Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cafe Satsanga and Cafe Rendezvous: Pondi Series Part I

Atrocious Service, nice ambience, average food, snooty waiters, and sky high prices: apparently these are the ingredients to a well renowned eating place in Pondicherry (Did I mention the awful service). Cafe Satsang came highly recommended but as you have probably surmised it was one HUMONGOUS let down.

Let me quickly sum up the good points about this place: The ambiance is stunning. Old world decor, quaint little courtyard in the middle, beautiful lighting. Someone very imaginative and skilled wrote the menu. And that is where the good news stops.

We walked into a fairly crowded, gorgeous cafe which others had given rave reviews to. There was a huge waiting line and the group before us left because the head waiter was rude to them (In retrospect I wish we had followed their lead). We were finally given a table but with an insufficient number of chairs. Left to arrange our own seating, we pounced upon chairs just as soon as there was space between the previous customer's bottom and the chair. There were times when we even took the chair of patrons who had gone to the loo, unsuspecting souls who returned to find their chairs missing and a pack of girls giggling uncontrollably. With the much applauded departure of an old European couple we were all finally seated and then began the long process of getting the waiter's eye. Twenty minutes later we finally got our menu and another twenty minutes later he deigned to take our order.

If you are wondering why we stuck it out this long, we were under the illusion that the food was good, an illusion which was soon to be shattered. The complimentary bread they gave us was awful. It was brown, home made, neither warm nor toasted! No wonder its complementary, nobody in their right mind would pay money for this. When our food finally arrived we were told that none of the sides we ordered were available, gave us a big plate of fries and asked us to make do with that (What sort of restaurant runs out of mashed potatoes?!!) I ordered the fried eggplants in walnut sauce along with mashed potatoes. Of course, there were no mashed potatoes. My dish was very interesting. The walnut sauce was slightly sweet but had a nice flavour. The eggplants were fried nicely but the stuffing in them was non descript. This dish definitely requires a little more flavour and spice. They also served it with some sort of zucchini and red sauce mix which was pretty decent. The dish wasn't great but if you're looking to try something new, then this is right up your alley. Ganje orderedthe mushroom and veg kabab which was just about OK. It was bland and the mushrooms were a little chewy. The shallots steak was toooooo chewy and had no real taste of its own. Rads ordered the steak with garlic and parsley, the lemon chicken (I imagine this is what the much mocked dish in Everybody Loves Raymond must have tasted like) and a mushroom dish. The only reason I'm not describing each dish is because it was all incredibly average, had nothing of specific note, no noteworthy flavour and remembering it adds to the disappointment each time.

Please be aware that we were incredibly hungry before this meal and at the point where even mildly good food would have tasted like corden bleu.

The quantities are sufficient I suppose, because there is only so much of average food that one can stomach. The prices are steep. A meal for two could easily cost Rs. 1000.

I largely recommend that you give this place the miss. I have never seen such atrocious service in my life and a place that cannot inculcate basic manners, is never worth the trouble. I must also mention the head waiter who just walked around the whole time being inexcusably rude. There are other, incredibly lovely establishments in Pondicherry that serve you great food and which seem mildly pleased (at the least) to have your patronage.

Cafe Rendezvous: I am making a small mention within the main review since we never got around to ordering any food here. We waited and waited for the waiter to take our order but apparently there are only two waiters who are designated the incredibly difficult task of taking the order. Incidentally, these two waiters also felt the need to exchange life histories at each table they went to. Having been burned by the Satsang experience we decided to walk out and save ourself the bother (Thank God!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Millers 46

Mid week blues and rapidly deteriorating mess standards saw Vats, SneMo, Woogulz, Rao, Aditi and me heading to Millers 46. Take the right at the end of Cunningham onto Millers Road and on your right you will find this little nugget. Rumbling stomachs in tow we reached this place early and breathed a sigh of relief when we didn't have to wait in a loooong line(If we had to I might have ended up eating Vats). This, however, is a unique occurence and generally one must be prepared to wait it out at this place. The restaurant is on the first floor and has a unique decor which recreates the whole cowboy/wild wild west theme. A little overboard at places, me thinks, but it's quite ok.

This place prides itself on being Bangalore's only steak house (they say it, not me!). The menu is immense and it would take me quite some time to peruse each item and its enchanting description. My favourite part about this place is the complimentary bread and garlic butter. The garlic butter is just yumm (Momentary pause to honour the butter). I could happily eat just that for dinner but it's frowned upon (I've tried). The service is quick and the portions HUGE.

