Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Pepper Cafe

As a group, this place forever has been on our list but somehow it never happened. And finally on Saturday, we made it to Pepper Café. I had heard a lot of good things about this place from various sources, making it all the more important for us to visit.

Pepper Café is situated on St John’s road and is easy to locate and with a little eyebrow twitching on the parking front, we were all set to indulge in some good Euro food. The restaurant has two levels of seating and is well lit giving it a bright ambience. We settled on the first floor and soon were engrossed reading the menu and their detailed fancy descriptions. Soups, salads, steaks, risottos and pizzas…there’s lots to pick from.

We chose to begin with soups. We were 6 of us and decided to share. Robin and Neha ordered the Chicken Corn and Chilly Soup. A variation of the usual sweet corn, except that it had more pepper and spices. The minced chicken in the thick soup tasted great as the warmth travelled down the throat.

Chicken Corn and Chilly Soup
Saritha and me picked the Rock Crab Soup which is a Pepper Café special. It tasted very similar to the chicken soup but yes, it was substituted by crab.

Rock Crab Soup
Lakshmi and Vinod ordered a great sounding sun kissed plum tomato, parmesan and basil soup. It was served with garlic croutons. The closest cousin to this dish would be a homemade tomato soup. Not too tangy and mildly spiced. The portions were just right considering you need place to try starters, main course and dessert.

Sun kissed plum tomato, parmesan and basil soup

For starters, we had Italian Chicken Bites with Vatican Salad and a Thousand Island Dip. Small tikkis of minced chicken were delicately spiced and very well presented. I had heard of Vatican salad for the first time, it predominantly had juliennes of radish in it.

Italian Chicken Bites
We also ordered Thai Fish Cakes which came along with a chick pea salad and some sweet chilli friache. While we were expecting the aroma of the famous Thai fish sauce, this dish fortunately didn’t have any. But overall, it resembled the chicken bites. Both disappeared as soon as they appeared. A sign of good food, I must say!

Thai Fish Cakes
As a veggie starter, we picked the Pizza Florence. This thin crust pizza was richly decorated with roast garlic, egg plant, buffalo mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil. Absolutely didn’t miss the meat in this one!

Pizza Florence
For main course, I had Grilled Lamb Chops with red wine pepper mushroom sauce. I usually never pick lamb, but this time I did. I didn’t regret the taste but wished the meat was cubed. Easier to eat! The chops came with assorted veggies and cheese mash. It’s just like what you are imagining right now- mashed potato with a hint of cheese.

Grilled Lamb Chops
Neha ordered a colourful Dual Pepper and Chicken Pizza which had a delightful mix of chicken and bell peppers, olives, basil and sundried tomatoes all resting on a  thin crust. The base was crispy and tasted absolutely fantastic. I would not be able to single out the different tastes of the pizza but it didn’t have the Indian flavors that most pizzas boast of elsewhere.  
Dual Pepper and Chicken Pizza

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken
Saritha helped herself with Grilled Vietnamese Chicken which was served with a generous portion of Asian sauce and a peanut noodle salad. The chicken was spiced with herbs and was cooked well. The sauce on the other hand was tangy but the glass noodles blended well with the dish and evened out the flavours.

Vinod enjoyed his main course which was Thyme scented Grilled Chicken Breast with a wild mushroom sauce accompanied with a cheese mash. The sauce was creamy and suits all taste buds.

Thyme scented Grilled Chicken
Lakshmi opted for a Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni. There is something about pumpkin and spinach together. It made for an amazing soft filling in the cannelloni. What’s more? The cannelloni was almost drowned in a mature cheddar sauce. 

Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
Robin always gets to order the best. He picked Shepherds’ Delight from the pizza section and a Dual Flavored Hummus with Paper Pizza Bread. The pizza, again a thin crust had a generous spread of lamb pepperoni and veggies with cheese of course. The flavours just came alive with every bite. He asked for the beetroot flavour in the Hummus and it was heavenly to say the least. The paper bread also was a great break from the usual pita. 

