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Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River

Alice Albinia 

I am showing signs of travelogue addiction, and this is the kind of book that creates it! It’s not just the content of the book, which is marvelous and makes for a treasure trove of information, but the sheer tenacity and guts the author displays, that has made me a fan. Spanning four countries, this book is the story of the river Indus, from its source to its destination, though not in a linear way. What it succeeds in doing, like the best travelogues do, is to also allow us to travel through time, in this case, even to the time before man existed. From Hindu mythology to the Harappa civilisation to Partition and the Kargil conflict and China’s occupation of Tibet, the book is not just the story, but the history of a subcontinent (at least a part of it) and the civilisations that rose and fell.

The preface gives us an idea of the expanse of the river through its various names, given across lands and by everyone from Greek soldiers to Sufi saints.

There are nuggets everywhere right from the beginning – the comparison of the arrangements of the Quran and the Rig Veda, the integrity shown by a citizen in the early days of Pakistan’s formation, a modern day citizen blaming Jinnah for the country’s authoritarian culture, a nation’s search for identity, and the vision of its founder, who was only human. The first chapter ‘Ramzan in Karachi’ is a book in itself, and this can be said of all the chapters! ‘Conquering the classic river’ is a slice of the Company’s India exploits, ‘Ethiopia’s first fruit’ shows the amazing ‘presence’ of Africa in the subcontinent’s history and present, and the facets of their absorption into the mainstream. ‘River Saints’ is about Sufism and its modern day remnants who are not beyond politics, religious conflicts and feudalism.

‘Up the Khyber’ is about the exploits of Mahmud of Ghazni, the sexual preferences in the frontier province, and the beginning of the author’s more difficult challenges as she zigs and zags through Taliban and smuggler territory. ‘Buddha on the Silk Road’ is an awesome chapter on the meeting of 3 great religions – Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism and how they influence each other in the area, down to the destruction of the ancient Bamiyan statues more recently. In ‘Alexander at the outer ocean’, the author stubbornly walks, despite very serious hardships, the route that the Sikunder-e-azam took. ‘Indra’s Beverage’ takes us back to Rig Veda times, the Aryans and ancient Stonehenge like relics that survive to this day, along with the Kalash tribe, which follows a religion that goes back beyond Hinduism. Some areas, as the vivid prose describes them, seem to exist the same way they did in Rig Vedic times. The incredibly advanced Harappa civilisation is showcased in ‘Alluvial Cities’, though the reason for their fall is still contested. Kashmir’s archaeological treasures are the focus in ‘Huntress of the lithic’ and it’s interesting to see how the same ‘painting’ has been reinterpreted across time by various people to suit their needs. In the final chapter, the author captures the startling contrast of man’s attempts to conquer nature and at the other end of the scale, his ever decreasing ability to live in harmony. This chapter is also a testament to her commitment to the book, and the mentions of Kailash and the possibilities of Meru were extremely interesting to someone like me, who is interested in Hindu mythology. The book’s final words, which makes us wonder how long the river which spawned civilisations will be around, is a melancholic gaze into the future.

At 300 odd pages, every page of this book is packed, and there is no respite. But it’s completely worth it!

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

Window Seat

Janhavi Acharekar 

There couldn’t have been a more apt title for the book than ‘Window Seat’. If you were told that most of the characters in the book are people you happened to see from a window seat while traveling within a metro, chances are that you’d probably believe it.

The book consists of 30 stories, and though the blurb would have you believe that it’s mostly Mumbai-centric, it’s only in Part 2 that the city actually becomes a veritable character. The first part, with 20 stories, wins you over with the simplicity in narration, and the tales themselves. Stories and characters I could identify with, regardless of their ethnicity, connected only by the humanness. The author’s ease with Malayalam (thanks to the husband) and the subtle use of Bengali in ‘China’ is worth a mention. The copywriting skills come to the fore in several anecdotes and witticisms, which add to the characters.