SneMo and Vat ordered the Herb Crusted Chicken. It was very good, albeit a little predictable and boring. Aditi ordered the Chicken Gallantine. It was an interesting choice with stuffed chicken and had a unique flavour. However, I think one must be a hard core non veggie to truly appreciate it. It was a little too tough for my gauche taste buds. Woogulz ordered the Mixed Meat Jamaya which I loved. It was a mix of pork and chicken served with rice, veggies and awesome dressing. The chicken was soft, tender and tasted lovely. The pork was OK but personally I think the chicken trumped it.

Being the only veggies there, Rao and I ordered Millers Mixed Veg Grill and the Skewered Mushroom and Zucchini. The Mixed Veg Grill was stunning. Vegetables stuffed with rice and spices, cutlets crammed with mashed potatoes and crisp veggies, fried mozarella cheeseballs. Every morsel was a pleasant surprise. They serve it with pasta. The Skewered Mushroom and Zucchini was largely grilled cottage cheese and veggies in a lovely sauce. The promised mushrooms were missing but I won't hold that against the dish.

I have had the cottqage cheese grill here and it's pretty good. KK went the next day and loved the fish steak. Rao claims that the lasagna here is pretty awesome. Bikki strongly recommends the T-Bone and the twice marinated steak.
The one thing that I dislike about this place is the cutlery. The forks are wavy and difficult to grasp (especially difficult for the food they serve!).

All in all, this place is one of the better restaurants in Bangalore (and that really is saying something). A vegetarian meal will cost you about Rs. 220 and a non vegetarian one close to Rs. 300. Be warned about the quantities and those with frail apptetites may be better off splitting a dish.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Casa Piccola: Still worth a visit

I have been going to this place since I was 16 and I adore it. While the chain has a lot of branches. my favourite is the one on Residency Road, near Juice Junction (the one in the basement). It strives to achieve the look of a roadside Italian cafe. The outdoor seating is charming. The walls depict a lazy Italian village and it is gorgeous - simple and soothing.

For dinner that day I ordered a Pasta Primavera, Krits ordered a Paneer and Veg Platter and Tuhi ordered the Chicken Parmesan (did I get the spelling right??). My pasta was nice but a little bland, so I wasn't a huge fan of that. Krits' platter was awesome. The sauce was tomatoey and tangy and the vegetables were nicely done. It's served with fries and salad. The Chicken Parmesan was the first chicken dish that I truly liked. KK tells me that the Chicken Tetrazini here is also very good. On previous occasions I have tried out the Epinard a'la Creme and quite liked this casserole of spinach, mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables. The Pasta Putanesca also meets with my approval (Clearly, I've tried out almost all the vegetarian dishes here).
To round it off we ordered the chocolate marble cake with ice cream which was sinuous, fatty and totally worth it. The quantities are very generous and my meal cost me less than Rs. 200 :)

Casa used to have THE best pasta ever - The Pasta Valentino (Soft, Tasty Veg Dumplings in a sauce that managed to blend cheese and tomato perfectly). However, in a misguided moment of insanity the management removed this from the menu!! Despite requests to the waiters and long complaints in the register beseeching the return of this masterpiece, no action has been taken. I truly wish the someone (anyone!) in the management reads this review and brings it back (Please, Pretty Please).

Casa used to be cheap, awesome Conti food. It's not that cheap or that awesome anymore but it's still worth visiting.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kodai Kronicles / When Pigs Fly Part II




This post is incredibly late but better late than never I guess. As mentioned in a previous post (Look at Part I of this series) the swine flu holidays saw Kriti, Tuhina and me head over to Chennai. From there we proceeded to the scenic hill station of Kodaikanal. One train journey and a rickety bus ride later we reached Kodaikanal. To get there by train, you will have to catch one to Kodai Road then a cab/bus to Kodaikanal.

Kodaikanal is gorgeous and clean, unlike its ill fated cousin - Ooty. No paper bags in this place and the locals are scrupulous about keeping it clean. Clearly, this is my sort of place. The focal point of the city is the lake. It's not huge but its charming and cycling around the lake was my favourite activity of all. It's fun and healthy! There are cycles to accommodate everyone's needs (including a double cycle which is quite fun). It's around 20 bucks for the hour and the ride around the lake is totally worth it. I also recommend the chilli bajjis sold in mobile carts around the lake - yumm. The one incredibly annoying thing about the lake is the number of newly weds on their honeymoon – nauseatingly in love, making dopey eyes at each other and joint at the hip (Barf! Barf!).

We stayed at Highland Resorts which is at a higher altitude than the main town. We had a beautiful balcony and a small patch of garden all to ourselves and the view was magical. In the nights we just sat at the edge of the garden and watched the twinkling lights in far away mountains.

