Friday, 29 May 2015

Time Travel through the Food @ Ottimo - ITC Gardenia, Bangalore

Twitter: @nkandhari     Facebook: Review Of Restaurants     Instagram: Review Of Restaurants 

With over a year into operations, the highly acclaimed and award winning restaurant has been a delight to visit. With memories of my first meal here still fresh and alive on my mind; I was most certain that this visit will only create more memories. Expectations were set knowing that Chef Vittorio Greco was at the helm of things and a festival was curated to specifically make diners travel through time; from classic to contemporary.

At Ottimo, ITC Gardenia; it is hard to decide if the restaurant brings out the vibrancy in Chef Greco or it is Chef Greco's vibrancy that results in the vibrancy of the restaurant. 'Vibrancy' a term most often used in relation to ambiance; here seamlessly extends to the service, food being dished out of the kitchen, the plating and the complete experience itself.

Getting back to the food at this festival aptly named 'The Art of Time Travel', Chef Vittorio works his magic in a whole new way by curating two experiences on one single plate - the traditional versus the modern or reinvented new-age Italian cuisine. Every course that arrived was a delight in every sense and also to every sense one can experience at a steal price of Rs. 2250 ++ which also includes a glass of domestic wine or beer.

With a special menu crafted and personalized for me, I couldn't help but just looked forward to starting the experience with 'Antipasto' which was 'Insalata di Pollo' - a classic and a modern take on this signature Italian salad. This was one dish that gave me a hard time deciding which was better. One version was just topped with capers providing for a nice salty and briny zing to the subtle chicken salad and the other was topped with pickled vegetables like asparagus, broccoli and more for that nice crunch in every bite. 

'Primi Piatti' or 'Primo' is a course known to have a pasta preparation and is usually a course served hot. My pick from the non-vegetarian choices in this course was Lamb Ravioli artistically prepared and presented to showcase a classic and modern take of this Italian favorite. The lamb in the ravioli was clearly treated with a lot of love. The contemporary version was served as a long roll of lamb ravioli topped with the broccoli coulis or sauce and a drizzle of garlic dusting.

In vegetarian, I got to try the classic spinach and ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli. A quick look at it and you might just not spot the difference but a closer look and you realize that the classic had just the one pocket that contained the stuffing of spinach and ricotta cheese prepared together while the modern had 2 compartments - one for the spinach and the other for the ricotta. The difference might seem really subtle but making this wasn't a cake walk. Likewise, the modern and classic versions also felt very different in terms of taste and texture. While the classic version is a favorite world over, I loved the modern take for the dense texture and clearly different flavors of the ricotta and spinach being prominently felt.

The wines we stuck to all through the evening was the smooth and creamy Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco and the rich and oaky Fratelli Sangiovese.

The next course 'Secondo Piatto' is considered the main dish of an Italian meal structure. There was a classic and reinvented version of 'Seabass Livornese. While both were great and the flavor composition was really different, I loved the modern take on this dish for the flavors of the prime ingredients - fish and the deconstructed sauce were distinctly felt on the palate. 

The difference between the two versions? The classic version of this dish came as fish fillet and the delicious sauce of tomato, olives, pepper, olive oil cooked together while the modern came as a deconstructed version with the sauce topped with olives, herbs, and other ingredients with the fish cooked all by itself which helped it retain the flavors of the sea. 

Another non-vegetarian option for those who do not enjoy seafood as much was the 'Chicken Caccaitora' where again the modern version stood out for me. It was chicken stuffed with vegetables and base ingredients like tomato, onion and garlic which make the sauce. Served on a bed of velvety mashed potatoes; I absolutely enjoyed this dish.

Continuing on 'Secondo' was also a vegetarian classic 'Puttanesca' a dish famed in South of Italy. A classic version uses spaghetti as the pasta tossed in a sauce of onions, tomatoes, olive oil, capers and olives that give it a salty flavor. The modern take used risotto instead of the spaghetti and was again a deconstructed form. This is inspired from the food habits of North Italy where risotto is widely consumed. While I love risotto and this deconstructed form tasted as delicious as the classic; I'll go the classic way on this dish.

The classic & my pick
Dolce was something I waited for through my meal. There was coffee written all over it. 2 versions of the ever delicious 'Tiramisu'; It couldn't have gotten better. The modern take was a deconstructed version served as a dome filled essentials to make a delicious tiramisu and surrounded with espresso, coffee beans, crumbed lady finger biscuits etc. Which was better? Both... It contained coffee. :)

If you thought this was the end of our meal; it clearly wasn't. We had to finish it with a coffee made the way Italians make it each day at home - Espresso made in moka pots. Simply delicious!

