Hi and Bye

•April 8, 2009 • 3 Comments

I have been away from this blog for a long time. Initially I was kept away because I was busy and I didn’t get the time to post as frequently as I needed to. But eventually I realised that my heart wasn’t in it. Over the months … years… I have come back and looked at the comments from readers who were obviously driven to this site from google or some other non-obvious location (I certainly haven’t been twittering its existence). In the most part they were appreciative. Each time I read their remarks, I felt I should come back but something always held me back.

To me, the format of the blog just wasn’t right. I originally intended to create a site where people could get honest reviews about places to eat in Bangalore. It soon became apparent that I could never honestly provide people I don’t know with a reliable way in which to judge a restaurant. To those who look for value for money, a meal that costs upwards of Rs. 2000 a head was unpalatable simply because it cost so much. To others who place a premium on fine dining, the ambience of a roadside dhaba was unacceptable regardless of how good the food tasted. Any form of rating was useless.

I also realised that in writing in the style of a food guide, I was constantly trying to impart information – how much it cost, what dishes were good, was the service adequate – and that certainly was not fun. I realised through this process that much as I enjoy writing about food, I am not cut out to do so in the structured confines of a guide format.

So I just dropped in to say goodbye. I will not post again to this website. I thank you all who have posted comments for your patronage and your support and wish you enjoyable meals wherever you may choose to eat them. I am planning a completely different kind of food site – one in which I have the freedom to write about all the food experiences that I enjoy from time to time without necessarily intending to provide you with direction as to whether or not you should go there at all. An Anthony Bourdain kind of foodblog.

I hope you will find your way there.

Fanoos

•December 15, 2006 • 5 Comments

Ratings

Food 6/10
Ambience 1/10
Service 2/10
Price: Rs. 100

Description

Fanoos is an iconic representative of college life in Bangalore. There are hundreds of well-heeled men and women around the world who long to visit the filthy (strangely stray-dog-free) lanes of Johnson Market whenever they are in town to sample some of the coal fired sheek kababs that Fanoos is famous for.

Chances are, most of those who actually do find some time in the evening to head across for a Jumbo Roll leave feeling vaguely disappointed. This is not a place for young upwardly mobile professionals who have gotten used to the pleasures of fine dining. And no matter how fond the memories of late night snacks might be, the reality of the filthy aprons, the onion salad fillings and the lime juice squirted out of a used ketchup bottle onto your roll takes some of the shine off the meal.

Unglamorous ambience notwithstanding, the rolls themselves are tasty in a way that is unique to the back streets of Bangalore. Nowhere else have I had rolls that taste quite like this. They come in several sizes – regular, Jumbo, Mambo and Rambo – the only variation being the extent to which the Romali Roti to meat ratio diminishes and you can add more onions or lime as you choose. They will also give you sheek rolls on a paper plate should you feel like dispensing with the roti entirely.

There is no place to sit. The shop opens for business at about 7:30 in the evening and by 8 the crowds gather and stay till about 10:30 at night. They do brisk business and you rarely have to wait longer than 5 minutes to get your order.

They do have a restaurant above street level where – in my dim and distant college past I recall partaking of a beef birayani that tasted wonderful but which I am sure I exagerate in my own mind. But that is not what they are famous for. If you have never been, it is worth a visit. The rolls will not disappoint you. And you can check one more Bangalore must-do off your list.

Getting There:

Fanoos is located on Hosur Road at one of the two entrances to Johnson Market. Head down Hosur Road from Richmond Road and its at the corner of the very first turning to the right.

Recommendations

There is only one thing you should have if you go to Fanoos – the sheek roll in any size that you fancy.

Ideal For:

Satisfying those wistful college cravings that you get every once in a while when the rat race really gets to you. Do not plan a family evening around this.

3 Stories

•December 13, 2006 • 7 Comments

Ratings

Food 6/10
Ambience 4/10
Service 5/10
Price: Rs. 300

Description:

On a little lane off Lavelle Road in the same building that housed the original Sunny’s, is an unassuming little coastal cuisine restaurant called 3 Stories. Everything about the place is quaint – from the name (disingenuously derived from the fact that the restaurant offers seating at three levels) to the simple decor and “reminds-me-of-home” serving dishes. The owner, Sanjay, is a friendly chap who usually swings by to chat with the patrons and who didn’t take too long to mention to me that he chose the old “Sunny’s” as the venue for his restaurant becuase this was where he proposed to his wife.

The food is good coastal cuisine from the Malabar coast. But where restaurants like Karavalli and Dakshin aim to serve you the kind of fare you would expect at weddings in that region, 3 Stories gives you an everyday coastal meal. Do not expect 5 star food quality or presentation. You gravy will be watery and served in a simple serving dish. The meats are oily but not richly so. The quantities are wholesome but not extravagantly so.