Shepherds’ Delight
Dual Flavored Hummus with Paper Pizza Bread
Apart from all the food, we also helped ourselves to iced teas, lemonades and other drinks. My inputs on all of them:
Peach iced tea – Fantastic
Fresh lime soda – Great if not the ‘bestest’
Lemon iced tea – Lemon was missing. It was just iced mild tea
Greenapple lemonade – Good if you like the flavor of the fruit
Watermelon lemonade – Stay away!


Iced Teas
As much as we wanted to bite into dessert, we had to skip it as we had a movie waiting for us. But the Oreo Cheese cake on the menu surely sounded inviting. May be next time! Pepper Café was a great experience. It was a treat to some great food after a very long time. This place is good for everyone- be it family, friends, colleagues. However the portions are best to be shared by couples. At Pepper café, it is clear that food is an art. It shows in the ambience, menu, taste and presentation carefully put together by the owners Rohan D’Souza, Ritesh Khandelwal and Atul Khandelwal. And yes, art does not come cheap!

Pay by : Cash and cards
Restroom : Average meal for two Rs 1000 (for 6 of us, it was about Rs 3700)
Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5
Location: Near Lavanya Theatre, St John’s Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore

Friday, November 04, 2011


There are some places in Mangalore which I visit every time I make a trip to the city. Guthu is one such place. I stumbled upon this place almost two years ago and it has been one of my favourites every since.  Situated in Falnir, Guthu is a great place to taste good local cuisine.

For those who like a plush ambience, Guthu offers a fine dining ambience as well. But we chose to sit on the terrace which has a traditional village atmosphere to it.  The red stone walls, a boat, a bullock cart, a make-believe well and various other utensils and farm items bring alive the life in a village. The seating is mainly that of cane chairs. To go with the ambience, the food here is served in copper bottom utensils. 

Each time I have visited Guthu, I have gone back happy with the good food. The menu here is multi cuisine but I strongly recommend the local Mangalorean/ Tulunad cuisine. Not the others are not good, but this is definitely worth a try.  My favourite here has always been the Chicken Ghee Roast. The order was placed even before I perused through the menu. And it was as always, Perfect! The meat was tender and had absorbed the masala well to make it juicy. The masala was thick and fried with a lot of ghee. Fiery red and full of spices. Keep a tissue handy while enjoying this dish. 
Chicken Ghee Roast

This time around we also picked our salad to compliment our food. Chicken Tikka salad it was! Cubes of chicken grilled in a tandoor and served with an assortment of peppers and other cold veggies tossed together with a Vinaigrette like dressing. The vegetables were crunchy and fresh while the chunks of chicken were soft. The quantity on this was good too. 

Chicken Tikka Salad


Magic Drinks

For a drink, I chose a Cosmopolitan which is Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Cointreu and lime juice. Vinod ordered a mocktail called Magic Drinks – a unique blend of Strawberry crush, orange juice, 7up and blue curacao. 

For main course Vinod suggested we try various items in small portions. Going by the suggestion we asked for Gattis, Pundis and Neer dosa. Gattis are rice stripes steamed wrapped in banana leaves. Pundis are rice dumplings while Neer Dosas are very thin dosa made of a watery rice batter. 



Neer Dosa

Chicken Puli Munchi
To go with it, we ordered a Chicken Puli Munchi, a very well known delicacy of the Malnad region. This a gravy with a red chilli base but has a dominant tangy flavour to it lent by tamarind. This goes well with rice too.  Guthu scores high on the spice meter so be watchful when you order. In case you are here for lunch, you could also opt for their non-veg thali options which are well worth the money. These along with an additional side dish make a complete meal. Not too crowded, this place is great for team outings, family dinners and even impromptu ‘treat’ sessions. 

