100 ft Road

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Indiranagar is getting so crowded now that they don’t even have space for vowels, at least if we go by the name of the new bar and kitchen that has opened at the 12th Main junction. Spread across three floors, each styled differently, it even has a simulated golf area. On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, we sat on the lowest floor, overlooking 100 ft Road.

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We began with cocktails – D chose a White Chocobar, and I wanted to try out the 1131 Old Fashion (sic). The first was vodka based with the unlikely combination of green melon, elderflower, and white chocolate. A bit sweet, but potent and refreshing. 1131’s version of Old Fashioned had a few extra ingredients – orange, cinnamon and cloves, but though they were generous with the alcohol, the mix was rather lacklustre.  More

Pulimunchi

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Given the dearth of seafood options in Indiranagar, it shouldn’t be difficult for a restaurant serving coastal cuisine to mussel its way in. That’s perhaps what prompted a Sadashiv Nagar original to seek new shores. (map, this is above Beer Cafe) The fabulous décor does a fantastic job of reeling you in as soon as you enter the place. The elegant and comfortable chairs and benches, the photos in distressed frames, the wall art, the tastefully selected floor tiles and lighting, and my favourite, the tiled roof that recreates the charm of an old world home, are all elements that provide the perfect ambiance for the cuisine being served. Given that we had a lot of ground, and water to cover, we began in right earnest.

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Barebones

First published in Bangalore Mirror

If you’re stuck between a 26 year old pub chain that’s iconic enough to go for an IPO (why is it so difficult to believe that Pecos filed for an IPO?!) and a microbrewery that’s arguably the town’s favourite you’d probably stick to the basics, make no fuss and figure out a unique proposition for yourself. (map, it’s above 3oh3 and yes, there’s valet parking) You’d also call yourself Barebones. (though I suspect the idea behind the name is more about a ‘come as you are’ attitude) A flight of stairs takes you to what’s primarily a balcony bar, with some amount of indoor seating. The first thing that hits you, or more precisely, your eardrums, is the music. We have much to talk about on that , so first, take a seat. You can choose between the outdoor space – dim lighting, a few high stools, and a reasonably good view of the road, and a cozy looking indoor area – well lit, some very interesting wall art, chalkboards that add a layer of meaning to the quirky sounding cocktails, and a bar that reassures you that you’re in the right place! So far, so good, but wait, there’s something clamouring for attention. Ah yes, the music. Under normal circumstances, this is the point where I’d whine about not being able to have a conversation thanks to the volume levels, but when the playlist starts churning out Sting, Counting Crows, Crash Test Dummies, Snow (Informer!) and so on, mixes it up randomly with the Bee Gees and Lou Bega, and in general takes me time travelling, it’s hard not to grin happily. But hey, let’s not get sidetracked by nostalgia when there’s food and drinks to talk about.

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Maya Firangi Indian Lounge

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Remember High on Thai? And then White Elephant? In a couple of years, this floor has seen three iterations. Given that the last version seemed to have lived up to its name – White Elephant – it will be interesting to see what the name Maya could do for the future of this establishment. The logo design is a bit of an illusion, one would have to know the place to find it. Once inside, there are two sections – one that houses the bar and is a closed seating space, and the other with an open kitchen and semi open seating. On a sultry Bangalore night, the latter is easily the better pick. The high seats offer a good view of the 100 feet Road, and together with contemporary pop remixes, set up a good mood very well, at least in the beginning. There was some unintentional entertainment thanks to a giant television screen that was playing Bollywood song sequences on mute. The steps for some reason matched the music perfectly! As the night progressed, so did the sound levels, until WhatsApp seemed a more viable conversation channel than speaking to each other! There was quite a college crowd in attendance, the DJ night might have had a lot to do with it.