The menu is quite standard for that type of cuisine though hidden in there are a few gems that are well worth mentioning. For instance, this is probably the only restaurant outside of Kerala that I have seen serves puttu, the traditional Kerala breakfast dish. The Mutton Sukka and the Coorg Pandi Curry are also excellent should your taste run in that direction. But far and away the best item on the menu is the Kerala Parotta which is soft, fluffy and surprisingy light on the oil.

The decor is nothing to write home about and where the old Sunny’s had a quaint bistro feel to it, 3 Stories doesn’t seem to have made any effort to project a theme. In fact it seems like they were so happy to have got the restaurant that they were content to leave the decor as it was when they bought it with minimal cosmetic improvements. The end result is a confused slightly bewildering ambience.

This is a value for money restaurant. Try as you might you are unlikely to spend more than Rs. 300 per person. The food is wholesome – though not spectacular – and, in some strange way does end up reminding you of home. The service is by and large adequate. You do not expect fancy serves in a place like this and to give them credit, the staff does try awful hard. Though I think someone should have a word with them to get them to practice putting a curry down on the table without spilling.

Getting There:

Come down Lavelle Road from St. Marks Cathedral and just before the first main turning to the right along the wall of Bowring Institute, you need to make a left. 3 Storeys is the second building from Lavelle Road.

Recommendations:

The Mutton Sukka and the Pandi Curry are tasty. Kerala Parotta‘s are excellent and the Appams are adequate.

Ideal For:

A quiet meal with the wife or girfriend, though if you are planning on proposing to the latter with a view to making her the former, you should perhaps choose a more romantic venue. Do not bring someone here to impress them. This is not an impressive restaurant and the food is not outstanding. However, it has a homely charm to it that appeals to lonely homesick patrons. And to me apparenty…

ITalia

•December 7, 2006 • 11 Comments

Ratings

Food 8/10
Ambience 6/10
Service 7/10
Price: Rs. 900

Description

The Anonymous Foodie is often asked what his favourite restaurant is and it is always difficult to come up with a cross-cuisine ranking. However, among all the Italian food available in the city – and it would be fair to say that Italian is probably the most popular non-Indian dining option available here – I would say ITalia is probably the best there is.

Italian food is probably the easiest food in the world to make but at is probably the hardest to make well. At ITalia the food is always made well and is usually interesting. This is a restaurant all about the food. The dishes taste good and the presentation is usually superlative.

I visit often so the staff knows me well but by and large the service is excellent – friendly waiters who know the menu well. This is a small restaurant and if there is one peeve it is the way the tables crowd one on top of the other. The decor is minimal but not something to write home about. All in all, the ambience is not what you go to ITalia for.

They have regular food festivals and the obligatory Sunday Brunch, where you have buffet options if you so choose but I try and time my visits for when the a la carte menu is on offer. Visit often enough and you will notice that they change their menu often always a sign, in my book, of an innovative master chef.

Getting There:

ITalia is situated in the Park Hotel at Ulsoor – not to be confused with the Royal Orchid Park Plaza opposite the Karnataka Golf Course. Because of all the one ways you need to be sure to approach from either MG Road or Richmond Road heading towards Trinity Circle.

Recommendations

The Spagetti Carbonara is very good here as is anything from the Carne section. I particularly enjoy the bacon wrapped steak in the red sauce. But what is spectacular here is the deserts – both in terms of taste as well as the entire effort behind the presentation. And if you are so inclined you can prevail upon the chef to serve you the hotel’s famous mudpie desert. Do stay for coffee if only for the delicious truffles they serve with it.

Ideal For:

When you are really feeling like Italian food, head to ITalia. The food is the real deal and I have never been disappointed with the experience. I prefer to order a la carte at ITalia but the lunch buffet is good value for money as well.

Olive Beach

•December 6, 2006 • 12 Comments

Ratings

Food 7/10
Ambience 7/10
Service 6/10
Price: Rs. 1000

Description

What is it about Italian restaurants that makes ordinary people suddenly start to act snooty. Olive Beach is a delightful restaurant with a lovely mediterranean ambience complete with large sunny open spaces and rough-hewn whitewashed walls. But sit down to a meal and you will find yourself surrounded by strangers who have suddenly started sipping their tea with their little fingers fully extended.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Olive Beach is actually an interesting Italian themed restaurant, right angled pinkies notwithstanding. The decor is minimalist – white walls, high ceilings, enough open space to allow each table to breathe and lots of tiny candlelit alcoves for privacy.

The food is, in general, good, well concieved Italian fare with enough authentic imported meats and cheeses thrown in to justify the price of the meal. It is not my favourite Italian restaurant but it is up there in the top 5. The pizzas are good in a traditional hand tossed kind of way. The antipasti is unusual for the most part and where they lapse back into the familiar (their bruschetta for instance) is fresh and tasty.

This restaurant is part of the Olive franchise that already has established itself in Mumbai and Delhi (so you can see where they get their Page 3 attitude from). I have attended a couple of their Sunday brunches which tend to be very long drawn out wine guzzling affairs – but at which the menu is generally interesting. They also have a regular flea bazar where they host local crafts at several different stalls all around the restaurant with the Italian equivalent of street food – which can be interesting if you are into crafts and crowds (but not otherwise).

