Sunday, 29 March 2015

Many More Reasons to Visit Smoke House Deli, Bangalore

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It's been raining new menu introductions and this time it is none other that my favourite restaurants in Bangalore - Smoke House Deli. Smoke House Deli is a national brand and what's special about this newly introduced menu is that the new introductions are driven, crafted, and integrated completely based on the needs of the Bangalore market. It might be for the first time at Smoke House Deli that a menu is introduced in Bangalore and will be taken to the other cities and adapted there on.

The new menu has over 40 new dishes in categories like appetisers, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, pastas and risotto, mains, desserts and beverages. Phew! Without much ado we started with Wine Cosmopolitan in the company of a magnificent bread basket and an overload of assorted cheeses that came as a part of the SHD cheese platter.

Giving cheese platter a break, we moved on to the next round of drinks and it was SHD's twist to the classic mojito. In it's new avatar, the rum is replaced with bourbon whiskey which exudes a nice fruity and smokey taste and aroma . I enjoyed a couple of rounds of Jimi's mojito in the company of some starters which went well and kept good company for the drinks coming my way. Of the starters that arrived on our table, my pick was the 'Cheesy Chicken Triangles', 'Prawn Fritters with Mustard Aioli'.

The goodness of food only kept increasing from here with the arrival of two soups - a vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The vegetarian one was 'Full of Goodness Minestrone + Barley Soup' which was think and dense in texture and the flavors stood out beautifully. The non-vegetarian one was SHD's take on the Asian 'High Street Chicken + Noodle Soup' light and thin in texture with an equally good and aromatic broth. Dependant on weather I want a light or dense soup on my next visit, I'll pick one off the menu but on that day; I enjoyed the vegetarian one.

In the burgers, for the lamb lovers there is a South-West style lamb burger with sautéed onions, beans and chili as the works. This introduction is a testament of love from fans who enjoyed this burger during the burger festival a few months ago. Another burger that reads goodness is the Pulled Roast Chicken burger that come topped with Béarnaise sauce and a double cheddar melt. Mildly flavoured, this burger is for the ones who are limited to meat options.

From the salads and sandwiches what also well received were the 'Salad of Pear and Mango Chili Emulsion with Flax Seeds' and a 'Popcorn Shrimp & Chipotle Mayo Sandwich'.

From the very start, my brother and I knew we wanted to try the 'Coriander Crusted Basa with Saffron Coconut Rice' and the 'Chicken Schnitzel with Caper Sauce'. When it was time, we did exactly as planned. Each dish was wonderfully plated and was portioned generously for a person.

The fish had a lovely crisp and light crust, came topped with Veloute sauce (a french tomato based sauce) all placed on a saffron coconut rice base. It was indeed a medley of wonderful flavors and texture.

'Chicken Schnitzel with Caper Sauce' was crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. Served in a cylindrical form like a bread roll, the chicken schnitzel was served on a bed of slides and roasted veggies. A nice wholesome meal in a plate it was.

Another main that we did sample from a friend was the slow cooked Brazilian pork belly that came with kimchi apples. What a fat chunk of belly it was! I'm not a big pork eater and to me this cut of pork belly was the biggest and the thickest I've ever seen. Loved it and if you love pork belly, this mean plate of pork can really mean a lot. What am I saying? I don't know.. Just get it on your table.

Now to the last course of our lunch; many await this and claim to have an additional stomach dedicated for the required sugar rush - Desserts. We tried 4 of them, each was better than the other but the top of the lot for me was the 'Oats and Caramel Tart' which was a real surprise package. This was followed closely by the 'Warm Apple Cake with the Vanilla Cardamom sauce' and 'Bitter Chocolate & Hazelnut Feuilletine'.

An average meal for two without alcohol will cost about Rs. 1500 plus taxes and charges. The new menu at Smoke House Deli is exhaustive and comprehensive in terms of offering to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians and also the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage drinkers. For me, it's many more (new) reasons why I must keep visiting Smoke House Deli and so I believe will be the case with you once you've given their new menu a try.

