Friday, 25 April 2014

Monkey Bar - Indiranagar, Bangalore

Double the Fun... Two's better than One...
A new monkey is in town... Indiranagar holds the crown...

Yes, you may have heard the buzz or read the words - Monkey Bar opened doors of its 2nd outlet (3rd in India) in Bangalore earlier this month. If not for the crazy schedules for the last 3 weeks, Monkey Bar was my go to place to enjoy a piece of Bangalore Nightlife.

Unlike any other weekend, this specific Saturday was different, I was at Monkey Bar, Indiranagar not at night but at noon. No, it was not for breakfast either. There was a bloggers event organised where we got to tour the venue, and indulge in some lovely eats, drinks and monkey business.

What We Ate:
It was a day out for us friends in the blogging community. There was too much of everything - be it food, drinks or fun. I got to try various drinks over the course of the next few hours which included the fantastic 'Copper Monkey' - a whiskey based drink, my drink for most of the day - 'Ginger Roger' which is a gin based drink with peach syrup and ginger ale. This was not all, there was also a vodka based 'Red Riding Wood', an interesting 'Wild Leaf' cocktail; which is a subtle drink and a new favourite of mine. How can one miss the Monkey special Mangaa!
Giner Roger
You know this.. It's Mangaa
Wild Leaf (Photo Courtesy: Kunal Chandra - Monkey Bar)

For food, there was a never ending menu or it at least seemed to just go on and on right from starters to mains and finishing with dessert. While the menu lay emphasis on the non-vegetarian food, there was sufficient for the vegetarians to savour too.

As you may suspect, it is true that my focus remains on the non-vegetarian section of the menu. In starters, I thoroughly relished the 'Pirogies', 'Crab Rangoon', 'Devilled fish' and 'Tempura Calamari' the most. The pirogies are pan seared dumplings which come with various of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. I absolutely loved this preparation especially the one with a filling of chicken, celery and jalapeƱos filling.

The crab rangoon is a New York classic wonton filled with crab mean and cream cheese. Pop one in your mouth to enjoy a burst of textures like crunch from the fried wonton wrapper, the freshness of the crab meat and the generous proportion of cream cheese.
Crab Rangoon (Photo Courtesy: Kunal Chandra - Monkey Bar)

Devilled fish is a Thai inspired stir fried fish which got its flavors from the Thai spices, galagal and lemon grass and Tempura Calamari was a preparation having very subtle tasting notes. Both these dishes exuded the use of fresh ingredients and were thoroughly enjoyed. If not treated well both the fish and calamari can be a total disaster but in this case they seemed to be treated with a lot of love and care in the kitchen. We couldn't keep our folks off these preparations.
Tempura Calamari (Photo Courtesy: Kunal Chandra - Monkey Bar)

The Goan Chorizo Pav was very nice too. In vegetarian, the only dish I tried was the lovely roasted beet and orange salad.

This doesn't end it all at all, there was pork sliders and Sloppy Joe. From the two, my vote undoubtedly goes for the barbecue flavoured shredded pork in between the buns and all the works in between and alongside it. Yes, that's Sloppy Joe.

For the mains, there was the Monkey Bar classic Pandi Curry and Pita, the Parsee orderlies' mutton curry and rice and berry pulav - an Iranian berry pulav with chicken in it.

The mutton curry and the coconut rice creates for a fabulous whole some meal for an individual and the Pandi curry with Pita is a crowd pleaser. If you love pork; the coorgi style, Pandi curry with Pita Bread has gotta be on your table.

The berry pulav is a classic preparation at Monkey Bar and is always a delight to eat. It has morsels of chicken kabab and shredded chicken in an Irani berry pulav with flavours also being contributed by saffron, fried onion and potato salli.
Berry Pulav (Photo Courtesy: Kunal Chandra - Monkey Bar)

In desserts, there was 'Chocolate Pot De Creme with salted caramel' and a 'Lemon Cake'. It's hard for me to pick one as I liked both the desserts. On our table though, there were many who were not big fans of the Lemon Cake; but for me - it was a thumbs up.
Lemon Cake

Chocolate Pot De Creme with Salted Caramel

In between all these food and drinks, we enjoyed a few games of pool and foosball available on the mezzanine floor. After senior monkey, the new Monkey Bar did set high expectations and very well lived up to it.

Is the new Monkey any different from the old? My answer would be a 'Yes' and a 'No'.
Yes, it is different -
 - The new Monkey Bar on the 12th main road of Indiranagar is more spacious than its predecessor.
 - The new Monkey Bar has new introductions on its menu
 - It does not have a basement like the one in Ashok Nagar. But, fret bot my friend; it has an equally amazing mezzanine floor.

No, it is the same -
 - It has the red scooter too. (Manu, what's the story behind the scooter?)
 - It's got the same feel, the open brick walls, the rustic interiors like a New York style pub
 - It lays emphasis on natural lighting
 - The menu does have the Monkey Bar classics
 - A foosball and pool table.
 - Buzz speaks fun, food, drinks and monkey business.

Quick Tips:
Head here for pure monkey business. I hear a new cocktail has been introduced in the last few weeks and it's aptly called 'Kalabandar'. I' won't say more about it, but here's a picture to leave you with.

Drink responsibly & most importantly eat well as you drink.

