Wednesday, 8 March 2017

New Menu Introductions 2017 - Smoke House Deli

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It's a new year, it's a new menu.. lots of interesting flavors, textures and ingredients. It's not just food but also some interesting cocktails and infusions. Experiencing this menu was joyous yet a task and believe me when I say that for the sheer count of Nee dishes we tried on this lunch table specially curated for media. 

Without much ado, let's get started with as it's aptly called 'Starters' / 'Appetizers'. We had 4 of them on the table with each very distinct from the other. My pick of them all was the prawn fritters tossed in spiced mayo and the Kashmiri Chili and cottage cheese flatbread from the vegetarian menu.

Drinks flowed in with each course. To start was a concoction of whiskey, angostura and orange bitters, Cherry liquor and a dash of lime. 

The roasted corn soup arrived with a dollop of sour cream and drizzle of truffle oil. I missed the flavor of truffle oil, and the sour cream missed marring well with soup which was otherwise good in both taste and consistency. Salad was refreshing with an assortment of lettuce, tomato, boconcini and dressed in a pesto vinaigrette. Like always I've always enjoyed salads at SHD and this time was no different; unfortunately, don't have a picture to share.

Cocktails on the new menu are concocted from house infused liquors like rum and gin. I tried the SHD Collin contained gin infused with kaffir lime leaves, lime wedges and peel; SHD spiced Apple daiquiri was concocted with both rum and Apple juice infused with cloves, star anise and cinnamon and finally SHD Cosmo which was made with gin infused with dill leaves. 
SHD Spiced Apple Daiquiri
Coming back to food, I loved the slow roasted cauliflower and mascarpone risotto in comparison to its counterpart Black pepper crusted chicken risotto. The former opens up in flavors as you chew it and progress with eating this dish. Another one from the menu I really enjoyed was the potato gnocchi stirred in a 3 cheese sauce with roasted vegetables. 
Rissotto
Gnocchi
As if this was not enough, next arrived the mains followed by dessert. For the mains, my top picks were the rosemary roast chicken which leads the way from an erstwhile menu signature I loved - half roast chicken and the perfectly pan grilled bhetki fish fillet, generously portioned with a crispy skin to crack through. One was a hearty portion of chicken, mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms with a poached egg drizzled with a jus flavored with rosemary while the other came served with a subtle jalapeño corn sauce creating just the required flavor profile. Between the chicken and the fish, it's just the need of the palate that can define the better one. 


The slow braised Belgian pork spare ribs lost out on 2 counts - the ribs could have been chunkier and fall off the bone and the bacon around the accompanying pork meat parcel should have been crispy. flavor wise, no misses here. 

Desserts were fantastic, be it the white chocolate cake with a lemon molten cake, prune crumble tart with dark chocolate mousse or milk cake dressed with toasted hazelnuts. They were rich, decadent, came with distinct flavor profiles. 



It was an enjoyable afternoon over good food from the kitchen of Chef Saurabh Arora and catching up with friends and I do look forward to getting back to Smoke House Deli for these new introductions and some classics; available at both their outlets in Bangalore - Lavelle road and Indiranagar. I urge you to do so too. An average meal for two will be Rs. 1500++; additional for cocktails.

Cheers!


Address: 
Ground Floor, No. 52 & 53, Lavelle Road, Bangalore 560011
and
No. 1209, Ward No. 72, Hal IInd Stage, 100ft Road, Indiranagar, Bengaluru 560038
Phone Number: +91 80 4051 5151 



Note: This visit to Smoke House Deli was on invitation but the opinions expressed are solely mine and are absolutely unbiased nor influenced by the brand in any way.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Made In Punjab - Extravagant Punjabi Fare

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Coming from the celebrated family of Kalra's the launch of Made In Punjab was much awaited and when it did it was with all pomp and show in true Punjabi ishtyle. Invited to experience the offerings from their menu, a friend and I headed one evening for some hearty Punjabi fare.

We started off with the legacy tandoori champ which were succulent lamb chops in a special house mix of spices. The evening surely did kick start on a really high note. Soon giving us company on our table was 'Bhatti  Ka Murgh' which was perfectly spiced tender chicken leg.