Home made chocolates are cheap and aplenty here.
Plain, dark, cashew encrusted, butterscotch flavoured - the list is endless. We ate copious amounts of this chocolate throughout the trip and brought back even more for family and friends. Kodaikanal also houses the famous Kodai International School. Students from all over the world flock here and the buildings alone are worth it. It’s huge and built in stone and is straight out of an English story book. Opposite this is an eclectically designed café and pizza place where we spent many an hour gazing dreamily at the school (If only law school were there!!).

Our other great culinary find in Kodai was P.T. Road. It has a host of Tibetan restaurants which serve excellent food for moderate rates (keep in mind it's a tourist place so everything is always a little pricey). We had thupkas, momos and noodles of all varieties and it was tasty and authentic (the potato cheese momos were my personal favourite). You will find a motley crowd in this place including Buddhist monks, French ladies with LOUD red hair and the ubiquitous western tourist who looks like he has never seen a shaving kit and is carrying his whole life in a backpack. This road also houses PotLuck which is a quaint little café serving pancakes, sandwiches and other light food. Definitely sit here and watch the world go by 

Being the masochists that we are, we also signed up for various treks. As is obvious by the amount we eat, we are not in peak physical condition. The treks are hard but incredibly fun and the scenic beauty leaves you awestruck. We trekked to the top of a mountain and the view from the there was something else. We also went to the Devil’s Peak which is a narrow ledge with a fall of monstrous proportions onto hard, solid rock (I don’t even want to think
about how many feet that would have been). I was the only one who managed to walk till the edge despite dire warnings and repeated calls from Kriti and Tuhi. It’s incredibly dangerous but so exhilarating. For the first time I understood why people risk their lives in adventure sports. Of course, that might have been a little too much adventure for my frail heart and I am going to stick to solid ground for sometime now.

The three days in Kodai just flew by and soon we found ourselves heading back to the train station in Kodai Road (in a cab that cost us very very little thanks to my amazing bargaining skills and some emotional blackmail). If you’re looking for a nice pretty hill station in the South, then Kodai and Munnar head my list. If you are going there and want some more info (which this ridiculously long post does not contain), then feel free to ask.

P.S – I have received requests from a number of you to add pictures to my blog. While I haven’t been entirely sold on that idea before, I have added some here since this is one post which I think would be incomplete without it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bangalore Bistro: Pretty Place, Good Food

For a break from our trial misery, Tuhina, Rads and I headed to Bangalore Bistro. It is located in a large complex (the name eludes me) down the road from Eva Mall. It's a rooftop restaurant and this does wonders for the ambiance. They have indoor and outdoor seating but I strongly recommend the outdoors. The view was pretty, seating comfortable and weather fantastic. The middle of the table has a small depression which is filled with petals and candles. Pwetty!!

Having heard much about the generous portions and wanting to save room for dessert, we skipped starters and went to the main course. They gave us complimentary nachos which were OK but nothing I would recommend ordering. I ordered the Canneloni, Rads ordered the Triple Chicken (or something like that) and Tuhina ordered the Meditteranean Chicken. The Canneloni was awesome. Fairly generous portions and the vegetables were crisp, fresh with a distinctive flavour. It had enough cheese to make me happy but not so much that it killed the dish . I had bites of the other dishes and my gauche vegetarian taste buds preferred Rads's dish. Rads swears that all the chicken dishes here are great.

We were quite full at the end of this and decided to order Oreo Shakes instead of a big dessert. While the Oreo Shake was good, I think the ones at Bocca Grande or Mocha are way better. The Java Lava sounded sinful, but we skipped it in deference to our ever expanding waistlines :(. It cost us around 350-400 per person. The prices are a little steep but its worth it. We also thouroughly embarassed ourselves in front of the waiter. So we might not be going there for some time but there is no reason you shouldn't :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Egg Factory: Eggcellent :) :) :)

Ok ok, so the title is a little obvious but I couldn't help myself. A holiday on Thursday saw Aditi and me heading out to TEF for brunch. It's located on St. Marks Road behind Deewar Wine Stores. The decor is quite unique with pipes running all over and quirky quotes . The ambiance screams casual comfort and I loved that. The menu reads like an instruction manual and is interesting and extensive.

To begin with we ordered the 3 cheese omlette. Surprisingly it was light and fluffy and one could discern the three different cheeses. I ordered a Fruit Blast and Aditi ordered a Tropical Hawaii. The fruit blast was a banana strawberry smoothie and simply yumm (slurp! slurp!). Aditi's drink was an exotic concoction which was refreshing (Personally, I think the Fruit Blast was better).