Address: 1029, 100 FT Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 2520 0899

Monday, 23 March 2015

New Menu @Dakshin, ITC Windsor, Bangalore

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What pulls me back to a restaurant is either I loved the dining experience or an introduction of a new menu. What makes it really exciting is when both the criteria's are met. Such has been the case recently with Dakshin; the south Indian specialty restaurant at ITC Windsor. After a rendezvous with the colorful flavors of Chettinad; I was back here a couple of weeks ago to try out new dishes introduced to the menu at Dakshin.

With Chef Shankarnath taking charge of the kitchen at Dakshin; there are new and delicious inclusions to the Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala sections of the menu. If I have to showcase or experience South India on a plate, Dakshin is that one place which provides the much needed diversity all under one roof.

Our meal for this evening started with the signature and traditional beverage called Muneer. Muneer is a bright green drink made of jaggery, coconut water, honey, sandal syrup and Khus syrup providing the color. Its sweet, an instant cooler and tunes the palate to welcome an upcoming scrumptious meal.

Traditional in its approach, we looked forward to the customary start that begin with assorted papads, fries, mini banana uthappam and a variety of chutneys to munch on. Off all this, it is the mini banana uthappam that I looked forward to for it's distinctly sweet marriage with the assortment of the chutneys. It's called Dakshin Vishesha and gets dished out from the famous Iyer's trolly.

I absolutely loved the non-vegetarian starters that were dished out. One was the Kozhi Roast which is nothing but the famous chicken roast. Marinated and cooked in chef's special masala, the slow cooked chicken was succulent, fresh and well balanced in flavor. Enjoy it is with a side of raw onions and a glass of chilled beer; Perfect!

Chapa Vepudu was a classic pan seared king fish preparation in a marinade of red chilis. The fish was easily the freshest catch I've eaten here in Bangalore. It's easy to over cook a fish and drain it off its moisture content and here's where the skills of the chef come to a test. The fish was perfectly cooked, lovely flavors and really smooth to savor.

In mains, it was the fabulous 'Veg Stew' exuding the rich texture and flavor of coconut milk with vegetables simmered in it and the tomato pappu - a traditional Andhra delicacy which tasted good but was too dense in texture for my liking. 

On the non-vegetarian plate, there was also 'Veinchina Mamsam' and 'Royala Vepudu'. 'Veinchina Mamsam' was a delicious preparation of boneless lamb morsels in a rich gravy of brown onions, coriander and spices. 'Royala Vepudu' was succulent, fresh and perfectly cooked prawns tossed with brown onion, ginger and green chilis. This preparation had a nice crunch to it and tasted relish in every bite. 

The main courses were best enjoyed in the company of idiappam, appam and Malabar paratha. The appam was nice and fluffy in the centre and around it was a fabulous layer of crunch or crisp appam. I loved the sweetness exuded by the appam. No points for guessing, the appam and stew tasted heavenly and I could make a meal from it. The Malabar paratha was light, flaky and involved the use of minimal oil for it's making. 

Desserts are usually considered to complete a meal but for me even before we head there; a biryani is mandatory. So came from the kitchen a freshly prepared Andhra kodi chicken biryani. It was succulent chicken cooked in a spicy fragrant rice the perfect blend that makes for a delightful Andhra Chicken Biryani.

Moving on to the desserts was really a task but picking what to have; was the easiest it can ever get. We asked for the Dakshin classic; rather their signature - Elaneer Payasam. It was light, thin, rich in coconut and cardamom flavor. To me, this surely was the perfect end to a lovely meal.

An experience for two at Dakshin can be enjoyed at an average of Rs. 3500 plus taxes. I use the work 'experience' considering the overall package of:
 - A lovely and fragrant welcome at ITC Windsor's plush and rich lobby
 - A sophisticated yet traditional setting at Dakshin
 - Top notch service standards
 - Really high standards of quality of ingredients, meats, seafood, etc
 - Needless to say the flavors and portions too

Address: Dakshin, ITC Windsor, 25 Windsor Square, Golf Course Road, Near Sankey Road, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 2226 9898

Friday, 20 March 2015

Street Food Fest @ Church Street Social, Bangalore

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Church Street Social never seems to get tired of bringing in and introducing innovative creations in the food and beverages segment. Celebrating a year since its launch, Church Street Social is hosting a #StreetFoodFest where in the best of street foods mostly from the country are being dished out in the very apt style Social is known for.

