Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Urban Solace

I dont know why I hadn’t visited this place for so long. Located opposite the Ulsoor Lake, Urban Solace provides a great view with some good food. We landed there on a day when Vinod and me were so hungry that we could eat a horse.
We found our seats near the terrace area overlooking the lake which was perfect. Vinod could directly look into the next apartment and follow what was happening on their TV but then that’s a different discussion altogether.
Wasting no time, we dived straight into the menu and ordered for a chicken platter. The quantity was pleasing for the price. And for carnivores like us, this is a good meal in itself too. And somehow when you are extremely hungry, it’s surprising that you can’t eat much. How unfair! The platter had wings, crumb fried chicken breasts, chicken steak in brown sauce and sautéed chicken. Fantastic is the word.
Chicken Platter
Tom Yum Soup
The craving was for oriental food that day. Tom Yum soup was next on the menu. I loved this version of the soup. It was not clear like in most places but had that tinge of the Thai green curry and I totally welcomed it. Spicy and piping hot – this made my day.
Call me less adventurous, the Thai flavor won me over and Thai Green Curry rice was my choice for main course. A repeat of awesomeness with the coconut milk and the distinct fragrances that are distinct to Thai food. I wiped this dish clean and drank up the remaining gravy. I have not been to Benjaron or High on Thai but this was very close to what I had in Thailand, so I’d vouch for it.
Thai Green Curry Rice
Vinod had a beef stroganoff. This dish too was great with its creamy sauce, just right on spice and scored high on our list as well.
Beef Stronganoff
For dessert it was Choco Fudge. Gooey, soft, warm, very chocolately…if you are a chocolate lover, you’re going to order a second one of these and if you bake, you’re going to hold the chef at knife point for the recipe.
Choco Fudge
This meal, though after a tiring day made our evening. The open air seating and the great food would definitely call us back. And the best part, this place is very affordable (as compared to a lot of places that serve similar food).
Pay by : Cash and cards
Average meal for two : Rs 800
Mel’s overall rating : 3.5 out of 5
Location: 32, Annaswamy Mudaliar Road, Next to Tamil Sangam, Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore 560042. Ph: 080 25553656, 25553657, 9845013055.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Via Milano

It was our second anniversary and despite all the elaborate plans of how we wanted to spend the day, we ended up working. We knew we’d lose the day if we did not move out before lunch. It was past 2 PM, giving us lesser options of good places to dine. We chose Via Milano, guaranteed of good food and an extra half hour as they close by 4pm.
Being a weekend, finding a place of our choice to sit was not difficult. The ambience is sober yet very classy with a lot of greys, blacks and whites. Large pillars across the place give you enough privacy if you’re on a date or just struggling with the variety of oils kept at the table, not knowing which ones to use.
The menu offers a variety of Italian must-haves and can also give you a  crash course in Italian if you have the time. With little time on our hands we did not take time to decide on what we wanted to have. And while we waited for our food, we played around with the DIY bruschetta kit that was on our table. We tried various combinations and realized we ate too much of it even before our actual food arrived. Fun, nonetheless!
First on order were Grilled Shrimp and Zucchini with mustard dressing. Crispy, mild spiced and grilled whole, the shrimps were a good break from the regular chicken starters we can’t resist. The quantity, given the place was not bad either. The mustard dressing though was not dominant on the shrimps or the zucchini but on the salad that rested alongside.
Grilled Shrimp and Zucchini
Do-it-yourself bruschetta
The salads on the menu looked inviting and we picked the Chicken and Crispy Pork Bacon salad that was topped with poached egg and garlic croutons. The chicken was smoked but the bacon was too little to enjoy. Though high on taste, more bacon would have made me a happier person.
Chicken and Crispy Pork Bacon salad
The celebration called for some cocktails. We shared a Rude Cosmopolitan  (Tequila Gold, Cointreau, cranberry and lemon juice) and an Apple Raisin Mojito (white rum, triple sec, fresh apple, raisin, fresh mint and soda). Absolutely loved the mojito! One of the best cocktails I have tasted.
Rude Cosmopolitan
Rude Cosmopolitan
Apple Raisin Mojito
For main course, my choice was a Filler of red snapper in potato crust in a lime and ginger sauce with vegetables. This dish looked awesome and tasted even better. I usually avoid ordering fish but this time I was so glad I did. The quantity was good and the sauce did all the magic. The dish was crispy, soft, tangy..all at the same time.
Filler of red snapper
Roast Chicken with musroom and thyme sauce
Vinod did not want to miss chicken over main course and ordered a Roast Chicken with musroom and thyme sauce which came with veggies and mashed potatoes. This dish was good though quite ordinary like the ones served in other restaurants. And when I asked Vinod, if there was any particular reason he picked this, the child in him said, it was not the chicken but the mash. So, Fair enough!
It was dessert time, and a Chocolate Lasagne it was. Chocolate Mousse resting on Vanilla Mousse/ icecream, this one tasted as good as it looked.
Chocolate Lasagne
This was one lovely anniversary meal – something I would remember for a long time. I would definitely recommend this place whenever you are out to have a quiet dinner with your special someone. Keep your fingers crossed about people throwing their project parties. We were lucky that one big group stepped out while we entered the place. The place though on a slightly higher side, is worth it.
Pay by : Cash and cards
Restroom : Very clean
Average meal for two : Rs 2300 (with cocktails)
Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5
Location: # 612, 3rd Floor, 80 Feet Peripheral Road, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore- 560 034. Ph No. 080 41309997/4

