Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bangalore's Best Restaurants

Bangalore, India

I'm starting off with my all-time fave topic: Bangalore's best restaurants. I love eating out and I love food more. Food has triumphed where politics have failed, bringing cultures, communities and countries together for centuries. The flavours,  aromas, the marriage of methods and cuisines, makes food one the most delicious aspects of human life. It’s an organic medium that constantly evolves, serving as a fascinating archive of the people who create it. As I journey through the city in search of culinary perfection, these were some of my mouthwatering finds. 

The Fat Chef: The name itself conjures up a positive image that puts a smile on your face. Because someone who enjoys their food that much must be doing a good job of making your meal. Located in the same building as Jagriti in Whitefield where some of the city’s noted plays are staged, The Fat Chef is the answer to a theatre enthusiast’s hunger pangs that may kick in before or after a show or just the discerning palate of a Bangalorean who is looking to have his taste buds tantalized. 

Husband and wife team, Matheen Sait and Vandana Narula, along with their friend, Chef Mayur Dev, launched this restaurant in March of last year.  Thanks to them, you no longer need to wonder where you can get a chicken stuffed with cheese and prawns or some delicious gnocchi. The chalkboard menu that changes frequently means that you probably won’t find the same dish you ordered the last time you were here. But it’s also likely that you won’t be disappointed by a new find. 

The food that is served here is basically what the chefs would like to eat. And that comes across because each dish is plated beautifully and served with a smile. Expect a waiter to discuss your dietary preferences, explain a dish and suggest an order accordingly. Just a little more personal, just a little bit different. 

While you're there, some of the dishes to keep an eye out for are like pepper chicken steak, grilled fish with sundried tomatoes, kaali mirchi mutton (Matheen’s mother’s recipe) and a large slice of New York cheesecake, if you have the room for it, that is. 
The names of the dishes aren’t exotic. What you expect is what you get. There isn’t a particular emphasis on decorating except for plenty of light and natural air. But there is a clear focus on ensuring you form memories as you brunch, lunch or dinner here with friends and family. 

Don’t miss: Chicken stuffed with cheese and prawns
Meal for two: Rs. 1000 all inclusive
Where: Jagriti, Whitefield
Tel: 40992981
Monday closed. Timings: 11am-11pm

Istanbul Doner: Tucked away in a bylane in  Indiranagar, this place is so small, you might miss it if you blink. But keep your eyes peeled because here you'll find the best Turkish doner kebab rolls in the city. 

A close cousin of the more familiar shewarma, these rolls come in a hybrid bread envelope that can be described as what you might get if you cross a taco shell with pita bread. This doughy flatbread is filled with mayo salad and spiced roasted meat (chicken or lamb) that has been freshly shaved off from a spit.

The menu has limited options but you won’t be disappointed. Don’t expect tabbouleh or even the more common hummus, which are popular accompaniments with this dish. Pick instead from fresh salads, a few starters and a traditional drink called ayran which resembles the Indian buttermilk. But the highlight is the doner rolls.

Service is prompt and friendly, the prices are reasonable and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a similar great taste through the city. For taste any more authentic, you might have to pay a visit to Turkey itself.

Don’t miss: Istanbul Special
Meal for two: Approximately Rs. 300

Where: 27, 7th Cross, Off 2nd Main, Behind Airtel Office, HAL 1st Stage, Indiranagar
Tel: 30412940 ext:386

Pepper Cafe: Chef Rohan D’Souza, the culinary magic behind Pepper Café, used to work on a cruise line.  He sailed for nine years and worked in a few restaurants before bringing his cooking prowess to Bangalore with Pepper Café in early 2011, along with two other business partners.

The Eurasian menu designed around the seasons is innovative and each dish is artistically plated. When dining here, it is clear that Rohan enjoys playing with uncommon ingredients like feta and avocado and he has a knack of creating a wholesome meal out of some unlikely combinations. How else can a Scandinavian fish cake with vegetable remoulade and rye bread be explained? Or a Portobello mushroom salad with pickled pears?

You can smell the freshness in what you eat. You want to roll a morsel around in your mouth so that you don’t miss any of the flavours that come from herbs like chives and cilantro or spices like chilli flakes. Choose from a range of pastas, pizzas, chicken, beef and lamb main courses and a host of offerings from the sea in the form of calamari, basa and red snappers.