The amazing part is that each story in the first part is completely different from each other – not just in terms of settings (slum, advertising agency, Kerala, Banaras, Goa….) and characters, (from a newspaper vendor to a ‘freedom fighter’) but also in the way each story is made to work (for me) – a twist in the end, melancholy, subtle wordplay, events that one can identify, humour, nostalgia, the human emotions portrayed and so on. Each card is a different trick. Several stories are rich with layers, a few words here and there that speaks volumes about the character. Each story has something that I could connect with. I could go on and on about the characters, but I wouldn’t want to spoil your experience. It’s better you meet them yourself. :)

The second part has 3 sections, each with a setting that’s probably quintessentially Bombay – the local train, a beauty salon, and a Page 3 crowd. (featuring the epic Rajkumar song “If you come today, it’s too early”) The stories within each section are connected. I liked this a little lesser than the first part. It almost seemed that the author wrote this as a preparation.

This one goes into my favourites list – not just because of the stories themselves, but also for the craft that’s displayed superbly in the telling of each story. Must-read!

Smokehouse Deli

First Delivered on Bangalore Mirror

There was quite some buzz in my glutton fraternity and among Bangalore’s restaurant watchers in general when the glass façade on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar sent out smoke signals that a much-awaited launch was imminent. That was back in February and since then I’ve heard several people raving about Smokehouse Deli. In fact, this one, (whose recipes are a hit among my friends) practically salivates when talking about the place! Adding salt-to-taste is usually recommended in culinary matters, so I took these with a pinch of salt and decided to pay a visit to check things out myself. The glowing white building, the picket fence, the pretty-as-a-picture outdoor seating – all contribute to the elegance that’s evident as soon as one lays eyes on the establishment. Yes, there’s valet parking as well. There is a deli section and functional but comfortable seating as well on the ground floor, and upstairs, a long bar and seats that offer a view of the busy roads outside. But I’d say the real magic begins as you take in the illustrations that are a hallmark of the chain. Lal Bagh to Sankey to Lord Cubbon to the city’s music bands and aero history, this is a rich tribute to Bangalore’s timeline, with quirky nuggets like the famous ‘haunted house’! So much to take in, and we hadn’t even started on the food! Thanks to all that, you really must reserve a table, unless you want to stand outside- smoking – for a while.

At the very outset, I must admit to a little bias in this review because they fed me some really good bacon all through the meal! From the exhaustive beverages menu, we tried the Melon Freeze, fresh, not too sweet and blended really with the alcohol. The Bellini had a subtle fruity flavour that meshed well with the champagne. In the Bourbon Freeze, the Kahlua managed to dominate, and again, the sweetness and the blend of chocolate and bourbon was just right. The spiced- pineapple infusions worked beautifully with the Jose Cuervo based drink as well.

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If the Grilled Mushroom + Bearnaise Crostini had to win the starters round when it had a Sausage Plate for competition, you can imagine how good it must have been. Perfectly sized with a crispy, crunchy base and loaded with mushrooms and cheese. The Peri Peri Spiced Squid Rings were a close second – perfectly cooked squid, crunchy batter and a superb dip. Two kinds of pork sausages (one with a bacon wrap) and a portion of chicken sausages, and yet, the Sausage Plate could only manage a place below these two, despite the sausages being really good! A testament to the quality of the food served!

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In the main course, we were served a splendid Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad – fresh vegetables and well cooked meat, and we topped it with Oak Smoked Bacon. The”My Boss’s style Spaghetti” had an olive oil dressing with seasoning. It was basic but flavourful and the red onions and field mushrooms added to the dish’s appeal. The House Spiced Smoked Chicken with Five Spiced Jus turned out to be our favourite dish though, and despite the double spice in the name, it was only mildly spicy with well cooked chicken. We also tried the Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin with Burnt Butter Hollandaise. The ‘medium’ could have done with just a tad more cooking, but it was quite succulent and I wouldn’t really complain.

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We wanted to try at least half a dozen desserts but the portion sizes of both earlier courses meant that it took much negotiating before we settled on half of that. The Hazelnut Mousse Flan was a unanimous choice and turned out to be deservedly so. Smooooth mousse with a textured base, you must leave space for this! We wanted an Espresso Soufflé but since it wasn’t available, asked for a Flourless Chocolate Fudge. This turned out to be quite good too with a mild coffee flavour that added to the dark chocolate. The Philly Plum cheesecake was the only disappointment. You should probably go for the Raspberry + Oreo cheesecake – several drooling people have confirmed its awesomeness.

