South Bangalore

Grill Maximus

D sulked when she heard that I’d gone to Grill Maximus for lunch with friends, so this was really a firefighting exercise. The first visit went quite fine, so I wasn’t really complaining. The restaurant is in HSR on 17th Cross – the road opposite McD. (map) It’s a fairly wide road, so parking is not a major problem. Judging by the crowd, the place seems to be a favourite, but we reached before 8, so we didn’t have trouble getting the table we wanted.

The menu is a mix of Arab and Continental, with a smattering of other cuisines – most importantly a supposedly special Biriyani. During my earlier visit, we had tried the guava based Peru Pyala and found it to be quite good, but since Bangalore was at its windy best, we opted for a Spicy Seafood soup – D, that is, since seafood is allergic to me and tries to escape really fast. I had to make do with a Kibbeh. The soup was tasty (sigh) but the fried lamb meat balls and the dip proved to be an exercise in blandness.

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For the main course, I recommended the Kafta Meshwi, despite the meh experience with lamb. During the previous visit, I had also tasted the Lahem Meshwi, Chicken Charmula and the Charcoal Grilled English Vegetables. Except for the last, the sauces were similar, so I opted for a Creamy Rose pasta (chicken and penne)  The Kafta Meshwi’s pepper mushroom sauce turned out to be spicy and tasty, only slightly marred by the somewhat more-than-normal rough texture of the minced lamb skewers. The pasta was a disappointment, thanks to a capsicum overdose. This was unfortunate because the sauce was quite good. We’d thought that we’d test out the biryani if we had space, but we were reasonably stuffed and therefore opted for desserts. I did check out the Biryani (pic on Instagram) on another visit, and it was reasonably okay, except it had no pickle, raita, gravy etc on the side! The cake of the day wasn’t available for the day, so we chose the Znoud el Sit. It wasn’t chocolate based so needed to be stellar to elicit any kind of praise. Unfortunately,  it didn’t even fit the description on the menu. (wasn’t creamy on the inside!)

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The service was reasonably prompt, except towards the end, by when the place was full. The wallet was lighter by about Rs.1300. Some of the dishes we had weren’t so great, but it’s quite decent for at least one visit.

Grill Maximus, Shop No:450, 17th Cross, 4th Sector, HSR Layout Ph: 08197939437

Kakori Kababs & Curries

The search for Talaash tickets (yes, we do have a massive backlog on the blog :D ) ended at Gopalan Cinemas. We thought this was a good enough excuse to check out the restaurant scene in JP Nagar. From the various options that Zomato gave us, we zeroed in on Kakori Kababs & Curries. You can find the map and menu at Zomato. The map was perfect and the place wasn’t difficult to find at all. They have valet parking for 4 wheelers and suficient space for 2 wheelers right in front of the restaurant.

When we arrived, we were only the second group there. The place had a <insert dimming Instagram filter> effect to it, almost like a place that was taking its baby steps towards disrepair. But we found a comfortable table, I asked for a Breezer (they only had orange and cranberry) and D wanted to try a Blush. :D For starters, we wanted to check out the Kakori Kabab, but that was unavailable! So we decided to go for our second preference – Murg ka Soola. The Blush, it seems, had all the  promised ingredients – strawberry, guava, cranberry etc, and was quite good from the way D was slurping. The Soola was quite spicy thanks to the ground chillies, and though the cinnamon wasn’t really present, we really liked the dish.

For the main course, we asked for a Murg Dil Bahar and a Meat Beliram, and to go with it, a Kakori Naan and a Chilli Olive Naan, and later, a Butter Tandoori Roti. The Murg Dil Bahar was a rich creamy gravy and the mutton dish was well cooked with a mildly spicy gravy. We enjoyed both and the breads were subtle enough to complement the dishes very well.

By the time we left, all the tables were taken, and there were 2-3 groups waiting outside! Judging by the food we got, worth the wait in that part of town, I’d say. All of the above cost us just under Rs.1400. The service was prompt. But what I really really enjoyed was the instrumental music – 90s Bollywood – Sainik, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na, Damini, Imtihaan. AWESOME. :)

Kakori Kababs, 9A, 24th Main, 6th Phase, JP Nagar, Ph: 65705588

The Egg Factory – JP Nagar

It’d been a while since we went the eggstra mile for a meal. Since we had liked the St.Marks Road version quite a bit, it was an easy decision to make. The landmark, when you’re on Outer Ring Road (from Bannerghatta Road towards Kanakpura Road) is Mast Kalandar on your side of the road. Opposite that is an HPCL Petrol Pump. The Egg Factory is right next to Mast Kalandar. Sounds easy, we missed it! Had to call for directions, oh the shame for a guy! :| There is a parking lot adjacent to it too.