Next we ordered the Basil Pesto (it's part of a new pasta menu there)which was my favourite. The sauce was different and I really really liked it. It broke the traditional tomato and cheese sauce barrier and was a pleasant surprise. After this we ordered the Curry Vindaloo which was the only dish that didn't quite hit the mark. It had too much ginger for my liking and it was slightly undercooked. The parathas were a bit dry too.

To round off the meal we ordere the chocolate sin and that was delicious. Whipped cream on top, a large layer of dark chocolate mousse and a wonderful crust. Soooo many calories but soooo totally worth it.
Apart from this, TEF also has an array of interesting dishes. I want to try the fritatas some time and the French toast is brilliant. Our meal cost around Rs. 500 (including tip). The quantities are decent and should be enough for one person. Everything about this place appealed to me and I strongly recommend this place for a light, lazy meal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veena Stores and Halli Mane: Old Bangalore Series Part I

These holidays I took a break from blogging too, but fear not I'm Baaaaack! So I was going through my blog the other day and I realized I haven't reviewed any Old Bangalore institutions which is rather sad and therefore I've decided to dedicate a series to the cause.

Halli Mane: Roughly translated this means Village House. This establishment prides itself on serving authentic Karnataka cuisine. It's located on 3rd cross Malleswaram, off Sampige Road. You can choose to sit down and be served or avail the self service section outside.

Now, I'm sure this place has an array of exciting dishes but I have always had a single agenda when visiting the place: Akki Roti. It's warm, buttery and just right. The roti could do with a little less oil but thats a minor flaw. My only grouse is that they never serve dry chatnipodi. The chatni they serve is rather nice too. I know people who swear by the raagi dosa here. Why anyone would want ragi is beyond me but if you must have ragi dosa, have it here. Both akki roti and ragi dosa cost you Rs.20 and its more than worth it. The coffee is strong and pretty decent too. So, the next time you're in the vicinity, I strongly suggest that you drop in for a bit of authentic local cusine.

Veena Stores: This establishment is one of my all time favourites. Go to 15th cross, Margosa Road in Malleswaram and you'll find at least 50 people crowded around a hole in the wall, filling the sidewalk and you'll know you've found Veena Stores. In a survey last year, this was voted as Bangalore's best idli-chatni and with good reason. The idlis are warm, petal soft adn yummy. The chatni is truly awesome and I have known people to get 3 refills of the same per plate. The kesari bath here is my other favourite. It's hot, tasty and sweet without being oversweet. They also serve various other rice items, snacks and some interesting beverages. The coffee is strong and very good. The idli is Rs.14, the kesari Rs. 17 and the chatni is free and unlimited :). A meal here shouldn't cost you more than Rs. 30. If you're in Bangalore, you simply HAVE to go here. I would also suggest that you amble across to CTR and have the dosa there (more on CTR later).
Old Bangalore flavour, kick ass food and cheap prices: what else could one want :) :) :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Only Place: Not Anymore

One sunny afternoon, Grumpu and I decided to catch lunch before the screening of Wake Up Sid. Incredibly hungry, we trudged all the way to Museum Road to hit The Only Place just in time for lunch. This place is (at least used to be) a Bangalore institution. The decor is laid back and casual. There is no air conditioning though, so humid afternoons might not be the best time to visit.

Propelled by extreme hunger and the impatient waiter we quickly placed our order. I ordered a veg. steak and Grumpu ordered a fettucine alfredo. I also ordered a lime soda which got it just right. The steak had cheese and mushrooms on top and I loved that. The steak itself was OK but nothing mind blowing (I maintain that the steak at Millers 46 is way better). The fettucine alfredo, unfortunately, fell into that category of dishes where the chef believes that adding copious amounts of cheese will pass off as fine dining. As my previous reviews indicate (Read: my review on Infinitea), this doesn't quite work for me. The pasta had a slight hint of something promising but it was overpowered by all that cheese. The garlic bread was warm and nice.

I adore the apple pie here and rarely leave without having that. This time, however, there was much drama. They refused to take my order stating that it was post-lunch time and I had to leave. While I understand that it was a little late, I thought their behaviour was a little rude to say the least. There were other customers in the restaurant (still eating) and clearly they were not going to close for another 30 minutes at least. As putting off as that attitude was, I refused to miss my dessert and upon my insistence they deigned to serve me the apple pie with ice cream.

And it was worth all the hassle. One of the best apple pies in the business, it was warm with wonderful caramelized apple pieces and a 'melt-in-your-mouth' baked crust. It wasn't oversweet and was 'oh! so yummy'(sighs wistfully).