Pay by : Cash and cards
Restroom : Clean but basic, unisex
Average meal for two : Rs 800 with a cocktail and mocktail
Mel’s overall rating : 3.5 out of 5
Location: Pailand Plaza, Falnir Road, Mangalore. Ph: 0824 2420224/ 2420225.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mangala Bar & Restaurant

If you an old timer in Mangalore, you’re definitely familiar with Mangala. For years, this restaurant has dished out several delicacies for the Mangalorean palate. Situated near Fathima Retreat House in Jeppu, this place has come a long way from being just a bar and restaurant to a hip and happening hang-out. Thanks to the next generation that took over the management, Mangala has become a much sought after place for great food.

I had been to this place a few years ago with my uncle who has to pay his customary visit each time he comes down to India. Such was the restaurant’s reputation. But somehow having seen fancy restaurants around, a dark and dingy place didn’t go well with me.

Vinod convinced me that the place has changed and I decided to try it. I am sssoooo glad I did it. To begin with, the place has been strategically divided into various sections- pub, family seating area, smoking zone and the old dark section. These are not the names given by the owner, but that’s what I figured by looking around at the seating.

We seated ourselves in the family area, which was filled with a lot of youngsters intrestingly. I am guessing it was the spill-over crowd as the pub was jam packed on that Saturday night. Some things never change- like the old waiters who are right now going through a culture shock watching babes in short skirts as against middle aged aunties walking around in saris.

As the place was packed, we had to wait to place an order as well as to receive it. Mangala has long been famous for its bar and now in their new avatar, they serve some amazing cocktails too at throw-away prices. Vinod ordered a cocktail (missed writing the name) and me a Bloody Mary - classic cocktails that never fail to impress.
Bloody Mary

The menu offers a multi cuisine fare. The famous Freddies (burgers) are a recent super-hit addition amongst other great choices. To go with the drinks, We ordered a Fried Chicken which were diced chicken fried in Indian spices.

Fried Chicken
We also ordered Roast Pork Chops. What a  delight! Succulent, juicy pork chops in a dark sauce which tasted like a Teriyaki sauce. The meat was so soft, it came off the bone with absolutely no effort. Because of the long wait, the waiter himself suggested that we go onto the main course. So, we skipped our second round of cocktails and took Breezers instead.

Roast Pork Chops

For main course, Vinod ordered a Kori Rotti for himself. This is a Mangalorean delicacy of red-chili based chicken curry and crisp dry wafers (the thickness of a Khakra or even thinner) made from boiled rice. The wafers (rotti) are broken to pieces and soaked in the gravy. The gravy was truly delectable and was soon swept clean off the dish.

I was told never to miss the Freddie and chose a Phat Freddie. The look of this burger can add on a 1000 calories to your weight. The posters around the place make it absolutely irresistible. My Phat Freddie had a beef patty with bacon, sour cream, lettuce and cheese. This had heaven in every bite. The patty was done to perfection and gave  KFC and McD a run for their money. Phat Freddie comes in choices of chicken, beef and pork. 

Phat Freddie
We would have loved to eat more, but for the rush. Mangala is surely going to be added to my list must-visit places in Mangalore. 

Pay by : Cash and cards
Restroom : Did not try
Average meal for two : Rs 800 with cocktails
Mel’s overall rating : 3.5 out of 5
Location: Silva Cross, Jeppu, Mangalore. Ph: 0824 2436726.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Of the many eating joints that have sprung up in Mangalore, Kismis is a decent addition. Situated in Bijai Hills near Circuit house, this place offers south Indian, north Indian, International, Oriental and Arabic cuisines.

Walking in what strikes you first are the pink interiors hinting that this place must have hired a woman to do up the interiors. I am not biased but yes, we do love our ‘Pinks’.  The custom-made tall back chairs are a genuine attempt to give the place a modern chic look. From the extensive menu, we wanted to begin with a soup and ordered a Beijing Thong. Not a great name for a soup, but tasty nonetheless.