Maya, meanwhile, has a suffix too – Firangi Indian Lounge. I brought that up during dinner and we tried to find the logic. Largely, the menu offers the answer. Though it starts off with an Indian and Oriental mix, the firangi representation happens in the form of pasta, pizza and sliders. There are also at least a few dishes on the menu that could be tagged as fusion. More

Vapour

There’s some sort of race going on between Indiranagar and Koramangala on the number of microbreweries. Vapour has been around for a while, but we had delayed the visit because of mixed reviews. But on a Sunday when we just didn’t feel like having Koramangala versions of craft beer, we decided to check out Vapour. Located on 100 feet Road, it’s actually difficult to miss! (map) It’s spread across four floors, and since we wanted à la carte, we had an option of sitting on the terrace or on the 2nd floor. Given Bangalore’s random rains, we chose a table on the second floor with a view of 100 feet Road. The decor seemed to be industrial. Pop culture wall art under the a/c to add to the coolness. 😉

The menu is pretty elaborate and has everything from North Indian to Chinese to Continental. We first asked for a beer sample set (You can choose 4 from the 5 available) We visited on the week they had launched a new beer – the Gotze Blonde, so we ended up with samples of the Dark, Wheat, Ale and the Blonde. The Blonde turned out to be the best of the lot. Wheat, Ale and Dark in decreasing order of preference. Beef wasn’t available so we ordered a Fish Chilly Pepper Dry, which was quite spicy and went very well with the beer.

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Puma Social

Puma Social (map) is one of those places that people half our age flock to on Saturday nights. So we arrived there late, on a Sunday afternoon. We arrived on a social vehicle – auto-rickshaw – but I think there is valet parking. 12 PM is the official opening time as per Zomato, and we got there by 1, but they requested an additional 10 minutes to set things up! We pretty much had the place all to ourselves (except for an older couple and their kids) and after surveying two out of three floors, decided to sit on the second. The place has definitely been around for a while, and the biggest proof is probably the state of the decor and menu cards. (sauce smudges) But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pleasant space. The bar stool seating at a few tables isn’t the safest bet after a few drinks but we weren’t planning a lot anyway, so we choose them. The place began filling up a bit after we had placed our orders. Those video cassette ashtrays, I thought, were a cool touch. :)

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From the menu, we asked for a Coconut Chicken soup, the best way to begin a meal on a windy, cloudy day. It wasn’t very spicy but was thick enough with just the right amount of lemongrass, and we quite liked it. Meanwhile, I had asked for the Jack Hammer and D, for a Mai Tai. They weren’t really generous with the Jack Daniels or the honey in my drink and with the dry Martini and pepper, it made for just an average drink. D’s drink, with the almond syrup added to the standard white and dark rum, was a much better one. More

Harry’s

First published in Bangalore Mirror

When an iconic brand from Singapore lands up in your city, it’s only fair that you pay a visit at the earliest. I harried a few friends into doing exactly that on a lazy Sunday afternoon. From a single establishment at Boat Quay, Harry’s now has over thirty outlets across the globe, including one at our very own Indiranagar that started operations a month ago. This is right above Copper Chimney, (map) and yes, there’s valet parking. They haven’t really publicised it, so we weren’t surprised to find only a few other tables occupied. Harry’s, as a chain, bills itself as a sports bar but though the large flat televisions would corroborate that, it does seem more like something that just stepped out of an American sitcom – the one where friends catch up after a day’s work. Brick walls and comfortable seating, with a pool table in one corner, you get the picture. The props are probably standard at all the outlets, but they do make the entire ambience conversational – posters, coasters, napkins, all are an attempt at wit. My favourite was “High! How are you?” The music was a bit of a surprise and could be an educative experience for the kids who are the typical target audience at such outlets – ABBA, Boney M, The Whispers are not something they’d hear a lot. But I wouldn’t complain, especially because they played “That Thing You Do” when we were leaving! Now let’s stop pottering around and talk about the food and drinks!

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The drinks menu gets both sides of a menu card (illustrated like a clipboard) just like its food counterpart and that’s an indication of the focus. They have several house specials from which we tried the Singapore Sling and Harry’s Old Fashioned. The cherry brandy pretty much overpowered the gin in the Sling, but it was a reasonably refreshing drink. The second drink (created at the original outlet) had Scotch in abundance though they went a bit overboard on the orange peels! But what we really liked were the ‘election specials’! (‘drink for change’) The mango and vodka based Kejrinator was fantastic, and the NaMo Thunder (orange vodka, lime and mint) matched it. We passed the RaGa snoozer though. I absolutely loved the creative play on the ingredients/descriptions in these- mango, orange, and RaGa being a mocktail ‘approved by mom’! An extra point only for that!