Appetizers continued to flow in with a melt in mouth 'Paneer Barrel Tikka' which as the name goes resembled barrels with an in between filling of spinach and cheese. Not usually a fan of mushrooms, the restaurant staff did insist we try 'Jau Mushroom Chakli' and it sure did have us asking for more. It was deep fried parcel with a filling of barley, minced mushrooms mildly seasoned and came served with a mustard-garlic chutney.

Punjabi evenings are never sober and hence the liver got it its fair share of job to perform. We had some interesting cocktail concoctions which had fancy Punjabi naming conventions. In order of preference I loved the 'Nayaa Zamana' which was MIP's take on the classic 'Old Fashioned' cocktail which concocted with a base of bourbon whiskey, caramel, citrus and apple. This was closely followed by 'Nashili Chai' a concoction of various white liquor and in house tea infusion.
Nayaa Zamaana
Nashili Chai
Heading to our next course 'Main Course' I had to have the much talked and heard about 'Nalli HardKaur'. It was a visually pleasing sight and even more enjoyable to eat; all the way through the last morsel of the intense lamb shank and finally sweep clean the plate to not leave a drop of the silken curry. The meat was cooked to fall of the bone consistency and exuded intense flavors.

I can go on about 'Nalli HardKaur' but let's move on to 'Luxury BC'. Let's cut the thinking, this is the luxury butter chicken; succulent chicken chunks in an ultra rich and delicious gravy. Both the dishes were best enjoyed with the traditional Punjabi breads like butter naan, paratha, tandoori roti and likes.

Finishing with a dessert, we tried the dates Rasmalai. The dates added a nice flavor to this dessert but for me this dessert lost out on the texture for it was too spongy unlike the traditional rasmalai which usually just melt in mouth. As I said, "this did not work for my palate but my dining companion relished this dessert."

An average meal for 2 at MIP will cost around Rs. 2000 ++ inclusive of food and a beverage each. I know I'm going back here often for delicious Punjabi fare and kick-ass cocktails. The menu is vast with some extravagant offerings and apart from repeats I look forward to trying more off their menu.


Address: Made In Punjab, UB City, Bengaluru - 560103
Phone Number: +91 81309 55899


Note: This visit to Made In Punjab was on invitation but the opinions expressed are solely mine and are absolutely unbiased nor influenced by the brand in any way.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

How to better manage a long haul flight?


- It's a Long haul flight from BLR to Paris
- It takes around 10 hours.
- Flight departs at wee hours of the night or should I say morning? 2:30 AM to be precise and gets you to Paris at 8:30AM.

Lack of sleep can hit your experience of enjoying Paris as the day comes along. To make the best of your time in Paris and on flight; it's best to start managing your time on flight. While I speak of my experience as I travel to France, these hacks are applicable for any long haul flights:

  1. Seat selection is a critical first step; at least one of the important steps that define your in-flight experience.
  2. Eating right will help you settle in for a good sleep. So eat on flight before you sleep. 
  3. Catch up on some good sleep on flight.
  4. Warm yourself up well before sleeping as the temperature can get quite low as the travel progresses.
  5. Keep your body hydrated on flight by drinking a lot of water.
  6. Walk around / move around frequently while awake. 
  7. Make a plan to efficiently go through the arrival procedure. Most airlines offer visual information on the post arrival process.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Taste of Puglia - Straight from the heart @ Bene, Sheraton Grand Bangalore

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It's been a while since I've written about the food at Sheraton Grand Bangalore and is my first time I'm writing about the food at Chef Giuseppe's table. At the helm of Bene - the signature Italian restaurant; Chef Giuseppe hailing from Puglia is hosting a food festival showcasing the cuisine from his region placed in Southern parts of Italy. The food from here is rustic and earthy and Chef with his team at Bene left no stone unturned. Read on to know how the evening transpired.

As we took to our seats, our table was set up with breads baked in-house with the focaccia being a favorite. The texture of this bread was brilliant with a crispy outer shell and the airy centre. The flavor of extra virgin olive oil was evident and was a perfect accompaniment to every course of the meal. Hard to imagine an Italian meal without breads.

Olives were imported from Italy and were stuffed with either capers or almonds. The wine for the evening was from the Grover's produce. I generally love red wine and hence stuck to the Grover Shiraz. Must say, "I'm quite turning into a fan of their wine produce off late." The wine paired wonderfully with the food and before this could be concluded the olives paired with the wine did really enhance the wine experience.

