganache Tart with Badam Milk sauce, though the latter was ignored. The second half of Apple Pie with Pista Kulfi was a favourite as well, and if they had been less stingy with the Caramel Rum Sauce, the vanilla ice cream would have left us in high spirits as well! The Apricot Meetha Pastry couldn’t really match up to the other performances.

In terms of price, for about Rs.2000, you could share a cocktail, a couple of non veg starters and main course dishes each dishes and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) But beyond that, Bak Bak Bar serves oodles of character – from the liberally strewn fun messages to the yellow cycle. The food they served was not stellar, but it doesn’t make you go ‘What the bak’ either. There’s a definite buzz about the place, and courtesy that, and the Bak Bak meter (a bill holder) that thankfully doesn’t do a one-and-a-half, an extra point.

Bak Bak Bar & Restaurant, #1, Kira Layout, Hosur Main Road, Ph: 8792000390/1