There’s no ceremony when you dine here, except for the food. Come as you are, bring your friends and have a great time over some great food. 

Don’t miss: Grilled Middle Eastern spiced lamb with a tabouleh salad and a tzatziki dressing.
Meal for two: Rs. 1200 including taxes, without alcohol.
Where: St. John’s Road, Ulsoor
            Tel: 41130000

Shahi KababsShahi Kababs in Frazer Town is quite small but it’s hard to miss because there’s usually a crowd outside. Also, the smell of freshly cooked kababs greets a visitor even before they pay attention to the place. There’s no ambience, there’s no place to sit. You shouldn’t pay too much attention to hygiene levels either. But if some moist kababs grilled to perfection with an unmistakable signature taste is what you are looking to chew on, it hardly gets better than this.

Nothing costs more than about Rs. 100 here. And that’s if you really have an appetite.  A plate of beef sheek kabab will only set you back by Rs. 19. A sheek roll is Rs. 27. Then the names of the rolls from this point on change with the number of kababs added. Starting with a jumbo roll, the variants in increasing order are the mumbo, rambo and sambo, the last of which is massive and priced at Rs. 105. They also have a delicious chicken roll and a mutton option too.
Don’t miss: The sheek kebabs
Meal for two: Rs. 100
Where: Coles Road, Frazer Town
Open every day 7pm onward

Republic of NoodlesThe name should be enough to get you interested in a visit because the food will make you want to stay. Located at the appropriately sunny yellow Lemon Tree Hotel, this restaurant serves slightly different pan-Asian fare.
Chinese, some Thai and the occasional Japanese cuisine are no longer novelty cuisines. But how often do you come across Laotian delicacies? What have you tasted that is native to Indonesia? Indians travel in hordes every year to sample the food in Malaysia and in smaller numbers to Cambodia. What if the food of those lands was available closer home?
Republic of Noodles serves classic Southeast Asian fare from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. Despite several similarities, each region has a distinct history and identity.
Sink your teeth into some beef satay with spicy peanut sauce. Each bite is of sweet and spicy juices that come from the tender meat. Combine this with a starter of fried water chestnuts and bamboo shoots for an unusual variety of textures. The prawn pad thai and the Vietnamese stir fried basa fish with roasted chilli peppers are recommended. Try some jasmine rice that comes to the table in a bamboo case along with Laotian vegetable curry made from coconut milk, shitake mushrooms, broccoli, carrot and baby corn.
The food here really is outstanding. The flavours blend well, the service is top notch, the décor is true to a Far Eastern theme, predominatly in red.  In addition, they make their own sauces, curry paste and accompaniments as well. Republic of Noodles is a winning experience. It won’t be long before you’ll want to return.
Don’t miss: Fried water chestnuts with bamboo shoots
Meal for two: Rs. 2000 plus taxes, without alcohol
Where: The Lemon Tree Hotel, 2/1 St. John’s Road, Ulsoor
Tel: 44802000

Rim NaamIn Thai, Rim Naam means by the water. True to its name, this is a beautiful alfresco restaurant that rests on a manmade lily pond. Nestled among rain trees and bamboo groves, it offers a sweeping view of the hotel gardens. Seated here, in a space illuminated by soft golden light, it’s easy to imagine that you are holidaying somewhere in the beautiful Far East as the neighbouring busy M.G. Road melts into oblivion. 
Wonderful aromas waft from the open kitchen where talented hands are busy preparing seafood delicacies and more. Many of the ingredients used at Rim Naam that are specific to Thai cuisine like galangal, fish sauce and jasmine rice, among others, are imported from Thailand which would explain why the flavours are so authentic.
The traditional Tom yam soup noticeably infused with lemongrass and ginger is fiery with specks of red chilli. The soft shell crabs in Thai chilli paste and giant succulent prawns in garlic pepper sauce, both stir fried, are divine, as each explodes with great taste in every morsel. A favourite, the chicken green Thai curry, goes perfectly with the sticky steamed rice that has the subtlest fragrance of jasmine. A dessert of jellied water chestnuts in sweetened coconut milk is the perfect way to end this meal.
The menu continues with scampi, duck yellow curry, prawn and crab cakes with plum sauce, pineapple rice and lobster in Thai spicy sauce. There are fresh deep purple orchids on the table where the linen is of a summery lemon yellow and muted green. Upbeat instrumental music plays at a low volume and the sound of gushing water comes from nearby. Service is spectacular, the outdoor setting is ideal for the great weather. This is an oasis of culinary perfection in the heart of Bangalore, an island of Thailand to be savoured.
*This place is so great for a romantic night.
Don’t miss: Tom yam soup and the stir fried soft shell crabs with Thai chilli paste.
Meal for two including taxes, without alcohol: Rs. 4000
Where: The Oberoi, MG Road 
Tel: 25585858