Available only till the end of this month, Church Street Social with visiting chef have customized and curated an elaborate menu with some great listing of foods available on streets. Going beyond food, the beverages too have received a quirky social twist. They are not just innovative but also bring in some nostalgia with drinks like Panpasand shots, masaledar nimbo-soda pani served in classic goti bottles and lots more. Does this ring the bell of nostalgia?

It was a crazy Saturday afternoon, and here's what I enjoyed the most and highly recommend for you to go and give it a shot.

SHOT! Well, that exactly what we started with. There was mango bite shot, hajmola shot, kaccha aam shot and do you remember 'PanPasand? Yes, Pan Pasand shot too. I tried the mango bit and the hajmola shot. It surely was a good start. Head out here for these assorted jars of shots. An assortment of 10 shots comes for a steal - Rs. 1299 only.

From the small plates what worked best for me was the Ballistic Bhajiya - a chilli bajji of the streets stuffed with cheese and the Punjabi Samosa which is a classic and came served with chutneys and pindi chole on the side.

In small plates non-vegetarians; it was the spicy and flavorful Malabar Chicken Lollypops,  the classic chicken kababs, Prawnstar (no there is no spelling mistake here) and what clearly stole the show was the Mutton Biryani Buritto. The mutton biryani buritto was topped with gooey cheese and stuffed with boneless mutton biryani. The meat was succulent and the flavors rich.

A street food festival without golgappa and other chaat items would be incomplete. Though chaats are usually something I really don't venture into beyond the streets; the names of these at Social intrigued me and I ended up trying two of the dishes from the menu. One that really impressed me was the was 'Karari Bhindi Ki Videshi Chaat'. 'Dimaag ka Dahi Bhalla' which another chaat dish I tried. For a moment, the name had me carried away thinking it might actually be a chaat dish that contains mutton brain. But that was just me the non-vegetarian being wishful. It was a Dahi Bhalla with a kick of wasabi in the curd and hence the name.

There were a host of classic stuffed parathas that came with a serving of makhan (butter), curd and pickle. Of the lot, I tried the mutton keema stuffed paratha and was bowled over by the flavor and the amount of meat stuffed in the soft, melt in mouth paratha.

Again, making us nostalgic were the servings of the goti soda bottles; yes the ones that used to be commonly available and sold by street vendors. Here, in goti soda bottles were really interesting cocktails like 'Masaledar Vodka Nimboo Paani', 'Gin and Ginger Soda', 'Raspberry Cream Soda Vodka' and likes. These were the 3 best drinks I liked and hence the specific mentions. 

Having gone through all this, of course in a good way; my attempt at mains was very limited. I was curious to try the 'Moilee Seafood Laska' and called in for a portion of it which came in the company of steamed rice. The flavors of the sea food were quite evident and I did enjoy eating this dish.

Desserts are and official finish to a meal and between our group of 9 we shared a portion of 3 desserts - Izzat Ka Faluda, Gulab Jamun Cheesecake and Tiramisu softie. Just the thought of eating a medley of Gulab Jamun and cheesecake did not appeal to me and so I didn't venture into it. I love coffee and clearly this Tiramisu stood out the most for me of all the desserts on the table. It was not the best Tiramisu I've had but was definitely a good one to end my meal on a perfect and happy note.

To sum it up, it was all street food in the confines and comfort of Church Street Social. Well, not just confines and comfort but also a nice Social twist to the classic street food preparations. An average meal for two has a good wallet factor. Including a couple of drinks and shots a meal will cost about Rs. 2500 plus taxes and charges. 

The festival is on till the 31st of March and can be best be experienced in a group for the sheer listing of interesting food and drinks. 

Address: 46/1, Cobalt Building, Church Street, Bangalore 560001
Phone Number: +91 80 4171 3016