The bill came to Rs. 500 for the two of us. The Only Place isn't what it used to be. The food is just above average and better food is definitely available for the same price. The ambiance is very old Bangalore and I love that. I'll probably go back sometime but not in a hurry.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Samarkand: Simply Must Visit

To celebrate Ganje's happy birthday, employment and satisfy general feelings of gluttony, six of us headed down to Hypnos on a ladies night. Samarkand serves food at this sister concern, so we managed to combine some of our favourite things: free alcohol, great food with someone else footing the tab :). Both are located in Gem Plaza on Infantry Road, near Safina Plaza.

After much discussion, we decided on a veg. platter (small) and a non veg. platter (small) for starters. I shudder to think what the large servings are like because these were HUGE. 3 of us split each platter and there was more than enough to go around. The paneer in the platter was the pick of the day. It was soft and spicy and I can't remember tasting better paneer. The gobi, tandoori veggies, sheek kabab and one million other things on that platter were perfect. I also had a small bite of the chicken which I thought tasted like paneer, just tougher (Now I know that many of you are going to want to kill me for saying that, but thankfully you don't know where I live).

The platter is extremely filling and those with small appetites might be full in the first course itself. Since none of us suffer from that affliction we moved on to the main course. The carnivores ordered murgh makhani and we ordered more paneer. Both items were very good. The rotis were warm and very well made. By this time we were rather full and decided to hit the dance floor before dessert.

The music was average that night. The dance floor was too small and too crowded, though it did house a few interesting characters including I-will-display-my-many-tyres-in-a-body-hugging-shirt man and I-am-too-hot-to-wear-clothes woman.

Many laughs later we returned to the table to order dessert. I ordered the bakklava, Rattu ordered the kurbani ka meetha and the others ordered phirni. I hated the bakklava, KK and Rattu liked it. The kurbani ka meetha was nice but oversweet. My favourite was the phirni which is by far the best I have ever had and is a serious contender for my 'Best dessert in Bangalore' prize.

The prices are a little steep and will cost you Rs. 400 per person for a veg meal. All in all, an incredible dinner and if you are in Bangalore, you simply must visit this place.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spiga (the new one): Falls way below expectations

The old Spiga was one of my favourite restaurants and I have taken many visiting relatives, family friends and even my reluctant mother to experience its culinary delights. The ambiance, the food, the prices - everything suited me to a T. Upon its closure, I frequented Couch but it wasn't quite the same. So, when the new Spiga opened few people were as excited as me. We wore our finest feathers and set out to reclaim our favourite haunt.

It's located on St. Marks Road, down the road from Ice 'n' Spice. The decor doesn't recreate the cosy, old-worldness of the Old Spiga but that's OK. The decor is minimalist and white. The lighting is pretty and the chairs funky.

For starters, the veggies ordered Mexican pizza and the carnivores decided to stick to soup. Both were good choices, though I think the Mexican pizza could be better if a little guacomole was added.

For main course, I ordered a veg. raviolli. The serving was ridiculously small and the taste was so average I could cry. The fact that 2 weeks on, I can't remember a thing about it's taste but I', still outraged by the size of the serving says it all. Ganje ordered Mexican tacos and the wrap was hard and dry - like a roti in the mess (Ugh!!). The carnivores has some nice things to say but even there, Pandey agreed that the quantities were for the size zero ilk.

After that disappointing experience, we didn't bother to stick around for dessert and headed to Ice 'n' Spice instead. The meal cost me around Rs. 300 and was sooo not worth it. Others (my dad, R) seem to have had better experiences at the place. At this point, however, I can't imagine going back there.

I give the new Spiga a big thumbs down, especially if you are veggie. And yet another Bangalore favourite goes down the drain (Sniff! Sniff!).

Monday, September 14, 2009

ASEAN: Paisa Vasool!!!

Of late, I've been out LOOOOADS! and am woefully behind in my blogging. So, I'm gonna take a break from the swine flu series and revert to good old namma bengaluru.

Yet another unexpected holiday (due to the sudden and tragic demise of YSR) found Rao and me heading for an afternoon screening of QGM. After much drama, we finally managed to drag KK along. Craving lunch before the movie, we ended up at ASEAN. The restaurant is located on Castle Street (down Eva Mall, take the left before Show Off). It serves Thai, Malay and Chinese food. The place is small and the decor a little tacky. The menu, however, made us very happy (and that's all that matters, isn't it?). We decided to stick to the Thai food that day.

To begin with, Rao and I split a Thai Spicy soup which was O.K. but nothing to write home about. For the main course, we ordered a Thai Green Curry, Veg Curry in Fragrant Basil Sauce, Thai Tangy Noodles and Plain Steamed Rice (phew!!).

