Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rest : Blue Frog
Meal : Sunday Brunch
Loc : Todi/Mathuradas Mill Compound

Catching up with some mates this weekend over a Sunday brunch, this time we picked Blue Frog which is perhaps known more for its live acts than for the cuisine. If memory serves me right, Rahul Akerkar of Indigo was the force behind the kitchen but pulled out eventually.

Blue Frog is located in Todi Mills, which is a few minutes past Phoenix Mills but before Kamala Mills, one can also take the uglier, convoluted route we took to get there by driving up via the Mathuradas Mills (not recommended)

The space is large and well laid out, geared towards performances, it has a seriously long bar and booths laid out like futuristic pods, however the place is much less impressive in day light.

The bar is epic and goes on forever, the space comes in handy when hosting Sunday brunches i reckon. Reminds me of the bar from Three Flights Up from back in the day.

A carrot soup, interesting, looked like pumpkin, in fact i didn't read what it was initially and could put my finger on it until i saw the tag. Interesting but didn't go back for another shot. The Mojito behind the soup was pretty good, no watered down drinks here.

The bloody mary, perfect cocktail for a Sunday brunch, spot on again. Pretty much all the cocktails i had ( Mojito, Bloody Mary, Caiprioshka, Frozen Margarita) were brilliant.

Started off with a bit of a salad platter,  while they call em tapas but they are all pretty much salads mostly.

em potatoes with cheese were pretty solid, cant go wrong with something like this. 

cant recall what this was but it wasn't too bad.

the peppers and egg plant were pretty good. The paneer was okay, i am not sure its a good idea to serve it cold, the pasta was slightly uncooked.

the pancakes were solid goodness, no complaints what so ever.

the Eggs Benedict were cold and not so great, ketchup helped go through one but that was the end of that.

Fettucine with veggies, was pretty weak, didnt taste like anything really. Also served cold.

the beet risotto looked radioactive but not different from what a beet risotto should look. Did not enjoy this either.

Overall, the space is great but the food is middling. Most of the salads were good but none of the main worked on any level. Some dishes were cold and it is distressing that they would turn out weak dishes to possibly get ahead in prep. It was a fun afternoon, catching up with old mates and the weakness of the dishes didn't affect the afternoon as much as it would have on another day.

The drinks though were spectacular, which i guess works from a bar perspective and the service was pretty superlative as well, quick, friendly and folks took initiative which is good to see. The Indigo Deli's could learn a thing or two from these chaps.

Food : 6/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 2250 w alcohol, 1850 without inclusive of taxes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Breaking Bread in Bangalore Part 2

Monday was the last day i had in Bangalore and in hindsight, i took on a itinerary of a much younger and fitter me. The morning began with Dwarka, an old Bangalore restaurant which moved location sometime ago.

My lovely sister in law blublu happens to live in Bangalore and one of her good friends Madven was the owners grand son. So we were lucky to have a Virgil to our Dante as he accompanied us for most of the morning.

Dwarka is a smallish place with a seating and standing area, which i think is a smart move, SIndian restaurants have quick turn around times and standing and eating is not a bad idea.

  The Dahi Vada was not bad, decent the khara bhat was pretty good, enjoyable.

The Aloo Palya was good but the Vegetable Saagu was fantastic, highly recommend this be checked out as it was perfect.

The masala dosa was not bad, crispy but very different tasting to the other ones, perhaps it was the butter, two dollops inside and since we were there with the owner two dollops on top. The coffee was top notch, not too and had been given ample time to roast flavors.

All in all, they have been around for ages and it shows why, like other old timers they have their specialties and inspire fierce loyalties.

Dwarka:15, Katte Balaga Raod, NR Colony, Basavanagudi, Bangalore

Pacing ourselves, knowing full well what was on the cards, we proceeded to find our way towards the one place that was meant to be the highlight Vidyarthi Bhavan. It had been highly recommended by my friends and frequent dining companions Slash & Samant Saheb, including frequent requests to fly in some dosas on our return leg.

 Vidyarthi Bhavan is older than India and is near legendary for its Masala Dosa, these are usually piled above each other by waiters as they are served. The space is quite large, larger than i expected but fairly basic.

We ordered a khara bath which was average, nothing to write home about. 

The Dosa was just under whelming, despite the build up it was nowhere near good enough to be considered in the same league as CTR, in fact it was not one i would consider better than Dwarka either. A massive disappointment considering i had been looking forward to this all trip.

The coffee certainly was not bad, fairly decent.

Vidyarthi Bhavan: 32, Gandhi Bazar Main Rd, Basavangudi, Bangalore.

From here we headed on to South Thindies, a place Madven insisted we checkout, if for nothing than for its buttermilk. South Thindies is according to Madven the new breed of traditional restaurants opening up across Bangalore.

Sexed up ambiance, multiple locations but traditional dishes, places akin to South Thindies have mushroomed up in Bangalore and are giving stiff competition to the old timers.

Limited menus, competitive pricing and self service with quick turn around is what sets ST apart. 

The butter milk was  brilliant, what all butter milk should be, a little spiced, freshly made, oh if they only had some ice, it would have been heaven sent. After the morning i had, i still went through two glasses.

 I ordered a Rava Idli for the hell of it, just to see what the place was like, unfortunately it was a little disappointing. The idli itself was nothing special, neither were the chutneys or the sag, the red garlic chutney was not bad and the sambar was alright too.

All in all, not bad but not great.

South Thindies
:Kanakapura Road, Near Balaji Medicals, Basavanagudi, Bangalore

Overall, Bangalore was all i expected it to be, a good, varied array of restaurants offering something for everyone in the South. I did pay the price for my excesses with an upset stomach, all that freshly churned butter completely destroyed my system and i did not eat anything until the next morning at breakfast.