We took one of the seats outside, not really facing the road – those were taken – but good enough for us. There was a notice on the door that said that they were short of staff and we should be patient in case there were minor delays. The menu continues to be the awesome instruction-manual style, though many items seem to have been added. Zomato has a menu, but it seems incomplete. We started with a Morning Burst, though it was just past noon. Being Sunday, I’m sure timings can be relaxed. :D Though there was a promise of orange, it was all Banana, but we didn’t really mind. The range of dishes on the menu ensured that there was a lot of debate before ordering.

In the end, we asked for 3 items and had a fourth in mind in case we had any appetite left, after allocating space for a chocolate dessert we had spied. The Akoorie (Classic Parsi Scramble) arrived first, and was a pretty picture with Amul butter and Kissan packaging adding more colour. It was the right amount of ‘gooey’ for me, and just the exact amount of spice too! We accepted the Amul help, but didn’t need Kissan at all! The Huevos Supremo arrived even before we could finish this. This stuffed omelette with garlic bread combination had a superb tang to it and some chilies, and the brown sauce (baked beans in it too?) complemented it very well. The last to arrive was the Eggs & Mushroom Ragout Penne – the sauce was thick and creamy, a bit thicker than I’d have liked it, and quite bland. A dash of pepper helped. The 4 Chilli Omelette was what we had in mind, but we were too stuffed and the Choco-sin had to be consumed! That cylindrical awesomeness of mousse, cream and a crunchy, biscuit-y base turned out to be a great finish to a splendid meal.

 

 

The bill came to just less than Rs.600 and was totally worth it! That delay they were talking about in the notice never really happened. The dishes arrived really fast! There are so many things to try here that we’ll definitely be back. I liked this outlet more than the St.Marks Road one mostly because the outdoor seating gave it an extra relaxed feel that specially works a charm on lazy Sundays.

The Egg Factory, 288, Ground Floor, 15th Cross, 18th Main, Opposite HP Petrol Pump, 5th Phase, JP Nagar. Ph: 40124848

Bakasur

First appeared in Bangalore Mirror

For those unfamiliar with mythology, Bakasur appears in the Mahabharata as a glutton who pioneered home delivery, bless his soul. Not only did he force a village to send him enormous quantities of food, he also ate the person who brought it – an extreme version of ‘bite the hand that feeds’. That was until the Pandavas arrived on the scene and Bhima decided to help the village. One day he took the food for Bakasur and not finding him, began eating it. Bakasur finally arrived, saw that there was hardly any food left and questioned Bhima. Bhima said something to the extent of ‘first-come first-served’ and in the fight that ensued, killed Bakasur. But in the annals of gluttony, the legend of Bakasur lived on. The current version of Bakasur, on Outer Ring Road (just before the IBP Petrol Pump on the Service Road when coming from Koramangala – map) has its soul right going by the quotes “Now serving in L, XL and Bakasur” size. Spread over two floors, with the one above offering semi-open seating, the quirky theme carries across the menu, coasters, and other messaging, including the ‘toilet club’. On one corner, I could see a cart wheel. If it was a hat tip by design, it was a stellar job – the village in the myth was called Ekachakra. Speaking of wheels, there’s valet parking.

The menu is not really Bakasur size; it literally fits into a plate, but the options are quite unique. There’s also a liquor menu. We started with the Malai-wala Lassi, Zeera Chaach and a Virgin Bakasur! The Lassi and the Chaach were served in slightly larger-than-normal earthen mugs. The Chaach was particularly refreshing and the Lassi got the sweetness just right. The mocktail turned out to be just the standard Virgin Mojito and not the best we’ve had.

 

The first starter to arrive was the Top Secret Gosht Kastoori Tikka – the meat was cooked well and the subtle fenugreek flavours did a reasonably good job, though it would’ve been better if it were served hot. The Mushroom Galauti, served on an ulta tawa paratha, had a smoky flavour that might not find favour with many. From greenery, we shifted to aquatic life – the Tandoori Panja Prawns was mildly spicy, succulent and had a tasty ginger garlic flavour. But the pick of the starters was the Beera Murg, 4 chunky pieces of spicy chicken that we couldn’t get enough of. The wind kept us company throughout and often sent tissues flying. Also present were flies, which seemed to take our frantic waving as a sign of friendliness!