The Thai Green Curry was good but definitely not the best I've had. The Veg. Curry in Basil Sauce was forgettable and largely overshadowed by the Thai Green Curry. The steamed rice was nice and actual Basmati rice for once. The true star of the meal was the Thai Tangy Noodles. It's a dish by itself and doesn't need any sauce. It was spicy, tangy and totally yummy. The servings are rather big and I would advise you to order with caution. The service is quick and efficient.

An average veg. meal would cost you around 120-130 bucks. There is also a huge non veg. menu and I am told that it is very good. It's not the best Thai cuisine going but it's total paisa vasool.
(Incidentally, we proceeded to have dessert at the Cream and Fudge Factory and missed the movie, but it was all worth it :) )

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sandy's Chocolate Laboratory / When Pigs Fly Part 1

This entire series is dedicated to the swine flu break in the middle of the trimester, leading to much eating, traveling and general excitement. I decided to join Pandey and LP in Chennai for some time and that is how I ended up at this place on a blistering Tuesday afternoon. The Lab is situated in R.A.Puram in a lazy residential locality.

It is, as the name suggests, dedicated to the pursuit of chocolate in all its various shapes, forms and sizes. They even have a chocolate lasagna (Now, I didn'y try that cause I truly believe that is too much chocolate). First, we tried out 'that really tiny chocolate cake' (Ya, you guessed right, it was HUGE). The cake was heavenly because it wasn't monotonous and chocolatey (This,I maintain is the fatal flaw in 'Death by Chocolate' at Corner House). The layers brought out the different flavours of chocolate and it was not over sweet either. The cake was spongy, soft and perfect.

Next, we ordered the chocolate fondue. It was melted dark chocolate flavoured with cookies and irish liquer. Pears, apples and bananas were provided along with it. The 3 of us split the fondue but I still thought it was too much chocolate. There was barely a hint of the cookies and the irish cream and it boiled down to melted dark chocolate. After a point, this got too much for me. That said everyone should try the fondue at least once. Just remember to split it.

Needing a break from that overdose of chocolate and as part of my continuing quest to find the 'awesomest' cheesecake, I ordered the petit four cheesecake. I think it's safe to say that this won't be making the list. It tasted funny - more like cream than cheese. After this we headed out for lunch at Eatalica (Did I mention we have healthy appetites ;) ).

The total bill came to Rs. 110 per person which considering all that we ate was a sweet deal.
They also have the most heavenly sounding chocolate potions on the menu. If anyone does try this, do let me know. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and a MUST try for anyone who loves chocolates (who doesn't?!!).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cafe Terra: Entha Awesomeness

Breakfast is my favourite meal. I could have it for all three meals. The only sad part is that breakfast buffets are often expensive. Rao and I decided to celebrate last Tuesday (a surprise holiday due to by-elections in Govindrajpur) by treating ourselves to nice breakfast. After much cajoling and threats of physical violence, Sow joined us too. We got up at the break of dawn and traversed half the city to finally land at Cafe Terra in Koramangala Fourth Block. Avni and Rads had been raving about this place for ages, enough to make my slothful self sacrifice a few hours of sleep and see what all the fuss was about.

The place is on the first floor, sparsely decorated and seats around twenty people. We sat near the window which offers you a view of the hustle and bustle of the road below and a residential lane from which a surprisingly large number of cute guys emerged. We were also happy at seeing the rates and were so hungry from our hour long journey that we ordered a huge breakfast.

We each ordered a Belgian Breakfast which comprised Belgian Waffles, Muffin and grilled potato (Rs. 110). Along with this we ordered a tomato and cheese omelette, pancakes, spinach and cheese crepe, juice and coffee. After much manoeuvring and adjusting all the plates on our tiny table, we dug in. The waffles were incredible. Nicely done, sprinkled with sugar and drowned in maple syrup. Heaven! The muffin avoided being oversweet and the potatoes were grilled nicely and provided the much needed spice in the midst of all that sugar. The spinach and cheese crepe was decent but taste of egg was a little too strong for me. Don't order the pancakes. It's the only thing I did not like. The pancakes were huge and served three in a plate but rather thick and the taste was biscuity.

The true star of the meal though was the tomato and cheese omlette. Just the right balance of salt and cheese, served with toast and grilled potatos. It was soft and yummy and just the way god intended omlettes to be(sighs wistfully!). The bill came to around 170 bucks a person and was worth all the effort and money involved in getting there. I left the place with a conteded smile and considerably tighter jeans. Such is the price we pay for good food.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In China: Must Try

Perennially in search of the best 'deal' in town, Tuhi, Li'l Prude (Kriti is hereby rechristened Li'l Prude since she doesn't think we should say the *B-word* in public) and I set out to In China after hearing that it has a 120 Rupee dinner buffet. Upon reaching there we found that our source (SowCow) was wrong. We decided to stick it out and I'm glad that we did. It's situated on Museum Road and housed in a huge building along with Ada Hind Ki.