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The complimentary bowl of peanuts indicated that they had a good insight into our salaries! The ‘Wasabi Paneer’ sounded interesting, but turned out to be Paneer with a wasabi dip. Except for that expectation blip, the dish was quite good – fresh cottage cheese that was made just the right side of crispy.  The Crispy Calamari, on the other hand, was a disappointment as it was fried a little too much. We then tried the BBQ Pickled Chicken and discovered a potential rival to the Tunday Kabab for the melt-in-your-mouth quotient! Thanks to this, and its zesty flavours, this was our favourite dish. The Fried Lollypops and Pattaya Fish Fingers are house specials, and you could give them a shot as well.

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In the main course, the Caesar Salad was more mundane than magnificent, and this was despite the bacon! The Harry’s Jazz Burger was good on paper, with mutton patty and bacon among its ingredients, but the patty could have done with better cooking. Ironically, the next dish was Harry’s Double Cooked Noodles and we asked for the Mixed Meat Butter Curry version. While fish sauce in everything is probably common in the generic geography that Harry’s originates from, I hadn’t anticipated prawns in the dish. Over several experiences, I have discovered that they’re allergic to me and seek to escape. This time was no different; I will spare you the graphic details. A mention in the menu would have been nice! The Kasoori Paneer Khurchan, with well cooked cottage cheese, a flavourful gravy and served with a curious version of naan was a surprise winner in this round.

From the four dessert options available, we chose the Baked Vanilla Cheesecake and the Chocolate Mousse. The former, with the little lemon curd touch was easily the better dish. In addition to the taste itself, we didn’t like the plating of the latter much, because seeing a lot of empty space where chocolate could have been is not a pleasant feeling!

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A meal for two would cost around Rs.1500 (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) – a couple of cocktails, a non veg starter, a main course dish and a dessert. The service staff is friendly and helpful. The ambiance and the pricing give it the potential to be a good hangout. However, in the crowded restaurant scene of Bangalore, consistently great food is a must for any Tom, Dick or Harry to survive!

Harry’s, (Above Copper Chimney) Plot No: 2006, 100 feet Road, Indiranagar, HAL 2nd Stage, Ph: 080 41113500

Hoppipola

first published in Bangalore Mirror

My first Hoppipola visit was an experience I’m not likely to forget soon. They wouldn’t take reservations so we had to try our luck on a Saturday night. This is on the top floor of the Mainland China building immediately after the Domlur flyover when coming from Koramangala. (map) A bunch of kids were waiting in the ground floor lobby expectantly eyeing the lift every time its doors opened, for such was the crowd that only when guests left were new ones let in. We finally managed a place in the lift, and smugly assumed there would be a table waiting upstairs for us. The doors opened to a college fest, (or school – debatable) with alcohol, and standing space for just about four people. The only way to get a table was to have Spidey like speed and reflexes. Since we were barely on the right side of forty and had no special effects for support, we felt like people in the namesake Sigur Ros song and beat a hasty retreat before the sharp increase in the average age on the floor provoked an uncle/aunty comment. The second visit, on a Friday afternoon, was more peaceful and we could appreciate the quirky ambiance as well. Garden seating with potted plants and creepers for company on the outside and large tables and bar seating inside, exam pad menus with offbeat descriptions, board games, books and a happy wall whose doors and windows can be opened for surprise gifts, all add to the youthful vibe. Judging by the crowd, Hoppipola has definitely been successful in its endeavour to make people of all kinds happy!

We took quite some advantage of the ridiculously cheap alcohol prices. The Apples and Curry Leaves mojito was refreshing with the curry leaves adding that extra bite. If you’d like things to be a little less sweet, go for the Kafir-Lime and Lychees version. Even spicier tastes? Go for the Guava Balsamic Mary, served in a salt-rimmed glass and strong in flavours and alcohol! The red wine based Sonora Sangria is not bad either, with the wine quantity making up for the relatively lower overall volume.

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The Pimped Shrimp was our solid start, and in addition to the promised garlic and burnt chilli flavours, it also had a lime presence that added an excellent tanginess. The mildly spicy Sansho fish came a close second with vinegar and chilli flavours. We also liked The Mexican samosas – they chose to call it empanada – crispy exterior with a creamy corn and jalapeno filling. The Teriyaki Paneer, with a unique presentation style and gingery flavour, and the Chickiti’tah – grilled chicken with a whiff of tangerine and ginger – were not bad either. The Rasta Chicken came recommended, and though it was crisp-fried and tasty, it didn’t really live up the expectations.

