Thursday, 30 May 2013

Annapoorna, Bangalore

Quite often, I tend to enjoy eating food in the confines of my home for various reasons. Most often being that, “I am lazy to get dressed for a restaurant or may be enjoy a movie alongside a drink and lots of food.” No points for guessing, the food source is usually a takeaway or home delivery. While this happens quite often, it is the first time I am putting this down on record.

The Home-Bound Series that I'd like to call 'maison lié' series begins with a take-away from ‘Annapoorna’ an Andhra style restaurant housed in ‘Hotel Annapoorna’. This is an age old joint that has been serving up delicious Andhra style fare for decades.  The ambiance here is very simple and basic with nothing more that can be written about. 

Annapoorna has a laminated one page menu with limited but more than sufficient listing to cater to ones need. The listing includes biryani, non-vegetarian starters, veg. meals and for take-away they also have carrier meals which suffices for 3 – 4 members. 

What we ate:
For our take-away, we placed our order at the cash counter and requested for banana leaves to be provided as well with our parcel. What we took home to devour was a portion each of chicken roast (Rs. 100), mutton fry (Rs. 120), chicken biryani (Rs. 110) and mutton biryani (Rs. 130).

Starting from the bottom right and moving clock-wise is mutton biryani, chicken biryani, sherwa (gravy) and raita for the biryani, chicken roast and mutton fry. The biryanis were full of flavor yet light and easy on the stomach. Though both the biryanis were delicious; the milder and more balanced flavor of the chicken biryani appealed more to my taste buds.
Another View

The lack of flavor in the chicken roast left me disappointed. On the other hand, the mutton fry was packed with flavor and spices. The aroma of the mutton fry was sufficient to fall in love with this preparation; needless to say it tasted divine.

Since we did a take-away, I must mention that the biryanis came packed in individual aluminum foil packets and the rest were packed in boxes. We did not need to wait for long for our food to be readied to takeaway. The restaurant was kind enough to oblige when we asked for banana leaves to be provided as well.

Two of us had a hearty meal and were stuffed to our throats by the time we finished. For this meal, we paid just Rs. 460 all inclusive (there are no additional taxes and charges). Oh! No packaging or container charges as well.

Quick Tips:
Go here for a scrumptious and a quick meal, Andhra veg. meals, chicken biryani and mutton fry. CAUTION! Mutton fry is high on spices.

Do not go if you cannot take the spice or ambiance is your prime focus.

Address: 6th cross, Gandhinagar, Majestic Area, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 25352218 / 22912755

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Grill House, Bangalore

It’s been long since I wanted to visit the much heard about ‘The Grill House’ and finally on one weekend of April, 3 of us decided to visit the restaurant for a Tex-Mex dinner.  The restaurant has a very rustic feel with a lot of wood used in its décor. Thought being located on a very busy road, being inside the restaurant seems like an escape from the city’s traffic filled noisy roads.

Specializing in Tex-Mex food, the menu was vast with a very good range of starters, salads, steaks, sizzlers, Mexican delicacies, burgers, sandwiches and desserts to choose from. The menu has separate sections of listing and caters well to both the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians. The Grill House also boasts of a well-stocked bar which we did not explore on this night.

What we ate:
Our food comprised of one vegetarian – Cottage Cheese Shashlik, non-vegetarian included a chicken steak and a king fish steak; both of which were requested to be served as a sizzler.

All sizzlers come plated with butter-boiled veggies, Mexican flavored rice and mashed potato. Both fish and chicken sizzler arrived on our table at the same time. At first, the lack of/minimal sauce on both the sizzlers took us by surprise leaving a puzzled look on our faces. The restaurant staff was quick to answer the puzzle. The very next moment, the pepper sauce for the chicken steak and an herbed lemon butter sauce for the king fish steak was brought in sauce boat (meant for serving sauces). Apparently, this is how it is served at The Grill House.

The chicken steak sizzler was quite nice. The sauce had a nice flavor, the rice was mildly flavored with Mexican herbs, mashed potatoes and boiled veggies were fresh and moist.

The King Fish steak sizzler was 2 big pieces of sear fish and rest of the works. This dish was quite disappointing for (1) the herbed lemon butter sauce was quite tangy to taste with an over powering flavor of lemon, (2) the fish which per the information from the staff was supposed to be boneless had its fair share of bones and (3) the fish didn't seem fresh and was also quite dry possibly due to over cooking.

The cottage cheese shashlik too failed to excite our taste buds. O.M.G! An overdose of vinegar in the barbecue sauce smothered over the cottage cheese cubes.

Apart from the initial glitches in service; I must admit that the service was quite nice. The staff was quite responsive, attentive and prompt in service. They were knowledgeable about the food being served and willing to help with suggestions.

While the portions of food are humongous the taste was fine but far from the WOW Factor!! Some interiors required attention to address the wear and tear; especially the sofas we sat on.

With no sign board visible, we parked the car ourselves. Only after dinner did it come to our knowledge that valet service existed with the sign board placed on the side of the building. Poor placement I must say.

For what we ate; accompanied by a non-alcoholic beverage we ended up paying around Rs. 1200.

Quick Tips:
Go if around Ulsoor.