Beijing Thong Soup
A thick soup with shredded chicken and lots of red chilli paste, this awakened all my senses. With a dash of vinegar, I enjoyed (read slurped) it all the way. For starters we asked for the Al – Faham chicken. This dish was made of chicken breasts flattened out flavoured with ginger garlic paste and tomato and barbequed in Arabian style. The spices and the masala have the meat the needed zing. 

Al-Faham Chicken
Kismis offered choices in salads as well and we chose the Kismis special seafood salad. Salad veggies and chunks of assorted seafood tossed together in a cocktail dressing formed a meal in itself. But it was not much to my liking since I did not find the shrimps fresh. 

Kismis Special Seafood Salad
For main course, we picked Dijai Mandi from the Arabian food section. This was nothing but Arabian white rice with chicken. the rice was flavoured well with many spices but the chicken was extremely bland. The dish was accompanied by a sauce of tomato, ginger and garlic which did not  go well with the rice.
Dijai Mandi

Caramel Custard

To end our meal, we ordered for a Caramel Custard. A thin slice is what we got. Since I enjoy eating custard, the portion at Kismis was too little.  In all, our meal cost us a little over Rs 400. The service was good, ambience was decent and the food was just average. They would definitely have to work on their food to retain their customers.

Pay by : Cash and cards
Restroom : Did not visit
Average meal for two : Rs 450
Mel’s overall rating : 1 out of 5
Location: Bejai Hills, Circuit House Down Road, Bejai, Mangalore 575004. Ph: 0824 4279438

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sizzler Ranch

I had been waiting to go to this sizzler place for a long time and finally on a rainy Saturday, Vinod and me decided to indulge in sizzlers. Mangalore has few choices for sizzlers but I found Sizzler Ranch a good bet.  Located near the Mangalore City Corporation building, this place looks quite small form the outside. The garden seating is great if it does not rain. Inside the cozy looking restaurant, the seating is in two levels. The place in all can seat about 50 pax if not more. The menu mainly consists of various sizzlers and some side orders to go with them.  When you visit a sizzler joint, go straight for the sizzlers unlike what we did. We shared a Cream of Chicken Soup to begin with. A bland, not-so-creamy chicken broth was not a great start but was not a disappointment either.

Cream of Chicken Soup
If that was not enough, we ordered for Chicken and Chips. The chicken was mildly spiced, well done but not juicy. A brown sauce was poured over it with a generous sprinkle of pepper and salt. The quantity is good and may be too much for two before the main course.

Chicken and Chips

When it was time for sizzlers, we were not too hungry. We asked the waiter to suggest a sizzler with a cheesy sauce. Since we were sharing the sizzler, we were looking for something sinful. He recommended the Chicken Satellite. What was served was a standard sizzler with chicken with veggies, the only addition being a slice of cheese. The sauce was the usual brown sauce. However the taste was not disappointing. It might not be as good as the sizzler at Kobe but this was still one of the best in Mangalore.

Chicken Satellite
 Finally we could not resist the Sizzler Brownie and ordered for one to be shared. A scoop of vanilla ice cream balanced atop a warm brownie, with chocolate sauce sizzling on the plate. There was a piece of heaven in every slice as we scraped the plate clean.

Sizzling Brownie

The exterior of Sizzler Ranch and the two waiters who refused to move

Overall the meal was good. The place is neat. The service is fast and the prices for the quantity are very affordable.  

Pay by : Cash
Restroom : Basic facility with a steel wash basin like those in trains
Average meal for two : Rs 450
Mel’s overall rating : 2 out of 5
Location: Nehru Avenue Road, Lalbagh, Mangalore 575003  Phone: 0824 2459008

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chinese Cottage

The plan was to have some coastal food that afternoon but since the restaurant we wanted to go to was running full, we decided to try Chinese Cottage in Koramangala.

Situated amongst the many restaurants near Koramangala Club, this quiet little place has humble interiors, cozy and is a great place to chit chat without disturbance. And that’s exactly what my friend and I were looking for. With an honest but pleasing attempt to give it a Chinese look, you can find Chinese masks and fans on the wall along with some 3D art as well. Soft classics played in the background of this place that can seat over 20-30 people.