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Istanbul Doner & Turkish Grill

We read about it on the net and the very next day we made it to the place. This definitely does not happen to us often. But lucky this time, I guess. Istanbul Doner Turkish Grill is the latest addition to the restaurants dishing out Turkish delicacies (or so they claim).

The restaurant is tucked away in a bylane near the Indiranagar BDA complex. Calling the restaurant can get you there faster if you are not familiar with the place. The place is small and can accommodate about 20 people to the max and its bright red interiors are pleasing but far from Turkish.

A woman welcomed us and politely ushered us to a table. We later realized she was the owner of the place. Through the meal we caught up with her and this was her story. Jolly is a Keralite, settled in Kuwait. She has two sons who were in the UK and loved Turkish food. So they got a Turkish chef to train them with doners. A tour around the world, and this restaurant found its place in Bangalore. Leave your judgement aside!

The menu is not too vast but has a decent selection of doners and other sides. For starters we ordered the Istanbul Special Salad and Chicken Shish Tawook. A good start to a meal. Chunks of meat on satay sticks. The spices and the ginger and garlic paste were evident but yet did not mar the taste. The salad had the usual green veggies but the mayo and sour cream really took it to a different level. I was almost going to ask for a second helping but decided to try something else instead.
Chicken Shish Tawook

Istanbul Special salad
We then tried the Lamb Kebabs. What came was lamb sheikh, very good nonetheless. The spices were very Indian and went well on the palate. This one surely had its share of mint and coriander in it.
Lamb Kebabs

The menu had a few beverages as well and we picked the Sparkling Cranberry Berry and the Ayran ( a thick buttermilk claimed as a Turkish original).

For main course, Vinod opted for a mixed doner and I ordered a Chicken Doner with French Fries & Hummus. A doner is basically a taco or a thick roti  filled with meat. It’s similar to a shawarma. The meat is marinated and cooked on a  large sweker. The mixed doner had lamb and chicken with a few veggies tucked in. The taste of smoked meat is hard to resist. I was expecting my doner to arrive with French fries and hummus but interestingly these were fillings. With every bite, I got crunchy fries and chilled hummus. This one was good too. The portions look small but we felt full quite soon.
Chicken Doner with French Fries and Hummus