Dining at Ottimo is an experience and with the festival being hosted by Chef Vittorio; it's clearly an icing on the cake. Do make sure you manage a visit by the 2nd of June as the festival is till the mentioned date. This time travel through the cuisine of Italy comes at a lovely price of Rs. 2,250++ which also includes a glass of wine or beer.

Address: ITC Gardenia, 1, Residency Road, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 4345 5140 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Vivid Hues of Gujarat - A Gujarati Food Festival @ ITC Gardenia, Bangalore

Twitter: @nkandhari     Facebook: Review Of Restaurants     Instagram: Review Of Restaurants 

Gujarat as a state has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. In spite of a vast coastline and clearly having a possibility of abundance seafood; Gujarat is a state mostly celebrates vegetarianism. Widespread Jainism is a major influence on the culture prevalent among the people of Gujarat and their eating habits. It's a cuisine that has been spreading through the length and breadth of the country which is testimony of it's flavors, variety, simplicity and the love people have for this regional cuisine.

Gujarati cuisine has always enjoyed the limelight and attention, in particular in the recent times with our Prime Minister - Mr. Narendra Modi being a Gujarati himself and the food making it to the State dinners. Inspired by it growing popularity and demand, ITC Gardenia is showcasing and celebrating the Hues of Gujarat at the Cubbon Pavilion in the form of a Gujarati food festival.

Like any other Indian food festival held here, the Indian section of the vast global buffet spread was dedicated to the brilliant regional Gujarati cuisine. Unlike any other food festival that I have dined at; this one had a really extravagant spread of Gujarati food with over 35 Gujarati delicacies on offer. On till the 17th of May, the food is as authentic as it can get and can leave you spoilt for choice. 

A complete set up had been specially created to pay tribute to 'Farsan' the snacks that the Gujarati's swear by. A typical breakfast at a Gujarati home on Sunday is not complete without these. To name a few on offer were khandvi, fafda, jalebi, patra, assortment of mixtures, bhakarwadi and of course dhokla's with a side of chili.

What's gujarati food without ragda patties, kachori with chutneys poured onto it and thepla! Made on request at the live counters, these were delicious and only added to the feel of Gujarati food. 

I looked forward to the mains which composed of some of Puja's and my favourites. The real deal lies in the simplicity of this cuisine with dishes like 'Sev Tamatar', 'Gujarati Ghate ki Kadhi', 'Bhindi Sambhariya' and a dish without which a Gujarati meal is clearly incomplete - 'Khichdi'. The preparation was simple and so were the flavors yet successfully exuding a heart-warming experience. 

Known for it sweet and spice balance, the spread also included the famous 'Undiya' and a curry that was wonderfully flavoured and the ingredients provided for a great texture. 'Undhiya' a mixed vegetable dry preparation is possibly one of the most complex dishes to prepare and is seasonal in nature. Worth every effort in its preparation; 'Undhiyu' as it is called in Gujarati was a delight to eat with hot and fluffy puris or rotlis that are brought fresh out of the kitchen on request.

The dessert spread was no less extravagant with a wide spread of Gujarati, Indian and international desserts. In focus at the food festival were clearly the Raj Bhog, Lapsi, Srikhand, puran poli and Anjeer Barfi to name a few.

Overall, this was a feast and a treat for us and all those who love Gujarati food; its amalgamation of sweet and spice rich flavors, the simple treats called farsans or a meal by itself 'the khichdi'.  On till the 17th of May, go enjoy the enchanting aromas and the alluring flavors of the vibrant and colourful state of Gujarat.

To make things even more interesting, Review Of Restaurants in association with Foodies in Bangalore 2 - a group started to provide a platform for foodies of Bangalore to interact, converse and share information about good food; bring to you a very special offer from ITC Gardenia to enjoy this specially curated 'Gujarati Food Festival' and a lot more that's there on offer at this extravagant buffet - 
 - Specially priced buffet at Rs. 1350 Nett per person. Inclusive of 2 glasses of Indian Red/White wines or Indian Beer
 - Offer valid till the 17th May, 2015 only for dinner (which is also when the festival is on offer)
 - To avail the offer, you need to be a member of Foodies in Bangalore 2. If you are not, please click here to become a member
 - Advance reservation is mandatory and you will need to notify that you are an FinB2 member and that you'd like to avail this special offer
 - For more details on the offer T & C please read through the pinned post on the FinB2 Facebook group

Address: No. 1, Residency Road, Bengaluru - 560025
Phone Number: +91 80 2211 9898

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Oodles of Noodles @ Sing Kong, Bangalore

Twitter: @nkandhari     Facebook: Review Of Restaurants     Instagram: Review Of Restaurants 

Around the same time last year, Bangalore witnessed the opening of two highly spoken about restaurants. The objective of each the very same - 'Desire to recreate an international fine-dining experience for the people of Bangalore'. Both these restaurants cater to cuisines world apart, I mean - Pan-Asian at one and Mexican at another. 

