Restaurant Reviews

Flying Spaghetti Monster

First published in Bangalore Mirror

In a world where zealots prescribe diets instead of deities, the Flying Spaghetti Monster appears in the skyline as a beacon of hope. For those unfamiliar with the subject, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the deity of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” or “Pastafarianism”, a legally recognised religion in at least three countries, in addition to being an internet phenomenon! 100 feet Road, Indiranagar, (map) has now been blessed by its presence, (rather, a restaurant inspired by it) and if there’s a deity that can reduce the traffic on that road (which happened the day we visited) it must indeed be a powerful one. This was manifested once again during our dinner – we had the place to ourselves when we got in, but by the time we left, the faithful had filled up every seat available. This, on a Friday night, without the influence of alcohol! Glory be to FSM!

The ambiance is in keeping with the soberness that a faith requires – no fancy use of colours, just wood, well placed lighting, and comfortable seating that allows one to reflect on the menu, take a note of the insatiable desires of one’s appetite, and humbly appeal to a higher power to satisfy those cravings. The menu however, revealed the playful nature of the deity – “substitute bacon with bacon. ha!” (Pasta D:33), even as it strengthened one’s faith – “Vegetables are interesting, but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat”. By now, all we wanted to do was partake!

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The Open Box

It’s not often that we venture so far away from our native country – Whitefield – but the visuals of The Open Box, and its fusion menu, were enticing enough to drag us all the way to St.Marks Road. On reaching there, we realised that it was the same place that Spiga used to occupy. We were big fans of Spiga when it used to be in a house on Vittal Mallya Road, but the second version really didn’t live up.

We walked in close to 1 on a Sunday afternoon, and easily found a place. But if we had been late by half an hour, I think we’d have had some trouble getting a table. The space is separated into about 3-4 sections. The lower floor has some seating near the entrance itself, and the bar separates the remaining area into two.There’s also some seating upstairs, but it didn’t seem open. The furniture is functional-cool – I particularly liked the swivel chair I was seated on. There are some fun decor elements, and that extends to the plating devices too. Not to mention the goofy ‘Nintendo joystick’ posters in the loo! A pool table and a gigantic world map (made with artificial turf) add to the character. We found quite a mixed crowd there – at least two sets of older people having a get together of some sort, and many groups of much younger folk as well!

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The Irish House

The Irish House had opened to much fanfare, going by my Insta feed, but we dropped in a few weeks later. That, and the fact that we were there relatively early in the evening – 7.30 PM – led us to believe that we’d get a table easily. That wasn’t meant to be, and I suspect that it has something to do with the Happy Hours till 8. First impressions weren’t great – the person they’d left at the door had no idea how to handle things when the place was full. We had to coax him to take down our number, and let us know when there was a table available. He kept letting people in (they never came back as they waited at the bar and took a table when it got free!) and was probably there just to open/close doors, and the lady who occasionally made a visit to the front door was probably in charge of this. But we could see that the poor thing was hassled enough, multitasking! Lesson learnt, we should reserve a table anyway! We thankfully got a table in 20 minutes.

A lot of wood, Irish green frills, and standard pub posters make up the decor, though the place is quite lively, especially the bar area, which has quite a lot of international beer brands on display. The balcony area did look promising, though we didn’t venture out. I took a picture of the hanging bike, just to ensure that I wasn’t imagining things on account of pub vapours! We had to wait quite a bit for someone to take the order, and when that happened five minutes after 8, we demanded justice – happy hour extension since we were seated and ready with our order before 8! It took a bit of debate, but they were nice about it. Yay!

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Nasi And Mee

I think Nasi and Mee opened just as we were moving to Whitefield. But we had heard so many good things about it that a plan had been in the works for a long while. The plan just kept getting postponed, and would have continued to, but for a couple of friends who thankfully manage to be very unsympathetic to the rigorous planning with which I plan my restaurant outings! And thus we landed in Koramangala, on a rainy Friday night, after having spent the previous hour and a half trapped in an Uber in slow motion. Even as we were pointing out to each other the changes on 80 feet Road, Koramangala, we spotted Nasi and Mee adjacent to what can arguably be now called a heritage hangout – Rendezvous!

Somehow, the space manages to give itself a hipster feel, helped by a largely young crowd. Great buzz, and just the right amount of light for us older folk to see around, and look at the menu.

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Shaap

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Over the years, the Kerala toddy shop menu has rapidly grown in stature from being mere ‘touching’ partners during drinks to a whole cuisine in itself. Hence you can imagine our delight on seeing an outlet that promises “authentic Kerala shaap cuisine”, especially when it unabashedly calls itself Shaap! Before we go further, let’s get the linguistics out of the way. ‘Shaap’ in this context does not mean a curse, it’s just the way ‘shop’ is pronounced. To be noted that after a trip the ‘shaap’, people are prone to cursing and swearing! The outlet, we realised when we got there, has been refurbished – from its previous café avatar. However, it’s a job that has been reasonably well done. From the signboard that has been done in the toddy shop style, and the thatched coconut leaves on the walls, to the posters (movie quotes and pop culture), the Balarama comics (not Hindu mythology, it’s a popular kids magazine) on the shelf and the use of a non-Malayali labour force, it was absolute Kerala! An entire blackboard-finish wall has been dedicated to the menu, and we couldn’t wait to start!