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On a relative note, there are fewer options in the mains section, and it didn’t help that a few items were unavailable. We chose Captain Haddock to begin with – a carbonara pizza with ‘chicken bacon’ and though a tad bland, we still liked it. The tomato heavy Margarita was a thin crust pizza and even discounting our collective meat bias, this was not something we cared for. We tried two versions of “The Drinking Man’s food” – ‘Champagne Cream’ with a creamy cheese sauce and champagne with chicken and ‘Pesto Rum’ with shrimp. Both were excellent, though we could detect no trace of the alcohol mentioned’, and it took several rounds of debate before the Pesto Rum was given top honours. The last to arrive was the Coin Lamburgers – three mini burgers with mildly spicy and tasty patties.

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There is no way to sugar-coat this. There are no desserts! I am rarely one to rant about the youth of today, but is this what it has come down to? How can we be called a civilisation without a sweet tooth? What about those researches that correlate chocolate and happiness? Sigh. A minus point for that, though I was told that desserts would be added soon!

For about Rs.1350, you could share a couple of cocktails, two non veg starters, and a couple of non veg main course dishes. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) The service is reasonably prompt, though they do tend to get hassled sometimes. If you can brave the challenges of gaining entry, you’ll find that the ambiance and the buzz do give Hoppipola the lively bonhomie it aspires to have. It also hits the sweet spot in terms of pricing, but c’mon, some desserts to sweeten the deal?

Hoppipola, 4032, (Mainland China Building – terrace) HAL, 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore Ph: 080 25217070

P.S. This happens to be restaurant review #200 on this blog. Burp! 😀

Bricklane Grill

Bricklane Grill has been a source of emotional attyachar from the time I went there for an office dinner in December 2012. (thanks, foursquare) Every time the restaurant pops up in a discussion, I get accusatory looks. “Tonight, we end this!”, said I, on a Saturday evening, when both D and I were sneezing in tandem. And that’s how we landed up at Bricklane Grill. (map)

We had reserved, and though only one table was occupied when we got there, (early – 7.30) by around 8.30, the entire section was full. For some reason, they were only serving drinks and appetisers in the alfresco area. Anyway,  it was a windy evening and we were already have sneezing fits, so we sat inside. The decor is functional yet classy, and the place has a very pleasant ambiance, with sufficient space between tables, and by the end of the evening there was a fair amount of buzz. Just right. I remember sitting upstairs (technically, the 6th floor) the first time I was there. That floor had a room almost similar to the one we were in, and a small terrace, where we had sat.

One of the service staff introduced himself and began offering recommendations from the menu. When he heard about our nasal troubles, he offered to make us a toddy based hot drink. Good touch, but though I asked for one and said we would order another if we liked it, we got two, and D didn’t even like it! :( Should’ve sent one back! We also ordered a Cream of Mushroom  soup and a Bheja na Cutlets to begin with. A complimentary plate of bruschetta arrived on the table. Not spectacular, but not bad either.  The soup was not bad, though uni-dimensional in terms of flavour. The cutlets were really good – mutton brain with a crumbed and deep fried egg batter coating. As for the drink, it couldn’t hold a candle to the LTO. (at Like That Only)

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We waited to see what appetite we had left before ordering the main course – Patra ni Machi and a Bricklane Mixed Grill. The mixed grill had beef of two kinds, chicken, and pork. The Merlot beef was my favourite, followed by the Jack Daniels pork. The garlic chicken was not bad though the Peppercorn beef was a bit of a disappointment. But in general, well cooked and succulent meat. The fish dish, came wrapped in banana leaf, as it’s supposed to be, with a mint and cilantro chutney. D found it too bland, though the dressing on the plate could actually change that! The best part was that we still had space for dessert – so we could have that South Indian Coffee Brule (sic) that we had been eyeing. That turned out to be excellent, with the filter coffee flavour coming through beautifully. It was served with an almond biscotti, whose texture added much to the dish.