 

 

The main course took its time to arrive, but the good news was that the flies became tired of waiting and left. The dishes arrived in huge vessels, as though meant for bottomless appetites, but appearances were deceiving – they turned out to have false bottoms. We started with the Paneer Saag, Doodh Kalimiri Murg and the Palak Puri. Combined, there was enough oil to warrant a WMD search. The Paneer Saag, in particular, was a heavy dish and was tasty enough to make us just pile it on! The chicken dish was more subtle, with mild explosions of pepper. The Palak Puri was another oil factory but well worth the calories. The Tandoori Ragi Roti was a unique bread that turned out to be surprisingly good, a chocolate hero look helped. The Taash Gosht was a bit of a disappointment – though the masala was spicy and well appreciated, the meat itself was tough and we were in no mood to wrestle. The other let down was the Keema Naan that turned out to be more bland than expected. Though we had also asked for a Dum Apricot Pulao, we were told much later, when we asked for its whereabouts, that it was over. Probably there’s a Bakasur in the kitchen?

 

 

 

Though we expected the Ghee Jalebi with Doodh Kurchan to be the dessert star, it was the Pista Kulfi that actually stole the show. The crisp, cloyingly sweet jalebis were no match for the subtler, creamy kulfis.

 

Bakasur is definitely a unique experience – large tables, an open, relaxed feel and an ambiance that’s enjoyable despite the strong wind and the flies. For about Rs.1600, you could share a non-alcoholic drink, a non veg starter, a couple of rotis, a non-veg gravy, and end with a dessert.  (Inclusive of taxes and charges) The food, except for a few items, was quite good. The pricing though, is debatable, and though it isn’t the “bakwasur” it was made out to be on review sites, it probably needs to figure out a better price-quantity proposition before laying on the Bakasurcharge!

Bakasur, Surami Plaza, Outer Ring Road, Next to Shobha Hibiscus, Bellandur, Ph: 9916076720, 8095501980

Heera

The review first shone in Bangalore Mirror

A stationery store named Staples on the ground floor, to a restaurant named Heera on the 4th, where time is purported to have stayed stationary – the capsule lift journey that takes you to the restaurant could seem like some layered Mughal intrigue. But time capsule it isn’t, and you realise that when you’re faced with a white door that makes you wonder whether you’ve gotten off on the wrong floor. But before all that, this is on Bannerghatta Road opposite Shoppers Stop, (map) and there’s valet parking.

If you remember Heera Panna on Church Street, you can skip straight to the next paragraph. For those who don’t, the Mughal theme is brought out reasonably well – there are alcoves separated from the main hall with bead curtains and multihued chandeliers from high ceilings which bring the theme to life. (video) You even get to wear turbans and cloaks, and if you’re so inclined, you can play with wooden swords too. If you happen to be sitting in the main hall, Rekha is likely to dance for you on the gigantic screen to In aankhon ki masti (Umrao Jaan) In case you aren’t floored by this, there is a good chance that one of those loose floorboards will do it for you!

One thing that’s to be said for the menu is that you’ll be spoiled for choice. We started with the Macchi Tikka whose red chili paste and subtle ajwain flavours made an excellent combination. The Paneer Kurkure was up next, and the crispy covering served as a perfect foil for the cottage cheese. Figuring out a clear favourite from among these two was difficult. I was expecting much from the Lal Mirch ka Murgh, but it really didn’t deliver on the spice factor and seemed to be a dish that wasn’t sure of its identity and aspired to be a Manchurian. The Mutton Chops Masala Nasheeli Champein had no idea that it had been classified under ‘boneless’ and though its masala was quite good and had a fair share of spices, the lamb pieces themselves – whatever we could judge from the miniscule meat presence -  were not really the best we’ve had. We also tried a couple of mocktails – the Red Devil did a good job with the watermelon, apple, and orange combination but the mint leaves were a bit like moss on Kerala backwaters, quite spoiling the drink. The White Orchid – lychee based, didn’t turn out a lot better.

 

 

The plethora of choice continues in the main course too. And though the Mutton Kofta curry we wanted to try out wasn’t available, it turned out to be a blessing. The Gosht Nehari that was suggested to us instead turned out to be the best of the main course dishes with a silken rich gravy and well cooked meat. The Dum Aloo can be summed up with the fact that everyone approved of it until I smirked and told them that it was a Dum Aloo. Then everyone agreed that this wasn’t the way it was supposed to taste. Cheap thrills. The Murg Masala was mildly spicy and not a bad dish, but for a ‘special dish’, it wasn’t exceptional. There are some interesting options in the roti/naan section. The Baluchistan Kulcha with a kheema stuffing is definitely recommended as is the Harimirch ka Paratha, but you would want to stay away from the Channa Pudina ki Roti. The Gosht Dum Biryani was excellent – flavourful, non sticky rice and well cooked meat complemented by a reasonably good raita.