West View Make a date to dine with the ‘Girls at the Grill’ as they are called at this all-women staffed restaurant. This multiple course European meal that seems blissfully endless starts with a bread basket and assorted dips brought to the table, all of which are made in house.
An extensive wine library stocked with some of the finest potions offers ample options to be paired with the food which are billed separately, by the glass or by the bottle. An in house sommelier can even help you pick the best one.
There’s a vegetarian and non vegetarian soup of the day to choose from after which you are escorted to the cold appetizers buffet. There is no written menu but you can expect to find asparagus with citrus jelly, roast apple with red cabbage and balsamic glazed mushrooms. For the more adventurous, there may be octopus ala plancha, squid tossed with peppers and young tomato and clam confit.
You will be guided to choose a main course at a section is an artistic display of the freshest seafood, choicest cuts of meat and a wide vegetarian selection. There is basa and giant prawns as well as the more uncommon trout and halibut. The meats include lamb steak, sausages and Merlot-soaked quail. Your pick is served with a choice of risotto, mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables. You can choose to have the chef grill the food for you or request for a preheated lava rock to the table that you can grill your food on.
The seasonal dessert menu changes every three months although the chocolate fondue and chocolate pudding are constants. Make room for the crème brulee whose flavour changes every day. Recall the delicious details of what you just ate with an assorted platter of exotic cheeses and crackers, brought to a close with coffee or tea. 

Don’t miss: Grilled prawn
Meal for two: Rs. 1950 plus taxes per head
Where: At ITC Gardenia, 1 Residency Road, Bangalore.
            Tel: 22119898

The Pink PoppadumPop in to this fusion food haven and prepare for the fireworks that will explode in your head with every bite. Fusion gourmet takes on a new meaning here. Or call it ‘modern Indian cuisine.’ Whatever name you call it by – this is food like never before.
Chef Gautam Chaudhry and his team are busy preparing artwork in the kitchen. They’ve succeeded with the dohra mulligatawny. This soup comes to the table with just a rice dumpling with bell peppers and coriander placed in the centre of a large deep plate. The server then pours two kinds of lentils, a deep red one tinged with beetroot puree and another yellow one, to the plate to give a dual-coloured appearance.
What does chicken tikka taste like when seasoned with non-Indian spices? Find out with the pesto chicken tikka and smoked chicken tikka, the latter of which has a distinct lingering flavour. For the main course, there’s neer masala dosa stuffed with potatoes and Coorg chicken that gets its name because of the pepper, cinnamon and cloves used to cook it, found in abundance in the region.
But the crown goes to the Nilgiri rack of lamb on a bed of cannellini beans, traditionally used in Italian cooking. Pour some of the accompanying white sauce, a mix of cashews and cream, on the beans and relish the flavours that come together. Dessert is apple and pineapple fritters prepared jalebi-style, deep fried after being dunked in the famous Indian batter and then sweet syrup.
In keeping with the name, the colour theme is predominantly pink. The best seating is at the circular tables toward one side of the room alongside full-length windows that offer a beautiful view of the city by night. These tables are made semi private with pink net curtains that hang from ceiling to floor. Tiny golden candles flicker playfully. Fusion acoustics of contemporary music set to classical instruments plays softly. Grand aromas waft across from the open kitchen. 
On a night like this, it hardly gets better than this.

Don’t miss: Liquid paan shot. Tastes exactly what it sounds like. A liquid version of the Indian mouth freshener in a shot glass. Yum!
Meal for two: Rs. 3000 plus taxes, without alcohol
Where: Ista Bangalore, 1/1, Swami Vivekananda Road
Tel: 25558888

The SquareThe distance may discourage many people and the traffic is painful but arriving at the Novotel Hotel on the Outer Ring Road makes the journey worthwhile. When you’re done being distracted by the stunning interiors of this newly-opened originally-French hotel, prepare to be wowed by the food.