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The service was quite good, except for the drink fiasco. The bill came to just over Rs.3050, including charges and taxes, Rs.1000 of which was thanks to the two drinks! But we enjoyed the meal and the ambiance, so wouldn’t really complain much.

Bricklane Grill, 5th Floor, Escape Hotel & Spa, 770, 100 Feet Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar Ph: 080 42415505

La Tagliatella

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Something about the consonants in the name of the restaurant reminded me of The Godfather – turned out to be the Tattaglia family, one of New York’s ‘Five Families’ in the novel. The establishment on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar (map) obviously has no connection, and is actually named after a kind of pasta. Yes, there is valet parking. There is something about the façade and the view of the brightly lit interior from the outside that conveys opulence. This is only enhanced once you step inside – gold and yellow dominate the décor, with red thrown in for good measure, and the chandeliers and the framed pictures only add to the effect, though occasionally it tends towards gaudiness. But just when you begin to think you’re in the protective warmth of a palatial bungalow, the culinary illustrations, the display of cooking instruments, the pricing and the temperature manage to bring you back to the cold reality of a fine dining restaurant. There was a lot of chatter happening on our table – some of it was because of the menu, which had a variety of choices, and it took several rounds of discussions before we could reach a consensus, but most of it was courtesy the intense cold. When we asked for it to be reduced, we were given a central air conditioning story. It did seem that the entire air conditioning was centred on our table! The rain meant that we couldn’t use the alfresco option available.

The starter options consist of a couple of soups, half a dozen salads, and some antipasti. We skipped the first two and launched into a Focacce liguri and a Mozzarelletta. The flat bread and its toppings turned out to be quite picturesque, but even the collective presence of duck ham, parmigiano cheese and provolone cheese wasn’t enough to take the dish beyond ordinariness. In contrast, the simplistic combination of mozzarella melted with nuts and sweet tomato, though not very appealing to the eye, made a mark on other senses – smell and taste. It was totally melt-in-the-mouth, with the nuts offering a texture counterpoint. The wine list is fairly exhaustive on paper, but that is a common menu, and in Bangalore, they have chosen to serve only wine. They had run out of bottles of the white wines we preferred, so we settled for ‘pints’ of red and white wine, and were left rather unimpressed with both!

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The sheer variety of pasta choices is something to pay attention to – from spaghetti and ravioli to Sorrentino and Taglierini, I could count about twenty. Together with the condiments, there are potentially hundreds of combinations! Add to that pizzas and calzones! We began with a Tagliatella pizza – thin crusted and fairly large with pesto, mushrooms, taleggio cheese, turkey bacon and spinach. This is probably shuddh Italian judging by the relative blandness, and despite that consideration, it failed to impress. The Calzone Verde was a lot of hot air as they weren’t really generous with the mozzarella, mushrooms and pesto stuffing. We then tried the Gamberetti di Funghi which turned out to be an excellent dish with well cooked pasta and prawns. On weekdays, they have a ‘1111 for 2’ menu, in which we can choose 3 pastas from 9 options. That turned out to be quite a blessing and we sampled the Spaghetti Bolognese, Sorrentino with Vera Casalinga sauce and the Tagliatelle with Tremenda sauce. The spaghetti nosed ahead, though I thought if the Tagliatelle wasn’t a tad overcooked, it might have won, the cream sauce was quite good. I liked the Sorrentino as well, but the table was evenly divided on the parmigiano-reggiano and Iberian pork dish.

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There are plenty of dessert options, but as usual I got unlucky with the exact one I wanted! We tried the Tiramisu, which was phenomenally good and the best dish of the day. The Tutto Cioccolato seemed a little too similar to the standard lava cakes available around. Coppa Fior di Latte al Cioccolat oFuso – Mascarpone ice cream with hot chocolate cream – was also just average.

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For about Rs.2700, you could share a drink, a non veg starter, a non veg main course dish and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) La Tagliatella is an international chain and prides itself on the authenticity and freshness of the ingredients used. That probably explains the pricing to an extent, but somehow the experience itself didn’t really justify the bill. So, unless the gap between value and cost is bridged, the bill would make it very easy for a customer to suspect a Godfather like extortion!

La Tagliatella, 766, Amrest Bunglow, HAL 2nd Stage, 100 feet road, Indiranagar, Ph: 080 60506066/77