The Rabdi Malpua was easily the best among the three desserts we tried, since both components did their jobs well and worked as a combination too. The Kulfi wasn’t bad but not really stellar either, especially on a relative note. The disappointment was the Flambéed Gulab Jamun, which had such an overdose of rum that we felt that it should have been in the liquor menu.

For about Rs.1500, you could share a mocktail, a non veg starter, a couple of rotis, a biryani and a non veg gravy, and end with a dessert.  (Inclusive of  taxes) All things considered, the food really wasn’t bad at all, though it is priced on the higher side. The service was a tad too enthusiastic and we had to finally tell them that we would help ourselves. But what really takes away from the place, despite its relatively unique theme, is its condition of disrepair. It’s a bit sad to see it fraying, and not just at the edges, like a Mughal monument that no one seems to care about.

Heera, #17, 4th Floor (Opp Shoppers Stop, above Staples), Bannerghatta Road, Ph: 9972305871, 9972934777

Aroy

No, we aren’t talking about a Bong here. I read somewhere that it means tasty/delicious, in Thai. The direction of thought is roughly right though. East. Aroy is a restaurant in JP Nagar that serves Thai cuisine, along with some Burmese too. Here’s a map to get you there. (a couple of zooms should get you there safely) Its in the same building as Crossword, on the third floor. Parking is not a problem, though you’ll need to go quite a bit – until the next junction – for a U turn when coming from Bannerghatta Road.

We reached there by about 7.30, and already found a few tables occupied. If you’re planning to get there later, it might be a good idea to reserve. Aroy managed to charm us straight away with its wonderful rooftop ambiance. There are indoor seating options too, but with a slight breeze, lightly swaying trees and the distant lights of south Bangalore’s apartment complexes, we decided to sit outside, under a cloudy sky.

CIMG1229Ok, before I go overboard, here’s the menu. They serve liquor and from the descriptions, some amazing cocktails and mocktails too. But we already had way too many choices in the food menu, and were wondering what we’d miss out on. So we asked for a Tom Kha soup, and a Pandan Chicken to start with. While we waited we were served a complimentary Amuse Bouche – a fried rice cake, which turned out to be as good as it looked.

CIMG1231The Tom Kha (chicken) soup arrived soon after. An amazing coconut cream soup flavoured with galangal and loaded with chunks of chicken and mushrooms. Though the coconut cream flavour was strong, there seemed to be a few others too that demanded attention – lemon grass most prominently, with a hint of tanginess. The soup, though slightly thinner than a regular cream soup, uses the coconut cream extremely well and is probably the best soup we’ve had in a long time.

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This was followed by the Pandan Chicken, which was quite unique in terms of presentation. Unraveling the screw pine leaf is not as tough as it looks. The grilled chicken, which probably comes off as a bit dry, is complemented well by the sweet soy sauce.

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For the main course, we wanted to try out a stir fried dish as well as a clay pot curry, but we were told that the latter would go well with plain rice. So we ditched that thought and asked for a ‘Ong Noh Khaw swte’, from neighbouring Myanmar, something I remembered from ‘Gangtalk‘ and before that, ‘Panda House’, which used to exist in Transit, Forum long back. Its a meal in itself and consists of crisp and soft noodles, a chicken broth and a range of accompaniments. In terms of quantity, though, it actually turned out to be a meal in itself for both of us, and an absolutely delicious one.

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The chicken broth is also coconut cream based with generous chunks of chicken. By the time we finished the bowls we were quite stuffed and wondered what we’d do with the rest of the stuff we ordered.

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In keeping up with our tradition of Saturday night gluttony, we’d also ordered a Pahd Keemao, which is another excellent choice, especially if you’re into spicy stuff. Rice noodles, flavoured with red chillies and basil. We could manage only about two spoonfuls each and asked for the remaining portion to be packed. The noodles goes very well with the Chicken Cashew Nuts and Bell Pepper. Though its description also includes roasted chilli paste, its actually a hot and sweet dish.

Though I did want to try the chocolate mousse, there was absolutely no way I could manage it. A worthy bait, and thus, a second visit is a given. Meanwhile, the service is worth a mention too. Extremely helpful, attentive and yet in a non intrusive fashion. Mission sanuk easily accomplished. :)

All of the above cost us about Rs.1300. I’d recommend that you visit with a larger group so that you can try out many things. With awesome food, excellent service and  a wonderful ambiance, including some very good music, Aroy is a must visit, and its worth going to JP Nagar solely for this purpose.

Aroy, 74, 15th Main, 3rd Phase JP Nagar Ph: 40939311

Menu at Zomato