The world is coming to Bangalore, so it’s only natural that the food will follow. Fine global cuisine comes alive at this spacious restaurant that leaves you wanting little else. Spanning the globe, you can expect to find foie gras and beef T-bone steak along with dim sum and sushi in a format that is a mix of live cooking and a buffet.

Indian favourites like dal Bukhara and gosht biryani don’t get left out either. The Makkai Phool Makhana Masala has an interesting new texture. With pasta, kebabs, seasonal ice creams and desserts to die for, everyone goes home a happy customer.

The staff is polite and smiles. The décor is mainly red and white. The open kitchen covers an entire wall. Prepare to be enthralled.

Don’t miss: Mushroom, tomato and basil pizza
Breakfast Buffet – Rs. 699 + taxes, Lunch & Dinner Buffet – Rs. 1099 + taxes
Where: Novotel Bengaluru Techpark, Opposite Intel Campus, Sarjapur Outer Ring Road, Bangalore.
Tel: 66705000 

ItaliaIf authentic Italian food is on your mind, look no further than Italia. With many ingredients imported from Italy, it’s easy to take a bite here and be transported to verdant European countryside.

It’s the marriage of flavours that makes the food memorable. The broccoli soup, for example, tastes exactly as imagined. Natural and wholesome, like a pureed version of the vegetable from which it gets its name. But a piece of sour creamy goat cheese in the centre provides just the right amount of texture to enhance the taste of the soup and save it from being too basic.

The minestrone soup has been called ‘the mother of all vegetable soups’ and is an integral part of Italian cooking. Still, at first glance you wonder why the clear soup with a cocktail of vegetables like potatoes, beans and pasta is on the menu of a fine dining restaurant such as this. With the first mouthful, the answer is evident. Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the hardest to get right. 

The ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta in tomato basil sauce creates a party for your palate and leaves you craving for more. All breads and pastas are made in house. The foccacia and ciabatta that come as part of the bread basket to all tables taste great with either the seasoned butters of chilli or garlic or the flavoured olive oil of thyme or rosemary.

The mud pie is the ideal way to end a meal here, with the chocolate cake casing giving way to a liquid chocolate inside that oozes forth when cut into. That part just takes you by surprise. There’s a wide range of wines and champagne from leaders in the field like France, Australia and California, as well as India, meant to be paired with your order to heighten the taste of the gentle spices used. 

The interiors in lime green and the intimate size of the restaurant make it a great choice for special occasions and romantic dinners. Lively Italian music fills the space.

Don’t miss: Ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta in tomato basil sauce
Where: The Park, 14/7, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bangalore
Meal for two: Rs. 3000
            Tel: 25594666

Peppa ZzingGo only when you have an appetite and a monster one at that. Because the burgers are huge, the choice of toppings are numerous and when you’re done with a meal here, you might need to change in to a larger pair of pants.
When in the mood for a burger, many of us would stop by the closest KFC or McDonalds. But one bite of Peppa Zzing’s fare would put these fast food phonies to shame. Arguably the juiciest and tastiest burgers in town, what’s between the bun here sure packs a punch.

Started by former hoteliers and a husband-wife team, all that you see on the menu are their own concoctions of what of what convenience, comfort food with personality should taste like.
There are the basic beef, lamb, chicken and vegetable burgers with no surprises. The Peppa Zzing burgers are a bit more festive, available with toppings of butter sautéed mushrooms, extra cheese, mustard onions or a fried egg. If you can muster the courage, graduate to the Monster burgers which come with all of the toppings but with two meat patties instead of one.

The final category of burgers separates the boys from the men. The Peppa Zzing Whammy is the ultimate test in a love for burgers. This is a humungous nine inch wide by six inch high orgy of meat, toppings and bun. Despite its size, the Whammy’s are by far the most popular item on the menu with some being ‘attempted’ everyday. So far only six people have been able to get through it, including one lady.
The space is small with loud music playing inside and resembles an American diner often seen in the movies, minus the long counter top. There are only a few tables and orders will take some time to arrive as everything is prepared fresh. Pastas, hot dogs, sides like chicken wings and potato wedges, fries and drinks like cold coffee can complement the meal.
Most of us encounter some guilt while polishing off a burger. But at least here you know you’re biting into quality. And for the taste that follows, those few extra kilos seem worth it.
Don’t miss: The burgers
Meal for two: Rs. 750
Where: G-18, Kedia Arcade, 92, Infantry Road 
Ph: 41232843




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