Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Veekes and Thomas: My favourite find this year (so far)



Stalking food reviews and new establishments in Bangalore finally paid off when Tuhi, The Nympho and I visited Veekes and Thomas. This place has gotten some outstanding reviews and this (and the promise of cheap Italian food) saw us head here for lunch. The place is very small and there are just 3 tables. It is best if you go in a group of 2/3. More than 4 of you shouldn't visit this place as there won't be enough seating space. (They are largely a catering business). The decor is charming and very nicely done.

This place has the awesome concept of half portions. Now if you are a greedy foodie, you must have found yourself wanting to order more than one dish on the menu just that tummy and financial constraints stop you. At V&T, they have half portions for almost all the dishes. This would also help people like Lil Prude who have teeny weeny appetites. For those (normal people) who don't its an awesome way to try various dishes on the menu.

For starters we ordered the Chicken Salami and Mushroom Oyster Crostini (Rs.40 - yup! you read right). The bread was soft and nice and I loved my first taste of oysters.
The flavours were wonderful and the taste quite unlike anything I've had before. I ordered the Cilantro Pesto in Peanut Sauce (Rs. 35 - yeah, you can keep rubbing your eyes) which was my favourite dish of the day. Penne in pesto sauce that had a strong and wonderful peanut undertone. The olives added just the right 'tang' to it. The dish is not spicy, neither is it mild. I think this dish is a must have for all the wonderful flavours that it has. The Nympho ordered Cilantro Chicken in White Sauce (Rs. 49). The menu indicated that it was quite spicy and the cilantro chicken was but the bland white sauce complemented it perfectly. I liked the spice in it and thought the flavour tasted distinctly Indian. Tuhi ordered the Chicken Basil-Parsely Pesto Pasta (Rs.49). which was a little disappointing. The pasta was a little bland a needed a little more salt. It wasn't bad but I guess our expectations were a little high after the first two dishes.

For round two, I chose the Orange Peel Chili Risotto (this wasn't my first choice but it sounded so exotic that I decided to give it a try. Rs 35).
This was a concoction with orange peel, cheddar cheese
and healthy spattering of citrus juice. Though it had a spice warning on it, I found the dish to be a little sweet. It might not be to everyone's liking but if you are willing to take a risk, try this dish. I quite liked the flavours that it brought together. Tuhi ordered the Chicken Paccata (Rs. 99. This is for the full portion as this is one of the few dishes that doesn't come in half portions). This was chicken breast grilled in brown and white wine sauce. The chicken had a nice texture it and the crust was incredibly tasty. The portions for this were quite healthy.
The mashed potatoes were very well done too. The Nympho ordered the Shepherd's Pie which consisted of minced chicken cooked in butter and garlic and surrounded by lovely cheesy mashed potatoes topped with herbs (Drools!).

While they have a decent dessert menu,
only two were available today: The Chocolate Brownie (Rs. 29) and the Mocca (Rs.29). The Mocca was OK. Sufficient amount of chocolate mousee to satisfy most people. The chocolate brownie was soft, chocolatey and yumm. It had a lovely walnutty feel to it too.

Finally, we were full and decided to leave (I think I heard the kitchen staff breathe a sigh of relief when we called for the bill ;) ). If it isn't obvious, I highly recommend this place. Exotic Conti fare with an Indian flavour at very affordable rates. Don't go to there in large groups though.

Another cool thing about this place is that they are very eco friendly and they serve the food in 'donnas': the leaf plates/cups in which you receive prasadam at temples. They also deliver ( http://www.veekesandthomas.com/)

Location: 22, Ground Floor, 5th Cross, 24th Main Road, JP Nagar
Pricing: A meal for two shouldn't cost you more than Rs. 250

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Taco Bell



Propelled by the general excitement surrounding Taco Bell and the fact that it is very close to home, Pri and I paid a visit last night. The first thing that strikes you is how crowded this place is (keep in mind we went on a Wednesday night). i'm told that the line during weekends is insane. That said, the queue moves fairly fast, therefore, despite the daunting lines you can get in and out fairly fast.

The menu consists of Tacos, Specialities, Combos and Desserts. The cheapest taco here is Rs. 18 for veggies and Rs. 20 for the non veggies. The most expensive dish here won't cost you more than Rs. 80. The cool thing about the soft drinks here is that it is a Freefill. So you can keep topping up your drink. While this didn't excite me much, those of you who love soft drinks can get your money's worth. The soft drinks could be colder.

