We spent the Good Friday weekend at my nieces places in Bengaluru…. and went on a food trail. We counted the no: of dinner & lunch slots that we had to spare and decided to allocate them as per choices available.Bengaluru just as any other metro in India has an amazing erray of eateries….. and with a steady influx of NRIs fleeing melting USA, their influence on the type of eateries is also increasingly becoming starkly visible.
Many many seasons back, when everybody & everybody either worked at HMT or HAL or BEML, Bengaluru was a sleepy garden city occupied by PSU employees, frugal spending, simple eating joints and everybody’s kids racing to get thru IIT or medicine. Life was simple, needs were less,food was great and yes, Bengaluru boasted of maximum number of movie theaters then. Seeing movies was a favourite past time as pub culture was still far into future. One languidly walked into MTR, sat on the wooden bench patiently waiting for his turn, dunked into heavenly idly’s with great chutney or ghee lathered dosa or upma or pongal and digested the heavy breakfast thru the day. Or you just stopped by around the corner at Darshinis and had idly, dosa or vada with hot piping filter coffee while standing and looking aimlessly at the traffic which mostly consisted of lamberetta or Bajaj scooter. If you had a ocassion, one marched to Koshys to celebrate. Nothing can beat a idly dosa combo with a filter coffee to match or a big banana leaf with an array of chutneys, spinach dal, cabbage with coconut, a mound of rice, couple of puris, dahi, poppadams. That to me is simple, heavenly food. But world marches on and a little, sleepy, garden town becomes a vibrating, cosmopolitan city trying to anchor itself in the glitzy, neon dreams of IT whizkids and new age IT enabled Czars.
Spaghettis arrive in Bengaluru ( both on the plate and in the dresses), Steak houses emerge, noodle joints sprout, people started raving about peri peri sauce in the same jest as coconut chutney, Bruschetta, feta and its likes became commonplace, and Bengaluru suddenly transformed.If the idly, vada, dosas & banana leaf lunch still gives competition to the Shiros Dimsum / Sushi lunch, thats a great tribute to Indian culinary masterpieces and our embedded tongue tastes. So both the world are jostling for space and interestingly in Bengaluru, both are standing tall and retaining their places.
Shiros is Delhi Shiros branch or vice versa, but at Bengaluru, it lives upto its name. Located at the upscale UB City, the whole ambience surrounding the place is vibrant and eclectic. On weekdays, one can dunk into their superlative dimsum and Sushi lunch and as told to me, the whole uppity Bangaluru descends for a sunday brunch with their C class & 7 series in tow. Well inside Shiro, ambience is classy and professional, you have high ceilings with huge statues of Buddha and I suspect important figures from mythical oriental. Overall, a top class, top of the line joint. Dimsums are great with the Hargow as usual taking their place of pride. The rice flour was thin & translucent, you could see the dainty luscious prawn inside and the texture, flavour were brilliant. Sushi were great as with california rolls. However the Sashimi was a big let down. I suspect that the knife skills at Shiros is a tad suspect. Instead of finely thin cut raw fish slices, one gets blob of thick slicing. Definitely unappealing and unappetizing to the palate. The Sashimi salad was undoubtedly a big let down. Unfortunately, the same mistake was done with pickled ginger. The pickled ginger needs to thinly sliced and should appear as pink shavings and not your usual ginger slices. So instead of shavings, you got slices. Rest was I must admit of top class. So if they could fix their knife, Shiros will come with top honors. Needless to say, its a pricey tony place.
Nandos is your perky, bustling, gregarious, pulsating fast food joint off Brigade Road where the waiters are always rushing back and forth in frenzy. It reminds me of a typical joint in Philippines where after every couple of hours, the waiters, hostess, chef do a impromptu jig. Only the jig is missing, the rest of ambience remains the same. Peri-Peri, the delicious, pungent, fiery Portuguese sauce defines this place. If you want to see chicken legs so big and juicy, Nandos is the place to visit. You must try 3 things here although you will not be able to finish even one! Flame grilled corn on cob is to die for. Delicious. You get 2 cobs, wonderfully done, basted with lemon herb, put a dollop of peri-peri and just nibble away. Espetada is a big dish of marinated chicken pieces hanging from a skewer with lots of assorted stuff. Its juicy, tender and murderously delicious. Also try Half Chicken meal. The chicken is nearly like a turkey but retains all the juice. A great lively place to be when you are monstrously hungry. Not a place to take your girlfriend along as the food, sauces are pungent and the smells don’t inspire romanticism.
Eden Park at Shivajinagar is your andhra joint like Nagarjuna at Residency road. Its a leafy corner, your typical unpretentious eating joint. The food comes on a banana leaf and is great. You can order non veg side dishes. The lemon chicken is worth trying. Otherwise, a nice eating place, no great dishes but immensely satisfying home food like feeling. But their service is not upto mark. So bear with it if you can. If you cant, then run to Nagarjuna where service standards are by far notches above Eden Park.
Spiga at St Marks Road is the place to be on saturday night. Its Mediterranean feel & look,strikingly resembles Olive bar & kitchen at Mehrauli, Delhi albeit on the 4th floor instead of ground at Delhi, the open space, the honeycomb structure behind the bar which gives you a glimpse of Bengaluru tony locality skyline with UB city neons flashing. Its cosy, very cosy, place to be with friends and can spend hours together sipping on the Long Island. The oriental salad and Beef Tenderloin steak are the Pièce de résistance of this place alongwith watermelon salad with feta cheese. You can’t ask life to give you anymore. Its white decor mesmerizes you.Oreo cheesecake is a wonton celebration of sinful delights bordering on erotica and conjures up multiple utilities of this utterly delicious dessert with eating as just one of them!. Spiga is a signature restaurant for me. Cool, vibrant, young, cosmopolitan, neat, friendly. A place to be.