All in all, this is a place worth going to once for the atmosphere. Whenever I have visited I have got the impression that there is too much going on. To the point where it distracts from the food itself. Regardless, this is a good restaurant and one of the better places in the city for Italian food.

Getting There:

Olive Beach is situated on Wood Street in a lovely colonial building that has been tastefully re-decorated. Wood Street is currently a one way so be sure you are heading in the right direction.

Recommendations

The pizzas are good as are the anti-pasti. They sometimes have cured meats and sausages straight from the Mediterranean which is always worth a try. If you are there in the evening, do try a cocktails – they are usually good.

Ideal For:

A quiet meal – when they are not hosting one of their Page 3 affairs or lots of air kissing, when they are.

Tai Tai

•December 5, 2006 • 6 Comments

Ratings

Food : 8/10
Ambience : 6/10
Service : 6/10
Price: Rs. 1000

Description

Gautam Krishnakutty is one of Bangalores very few specialist chefs. During his time with Ebony (and the 13th Floor) he introduced us to the very delicious Thai Crispy Fried Beef – that still ranks very high on my list of favourite things to eat in the city – along with a host of other delicacies.

Tai Tai is his new restaurant and is probably one of the best places in the city for gourmet asian cuisine.

The restaurant is all about food. Which is not to say that the interiors are shabby or the service poor (not always at any rate). It’s just that there is almost no restaurant in the city that focuses so assiduously on the taste and presentation of the food. Each starter is a delightful explosion of flavours, bringing together uncommon ingredients in surprising new ways. Apart from staples like the curry rice dishes and perhaps the Khao Soi, every dish seems to have been uniquely crafted. Its a pity this city does not encourage chefs to explore their creativity rather than keep dishing out old favourites.

The service is not always top drawer, but the serving staff has been drawn from old haunts like the Black Cadillac – so old timers should get good service. The ambience is nice if a little over the top with heavy wicker chairs taking up much of the floor space. The cosy terrace is worth booking in advance for, and in case you need to wait for your table, the lounge bar one floor down is supposed to be good too.

This is not a cheap meal by any standards. A meal for 2 with wine will set you back over Rs. 2000. But if you want to experience new and novel cuisine and are willing to turn a blind eye to some less than perfect table service, this is a must do on your list.

Getting There:

Tai Tai is situated on the top two floors of Bombay Store on MG Road. Easy enough to find if you don’t know your way around the city – both Bombay Store and MG Road are landmarks in themselves. Basement valet parking is available at nights and in the afternoons. For reservations call 41121451.

Recommendations:

There is a great duck starter with small pancakes and sauce that is excellent as are any of the mushroom dishes. For the main course the steamed fillet of sea bass with green mangoes is worth a whistle.

Ideal For:

This is a foodies must-visit restaurant. Don’t bother dragging your grandma who just wants her rice and curds or any other fussy eater.

Kaati Zone

•November 30, 2006 • 11 Comments

Ratings

Food 4/10
Ambience 4/10
Service 4/10
Price: Rs. 200

Description

India’s original non-vegetarian fast food has shrugged off its street roots and come into town with formica tabletops and tray service. In my view this is one transformation I would have rather not witnessed. Khati rolls are best eaten standing up and straight from the fire. Like its vegetarian equivalent – bhel puri – much of the fine flavours in a Khati roll are drawn from the cooking technique in unsavoury ways you’d rather not dwell upon overmuch. While there are hygenic benefits to the formica ambience, without the smell of a coal fire and tang of roughly cut onions, all you are left with is a fried chapatti rolled over some mutton curry.

I guess some people will patronize this place. It has been set up at a good location and should attract some of the unemployed youth who seem to populate the streets of Bangalore in the evenings these days. I have eaten cheaper Khati rolls though never sitting down at a formica table with teen pop blaring from the speakers – so I guess there is an economic reason behind the prices.

Before you ask – I have tried the take-away as well just to see how they manage to serve a roll that will, by its very nature, go soggy within minutes of preparation. The answer is not very well. The rolls were warm and moist (but in the perspiration kind of way) and the packaging was just to hard to unravel.

All in all this is probable a restaurant you might want to avoid.

Getting There:

Church Street is filled with eating places and woefeully lacking in suitable places to park. If you want to try your luck you are going to have to be prepared for a long walk. You can either get there by driving down from Brigade Road or up from Rest House Crescent. Or if you are walking from MG Road, head down towards Church Street at the Times of India building.

Recommendations

None really. If you have eaten Khati Rolls at Nizams on the back alleys of Calcutta, you really don’t want to be eating here. If you have only been so lucky as to sample the imported version in the BDA complex in Indiranagar – you will still be disappointed. If you have never eaten a Khati Roll before in your life – this is not where you want to go to try your first.

Ideal For:

Nothing. I can’t think of a reason why you might want to inflict this upon yourself.

 
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