Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shivaji Military Hotel

At the place I work, the food courts are filled beyond capacity during the lunch hours. You have to make a couple of rounds staring into plates to see who is about to finish. Then you quietly stand behind them to politely remind them that it is time they vacated the place. And as they are almost done, you begin to make your way into their chair ensuring nobody gets there before you.
Well, that was the scene at Shivaji Military Hotel when we went there for lunch one Sunday. Our fault, we picked the busiest day and the busiest time (1 PM). But no complaints on that because we expected the rush.
The restaurant is in a narrow lane very close to the Banashankari Bus stand. Ask for directions if needed. This humble eatery has won several coveted awards and you have to visit it in case you are in Bangalore. Like Koshy's, this one is a big checklist item in the 'must-dos' while in Bangalore.

The humble entrance
With our 3-month old baby, we stepped foot into this legendary place known for its biryani. We waited a bit and strategically placed ourselves in such a way that we got to sit as soon as a table was emptied.
Amidst the huge crowds there is not much of the ambiance that could be seen. Maintaining hygiene could be a constant challenge here but it did not bother us much.
While there was a menu, at peak hour, you have to go with what is available. So Chicken Biryani and Mutton Dry was the only thing available and we went with that. The food is served on Eco-friendly leaf plates and the service is fast. While the place can seat about 150 people, the same number were standing around waiting for their 'parcels'.

Chicken Biryani

Mutton Dry
The biryani is great, unique in taste and perfectly spiced. The green masala was evident in this one. I personally like biryanis where the rice and meat is cooked together as compared to the 'assembled' ones. With tender pieces of chicken thrown in, this biryani scored high with raitha and a spicy gravy to go with it.
The mutton was a pepper fry. The right amount of pepper and well cooked meat qualifies itself to a  second helping. The quantity was a little below average but the taste of the biryani left no space for complains.
Vinod particularly mentioned that he liked the food. A big win in itself. We'd love to go back there again on a day when its less crowded.
The pricing is average. However please note that the place is open only from 8 AM to 3 PM and closed on Mondays. Parking could be an issue.
Address: 780, 1st C Main, 45th Cross, 8th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore
Ph no : +91 9845149217
Rating : 4 out of 5
Pay : By cash. Could not check for credit card
Meal for 2 : Rs 450                        

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Fort Cochin

If Kerala is God’s own country, then their cuisine should definitely be heavenly. I couldn’t agree more after I visited The Fort Kochi Connection (FKC) a great addition to restaurants in Koramangala. Situated on the Jyoti Nivas College Road, a basement provides ample parking for two and four wheelers.

I had heard great reviews of the food here especially the buffet. While we could not make it for the lunch buffet, we decided try the place for dinner. A group of friends meeting after long and FKC seemed like the perfect place.

With Mals and half-mals in the group….there was no reason to complain of the choice of cuisine. The ambience is mixed. One section had red lighting making it look like a lounge bar. We skipped that owing to a birthday party that was happening there. We chose the normal seating area. Bright yellow walls and photoframes of the typical Kerala landscape made a decent ambience.

The menu was vast with several cuisine options spanning across food from Kochi, Syrian Christian, Malabar, Chinese, British, Portuguese and Dutch. I am yet to decide if that was a good idea but yes, if you had an idea of the history or Kerala and the influence of various cultures, this would probably make sense. I was there for the food so totally counted on the waiter to recommend the different courses of our meal. 

We had a vegetarian among us who chose the must-try kappa (steamed tapioca) with kadala curry (a traditional favourite made of black chickpeas and served with a red chutney. All three were very good. I made sure I had a bite of each before I lost myself to the meat.
Kadala Curry
This place serves great seafood, chicken and beef. I will be telling you what we ordered through the evening. Get ready for a crash course in Malayalam. Our first choice for starter was Achayan Pothularth which were beef cubes sautéed in spices. Reminds one of the typical Kerala beef fry and make sure you don’t miss this if beef is your thing.
Achayan Pothularth
On the recommendation of the waiter, next on our plates was the Chemmeen Ularthu – a delectable dish of fresh prawn in a semi-spicy mix. The non-Keralites and non-beef eaters seemed to like this one. For me it didn’t score that well, as it was close to what we made at home. To keep the egg lovers happy, we picked the Mutta Chikkiyathu – a variation of egg burji with coconut and mild spices. What I likes about this one was that there were onions or tomatoes to adulterate the taste of eggs and the coconut added a special flavoring.
Chemmeen Ularthu
Mutta Chikkiyathu
So many starters and no chicken. That’s not possible. Again on the waiter’s recommendation, we went for the Dak Bungalow Chicken Fry. The name had a history to it. The taste was good with boneless chicken cooked to perfection in homemade spices. This one was a good choice again though the beef still is my favourite.
Dak Bungalow Chicken Fry
When you have many girls at the table, you end up being full mid-way through the starters. Well, counting on the two boys who were with us, I went ahead and ordered an elaborate main course. We ordered many gravies and to go with it the Kerala staples of appam and iddiyappam (string hoppers). 


The Pachakkari Istew (veg stew) for the vegetarian was a good one with rich coconut milk added to it. To ensure we tried more seafood, we opted for the Neimeen Moilee, seer fish cooked in a coconut based gravy. I liked this one. A little extra tanginess and this would have scored a 10 on 10. The gravy was little on the salty side as well but that could be ignored.

Pachakkari Istew

Neimeen Moilee
We even tried the Syrian Christian Prawn Curry. This was a good choice as well. All the gravies went very well with the appam and idiyappams and a safe bet considering the spice levels are suitable for all palettes.
Syrian Christian Prawn Curry

One of the other must-try items here is the Kappa Biryani which was a great mix of mashed tapioca and spiced beef. This was a first time for me and I loved every bit of it. I wonder why I hadn’t tried this earlier.
Kappa Biryani

The place offers some mocktails as well, but I really missed out on taking down names. So here is one of the pictures. 

Overall, I think the Fort Kochi Connection has done a fabulous job with their food. All that we had had authentic flavours and a home made comforting taste. We decided to give one dessert a try at the end of a sumptuous meal and picked the Vattelappam. This pudding of coconut and jagggery was so good, that I will start my course with it the next time around. A dessert to die for.

Pay by : Cash and cards

Average meal for two : Rs 1000 (including mocktails). For 5 of us, it worked up to close to Rs 3000

Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5

Location: Ground Floor, 77/A, Cygnus Chambers, Jyothi Nivas College Road, Koramangala, Bangalore

Ph:  080 67947389 ext:253