Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vintage Bank

Wine & Cheese: 4.5
Food: 3.25
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 4.5
Overall: 4.5

The blog is becoming a little fancy these days and in keeping with that tone, I paid a visit to the wine and cheese bar in the newly opened Hilton. The theme of Vintage Bank is elegant, old-world luxury and the decor amply reflects that. Lush, cushioned chairs, wooden ceilings and a heavy air of opulence dominate this place.

They have a wide selection of wines and if you are undecided on which ones to order, I suggest you ask their super helpful sommeliers or take the wine flight option (At Rs. 1000, I think the wine flight is a great VFM option). The wine flight option comes with three wines and a selection of cheeses. I chose the red wine option while YJ and Nipsy picked the white wine. I started off with a light and sweet Beaujolais, transitioned into a medium bodied and smoother Riscal and ended with a dry Terrazas. Of the three my favourite was the Beaujolais. The red wine was complemented with some hard cheeses: Provolone, Emmental and Manchego. 

The white wine flight kicked off with the light and fruity Sauvignon Blanc, transitioned to the more mineral and refreshing Gavi and ended with the dry and sophisticated Pinot Grigio. 

Personally, I preferred the cheese pairing in this selection (Bree, Borsalino and Camembert) . The lively, herb-infused Borsalino was my favourite. Both red and white wine flights start light and fruity, move on to a medium body with more mineral notes, and ends on a more sombre and dry note. Those preferring a drier start and sweeter finish might want to reverse the order of tasting. Outside of the wine flight option, most wines are served by the bottle.

So much cheese

Of course, we had to try the food there too. The sauteed prawns was unanimously elected as the favourite. The fresh, tender prawns had a wonderful texture and were cooked in a well-spiced, red sauce. 

Sauteed Prawns

The grilled provolone was a fine choice too. It was interesting to contrast the flavours of the raw and the grilled provolone. It was a little cumbersome to handle though. The mezze platter was only so-so. The smoky flavour of the babaganoush was the highlight of the dish and YJ loved the addition of the green chilli.

Mezze Platter

The desserts were a bit of a let down. The creme brulee tasted a lot like lemon meringue and the overwhelming citrus taste is all I remember of it. The curd-cheese flan tasted more like cheesecake and the refreshing raspberry sorbet didn't do much to salvage the dish. 

Creme Brulee

Curd Cheese Flan with Raspeberry Sorbet

They did have this lovely pear jam that we all drooled over. It was fresh and rooomba good. 

Service was excellent and a huge shoutout to Ashlin for being such a great host. 

Vintage Bank is unique in the Chennai food scene. The place is classy, the concept different and the wine & cheese is fabulous. If you feel like an indulgent evening or if you are looking for a special date place head here. 

As Nipsy likes to say, 'Wine and Cheese is a love story'. And this one ended happily ever after. 

Pricing: Rs. 2000 per person (if you don't take the wine flight option)
Location: The Hilton, J.N. Salai, Ekkaduthangal, Chennai (Click here for the Google Maps direction
Phone: 22255555

Thanks to YJ and Nipsy for accompanying me and sharing their considerable knowledge on wine and cheese

L to R: YJ, Ashlin, Nipsy

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hole in the Wall Cafe, Bangalore

Food: 2.75
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 3
Verdict: Only if you live close by.

Family weddings and the GRE  forced me to lie low for the past few weeks but I'm back! I was in Bangalore last week and visited Hole in the Wall Cafe. The place is small and cute. I was a huge fan of the tissue paper testimonials that adorn one wall. They prove that the cafe is visited by some very artistically talented people and some clearly drunk ones (not that the two are mutually exclusive).

Tissue Testimonials

I reluctantly tore my eyes from the tissue art to the menu in front of me. They have a good breakfast menu but they also have a sandwich menu which is produced on request. The lime-ginger juice was refreshing and light but none of the other drinks were particularly good. The milkshakes were too thin, tasted milky and were all too forgettable.

Undaunted we waited for our massive food order to arrive. The Club sandwich was a winner: big, tasty and filling. This is the sort of food I like.

Club Sandwich

The 'Elvis' sandwich was interesting. Grilled peanut better and banana. If you want something spicy, don't go for this but if you have a sweet tooth and want to try something different, I would highly recommend this.

The grilled cheese and the mushroom sandwich were both let downs.  Average and blah, don't waste time or money on these ones.

Mushroom Sandwich

The Sunday Morning consisted of eggs layered with cheese, mushrooms and veggies. It was cheesy, filling and some great comfort food. But is it good dining? I am not entirely sure. Appealing as drowning eggs, meat and veggies in cheese is, anyone could do it.

Sunday Morning

The pancakes and waffles were good. Thick and warm (I think both could have been a little warmer, but, oh well).


 The much touted French Toast was so-so. The one at Egg Factory is infinitely better.

French Toast

In a final moment of gluttony, I ordered the Complete 'Veggie' Affair: omlette topped with cheese, jalapenos and mushrooms. While proudly displayed burrp! testimonials hailed this omlette, I thought that this fell short of the mark (much like most other things at this place). There was nothing wrong with it but nothing great either. Most people could have whipped up something similar.

Hole in the Wall is fun, cute and has character. The food on the other hand is largely average but in all fairness its also quite cheap. If you live in the neighbourhood, then you may consider paying this a visit. But is it worth going all the way there for? No. I would advise you sample the much better food at Cafe Terra (a 3 minute walk from Hole in the Wall). Cafe Terra offers the same small, cute establishment ambiance and will leave your taste buds more satiated. Their loo stinks, avoid it.

Pricing: Rs.100 per perosn
Phone: 080 40949490 
Location: # 61, 1st 'A' Main, S.T. Bed, Koramangala 4th Block, Bangalore (Behind Hotel Maharaja)
View their menu here.

As always, thanks to the pretty peeps for accompanying me.

L to R: Aats, Woogul, Rao and Vat