Mixed Doner
Istanbul Doner was a good experience and is a great option for a quick snack or lunch on a  working day. A little more Turkish influence on the food and interiors would definitely make this place a great hit. The food overall is good and not heavy on spice as well. Vinod rarely rates a restaurant and he liked this one. So that’s make a reason enough for us to go back there.        
Pay by : Cash and cards (though the machine did not work while we were there)
Restroom : Basic
Average meal for two : Rs 600
Mel’s overall rating : 2.5 out of 5
Location: #27, 7th Cross (Behind the Airtel Office), HAL 1st Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore - 560038. Ph No. 080 080 40932542

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bistro Claytopia

There’s no dearth of good places to eat in Bangalore. Bistro Claytopia is my new favourite. With their successful hangout at Indiranagar, they have now started a place closer home in Koramangala. And for long we were looking for a place where we could sit for hours and not be disturbed and Claytopia seemed like the answer.

We headed there for a weekend dinner. The place was not crowded considering it had opened about 10 days ago. As I entered the place, everything reminded me of Goa. They have a part indoor and part outdoor seating. Set in the front yard of a house, this place looks like any Goan restaurant with trees lit up and bences to sit on. What’s more they even played Goan Konkani music for a while.

The name Claytopia comes from the fact that guests here can paint items made of clay. You can pick (read buy) the item of your choice and paint it, the team will then process this and call you when its ready to be picked up, which generally is about 7 days.

We were meeting our friends Neha and Abhi after long and chose not to ‘clay’ around. We went straight for the food. The menu is that of a coffee shop with no specific dinner options. But if you’re not fussy about what to eat for lunch or dinner, this is just the place. Mark, one of the persons incharge here was sweet and very considerate about our needs.

The milkshakes looked extremely tempting and we had to order them that very minute. So the Creamy Oreo shake and Brownie shake it was! Both of them were extremely thick and were generous on the oreo and brownie. Guys, good job done…but I hope you retain the same quality each time unlike other places that are inconsistent. We even ordered  another Crazy Nutty Hazelnut which was espresso with cream, double scoop ice cream, torani hazel nut topped with whipped cream and nuts. Sounds exciting na? Well they forgot to serve us this and we too forgot about it until I returned home and checked the bill where we were charged for a coffee we never had. Well, we should have been more careful.
The Creamy Oreo Milkshake
Brownie shake
Irish Coffee
 First on order were the Barbecues Chicken wings followed by Spicy Chicken Strips and Cheesy Jalapeno Poppers. The wings were soft with the bbq sauce while the strips were tangy and flavourful. The cheesy poppers are anyway an all-time favourite and had to be good. For more reasons that one this place reminded me Jamie’s Place in Goa which is still my ‘favouritest’ restaurant in the ‘world’. Phew! That reminds me of school!
Chicken Wings
Spicy Chicken Strips

For the main course, all of us picked burgers with no prior planning. Neha enjoyed her Double Delight Chicken Burger combo which was a delicious combo of crispy chicken, minced chicken and chicken salami with egg, mushhrooms and cheese. Vinod went in for The Ultimate Sausage which was a chicken mortadella (cold cut sausage)  and a chicken patty with cheese, mushrooms, egg and gherkins. Both these were combos and were to come with fries and coke. Well, they forgot the coke. I remembered it while I was writing this review. We were too busy chit chatting that day. Well, a sure shot lesson learnt now.
Cheesy Jalapeno Poppers
Double Delight Chicken Burger
Bbq Chicken Burger
The Ultimate Sausage
Abhi chose a simple Barbecued chicken burger while I took a Street Side Cheesy Double Dog. The menu read that this dish had sausage with minced chicken, jalapeno, olive and cheese. But mine had barbecues chicken cocktail sausage with grilled onions, olive and cheese, which means they swapped my order with another.  Claytopia has another dish called The Lick-a-licious Dog which has the same ingredients. And how did I know this? I brought home a take-away menu and read through the descriptions.
Supposedly The Street Side Cheesy Double Dog
Double Chocolate Mousse
All the burgers were good, though I would not say they were extraordinary. For dessert we coaxed ourselves to a Double chocolate mousse (I hope I got the name right) which was very good and didn’t seem less though shared by four.