Moving on, soon arrived the 'Bruschetta Pugliese' (missing picture) which was assembled to offer the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, saltiness from the sun-dried tomato, pepper notes from the young arugula. This married brilliantly with the extra virgin olive oil and shaved parmesan drizzle; all topped on perfectly toasted Puglia bread. There was also 'Panzerotti Pugliese' fried mini folded pizzas stuffed with burrito cheese, tomato and basil. These were mini parcels of good ness reiterating the saying, "Good things come in small packages."

'Caprese Alla Barese' can easily make a comforting and satiating meal. The flavors and textures of the ingredients of this cold salad were a treat to the palate. This dish comprised of Bocconcini mozzarella, fresh basil pesto and sundries tomato tossed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh oregano and drizzle of Modena balsamic Vinegar. Most Italian restaurants offer this salad and so does Bene at Sheraton on its regular menu. But this preparation was an excellent representation of the region Chef hails from and by far the best I've had.

Each course that arrives had higher expectations to beat and the next one at task was 'Ciambotto' a seafood soup which includes the catch of the day cooked in bisque and fish stock and served with the Focaccia dipped in it. The flavors were earthy; sorry oceanic, the texture rich and I was a happy foodie again realising why I've loved Bene through these years.

'Orecchiette Alla Ragu' is a home made pasta originating from the Puglia region. This comes tossed in 48 hours slow cooked lamb ragout and pecorino cheese. I loved the bite that this pasta provided, the ragout it was tossed in and the slow cooked lamb was succulent and packed with flavor as a result. I swept this clean with no guilt what so ever.

The main course was plated with - (1) 'Branzino in Costa Di Palate' - a Chilean sea bass fish topped with potato crust placed on a bed of cherry tomato asparagus and garden salad. (2) 'Zucchine Al Tonno' - Zucchini stuffed with tuna capers and garlic. Both had a brilliant flavor profile but for me; of the two the Chilean sea bass stole the show for its simplicity in preparation, the perfect balance in cooking the fish and the accompanying salad and the cherry tomatoes clearly elevated the experience of eating this fish.

Next course was the final one and was the dessert. 'Biscotti di Mandorla' made and appearance. This was a warm South Italian short bread tart stuffed with home made nutella and came topped with again a homemade Mascarpone cheese ice cream'. While the table was filled with discussions during each course for their sheer excellence; during this it was a silent heavenly abode. No words were needed for the silence as everyone clean swept their plates spoke it all. I'm no dessert fan and I left no trace of this dessert on my plate.

So if you've been following me on my social media channels you'd have seen the buzz around this dinner already which has been pleasing dinners since 4th November. While this comes to an end as I write these lines, let me tell you this is clearly a reminder that Bene stands out as my go to restaurant in the city for excellent Italian food and hospitality and also a restaurant I will time and again recommend you to hit for a fantastic experience. 

The best way to experience it all is to go in for a 6 course experiential dining that was offered on the menu for Rs 2000 + taxes and charges. Absolutely worth the price and for those who wanted to go the a la carte way, a special menu was on offer with lots to choose from for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. 

While this festival may have run through the duration planned for, this review only clearly hints that Sheraton will only work again towards going beyond the expectations this food festival has already set. So while I look forward to more meals here, do watch this space for upcoming food promotions and festivals.

Quick Tip:
When you are at Bene and you happen to catch Chef Giuseppe, let yourself in his hands and he will walk you through an experience you will remember for a long time to come.


Address: Bene, Sheraton Grand Bangalore at Brigade Gateway, 26/1, Dr. Rajkumar Road, Malleshwaram - Rajajinagar, Bangalore - 560055
Phone Number: +91 80 4252 1000

Friday, 30 September 2016

Food Festival: An Essence of Chettinad @ Sheraton Grand Bangalore

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It was Day 01 of the Marriott - Starwood Merger and Yes, I was there :)

We kicked off our evening at Sheraton experiencing the in season Oktober Fest menu; buts that's for another post. Fast forwarding the evening to when Chef Sabari with all enthusiasm walked us to our table at feast to experience the food festival close to his heart - 'An Essence of Chettinad'. Hailing from the region, Chef Sabari shared stories of the culinary journey his team set out on to bring the authenticity and experience back to Sheraton Grand Bangalore and it clearly showed through the evening spent.