Address: #610, 12th Main Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Near Crosswords, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 4411 4455

Friday, 4 April 2014

Kempegowda International Airport - An Experience, Bangalore

I have always loved the elegance of the Bangalore Airport - KIAL (Kempegowda International airport. The glass ceiling makes way for all natural light during the day while the nights are well lit, unlike various airports when the lighting just seems inconsistent.In numerous visits what has worked for me is the spaciousness, the lighting (both natural and generated) and the cleanliness.

This view only got renewed when I got the privilege of spending a day at the airport, exploring the new offerings that are now in place for a discerning traveler. For this specific day, the corporate office of KIAL organized for journalist passes which provided us with special access to the airport terminal. We did get through special lines meant for the airport crew and team but I must make a mention that, "At no point in time was the security compromised. We did go through the same elaborate security check process as would anyone at KIAL."

Post its inauguration in May 2008, the airport recently underwent an expansion to increase its capacity to support 18 million passengers per year. With this expansion, KIAL has not only achieved increase in capacity but has also given travelers numerous reasons to arrive in early to the airport and spend time experiencing a wide array of services that have now been introduced. 

For travelers with lots of time on hand:
On the international departure side of the airport, 'Bar 380' is the new and swanky bar. It offers the best of views of the one and only airport runway and the Bangalore landmark 'Nandi Hills'. The name 'Bar 380 Degrees' is an ode to the first A-380 which is expected to make its first landing at the Bangalore airport in the near future. Going by the theme, the menu presented is in the form of a passport with a lovely listing of international food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). I tried the 'BIAL French fries', 'Bruschetta', 'fish and chips' and a lovely 'fresh watermelon juice. My pick of the lot was the good old 'Fish and Chips' and the fresh watermelon juice. Pricing here definitely intrigues me as it busts the age old myth that, "Pricing at airports are really unreasonable and sky high."

Clockwise from the top: Menu for the day, Coaster and Passport style menu at Bar 380

Sampler Platter

Known to have one of the highest international traffic in the country, the airport has a fabulous duty free shop which boasts of a lovely collection of duty free goods like alcohol, perfumes and a lot more at prices better than US, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong airport; to name a few. If your question is - Did I get to buy liquor from the duty free shop? My answer is  - 'No, as a boarding pass is mandatory'. But, how I wish....

Unlike most airports, the emphasis here is on serving freshly prepared food and beverages to travelers. Keeping this in mind, in addition to 'Bar 380' KIAL has also introduced 3 other restaurants - 'Noodle Bar', '7 Tawas' and 'Malgudi Tiffin Center'. '7 Tawas' offers North Indian food like samosa chaat, kathi rolls and more while 'Noodle Bar' offer Chinese food where one gets to assemble their own noodles for instance. At both these restaurants, you get to see the food being prepared right in front of you. 

When can you grab a grub? Anytime of the day or night - It operates round the clock.

Masala Chaas @ 7 Tawas

Chicken Tikka Kathi Roll

Busy work schedules sometimes allow no time for a relaxed spa treatment in the regular course of life. So when at the airport with time available before your flight takes off, it might be a good idea to indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at the O2 spa.

O2 Spa

By this time, it felt like I wouldn't be able to eat anymore. But the signature offering at the airport - 'Malgudi Tiffin Center' (MTC) was yet to be visited. Located on the domestic side of the terminal, this restaurant has a feel of the refurbished house shown in RK Laxman's 'Malgudi days'. Specializing in the cuisine of South India's Coastline covering Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, this restaurant is a must visit for its sheer delicacies. 

The food arrived and I was all hungry again. A look at the thali and I knew 'It was a trap!' - 'A food trap'; a plate full of food that looked downright delicious. I got to try the 'Gongura Kodi (Chicken)', 'Mangalore Fish Curry' and 'Mutton Varutharacha Curry' with an assortment of accompaniments like 'Malabar Paratha, 'kallappam', 'iddiappam', 'sannas' and 'rice'. Suddenly, I couldn't stop eating for its sheer deliciousness. For dessert there was 'Palada Payasam' and the meal was finally rounded off with a glass full of 'cold badam milk'.
Non-Vegetarian Thali

Vegetarian Thali

MTC opens early at 5:30 AM for breakfast and operates all through till 10:30 PM serving and catering to travelers delicious courses of meals. A breakfast and any other meal at MTC will cost around Rs. 350 and Rs. 900  plus taxes for two, respectively. Totally worth the experience.

For travelers with not much time on hand:
The airport very thoughtfully has also set up express counters at both - international and domestic sections of the airport terminal. For continental stuff, there is 'Urban Food Market' which serves pastries, sandwiches, pizzas, burgers and more. It's an apt outlet for those who want something quick - to go.

For the Indian fare there is Malgudi Tiffin Express where you can 'Grab-N-Go' some south Indian delicacies like pakodas, bajjis, rice varieties, some tea or coffee; makes for a perfect accompaniment and an easy way to kill time on flight.

For the non-travelers:
Are you visiting the airport only because you love to drive down the best road in Bangalore? Yes, the very same newly opened stretch of road between Hebbal to the airport? Then there is a lot of grub for you as well - CCD, Cafe Noir, Hatti Kappi, subway and more. And guess what! For all of this stuff, you just need a parking space for your vehicle. No air ticket or no boarding pass required. Again, open round the clock. :)

Signing off:
Non-Travelers - Enjoy your drive and some grub available outside the airport complex.
Travelers - Bon Voyage! And, do include the airport experiences in your travel itinerary .

Address: Terminal 1 of Kempegowda International Airport

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.