Despite all the goof-ups I think the ambience and company did it for me. I still would go back there, only to be careful the next time around.

Pay by : Cash and cards (the line will be up shortly)
Restroom : Very neat with potted plants
Average meal for two : Rs 800
Mel's overal rating : 3 out of 5 (I could have rated this place better had i not realized the numerous goof-ups)
Location : Next to SBI, Diagonally opposite to Koramangala Wipro Park, Koramangala I Block, Bangalore 560095. Phone No. 080 64350526

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cupcake Noggins

Cakes have always been my favourite but now that I am trying my hand at baking, it makes it all the more important for me to taste different kinds of cake. This time it was cupcakes. Everything is good about them. Those little servings of heaven topped with icing make such a treat.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to taste the wonderful cuppies made by Cupcake Noggins at an event I was part of. Wow is the word. Not only did they look out of this world, each cupcake lived up to my expectation and some exceeded. The sheer variety got me drooling. I didn’t eat much, just about 15 of them. 

I could not keep myself away from the stalls and made my friends get some for me. All the ‘I am watching what I eat’ funda went flying out of the window at the sight of the little cupcakes.

Cupcake Noggins has three branches in Bangalore, the main ones being at Sarjapur Road and Koramangala and have a lot of other delicacies. 

At the stall, I indulged in quite a few flavours.
Oreo – A cupcake that didn’t give away the oreo straight away but yet subtle teased the taste buds. Dark brown inside and a pale green frosting on the outside.

Carrot – What lied underneath the orange cream cheese or butter cream  frosting was a soft yet firm carrot cupcake. Though carrot cakes are not my favourite this one was an exception.
Chocolate & Chocolate – for those who love everything chocolaty, this was a good one too.
The bestest however was the Red Velvet Cupcake –ever since I tasted Red Velvet cake  a year ago at a party, I order for it anywhere I find it. And at Cupcake noggins out of the 15 that I ate, 4 or 5 must have been red velvets. Need I say more! Better than most places in Bangalore I know of. Loved it, loved it, loved it!.
Marble Madness – though I did try marble cake at home, this was way out of the world. It’s been over two weeks now since I sinfully indulged in cupcakes so I don’t really remember the names, but each one was better than the other. Reasonably priced, it does not hurt to try a few at one go. A must try for anyone on this side of town. No, the cupcake guys have not paid me to write this but I thought they truly deserved this.

Average pricing: Rs 35-40 each
Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5
Location  : 27a, 2nd Gate, opposite Fishermens wharf, Shubh Enclave, Harlur Rd, Off Sarjapur Rd,
Bangalore – 560102. Ph: 9986761619

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jamie's Place

A fine dining experience for a birthday dinner in Goa. That’s what we were hunting for when we stumbled upon Jamie’s Place. Rated as No 1 on Trip Advisor, I was sure this place would not disappoint. I would not think twice to say that this restaurant now tops my list of favourite places to eat.
Located on the bustling Baga-Calangute road, it is easy to give it a miss especially when all the restaurants on the road flash their neon lights. Not wanting to take a chance, we reserved a table. A cozy looking, softly lit garden restaurant beckons us as we entered the gate. Romantic was the word that came to mind. We were politely ushered to our table by the courteous hotel staff to indulge in birthday dinner I would remember for long.
Jamie’s place is known for its out-of-the-ordinary continental menu with a slight mention of Indian food as well.
Until we decided what we wanted to have for starters, I ordered for Parma Ham and Melon. This classic combo never fails but at the same time ham is an acquired taste, especially if you are used to eating the Indian ham.
Parma  Ham and Melon