Address: 8/6 Kensington Point, Ulsoor Road, Opp. Gurudwara, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 40977011

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Punjab Grill, Bangalore

Most of the times; we friends land up at a lounge or some place that served international cuisine.  At least this has been the trend since the past few months. Monkey Bar, Willy Vanilli, Toit and Bricklane Grill are a few names that come off my head. Indian food was something we missed and as we thought of where to go, one suggestion got all of us craving for this regional cuisine - Punjabi cuisine. Punjabi cuisine was something we friends had not tried in a long time. 2 restaurants that immediately struck our mind were Punjabi by Nature and Punjab Grill. Not having got a reservation at Punjabi by Nature we decided to meet at Punjab Grill.

Both beverage and food menu were quite impressive. In the beverage menu, Punjab Grill had a special section allotted to cocktails with a twist like Khooni Chameli (Bloody Mary with an Indian twist). The food menu left our mouth watering; for the delectable listing of soups, tandoori starters, curries, Indian breads, biryani and desserts. There is a vast spread of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian tandoori starters and curries one can choose from. 

What we ate:
Quiet surprising, a couple of us thought soup would be good ways to start with while the rest of us though alcoholic beverages would be the way to go. So it was Tamatar shorba, beer and Punjab Grill special cocktail; the name of which I do not remember. With this we also placed the order for a vegetarian starter and one non vegetarian starter. The vegetarian starter was Kurkuri – minced vegetables wrapped in dough coated with vermicelli.  Each of these Kurkuri sticks came in a shot glass partly dipped in a sweet-chili sauce. First taste of this sweet-chili sauce had me thinking – “Thai infusion in Punjabi cuisine; bole to - Punjabi cuisine mein Thai tadka”. Well.. Thai Sweet-Chili sauce is what I mean. Nonetheless, this kurkuri sticks were nice and tasted well with the accompanying sauce.

The non-veg platter was what two of us looked forward to. Portion wise, the platter was good for 2 of us with 2 pieces each of Chaamp Taajdar (mutton chops), Amritsari Machhi, Murgh Malai Tikka and Murgh Tikka Punjab Grill. The mutton and fish were really tender and flavorful. The fish was fresh but the mutton chops barely had any meat on it. Both murgh malai tikka and murgh tikka were delicious and succulent.

For the main course, it was Patiala Shahi Kadai Paneer for the vegetarians - a very common Punjabi preparation of paneer, onion, bell pepper and various spices succeeded in hitting the right spot. Kadai paneer. Non vegetarians opted for another famous Punjabi delicacy; Murgh Tikka Lababdar – a rich and creamy tomato based gravy with succulent and mouthwatering boneless pieces of chicken.
Patialashahi Kadai Paneer
Murgh Tikka Lababdar

A couple of Indian breads which included butter and plain naan were called for as an accompaniment to the savory gravies. The naans both plain and butter were a big disappointment for they were hard to break into bite size pieces and also quite chewy. As a result, these were sent back and tandoori rotis were called in its place which was quite nice but really huge in size.  

The vegetarians decided to call for a pulao from the rice section and the pick was chutney pulao. This was a mint and coriander flavored preparation of rice and potato chunks. This dish was served cold and when the staff was informed about this, it was heated in a microwave and served again. This was not a big hit on the table for it was too dry and lacked enough flavoring.

While we were stuffed to the throat and had a lot of food left over due to the large portions of the gravies and the huge rotis, my friends - a dessert lover called for a highly recommended gulab jamun stuffed with chocolate that we all shared.  This was a nice finish to a rather inconsistent meal.

The most awaited part of our dinner was the finale… Paan Shots! At the end of the meal along with the check, Punjab Grill serves a sweet paan liquified and presented in a shot glass to each and every diner. I can easily say this was quite refreshing and easily formed the best part of our dining experience. We all loved it so much that we asked for another round of this to be served to us.

The first look that grabbed my attention was the waiting area - a very nice set up where we were seated for a couple of minutes until the staff confirmed our table was ready to be occupied. The ambiance was really nice with plush interiors, well spaced out tables and sections made for a private dinner. Diners have an option to pick between indoor and outdoor seating. Though it was a very pleasant night, we picked indoors for this restaurant is located very close to the busy main road and we didn’t want to get disturbed by the traffic sounds and the air pollution.

While the food was good but lacked the WOW Factor! Service at Punjab Grill is the weakest link which I had heard about quite often before visiting the place. Still unexpected; I can say, “We got a firsthand experience of the service lapses right from the start when we waited for a couple of our friends to arrive. To begin with, we were not attended to for 15 minutes possibly based on the assumption that we’d want to start only after the rest of the diners on our table arrived. The food brought to us was cold or got cold as we waited for the accompaniments to arrive. The staff failed to educate us about the portions of the food served especially the naans and rotis which were king sized and each could feed at least 2 people who have an appetite as large as mine. Dessert was forgotten and the check was brought out to our table.

The boon is diners do not have to worry about parking which is a big hassle in Koramangala for Punjab Grill provides for valet parking service.

Pricing is exorbitant for the poor service and overall dining experience that Punjab Grill offers. An average bill for 2 diners for a starter, a main course, breads and dessert will leave your pockets short by Rs. 1500 to 1800 excluding other charges and taxes.

Quick Tips:
Something a staff member here fails to suggest - Portions of the main course are generous. Indian breads are king sized and can be shared.

Go for: Good Punjabi food, great ambiance, Paan shots

Do not go for: Poor service

Address: SJR Primus, Ground Floor, 7th Block, Koramangla (LandMark: Opp. Forum Mall), Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 40902161 / 62