The decor is primarily red and gold and very oriental. As I discovered a little too late, there is gorgeous outdoor seating and I definitely recommend that. Incidentally, the loo at this place smells incredibly nice. Oriental music (the fact that it was in a language that we didn't understand and with the appropriate twangs made it seem very authentic) plays softly in the background. The whole set up feels very like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

To begin with, we ordered the Peppery Lemon Veg Dumpling Soup. This was soothing, clear and rather filling. Our main course comprised of Singapore Noodles, Indonesian Fried Rice and Button Mushrooms in spicy Hoi Sin Sauce. While I'm generally not a fan of glass noodles, for once the noodles were very well done and had a strong hint of honey which went very well with the spicy sauce. The fried rice was my favourite which was done just right and was garnished with various spices without being spicy. The quanitities were huge and we ended up wasting (much to my dismay) a little bit of both the noodles and the rice.

They also ply you with Chinese tea throughout the meal which tastes warm and wonderful. It smells heavenly and Tuhi insisted that she wanted to have a bath in it. (Interestingly, in China tea is considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce and vinegar).

For dessert I chose to have the date pancake with ice cream which taste rather nice. I must admit it tasted a bit like gujia (while gujia tastes just fine, it was not the exotic Oriental fare we expected). The meal cost us Rs. 300 each which was well worth it. The service is great, though at times it can get a little too solicitous. This place merits a must try from my end.

Of course being the greedy pigs that we are, we proceeded to gorge on more dessert at Dolce Gelato (that review shall be put up soon). In the meanwhile, if anyone does know of the best 'deal' in town, do let me know.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Infinitea: A Big Thumbs Up

This isn't my first visit here and it definitely won't be my last. Situated on Cunningham Road, right next to Shezan, this place is a typical Bangalore establishment that I adore.

So one chilly Sunday night, four of us set out to Infinitea to once again taste its various culinary delights. The ambiance is soft and understated. It' the type of place where you can enjoy a long, relaxed meal and talk for ages without being hurried along by harried waiters. That said, this is also not the place to go for a quick lunch since the service is a little lazy. Another caveat is that this place is always filled with law schoolites. So not the place to go have a cozy meal for two (as someone(s) found out that night :) ).

For starters, we ordered Mozarella Fritters - these were fried cubes of cheese and it would be a little difficult to go wrong with these. The dip was tomato based and tangy - a nice complement. KK and the other carnivores also ordered dragon puppets (a chicken starter) which was nice and filling, apparently. Pasta Putanesca is what I chose to order that day and it was a fine choice. It was penne tossed in a tangy tomato sauce with olives, garlic, other veggies and garnished with parmesan cheese (Drool!). Another hot favourite here is the lasagna. Much to KK's dismay, they rarely have chicken lasagna and one must make do with its vegetarian brother (or sister??)(On this occasion she actually complained about it while the rest of us hid behind our menus). Still, the lure of the cheesy lasagna proved too much and KK settled for the vegetarian lasagna. While many of my friends swear by this dish, I find it a little too cheesy (Yes, I can hear the loud gasps). Can something be too cheesy? Yes, it can. While the first bite or two is heavenly, it becomes a little bland and monotonous after that. Towards the end, one ends up adding copious amounts of oregano and chilli flakes and in which case one might as well have ordered the double cheese margherita at Dominos. I still recommend that you try it at least once. The quantities are good and meant for those with healthy Indian appetites.

And now we come to the truly exciting part about the place - the tea (Surprise! Surprise!). I'm not a huge fan of hot tea but I love the Assam tea here (I can't remember the exact name). The way they serve the tea makes it all the more special. On this occasion however, I chose to play safe with standard lemon ice tea. Someone ordered the chocolate tea milkshake, which is very nice but has hardly any tea in it. They might as well have labeled it chocolate milkshake (but then it wouldn't sound half as exotic and lure us poor souls to order it, would it?). And Rads insists that I recommend the black currant ice tea (If it turns out to be bad, please feel free to throw things at her. Actually, feel free to throw things at her anyways).

The cheesecake here is awesome. However, it might be better to take a little walk to Fresco's and have the dessert there (More on the dessert at Fresco's (Heaven!) later). I only wish they had a greater vegetarian selection. But you should most definitely try this place. It receives a Big thumbs up from me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Garam Naram Punjabi Dhaba: A study in mediocrity

On a Saturday night after finishing a day long trek (Read: Crawling Uphill) and being hungry enough to eat paper, we hit Bobby Da Dhaba. We chose Bobby Da Dhaba - a) For its rumoured Awesome food. b) Because it was one of the few places that would give us lots of food for the scant money we had and c) Since it was the only place that would take us as we were - bringing all the grime of the jungle with us.