Celebrating one year of operations in Bangalore, a special menu has been curated for both the restaurants. Special menus always excite me for it gives me an added reason to visit / revisit a restaurant and also has the potential to elevate even the finest of the experience I might have had at the very same restaurant. 

The past week, I was invited to Sing Kong the Pan-Asian restaurant housed UB City's ambient, ever vibrant and bustling Piazza area. Opting for seating on the outer deck, a cousin and I settled in to experience 'Oodles of noodles' a specially crafted menu available only till the 14th of May. As the name suggests, it was all about noodles right from soups through to the dessert.

We started with tasting portions of two different soups. One was 'Slow poached chicken and egg clear soup' which exuded subtle flavors and the other was the spicy and full of flavor 'BBQ Pork & Udon Noodles Soup'. It's a very personal choice on your preference because I loved both the variants for that day; my pick was the 'BBQ Pork & Udon Noodles Soup'.

As we savored our soups, chef Shiva paid visit with a plate full of the numerous types of noodles on offer at this food festival. Not in the slightest of my imagination did I know of the various forms of noodles that existed. Every noodle marks a difference in taste, texture, shape, flour used and country of origin to say the least.

We were pretty excited and looked forward to the rest of the meal. While various mains (read noodles) were being stirred up in the kitchen, we decided to try the 'Jasmine Tea Mojito' and 'Citrus Sling'. Pan-Asian being the theme, these cocktails as the name suggest had an Asian touch in terms of flavor driven by the ingredients. The Mojito had a nice and subtle Jasmine tea flavor with a freshness of mint leaves and balance of zing and sweetness from the muddles lime and sugar. 

'Citrus Sling' was a gin based cocktail with kaffir lime leaves to impart the Asian flavors. It was good in flavor but lacked the punch of the Kaffir lime leaves though present in good measure.

Mains began with Char Kwe Teow Prawn noodles. This dish was clearly my personal favourite for its fresh ingredients and a simple and really mild flavors. Followed soon was a dish which is comfort food to me Kung Pao Chicken with egg noodles. Clearly a contrast to the prawn noodles, this dish was packed in flavor coming from black bean, SambalOelek and oyster sauce.

If it was really good thus far; I was floored by the complex flavors of the next noodle dish.  Every bite had a melange of flavors that took my palate by surprise - Sweet to start, followed shortly by tang and ultimately leaving wonderful spice notes. Clearly a contribution of the oyster garlic sauce and the red ginger chilis; this was Bakmi Goreng.

Moving to the vegetarian segment, it was a Thai favourite; Pad Thai. Made with flat noodles made of rice flour; this preparation came with a good mix of tofu and exotic veggies like pokchoy, shiitake, beans sprouts and Chinese cabbage. Tossed in a sauce containing tamarind pulp and palm sugar to say the least it was really nice on the palate. Plated on the side were roasted peanuts and lime allowing a little customisation. Well, this is how a good Pad Thai is served traditionally.

The last of the mains we tried was Crispy noodles plate with sesame garlic vegetables. It was a chopsuey of crisp fried noodles topped with delicious sesame garlic vegetables. The best way to describe this will be 'Comfort Food' and this is the very reason why this dish also makes itself a part of the menu at Sing Kong's Oodles of Noodles festival.

Dessert was a Chinese classic - Organic honey tossed noodles drizzled with roasted sesame and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was light and flavourful; definitely a perfect dessert to end a fabulous Pan-Asian meal.

It was a fantastic meal with nothing on the table which did not catch our attention and surely goes beyond a fantastic meal. There clearly are aplenty reasons to have me revisit Sing Kong which includes at the top - 
 - their delicious and mouth-watering lovely Pan-Asian delicacies, 
 - a couple of nice cocktails or chilled beer,
 - a wonderful and a long lunch session,
 - Worth every rupee being spent at an average cost of Rs. 1400 for  with out drinks and taxes and charges.
 - Bangalore weather playing great sport, 
 - Piazza at UB City, and
 - a special menu; this time being 'Oodles of Noodles'

This specific food festival and a celebration of food is on till just the 14th of May; that leaves us with just a little less than a fortnight. 

Do not miss it!

Address: UB City, 4th Floor, Piazza Area, Lavelle Road, Bangalore