The menu offers Thai, Chinese and interestingly Bengali cuisine as well and has a good choice of vegetarian, chicken, seafood and pork dishes.

Rule no 1. Order soup. We shared a Thai Chicken Tom Yum Soup which happens to be my favourite. A thin tangy chicken broth spiced to light up your senses with a generous amount of chilli and coriander leaves.

Thai Chicken Tum Yum Soup
Next on order were the Drunken Chicken wings. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavours trapped in the chicken wings. With a crispy coating, a dash of alcohol and a garnish of spring onions, this leaves the spice on your tips long after you’ve taken a bite.

Drunken Chicken Wings

A closer view
For the main course again, we opted for a Chicken and prawn Nasi Goreng Fried Rice. This dish is good those who like their food mildly spiced. The rice is well suited for any palate and has a mix of shrimps, chicken, egg and vegetables.

Nasi Goreng Fried Rice
To go with it, we ordered Chilli Roast Pork. This dish would have been great, had I not asked for a gravy. Sliced pork with vegetables cooked in a typical Indian-Chinese brown sauce/ gravy- it was not so bad after all though not the best way I’d enjoy pork.

Chilli Roast Pork
Deep Fried Ice Cream
And now for the best part, it had to be the Deep Fried Ice Cream. It looked simple with bread slices, wrapped around a scoop of vanilla and fried to make the coating crispy and golden brown. The bread slices were sweetened with sugar syrup and honey and garnished with sesame seeds. I’ve decided to try this at home sometime!

Our meal considering we shared everything came to nearly Rs 700.

Pay by : Cash
Restroom : Decent
Average meal for two : Rs 800
Mel’s overall rating : 2 out of 5

Location: Koramangala 4th block, near Koramangala Club.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cafe Thulp

It was the first “Girlies” Outing and we decided that it was going to be Café Thulp. I had passed by this place a couple of times and wanted to visit it for long. Finally the day had come.

We decided to meet for lunch and I happened to reach the place ‘early’. I had checked their site for timings and they were to open their doors at 11am. However at 11.45, just when I thought I’d make myself comfortable at one of the tables, I was ushered out and was not-so-politely told that the restaurant opens at 12pm. That was probably a not-so-good start.
 Once the entire group had arrived we entered the place. The interiors are chic and a lot of thought has gone into the art work on the walls. Looking around, I was convinced that this was the place for a relaxed meal. There was a bookshelf at one corner and some board games. Random photographs found their place on the walls. Also the main wall had a black and red Manga art work and looked very neat. Each wall wore a different look and didn’t quite match the other.  A pastry counter with a display of mouth-watering cheese cakes and pies was indicative of the good things in store for us. 
Café Thulp can seat about 40-50 people. We were six of us (incidentally two boys too). We asked for a 4 and a 2 seater to be joined, obviously because there were no large tables. And again the waiter refused to oblige. Instead he brought in two more chairs and asked us to adjust. Rubbing our elbows against each other and touching shoulders, we didn’t have a choice, did we? This was somehow not going too well.
 With no options for us to whine about the pitiful service, we went through the menu given to us. Interesting is the word! The wacky names and their descriptions can keep you entertained for at least 10 minutes. Not many places would call their French fries The Heart Attack or their prawn cocktail Prawnic Healing. The options are vast and are a promise of a feast for lovers of meat. For the veggies, you might as well drive past this place.
The engaging menu

To begin our eating spree, we started with the Buffalo Bill. The first dish to arrive at the table and the first to disappear too. Fiery, red buffalo chicken wings served with a cream cheese dip. Crispy on the outside, tangy and absolutely hot, the tender chicken burns the tongue. A generous dash of vinegar and lots of red chilli pepper sauce along with some soy had surely made its way into the marinade.  Saritha and me love bacon and zeroed in on the Shot Through The Heart. Chunks of beef wrapped in bacon, braised with Teriyaki sauce and pierced on satay sticks. How does that sound for a starter? The beef in steak language was medium done, a little tough to eat but was tasty nonetheless. The bacon was crispy fried and the sauce had its soy with a tinge of honey /sugar flavour but was not very sweet as in some places.
Buffallo Bill

