Bangalore a few reviews
Calgary, Canada Chowhound has recently relocated to Bangalore for a couple of years and I'll try and get a few postings up on ChowHound for those in the area or traveling here.
The first couple of weeks were mostly spent in hotel restaurants:
Taj Residency - Cafe Mosaic:
Always reliable, not inexpensive though. IMO one of the best breakfast buffets in town Mon - Sat, with great selection of Indian, Chinese and western items and fruit fruit fruit. They also have some of the best Lamb shanks Rogan Josh I've had the pleasure of enjoying here. They are exceptionally tendor and very well spiced, the naan bread (while not the best in the city) is always sufficient to soak up the Rogan Josh gravy that comes with the dish. I've had this about 4 or 5 times latey and can't get enough.
Oberoi - Rim Naam:
I've been to Thailand and enjoyed some great food there but I was blown away by Rim Naam. Again not cheap in the least as it's in a 5 star but I could not have been happier had I been in Bangkok at one of the swankiest places in town. The ambiance, service and food were all without par in the realm of Thai food in Bangalore. We went simple with the dishes, a yellow coconut curry and a phad thai, both perfectly executed. The Phad Thai noodles were chewy but not over done and the sauce excellent. The yellow curry was also perfectly done, not too spicey as this type usually denotes and with excellent curried potatoes.
Taj West End - Blue Ginger:
I had very high hopes here as the Taj restaurants are usually very good and having moved from Calgary which is a haven for good Vietnamese food I knew I needed a fix of Pho, Bun or Bahn Mi. While the ambiance and service were excellent the food let me down, it was sauced more like chinese style dishes and the squid was chewy and over done. On the other hand the very expensive fresh salad rolls were outstanding... not quite like home as these were with shrimp and chicken as opposed to shrimp and pork. I won't be rushing back, unlike Rim Naam.
Mercure Homestead - 12th Main and By the Blue:
Both of these are again not inexpensive but they are good. I went italian at 12th main both times, grilled fish on spaghetti primavera and fussili carbonara. I preferred the grilled fish and primavera by far mostly due to the excellent preparation of the fish. The carbonara was ok, but I would have preferred more cheese and less cream in the sauce. By the Blue has South Indian dishes, the Goaan fish curry was very good... but also my first (I hope to have more in Goa itself). The real treat was the sesame and saffron naan bread, I had to have it when I saw it listed and it did not disappoint. The only thing I could have done different with it is toast the sesames right before going on the naan dough to add that extra level of middle eastern sesame flavour. All in all we'll be back lots as it's only a block from the new house.
Via Milano - 3rd Block Koramangala (near Sony World on 80 Foot Rd)
Beautiful contemporary setting and decor with very attentive staff. The menu is extensive which always worries me in Italian places but the chef and owner is actually Italian so we thought they'd have it under control. We arrived on a set menu and wine tasting night, 4 courses and 4 wines for 1500 INR/person. The prawn and sesame starter was very good, the right level of sesame for my taste, the duck ravioli could have had more duck meat in the filling and more duck in the sauce but it was still very good. The main was a chicken roulade that was very well executed in cooking preparation and the taste reflected that. Desert was a very nice light almost un-baked cheese cake... we've had something similar at home at Kensington Winebar. The wine pairings were also good except the one with the main. I did not get a look at the varietal but it was a 9 Hills (all the wines were 9 Hills that night) and possibly a cab-sauvingnon. It was far far to young to be served and had a vague wooliness to it that I've noticed in a few India wines so far. I do tend to stick to the Indian whites or roses.
Nandhini Palace - 3rd Block Koramangala (across from BDA complex on 100 Foot Rd.)
This place is very near the new house and I had high hopes of a quick, easy and cheap local joint. While the food was good (tandoori chicken, green pea masala and prawns andhra style) the ambiance and cleanliness left a great deal to be desired. I think we'll keep this one for home delivery in the future.
More updates to come as we get further a field and stop eating at hotels quite so much. I'm interested in any reviews others have to offer for Bangalore. Also interested in any tips on where to buy good fruit/veg and other staples. Of key interest is if anyone knows where to buy canned chicken or vegetable stock... or powdered (ie: Oxo or Knorr cubes). I use stock a lot in cooking but don't have time to make my own very often.
Thanks Rasam, tried both Nilgiri's and Spar but neither had tinned stock or stock cubes/sachets. The closest I've found is at Food World on 80 Foot Rd (next to Spencer's). It'll do for now while I continue to source another product. Perhaps I need some Indian cookery lessons to discover what is used here instead!
For great produce and an amazing experience in every other way, you should visit Russell market. Also, do visit Koshy's, which is a Bangalore institution--everyone from journalists to film-makers to Prince Charles hangs out there.
Bonsouth - 4th Block Koramangala
Went on Saturday to check out mid-range South Indian fare as I've had a lot of everyday south indian thali at work. It was quite good, I liked that the menu was broken down into region and the dishes (both starters and mains) were presented that way.
We started with the fried cauliflower from Karnataka which was spicy, crispy and excellent: also had the Kerala cashew pakoras which were a disappointment to our palates as they were exceptionally dry and lacked any real cashew flavour. As the pakoras were not to our liking the waiter brought us some small spicy idlis which were very good.
Because we had so many starters we thought we'd keep the mains simple, mint rice, neer dosa and a Kerala prawn dish. The prawns were great but definitely a different texture from the N. American shrimp we are used to. The neer dosa was great, very much like Ethiopian injera bread that we've had back home... but just like injera terribly filling. The mint rice was a real treat, not nearly as "minty" as I expected, just the right flavour and texture all around.