I ordered the Volcano Taco Combo (Volcano Taco + Snackito + Drink) and Pri ordered the Crunchy Taco Combo (Crunchy Taco + Snackito + Drink). The Volcano Taco (Rs. 25)
was a crunchy red taco filled with potatoes, mayo,
vegetables and topped with cheese. They also give this incredibly hot sauce with which you could have it. The Taco was tasty, messy and I quite liked it. Pri's Crunchy Taco was more or less the same except that it was slightly smaller and that the taco shell was less spicy.

The truly disappointing bit about the meal was the snackito (Rs.20). It consisted of a cold, maida roti which was filled with vegetables. The stuffing wasn't great in taste or quantity. Overall, the snackito was quite bleh. Avoid it.

We also ordered the volcano cake (Rs. 40). Unlike the misleading picture on the menu,
the real deal is rather small. It's similar to the Java Lava at Domino's. Spongy chocolate cake on the outside, gooey hot chocolate oozing on the inside. (Personally, I prefer the Java Lava.). Taco Bell also has Burritos and Quesalidas which look promising. Will keep you updated on those.

Taco Bell is the McDonalds for Mexican food. It's not the best Mexican food you'll ever get but it's very Value For Money. Once the novelty of it wears off, I think we will discover that it's just another McD type snack place. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad at all but it's not great either (Something that afflicts most international chains.) It's definitely worth visiting at least once. And the mall is pretty cool too.

Location: Mantri Square, Sampige Road (next to Sampige Theatre), Malleswaram
Pricing: A meal here shouldn't cost you more than Rs. 100

P.S: I have quite a few Gokarna and Chennai reviews to post. If only Aditi, Asma and Janani would mail me the pictures .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kodial's



The following review is pretty much copy-pasted from my review in the Deccan Herald (cartwheels). I've also added the prices and some photos :)


Owned by Ganesh Nayak, Kodial’s has been around for the last five years and is a favourite amongst locals. Enter the restaurant and you will be greeted by functional seating and posters of the rich heritage of Mangalore. The place can seat around 25-30 people. Lunch starts at 12.30 in the afternoon but one can go early to avoid the serpentine queues.

While the lunch buffet has a wide variety, there are certain signature dishes which one must try. One of the ‘must-tries’ in the buffet is the neer dosa. Light and fluffy, it also appeals to the calorie conscious. The tomato gojju which has a tangy taste with a strong hint of tamarind, complements the neer dosa perfectly. Another Mangalorean specialty is the shavige or bland boiled glass noodles, best eaten with sweet coconut milk served here. During the monsoon season, they also serve wonderful patrade or spicy, steamed rolls cooked in Colocasia leaves. If you feel like

munching on something in between courses, then you can try the triangular kara dosai or the ever popular Mangalore bajji or gollibajje (deep fried maida bajjis). The jackfruit based dishes are another Mangalore specialty.


Ranjini, an IT professional frequents the place with her colleagues. “I come here once every two months. The food is quite heavy. I love the cuisine because it is different from home food and is delicious. My favourite is the neer-dosa.

Apart from this, there are also rasam, sambar, pallya and kootu. There are also an array of chutneys, podis and pickles. Amongst these, the mor molaga or fried chillies are highly recommended. Kodial’s also serves various rice preparations like pulao and puliyogare which can be eaten with raitha. For dessert, there is a wide variety including kesari bath, payasam, and strawberry buttermilk.

So, the next time you feel like having some authentic South Canara food, head over to Kodial’s

.


They have a lunch buffet on weekdays too but that is less extensive. They also have polis, laddus, halwas and other packaged sweets and snacks on sale.

Location: 56, Yallappa Gardens, Temple Street, 8th Cross, Malleswaram.

Pricing: Sundays - Rs.90, Weekdays - Rs. 50

Friday, March 5, 2010

Zaiqa-e-Lucknow

Literally translated this means the flavours of Lucknow and that’s exactly what owner Raman Gupta hopes to bring to Bangalore. The decor is sparse and simple: white and red checked tablecloths and functional seating dominate this place.

The Lucknowi specialty of kababs (kebabs) is what this place prides itself on and that’s what one must try when you visit this place. The Seekh Kabab, made of minced meat with spices and grilled on skewers, is wonderful. The minced meat is tasty and the spices perfectly done. The tandoori chicken is another popular option at this place. The meat has a lovely smoky flavour though it could have been marinated a little more. It could also be slightly spicier. Those looking for something less spicy and unusual could try the murgh malai kabab which is quite good.

