Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bangalore Diaries - 1

It's been a couple months since TH and I moved, lock stock and barrel, to Bangalore. The first thing that we did as soon as we landed was, of course, find great places to eat. Food helps us settle in at a new place. Since TH is busy for the most part of the week, we have to cram all our food-scouting trips into the lone Saturday each week. So far, these are the places we've visited. Some are gems, some passable - none has been outright bad. Bangalore's looking good !!

1. Habanero

This Tex-Mex place caught our fancy because a) we adore Mexican food and b) it's a 5-minute drive away.  We ordered nachos, a chipotle chicken burger and grilled chicken with salsa and cheese. The food was quite good - better than we had expected. The nachos were delicious - especially with the spicy pineapple salsa. The chicken was tender, and the chipotle burger juicy and spicy. The manager greeted us when we arrived, and our server was polite and adequately knowledgeable. All in all, good experience. P.S. - very sorry about the lack of photos on this one. Next time !

2. Hard Rock Cafe

I had been to HRC in Delhi and Mumbai and liked them both; TH hadn't had a chance to experience HRC in India yet, therefore this was an easy decision. We had to wait about 10-12 minutes for a table, and there was no seating at the bar (!!!!), but hey, it was Saturday night. We ordered a chicken burger and mac and cheese (no points for guessing which was mine). The burger was rated "ok" by TH, but it was the mac and cheese for which I'll gladly make the 40-km round-trip again. Divinely cheesy, with a crisp breadcrumb topping and generous chunks of chicken - it was one of those totally-worth-it calorie bombs that I never regret. I did end up bagging half of it (very large helping), and that's where the weirdest thing happened. Our server dumped the remainder, even as I was yelling at him not to ! He appeared to be a little high, or deaf, because I was barely a foot away from him and screaming not to drop my precious food into the dustbin. He did. The manager was gracious enough to pack another portion for me to take home, but this was the strangest experience I've had in a restaurant.

3. Nagarjuna Cafe

We had been in Bangalore for over a month now, and still hadn't set foot in an Andhra food joint. For no good reason (I love Andhra food !). So we hunted down the best-rated Andhra place, and arrived one fine evening - only to find a very limited selection of chicken dishes. On the plus side, they served their meals on banana leaves !!! Yay for authenticity ! We ordered what sounded good on the menu, and to their credit - they do justice to the dishes that they do have on the very short menu.

The fish curry was spectacular - coconutty, not too spicy, very flavorful. The chicken had us in tears and blowing our noses (and that's how I like it) - spicy, peppery and falling off the bone.

From the far left - mixed pakoras, meen moilee (fish curry), Andhra chicken and paneer tikka masala (that clearly did not belong here).

4. Taco Bell

Yes !!! Bangalore hosts India's first Taco Bell. Curiosity got the better of us - I had to compare the fare offered here to the stuff I ate back in TB's home country. We ordered 2 burritos, quesadilla, cheesy potatoes and nachos. While slightly Indian-tasting, the burritos and quesadilla were very good. The cheesy potatoes, unlike in the US, had veggies on them along with the cheese, which put me off a bit. The nachos/salsa was the biggest disappointment though - the nachos were stale, and the "salsa" was ketchup with some chopped onions and coriander. No thanks. Will return, but no more nachos for me !! 

5. Toit

Bangalore's premier craft brewery, Toit is the hangout for some of the coolest crowds in the city. It's located in an area saturated with eateries, but we still had to wait a half hour for a table on Saturday afternoon. The atmosphere is fun, relaxed and upscale, and I loved the backdrop of brewing equipment on display. We ordered a beer sampler (4 small glasses), cheesy nachos, a chicken burger (TH's order is starting to get predictable) and Banger and Mash. The beer was goooooood - we picked out our favorites to order next time - as was the burger. The nachos were ok - crisped up wedges of pita (not corn chips) with melted Amul cheese on them. Would've liked a better cheese blend - cheddar, mozzarella, bleu or American. The burger was plump and juicy. The "bangers" were plain, store-bought chicken sausages, and the "mash" quite mediocre and bland. I could've whipped this up at home, better and cheaper. Will return for the beer though !


6. California Pizza Kitchen

This US import, which I incidentally never sampled over there, was discovered while mall-hopping one lone Thursday. I ordered the spaghetti with tomato, garlic and basil, and boy, did that turn out to be an excellent choice !! Fresh, garlicky tomato sauce, with shredded and infused basil, beautifully grilled chicken and perfectly cooked pasta - I slurped up this one in no time ! A bit on the pricey side, but absolutely worth it. I don't know if I'll ever order anything else here. Can't get enough of this !

Honorable mentions - Chili's (old favorite), Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken (super spicy, but not exciting enough) and Krispy Kreme. KK in particular seems to score over Dunkin Donuts, for the simple fact that they have an on-site bakery, so you get fresh donuts all day. DD, however, has a central production facility that makes donuts in the morning and distributes to the store, so if you go in the evening the donuts tend to be stale. 

Anyhoo, Bangalore is now home (for the foreseeable future), and I will dig out every single note-worthy eatery here. I promise !!