The atmosphere and service were all good, not great. As it was a hot and not so pleasant smelling evening in the neighbourhood it would have been nice if they had left the doors to the patio closed but the wait staff found it more convenient to keep them open.
Would I go back... yes absolutely.
Aagnan - on Sarjapur Outer Ring Road, Bellandur Post near Cafe Coffee Day.
This is a little more down to earth and local than most of my posts but I haven't been to the restaurant either... delivery only so far. I was told the Biriyani here is excellent and it is! Although not the Hyderabad version I've heard is so popular in the south this is a Punjabi version. I really like the spice content and flavour of this Biriyani and the rice is nice and loose as it should be. If you order their Biriyani it comes with a great raita (made with tomato, cucumber, onion and garlic), and a dish that is a bit like a pea masala (but a tad too oily). We've also ordered their boneless chicken kabob and have been very pleased. Nice big pieces of chicken, well cooked and moist.
I'm the only non-Indian in the office, we've ordered from Aagnan for lunch, and pretty much all the local folks think the Biriyani is excellent too... not just the lone white guy at the table.
here's a couple to start with:
"MTR" (Mavalli Tiffin Room). Go for breakfast. A Bangalore tradition, landmark building, and utterly delightful experience. Not to mention spectacular food. Try the masala dosa's and rawa idly's, be sure to dip / drizzle both with the ghee. Pick up sweets at the MTR sweetshop next door -- heavenly Mysore Pak and Tirupati laddoos.
Empire Hotel -- lots of branches. Real "down-home" Bangalore experience. My favorites there include the butter chicken, gobi manchurian (dry), spit-roasted chicken, coin perota's (small pancake-size flakey breads), and excellent shawarma.
Karavali, Taj Gateway Hotel -- Malabar cuisine (Goa, Kerala, Coastal Karnataka). Fabulous seafood from India's west coast, with spectacular appam's (pancake-like breads, flaky and soft at the same time -- amazing) cooked to order by a chef in the dining room). Excellent place to try pan for the uninitiated as well (fresh betel-paste post-meal digestive).
Am in a rush, here are some other excellent picks:
Hyderabad Biryani. Just what the name says. Great.
Royal Afghan at the Windsor Manor. Poolside carnivorous feast.
Chettinad restaurant on Ulsoor road (can't remember the name of it -- open-air, upstairs). well marked, drive along the road, you won't miss it. excellent tamil nadu cuisine.
Angeethi on Museum Road. Punjabi Dhaba-style restaurant on a rooftop.
KC Das -- Legendary for Bengali sweets.
The coffee shop at the Taj West End has excellent Lebanese food.
Also, try to get invited to the Sunday Brunch at the Bangalore Club, quite a (post-)colonial experience ("curried brains", etc. etc.)
and when you want to go western, Olive Beach is quite good, and Sunny's is also very popular and has a great deli section at the back for fresh cheeses, hams, etc. (you can get this at olive beach as well.)
I'll think of others, am a foodie that's been living / eating in Bangers for 4 yrs now
oh, and also try Chandni Chowk in Koramanga, fun atmosphere and decent North Indian food.
Wow! MisterPete; you really know the best spots in Bangalore. We've been restaurant-hopping in Bangalore for three decades and I agree with all your recommendations. Also try out my favourite Kerala (coastal) joint on Church Street (off Brigade Road, parallel to MG Road)-Coconut Grove. As good or better than Karavalli and much cheaper. The authentic Kerala experience (veg and nonveg-appams, karimeen-special Kerala fish, even crabs et al). ENJOY. From Thecitron
Fava - UB City
Went to Fava on a Saturday night (early) prior to going to a BBQ party so was just looking for some snacks to fill the gap before the BBQ. Our group ordered the veg dip platter which was a multi-story (you have to order it to understand) cornucopia of dips from the mediterranean. There were 18 different items to try ranging from very well done dolmatas (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice), walnut dip, babaganoush, two or three different types of hummus and a passable tzatziki to name just a few. The dips were all very good and hit the spot for our group. The only minor downside was that there were not enough house made tiny pita breads for the amount of dip served, we did ask for more but only 4 were offered.
The views from Fava are great and the ambiance on the terrace is very active... especially with all the children playing in the fountain outside the restaurant. I'll be back I'm sure.
Zen - Leela Palace
I've never been to Leela in the past 4 years of visits to Bangalore but last night I was convinced I should at least see it and have dinner at one of the restaurants. After a little bit of arm twisting I agreed.
The hotel is everything everyone said it was, beautiful building, magnificent architectural style and the service was excellent. We opted for the Pan-Asian experience of Zen and was pleasantly surprised with the Chinese dishes on offer. The singapore style crab dumplings had an excellent chili sauce but to me weren't "crabby" enough... could just be that I'm used to the Canadian dungeoness crabs we get at home, the crispy roast chicken with plum and hoisen sauce was magnificent and crispy (I could have eaten this all night) and the singapore noodles were definately a flavourful trip down memory lane.
Downside was the wine list, I know it's a fancy hotel with appearances to keep up but 2300 INR for a bottle of Sula Chenin Blanc is really going to far. I also found the terrace seating quite noisy for a hotel of this caliber, street dogs barking, horns honking, etc... for more pleasant fancy hotel outdoor dining I will take the Taj West End any day. The grounds there are by far more pleasing and quiet.
Your review of Blue Ginger Taj West End was exactly what I'd felt it was like, even though I was last there quite sometime ago. MisterPete's recs - MTR and Karavalli are must-tries - one is a Bangalore dining institution, the other served the BEST Indian food I'd ever had in my life!!