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We had a wonderful time. A unique and superb ambiance, excellent food, and service staff who are confident about the fare they serve. For about Rs.1900, you could share a drink, a non veg starter, a couple of main course dishes and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) It’s definitely on the costly side, but that’s understandable given the location and the factors above. In essence, completely worth all the praise it gets. Only goes to prove the old adage – there’s no smoke without fire!

Smokehouse Deli, 1209, Ward No: 72, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar Ph: 080 – 25200898/9

PS: By th e time this is published, I think their Lavelle Road outlet and the Brigade Road Mocha would be up and running.

Evening Is the Whole Day

Preeta Samarasan

Preeta Samarasan’s debut novel begins with the kind of prose that actually seems like poetry in disguise – with a description of a part of Malaysian geography. The narrative begins in 1980, on Kingfisher Lane in Ipoh, in the Big House, owned by the Rajasekharans – Raju (Appa) a leading lawyer and a pillar of the community, erstwhile socialist; Vasanthi, his wife, from circumstances far below his; their children Uma, Suresh and Aasha in that order; Paati, the matriarch whose disapproval of her daughter-in-law endures time, and the servant girl Chellam brought in to take care of her. A wealthy, dysfunctional family, with each member fighting their own demons.

We see a lot of the story through Aasha’s eyes in the beginning. Aasha, who talks to ghosts and will do anything to get back the affections of Uma. Uma, whose sole desire is to escape to the US. And in between, Suresh, who tries to make sense of the world with humour. The narrative then sets out to unravel layer by layer, not just digging deeper into what happened earlier, but also wider, giving the reader, through characters and events, a view of Malayan society, with its own undercurrents, ethnicity issues and rules that attempt harmony between the Chinese, Indians and the natives. A brief glimpse of a country coming to terms with its freedom, and the responsibilities therein.

As the layers unfold, the perceptions of characters and their behaviour that the reader has built up slowly begin to undergo changes, as the past – from a few days earlier to half a lifetime away – shows its influence on the present and future. We also see how the relationships between people change with time, sometimes over years and sometimes in a few minutes. There are some very interesting secondary characters too, like Uncle Ballroom who evokes a sense of poignancy, Vasanthi’s mother whose sudden turn to asceticism makes you wonder about the nature of the human psyche, or Kooky Rooky, whose variations of her own past points us to stories that we build for ourselves. And then there’s Chellam, whose past, and lack of future brings a lump to the throat.

Somewhere in the book and its use of words and the wit employed (brotheROARsister, Stopping At Nothing…) I could see Arundhati Roy. Somewhere in the way the human condition is expressed I could see Kiran Desai. But neither takes away from a distinctive style – vivid prose, edgy humour, and an ability to draw the reader right in. This one goes into my favourites.

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

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

Windmills Craftworks

We’ve been hearing good things about Windmills Craftworks for a while now – that though we might be considered tourists given the distance between Koramangala and Whitefield, it was worth dropping in. We had tried once earlier, but they had an event and all the seats were taken. This time, though, we agreed to meet, and an OlaCabs booking was promptly made! That was a massive risk, given that they had left us high and dry only the previous night, but I persisted. When I didn’t get the cab details half an hour prior to the planned departure, I called up OlaCabs and they said I’d get the details in 5 minutes. True to word, I did get a call in 5 minutes, to tell me that there had been a mistake, and I would not be getting a cab! An auto, a Volvo and another auto later, we managed to reach on time! This accurate map really helped!

The ground floor itself is business-like, and has nothing to offer in terms of directions. Your first task is to find the lift, then all will be clear. The floor which houses the establishment is a better representative of Total Environment Hospitality though. Once inside, there are bookshelves and comfortable seating options indoors and a smaller space outside from where you can see the IT parks that surround the building. Despite all that concrete, the latter is still a wonderful setting, and we chose to sit there.