Shot Through The Heart

A closer look
Next in line was the Spuds Papunzie. The decoded version is spicy potato salad dressed with mayo, English mustard and red chilli sauce, laid on a bed of lettuce. Yummy would be an understatement. The succulent pieces of potato married to perfection with the dressing.  Abhi chose the Koli Dosa which was nothing but a masala omelet.
Spuds Papunzie

Koli Dosa
 Café Thulp offers a great choice of smoothies and shakes as well. From the Shiekh Yerbooty’s Old Fashioned Milkshakes, Neha and me ordered the Oreo Cookie shake and the Snickers Blizzard. The cookie shake was out of this world even if you were not a fan of the cookies. Thick and creamy, you can actually enjoy crushed cookies in every sip.
Oreo Cookie Shake

Snickers Blizzard
The Snickers Blizzard was a bar of snickers blended with milk of course. Nothing to write home about but I wished it were a little thicker. Saritha chose to take the diet track and ordered a Sour Puss – the basic home style lizzy lemonade with mint.
Sour Puss
For main course, Preeti selected the Veg Alphonso Hankypants. The dish was penne pasta with Alfredo sauce, mushrooms and red peppers. Bland to every bite, the pasta did not even contain salt. The white cream sauce was too little to even remotely coat the pasta. Preeti did her bit by adding chilli flakes, salt, pepper, ketchup and everything she could find and put together something palatable. The revamped pasta got over faster than expected. 
Veg Alphonso Hankypants
Karthik and Neha ordered the El Pollo Loco. This dish was a big wow, at least for me. Fried chicken strips with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.  The quantity was impressive with about 7 large strips, dipped in a light batter and fried to perfection. The enormous helping of mashed potatoes with herbs was a mini meal in itself.
El Pollo Loco

Moo burger with bacon and cheese
My choice from the menu was Moo with Bacon and Cheese from the burger section. The best beef burger patty I have tasted, topped with pieces of bacon and cheese. This couldn’t get any better. Absolutely soft, this patty melts in the mouth. What’s more! It comes with fries and coleslaw. A must-try while at CT. 
Abhi carefully selected the Wok with Me.  Stir fried vegetables in a watery sauce/ gravy with fried rice and Thai papaya salad. Nothing special in this one.  The stir fried veggies were almost bland but partnered well with the rice. The salad did not carry the original Thai taste but a good attempt nonetheless.
Wok with Me
Fried rice with papaya salad

Crispy Pork Pomegranate Orange Salad
Another superhit dish was the Crispy Pork Pomegranate Orange Salad that Saritha picked from the ‘specials’ of the day. Green was the first impression. Shredded spinach stir fried in olive oil, the leaves were softened yet retained their freshness. This was tossed with white sesame seeds, garlic, peeled oranges, pomegranate and bits of red chillies. But the star of the dish was the roast pork and lots of it.  What a fusion of flavours! This salad thoroughly seduces the taste buds. The sweetness of the pomegranate and orange, mixed with the light taste of spinach, the saltiness of the pork and the olive oil dressing comes together to form an absolutely scrumptious salad.
Needless to say, after eating so much we did not have space for desserts. Café Thulp definitely knows how to strike the right chord with its customers. Though the service was not good, the food almost made up for it. Most dishes can be shared by two and hence watch out and don’t over order. The pricing cannot be termed cheap but considering the quantity and quality it is completely worth it. For six of us, the meal cost close to Rs 2000.
Pay by : Cash or Credit Card
Restroom : Didn’t try
Average meal for two : Rs 600 (including drinks).
Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5
Location: Near Wipro Park, Koramangala 1st block.