Complimentary Indian Bread with Yogurt/Sour Cream
So for the actual ‘starter starter’ we picked Chargrilled Beef Slices which were thin slices of soft beef accompanied with an oriental finish of dark soy and wasabi. The meat though it looked tough on the plate was extremely soft as we dug our forks into it. The light spice and the tangy touches absolutely tickles the senses. The food being fashionable is less in quantity and might not be fair on the Indian tummy. But since Jamie’s place is not too expensive, a second helping does not burn the pocket.
Chargrilled Beef Slices
Our waiter recommended we try the Chicken 65 for our next dish. Good choice I must say. Looked more like an Andhra Dish from Nandini but was fantastic nonetheless. It’s one of Jamie’s popular chicken fires topped generously with curry leaves and crispy onions. A tangy dip again brought out zesty flavours that tickled the senses.
Chicken 65
I almost forgot to mention the free Indian bread with sour cream that was served to us as soon as we arrived. We love anything free, don’t we?
For the first round of drink, I picked a Passion fruit Daiquiri while Vinod opted for a Tropical Sunshine, a tropical drink with sweet mango juice, coconut rum and lime. Both were very good and we had to struggle to keep the drink going for some time.
Passionfruit Daiquiri

Tropical Sunshine
The main course was the best. We went by the waiter’s choice (I guess his name was Sunil) who selected Jamie’s Special Individual Meat Loaf for Vinod and a Marinated leg of lamb for me.
Aah! The lamb was slowed roasted to extreme tenderness, thinly sliced and spiced with crushed rosemary, wild garlic and lemon. The dish was topped with the juices of the meat and some baked potato. With every bite, the food just melts in the mouth.
Marinated leg of lamb
Individual Meat Loaf
If that was good, the Individual Meat Loaf was out of this world. A thick swollen meatloaf stuffed with smoked sausage and cheese resting itself on a bed of creamy mushroom sauce. This delicacy tasted far better than I can explain it. Each layer of the meat loaf had different flavours wrapped in it making it one of the best dishes I had tasted. With a good dash of pepper in the meat loaf, it almost reminded me of the pork sausages you get in Bangalore.
For a second dose of liquid bliss, we picked a Berry Blast and a Classic Cuban Mojito. The Berry Blast consisted of a lot of berries –blue, black, red muddled with lemon and rum topped with crushed ice and soda. The Cuban Mojito along with the basics had lemongrass too. Both the drinks were great on taste.
Cuban Mojito

Berry Blast
We finished our dinner with this blissful Espresso Crème Brulee. With glazed sugar on top, the crème was delectable and had a tinge of coffee which came though beautifully through this dessert. Loved this one thoroughly.
Espresso Creme Brulee
Jamie’s Place now stands as my best place to dine and not just in Goa. I am definitely going back them. And all along I’ve propagated enough to deserve a free meal there.
Pay by : Cash or Credit Card
Restroom : Unisex and clean
Average meal for two : 2000
Mel’s overall rating : 4.5 out of 5
Location: No 7/188, Saunta Vaddo, Baga Main Road, Near Brittos, Goa 403516. Ph: 9764362379, 9764364377

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Smoked Out Barbecue

So it was 6pm on a weekday, Vinod and me were still in office barely done with our day’s work. With a lot of work done that day, we thought we deserved a good meal rather than cook it ourselves. With this thought we were deciding on which place to try out. That’s when we came across ‘Smoked Out Barbecue’. I had read about this place a while ago and the location and the type of food seemed perfect for us.

We called the restaurant for directions. It was not difficult to find at all. What welcomed us was this little place adjacent to a service apartment. With a basic seating that can accommodate a maximum of 30 people, this place is neatly done up. No plush interiors here, it’s a semi outdoor seating.