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The Permit Room

My Instagram feed had been abuzz for a while with some very appealing photos of The Permit Room dishes, but travel (vacation, not the one from Whitefield to MG Road) meant that it took us a while to get there. Despite the TOIT pedigree, the concept and therefore the food, ambiance and decor all are completely different. No craft beer, ok?

The name is a throwback to the days of Prohibition, and the food takes absolute liberties with good old South Indian cuisine. Spread across three floors, the decor is unabashedly kitsch – posters, quotes, art, matchbox collages, and the satirical take on taxidermy – all chuckle-worthy stuff.  We sat on the first floor, with a view of Garuda Mall.

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The Workshop

First published in Bangalore Mirror

The new restaurants that open on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar seem to be giving a hat tip to the traffic by having an automobile connection in their names. At least, that’s what struck me when I saw our destination – The Workshop – exactly opposite a restaurant called Horn OK Please. The restaurant has outdoor seating, which, if you can get over the blaring horns, does look like a comfortable place to watch the world go by. We chose to sit inside, where, on comfortable sofas or functional but aesthetically pleasing chairs, you can watch the IPL season go by. The wall graphics continue the theme (of the name) by creating a workshop impression out of kitchen utensils and the cooking process. The overall effect is bright and cheerful, and does a decent job of creating a relaxed, casual dining ambiance. The menu offers a mix of café fare and more elaborate dishes from Continental, Italian and North Indian cuisines. With the background of pop from the earlier part of this decade, we decided to begin.   More

Toast & Tonic

Monkeys thankfully evolve, such is the nature of things, and one such has now done exactly that to become Toast & Tonic: East Village Style. (map) Our East Village experiences have been limited to a couple of trips around Shillong and Gangtok (no need to get technical about directions, now!) and we’ve never actually been inside a barn, so back in March, we decided to broaden our perspectives on both counts and celebrate D’s birthday there.  It was meant to be a surprise for her, and since I’d heard that it was usually packed, I reserved a table a day before. But we got delayed a bit thanks to our neighbour-friends surprising us both with a cake. While on our way, I wondered whether I should call and request them to hold the table. Before I could do that though, I received a call from them confirming our visit. They also asked whether they should arrange a cake for D because they wouldn’t allow food from outside. Very classy, and professional. Impressed even before I got there.

From the very second visit, the front door of Monkey has given me a “TARDIS feeling”. Partly because of the door panel shape, but mostly because the space inside is much larger than what I’d have imagined from outside. T&T feels even bigger – the chipped wood ceiling seems higher, and somehow the overall place is roomier. It could partly be because only a couple of tables were occupied when we got in, but even when fully packed (which was the situation by the time we finished lunch) it doesn’t really feel congested. Everything from the bar and decor to tableware exudes a casual elegance, making it a perfect spot for a lazy Sunday lunch, which was what we were there for.

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Equation – Punjabi by Nature

If we go by the number of eateries found soon as you get down the Domlur flyover on the Indiranagar side, you’d think there is a famine on the other side. To add to Hoppipola, Mainland China, Barbeque Nation, Rajdhani and so on, we now have a Punjabi by Nature as well. We’ve liked the one at Koramangala, but found the Whitefield version  a bit meh. To give it a fair best of three, we decided to try out Equation – By Punjabi by Nature, one Sunday afternoon. (map, it’s in the same building as Linen Club)

It has a couple of floors, and the terrace seating area, I’d think, would be fantastic for a night out, but on a Sunday afternoon when Bangalore was beginning to show its summer self, we decided to sit downstairs. If they’d kept the railing a little lower, we’d actually have a great view of 100 feet Road.

A few of the Zomato reviews had given us the idea that this had a microbrewery just as the others did. I found no vats during our little tour, but still had hopes when I asked the service staff. They confirmed that they didn’t serve craft beer. I cried a little and then asked for an Acharoska. D felt so bad that she asked for a Peach Lassi, not even a cocktail. My drink wasn’t bad at all, the alcohol presence was well felt, though the Achaar was a bit over the top. The Lassi didn’t taste as well as it looked, and wasn’t particularly peachy, literally and otherwise.

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Mighty Small

First published in Bangalore Mirror

One of the ‘perks’ of getting into 1MG Mall from the Indiranagar side is that you get to play/watch NASCAR in the last stretch. After the Trinity signal, you’ll swing wildly to the left, because you have to turn into Kensington Road, cutting through the blaring horns (with vehicles attached) that want to continue on Swamy Vivekananda’s path. Then you’ll swing sharply right to catch the mall entry, again zooming past irritated folks who just want to go straight. If you’re wondering what this has to do with a restaurant review, well, it sets the mood for Smaaash, whose eatery – Mighty Small – we will now focus on. Smaaash is a gaming and entertainment center, and locating Mighty Small within it reminded me of Crystal Maze! In line with everything around it, Mighty Small has a carnival theme, and one must admit that it holds an appeal and charm for kids of all ages, including those in their late thirties. The popcorn machine, the red and white colour palette, the desserts display, the circus-tents and balloons, all create a bright and cheerful ambiance. Add to that a DJ who set a peppy tempo to the proceedings with everything from Karz to Avicii, and we had all in readiness for the circus!

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