As you probably would have noticed by now, this is NOT a review of Bobby Da Dhaba. We couldn't reach the sanctum sanctorum that day, being stuck at the fag end of a waiting line of monstrous proportions. With our stomachs threatening to eat us alive, we frantically looked around another place that would satisfy out three fold requirements. Enter the Garam Naram Punjabi Dhaba.

The one brainstroke that the proprietor of this Dhaba had was in placing it right next to Bobby Da Dhaba and achieving the same air of casual indifference. This makes desperate souls, like us, hope that it might share attributes with its neighbour and could be a hitherto undiscovered gem in Bangalore. KK jumped in at this point to proclaim that she had heard someone raving about the place next to Bobby Da Dhaba which served food just as good and which no one knew about.
As the following paragraph will reveal, all our hopes were dashed and there is a reason why no one talks about this place (except KK's mysterious source).

The service was fairly quick and the rates cheap. That and the insane amounts of butter on the parathas are about the best things there. The parathas were average and the rest of the order nothing to write home about (if you do end up going to this place, order the choley amritsari. Its not great but its better than the rest). The quantities were adequate. Its the only dhaba I have eaten where the dahi was so sour (quite like mess dahi except that I paid 15 bucks and travesed the city for this). The truly obnoxious part about the place was the service with the waiter snapping at us (i'm still amazed by this) for ordering extra parathas.

All in all the Garam Naram Punjabi Dhaba is average on most counts, except for the service which is atrocious. Just wait it out at Bobby Da Dhaba.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Crawling Uphill/ "Our Butts have been very useful Today"

As a result of final year boredom and in a desperate attempt to prove to Travel and Living that I should be hosting all their shows, I have started this blog. (If you work at Travel and Living and after reading this blog are frantically looking for means to contact me - shruti.viswanathan@gmail.com) This blog shall primarily be about travel and food with a fair bit of useless trivia and drama thrown in.

So on a fair Saturday morning (when civil trial was canceled yet again), six of us set out to conquer Kalwarbetta (Skandagiri) with the help of the Bangalore Mountaineering Club (BMC). Having managed to fit all of us and our heavy backpacks into one cab we headed for the pickup point at MG Road. After many stops all over Bangalore and a hearty breakfast we set out to Skandagiri.

We reached the spot around 10:30 a.m. where introductions were made and grub for the afternoon was handed out. It was at this point that we realized that all our backpacks (which could have stood us through a siege at the fort on top of the hill) did not contain the one thing which has been considered essential for trekking since the invention of a portable plastic bottle - SUNSCREEN LOTION.

Resigning ourselves to sunburnt faces we crawled uphill. 3 hours, much sweating and after my attempt to disoldge a 10 by 13 foot boulder with the left side of my face (I know, I know - the poor boulder) we finally reached the summit.

The summit was, needless to say, gorgeous. Magically, the sun which has unrelentlessly been beating down on us disappeared and was taken over by a wonderful breeze that threatened to blow us off our feet. The battered old ruins give you a wonderful sense of history. Of course, the presence of the ubuquitious plastic bottle reminds you that no place is truly untouched (STOP LITTERING).

For those who are not exhausted by the sheer energy involved in climbing up, there are quite a few places to explore on that small summit. Predictably, the 6 of us flopped down, attacked our food like dying men and women, took the cursory pictures, patted our backs on our wonderful achievment and nervously contemplated the downhill climb.

We began our descent at 3:15 after being rounded up much like cattled with the exception that our herdswoman was an irritating enthu cutlet.

After much deliberation and calculating the exact stone and angle that would prevent us from falling, falling anyways, many shouts of encouragement (At times it felt like a labour room) and fervent prayers, we finally reached the bus. After two hours of not seeing anyone but the six of us, we finally spotted our digruntled fellow trekkers (who must have been mountain goats in a previous life) who heaved sighs of relief that the bus could finally leave.

The bus carted us back and one average meal (watch out for my review of the Garam Naram Dhaba) and an emotional fight with the auto driver (which involved 3 police fficers and a collection of Bangalore junta) we were definitely back in civilization.

The entire trip cost us Rs. 600 including transport, breakfast, lunch and guide. It was excellently organized and do check out www.bmcindia.org for further details. But don't pack your bags quite yet. Read my "Tips on Trekking: The Things that No one told you but you Should know" post.