The menu is not vast but boasts of their signature dishes. With a home style grill, this place promises a good American home BBQ experience. Once the meat is on the grill, the place is actually smoked out. For starters, everything on the menu looked inviting and so we asked for a Barbeque Platter. A dish that took about 30 mins or more to arrive but was totally worth the wait. Four very large wings, two drumsticks and a really large chicken thigh. I am so glad we were just the two of us. While the quantity was great, the taste was too good to share. The marinade was a predominantly ready to use bbq sauce with added spices. With a sweetish tinge, that how I like my sauce. This one was perfect.

BBQ Platter
The accompaniments

Tendeloin Steak
At the end of the platter we had little space left for main course and so opted to share a Tendeloin steak. We asked for it to be very well done. This one was extremely juicy and a little tangy too making it a great meal. The meal was not tough and hence we didn’t have to fight with the cutlery.

With, no space for desserts, we decided to call it a day. And we’re definitely going back there again!

Pay by : Cash or Credit Card
Restroom : Decent and manageable
Average meal for two : Rs 750
Mel’s overall rating : 3.5 out of 5
Location  : No. 426, 8th Main Road, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560095. Ph : 080 40921023

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bhojohori Manna

What I enjoy most about these food blogs is that they encourage me to try new places and cuisines. Going with that approach, we ventured out to try the much talked about Bengali Joint – Bhojohori Manna.

When we walked in for lunch on a Saturday, the place had a lot of vacant seats and we chose to sit on the first floor. The interiors are simple and nothing Bengali about them. The AC was not working due to a power cut and we seated ourselves next to an open window. I needed to make myself familiar with the Bengali menu. Though in English, it was hard to comprehend. I was smart I had taken a Bengali translator friend along to help me.

So until she explained the menu and the specialties of ‘Bong’ cuisine, I ordered the only thing I knew – Misti Doi. Mildly chilled sweetened yogurt filled all my senses as I too a spoonful. This was absolutely fantastic. This was followed by a second, third and fourth helping.

Today we were all set to eat what Neha (my friend) chose to order for us. First on it was Luchi-Alur Dom – a home favourite in the Bengal region. This can apparently be eaten at any time of the day and why not. Luchi is similar to poori and the other is ofcourse Aloo dum. Potatoes looked in delicate spices with peas had a sweetish tinge to it while the luchi was soft and fresh.

Luchi Alur Dum

Mishti Doi
The Bengalis love their fish and this forms an integral part of the Bengali meal. At Bhojohori, we ordered for the famous fried Hilsa (also known as Ilish). What I realized is that each dish serves only one. So be it a fry or gravy, the menu indicates one piece, so if you are two of you, you would have to ask for a second piece. The price doubles ofcourse. On the recommendation of my friend and the waiter, I ordered for a Mini Jumbo Ilish fried fish. There was no masala but plain salted fish. The size of the piece was extremely disappointing for the price and to my bad luck, my piece was not well fried.
Fried Hilsa

We met more challenges along the meal. We had to restrict our orders as the hotel ran out of LPG. Never heard of that before! I understand power cuts, but LPG??? And that too at opening time on Saturday afternoon!

So for mains we chose steamed rice and parathas along with Parshe Shorshe, a thin gravy with generous turmeric and mustard. The fish was better than the Ilish and as again a native fish of the Bengalis. The gravy again was juSst enough to finish the rice.
Parshe Shorshe
Mutton Dakbangla

Just to put aside the taste of fish, we ordered for a Mutton Dakbangla which was a thick gravy, well spiced and cooked to perfection. This dish and the Mishti Doi saved the afternoon for us. We could not order any desserts as they apparently had no stock of any, though the menu had an entire write up on Bengali sweets. We ordered the last of the Mishti Doi that was there.

Truly expected better out of this place, but I have my hopes still high on Bengali Cuisine. I hope to have better luck next time.

Pay by                                  : Cash or Credit Card
Restroom                             : Decent and manageable
Average meal for two          : Rs 850
Mel’s overall rating             : 1.5 out of 5
Location                               : No 668/b, 6th block, Koramangala Club Road, Bangalore 560095. Ph : 080 25503666