While you get plenty of accompaniments and the ambiance and space is modern and comfy, the food itself has a long way to go, which is why i think the old timers have little to fear from the young turks.. for now. The biggest drawback i think with old timers is their unwillingness to change to a better service model, their lack of expansion and their resistance to change.

Yet, this is what sets them apart and is part of their charm. More power to them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Breaking Bread in Bangalore Part 1

En route to Bangalore, on a surprisingly painless and punctual Kingfisher Airlines flight i tried to map out my expectations. Having heard horror stories about its traffic, paeans about its Dosas i wasn't sure if it was going to be a small town a metropolis.

Finally Bangalore turned out to be a little bit of everything, party city, part hamlet, a little Malgudi and a little Bombay. Thankfully my in laws stay in Bangalore, my sister in law Blublu had already marked out our dining options and we tried really hard to make her pleasing although in hindsight all too optimistic plan.

Our first stop was Central Tiffin Room or C.T.R as it is popularly known, initially it was also known as Shri Sagar and the board carries both names. The restaurant has been around since the 1950's and is a well known landmark in the Malleshwaram area.

The house specialty is the benne dosa, a compact masala dosa with white butter, a staggeringly good little dosa this. Buttery soft in the middle, crisp on the sides, just fantastic. It was so good i had to have another one immediately after.

Washed it down with a cup of some pretty good filter coffee. toasted, roasted, choclate like taste.

the set dosa was okay, served with white butter and tomato veggie gravy, this was not bad, but certainly not a stand out.

Overall, the place was clean and packed to the gills. The service quick and surprisingly friendly.

7th cross, 3rd main, Margosa Road, Malleswaram (opp. Malleswaram playground)

Bheemas is an Andhra thali joint, we chose it over Nagarjuna due to its proximity to a couple of other places. Located on the extremely busy Church St, Bheemas is a largish space with ample seating and a/c and non a/c sections.

They serve loads of dishes, meat, sea food as well as weirdly North Indian.

 there was no way i was NOT going to choose the thali, so between the four of us we chose three thalis.

unfortnately it was a steel plate with a half banana leaf in it,  it is surprisingly difficult to eat southie food with your hand son a round plate such as this one.

                  anyway, there was two dry veggies, one gravy which was dal like and delicious.

the sambar and the rasam was decent. 


surprisingly they did not serve any chapatis with the thali so i had to order one separately. No chaas served either (well they did but in a small cup) so i ordered some more, delicious chaas this.

Overall though, the thali left me wanting, it was not bad but it was not well constructed or varied.

I am definetely not comparing this to the excess of a Gujju thali but from Southie thali standards even in Bombay, it felt inadequate. Also, service was disinterested as well as lackadaisical. While the meal was not bad but there are bound to be better options. Nagarjuna is said to be a more traditional and bountiful approach.

Bheemas : 31, Asha Building, Church Street, Bangalore 560001.

More later

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Happy Holi & Off toBangalore

Hi All,

I am off to Bangalore tomorrow (depending on Mr.Mallya) for some work and some R&R. Any gastronomic pointers will be appreciated.

Drop me a comment or an email with recommendations.

Have a happy & Safe Holi


Friday, March 02, 2012

Sunday Brunch - Hornbys Pavilion ITC Grand

Rest - Hornbys Pavilion
Meal - Lunch
Loc - ITC Grand Central, Lower Parel

The ITC Grand used to be quite a haunt for me back in the day when it was even remotely affordable, with the prices at the Grand and the almost unmanageable traffic en route, my visits to ITC have become very sporadic.

However, this weekend i was meeting my friends, OK and his family for lunch, since they live close by it was an appropriate choice. We met at their coffee shop for their expansive buffet, i have done breakfast buffets here (best ever, least they used to be) and dinner buffets (strictly okay)

We got there around 1.30 and had to wait till 2pm for a table as they were terrifically busy, once seated we went in straight into the food.

 I think my first dishes were salads, asparagus which was pretty bad, tasted like nothing, the sushi was tasteless and possibly stale, the curd rice was okay, the one with sun dried tomatoes was half decent overall, the salads were all disappointing. In fact the olives and pickled onions were the best thing on there.

They had kathi rolls which were brought out to the table without us ordering, which was nice of them but the roll itself was fairly disappointing.

The chap manning the Dosa section told me i could have a plain or methi dosa, however the wife got one made to her specs (like all beautiful women she tends to get pretty much what she wants) the dosas were good, the chutneys were excellent and then the gunpowder with ghee also kicked ass !

not so fresh orange juice.

I never, ever, waste food, was just brought up that way but unfortunately the Chinese was just atrocious, had to leave all of it behind. No one on our table had a good thing to say about the Chinese food.

The North Indian section was by far the largest one in the buffet, four entress from what i can recall, two dals and a few appetizers besides the biryani and rice. I tried the choley and paneer kadai which were okay and the single white paneer was an appetizer which was bland.

the dal, was decent, i have had way better in the same restaurant and their other properties so middling at best.

this was the wife's dessert selection, she said only the brownie was half decent, rest below average.

the choc mousse was not bad.

Overall, a massive let down, the standards have certainly fallen drastically, the spread is expansive but somehow really not upto the mark, none of the dishes really stand out. Its like buffet by numbers, to try and appeal to everyone (which is fine) but if nothing tastes right, its pointless.

The fact that certain things are made to sit (sushi especially) is not something i would expect from a 5 star chain. The entire performance is made doubly worse as ITC has done a great deal to push Indian cuisine in the upper echelon of dining (Dakshin, Peshawri/Bukhara, Kebabs n Kurries, Dum Pukth) 

The service was well choreographed, quick, efficient and eager to please, no real complaints here. 

Food : 4/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 1800 (pp)
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