As one might have figured out by now, this place is largely for non vegetarians. If you are a veggie, there are a few options for you. You could try the harra barra kabab (FYI: this is infinitely more healthier than its meaty versions). This grill of peas, potatoes and spinach is quite tasty. Though once again I wish it were slightly spicier. Veggies could also try the paneer tikka. This marinated cottage cheese grill is good but nothing special.

Their other speciality, besides the kababs, is the ulta tawa ka parantha. This paratha is filled with ghee, saffron, milk and sugar. Needless to say, it is incredibly heavy and rich. One whole paratha and it may fill your tummy. Apparently, the paratha is best eaten with shami kabab. The shami kabab here was incredibly good. The meat was succulent and tender and the spices complemented it perfectly. Personally, though, I think that the paratha might have tasted better with a normal sabzi.

This place has a number of sabzis ranging from the normal fare of butter chicken, paneer butter masala to some exotic meat dishes. In fact, there is a sea food dish here (and I forget it’s name), which requires you to order a day in advance and costs a bomb. If you still have some space for dessert after all this, then you could try the Shahi Tukda or the Zafrani Phirni which are the only two desserts on the menu.

You could also go to Bombay Chowpatti Kulfi across the road. The matka malai kulfi there is quite good.

Zaiqa-e-Lucknow serves fairly good non-vegetarian food at mid level prices. The next time you feel like getting some kebabs, you may want to check this place out. This place is not recommended for vegetarians. If you have a sufficient number of vegetarians in your party then this place is definitely not for you.

Location: M.M. Road, Frazer Town

Pricing: A meal for two should cost between Rs. 400 - 500

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spiga Revisited



Mixed reactions to my earlier review and my dad's reluctance to drive to BBQ nation, saw 'the family' head out to Spiga last Sunday. The ambiance and other things remain the same. Even though I spotted a lot of families here, the place has a very 'date-y' feel to it. One incredibly annoying thing was the loud music.

For starters we ordered the cilantro-pesto paneer (cottage cheese) skewers (Rs. 180). It turned out to be tandoori roti, grilled paneer served with a cold yoghurt based sauce. The paneer was soft and I loved the pesto sauce it was grilled in. My dad loved the sauce (bear in mind we are Tams and by default, love everything associated with yoghurt). While it tasted fine, roti-paneer was definitely a strange way to start a meal at Spiga.
My parents tried the tomato soup which was OK but the only thing special was the huge eye catching bowls they were served in.

For the main course, we ordered Pasta Alfredo (Rs.200: Veg, Rs 250: Chicken) and Thai Green Curry (Rs.200: Veg, Rs 250: Chicken). The pasta in a white cream sauce, with
mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and herbs was delightful. The mushrooms had a light, lovely flavour and a wonderful texture (unlike some places that serve rubbery ones!). My favourite part of the pasta was the sundried tomatoes which went beautifully with the sauce. The sauce itself was rich, heavy and flavoured with herbs.
The Thai Green Curry was good. It had a distinct taste of coconut milk though I wish it had been spicier (Wikipedia informs me that Green Curries are meant to be less spicy, a fact I was sadly unaware of while placing the order). One thing I didn't like was the amount of paneer in the didn't complement the curry's taste. You would be better off ordering the Red Curry me thinks. The quantities were rather generous this time around.

And now, I bring you to the best part of the meal (Drum roll please.....): The Oreo Cheesecake.
One of my favourite desserts and I was reminded why. Lovely cream cheese on top, a crumbly rich layer of oreo cookies at the bottom, artistically topped off with chocolate sauce. And for once, the size of the cheesecake wasn't minuscule. I could spend the rest of my life eating this. Oh! We also ordered the chocolate fudge cake. Nice Caramel-y chocolate fudge served on a slightly hard, dark chocolate bed. My mum loved it. But it was overpowered by the sheer awesomeness of the cheesecake.

Spiga is still not what it used to be. While this time around it redeemed itself, the number of bad reviews that it has got indicate that the chef is not consistent. And for a restaurant that charges as much as Spiga does, that's not acceptable. I'd definitely go back for dessert though :)

Location: Halcyon Complex, St. Marks Road

Pricing: A meal for two will cost you Rs.800 or upwards