The menu is available on an interactive tablet that gives more scope for the appealing food visuals and you can order on it as well. The staff will also confirm the order with you. Though I was tempted to try the samplers, we went ahead with half pints (Rs.195) of Golden Ale, Hefeweizen, a pint (Rs.295) of Dunkelweizen and later a half pint (Rs.225) of the India Pale Ale as well. The Hefe, with its low bitterness, was the most popular, though I liked its darker cousin Dunkel too! The Golden Ale, which is probably the lightest around, was also quite good, and the Pale Ale, true to its name, paled in neglect at our table. Chicken in Pigs Blanket was our first starter, and though in itself it was quite good and not stingy on the bacon either, they could’ve given us a better dip. We then tried the Chicken and Smoked Bacon salad, which had some amazing flavours on the veg leaves that I otherwise ignore! But the pick of the starters was the Beef Picante, which will give any of my favourite Kerala preparations a run for its money. Superbly hot and sweet with very well cooked meat, highly recommended!

This was about the time that we decided to skip the main course, since we couldn’t have done justice to it. So D decided to test out an Indian starter – Dill Chicken Kebab. It wasn’t bad, but by then the beef had set the bar really high! Given the dessert options, we jumped right in and asked for a Chocolate Pudding, Shahi Tukda, and an Orange Bread and Butter Pudding. The Chocolate was really dark and a little too bitter, though the strawberry helped a bit. The other pudding was fantastic, as was the Shahi Tukda.

The service was prompt and helpful, and all of the above cost us, including charges and taxes, over Rs.3800. (3 people) Costly? Yes, but then the experience is quite worth it. Like a friend said, you probably can’t go there regularly, but for special occasions or to try the place out once, most definitely.

Windmills Craftworks, #331, Road No:5B, EPIP Zone, Whitefield. Ph: 26592012

Arbor Brewing Company

Ever since Arbor opened, and I saw them on twitter, I’d been pestering them on when they’d open the microbrewery. On my birthday, we’d wanted to visit Windmills Craftworks, but they had an event and were booked out. I casually looked up Arbor’s menu on Zomato and found that the microbrewery had finally opened!

We went there once more later, and on both occasions, we realised that having a reservation really helped, though the first time we had asked for a table outside, but had to make do with one inside. I missed the passive smoking! ;) Follow the map to get there, and make use of their valet parking.  I loved the way the building encapsulates Bangalore – Nalli Silks, a restaurant named 4 States, (not sure if it’s open yet, can’t find it on the web) and then Arbor, a microbrewery. The place is quite huge, with various kinds of seating options spread across its space. The music is rather loud, but I liked the playlists, so won’t complain!

Over two visits, we tried the Brasserie Blonde, Bangalore Bliss, Big Ben and the Cold War. I loved the theme of the last one, but the coffee flavour was a little too strong and the drink too bitter for my taste. The Blonde was my favourite, and Bangalore Bliss a close second. D preferred the latter though. Big Ben was not bad either. I liked the way they have explained the drinks with trivia, notes and food pairing.

The Flaming Chicken was our favourite starter – chilli sauce and an assortment of flavours like lemon, pepper etc. Quite spicy and extremely tasty. The Chilli Fish was also reasonably good – the sauce being quite spicy again. We didn’t care much for the Drunken Chicken or the Bourbon barbeque sauce it featured.

In the main course, we tried a couple of pizzas – ‘I Like to Party’ and ‘Buffalo Soldier’. The former featured superstars like bacon, pepperoni, sausage, ham and cheese, but it was the latter’s fiery buffalo sauce that won us over. We also tried The Fleetwood – chicken sausage fried rice with garlic pepper sauce and a fried egg on top. This was just about ok. The dish we really liked was the Fiery Chicken Alfredo – creamy sauce and spicy red chilli paste came together very well indeed. But the star, as on most occasions, was a dessert – the gigantic Long Lasting Vertigo. Three layers of chocolate sponge cake with chocolate mousse oozing through! So awesome that we didn’t bother to try another dessert on our second visit!

Our bill on both occasions came to around Rs.2500 – for a couple of beers, a starter, a main course dish, a pizza, and a dessert. Reasonable, I’d think. There’s a distinct buzz about the place, and I think it has a character that will develop well over a period of time.

Arbor Brewing Company, 8, 3rd Floor, Allied Grande Plaza, Opposite Home Stop, Magrath Road. Ph: 080 67 921222