Indian section of the buffet was dedicated to Chettinad cuisine which was extensive enough to ignore the rest of the otherwise magnificent buffet spread. True to the restaurants name, the Chettinad spread alone was a 'Feast'.

We were welcomed with Panakam and Neermore and before heading to starters we started off with condiments placed on our table like a variety of chips, chutneys, pickles, spread of podi and more before we progressed to the next course of starters. Panakam is a jaggery based drink with lime juice, ginger, cardamon forming key ingredients. We shamelessly enjoyed a couple of rounds of this drink as we nibbled through the condiments placed on our table.



Starters was an enjoyable course - a result of good ingredients, spices, marination and cooking style. The non-vegetarian starters included quail cooked in Chettinad spices (Kadai Perattal), prawn fry (Karuvepillai Eral Fry) and lamb chops (kari Varuval). This only made me look forward to the coming courses from the buffet spread.

Live stations continuously dished out vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters, appam, Adai, parothas and Nei Paniyaram. Adai as recommended by Chef was enjoyed in the company of ghee and jaggery. Neil Paniyaram was relished with the wide spread of chutneys and podi. 

Mains included a range of dishes for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. There was Karaikudi Attiracha Curry; a flavourful lamb dish and Chettinad Meen Melagu Varuval; a seer fish preparation (yes! I was equally excited to hear Seer and not Basa)  that went well in the company of a nice flaky parotha. There was also Chettinad chicken biryani which I have usually never been  fan off. 




This was not all, I loved the vegetarian section too which had Pusanikkai More Kozambu, Vatha Kozambu and more. These were my favourites from the vegetarian menu and were relished with steamed rice. 


I'm not a big fan of desserts but I did venture into it. Amidst a wide spread selection, a fellow blogger recommended I try the Sago Payasam and it hit the bullseye. I did not need to look for any other dessert from the spread. At the end of it all there sure was a need of a digestive and to finish there was a delicious paan on offer.

It's a limited time showcase and the menu offering is on a rotational basis. So head here to enjoy a buffet that has an extensive offering of Chettinad food prepared from the heart by Chef Sabari and team. While only one more day remains for this food festival, I urge you to try it out and if that's not possible the buffet spread at Sheraton Grand Bangalore is fantastic and makes for an enjoyable experience. The buffet at feast comes priced at Rs. 1445++ for lunch and Rs. 1595++ for dinner.

Quick Tips:
Go enjoy an Essence of Chettinad at Feast, Sheraton Grand Bangalore and stay tuned for more to come.


Address: Sheraton Grand Bangalore, 26/1, Dr. Rajkumar Road, Malleshwaram - Rajajinagar, Bangalore - 560055
Phone Number: +91 80 4252 1000


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

'The Moplahs of Malabar' - Unique Tastes at Dakshin - ITC Windsor, Bangalore

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Under the aegis of Kitchens of India, ITC Hotels have been hosting numerous food festival; each showcasing an aura of specialty cuisine that they aptly categorize under the following themes:
- Unique Tastes
- Forgotten Treasures
- Royal Repasts

Like always, this running food festival showcasing the unique tastes of 'The Moplah Cuisine' is no less of a grandeur giving insights into the food and cultural amalgamation of the highly respected community of Kerala Muslims also known as 'Moplahs'. Under the able guidance of Mrs. Ummi Abdullah - a Moplah culinary specialist; chef George at the helm from ITC Windsor's Dakshin along with his team are wonderfully steering a legacy that ITC hotels is known to live by.

A meal here always starts with generous servings of a variety of chutneys, uttappams, papads and fries. I've always looked forward to this especially the banana uttappam which tastes so very distinct when had with a different type of chutney. I expected it to be a long evening with loads of food so I had to balance out my indulgence to be able to last through the rest of the evening.

The experience of the 'Moplah Cuisine' started with the arrival of none other than Mrs. Ummi Abdullah who in all her enthusiasm shared stories ranging from the love for cooking, extracting coconut oil, the 3 generations that follow her, all time favorites, complexities and unique techniques involved with this traditional cuisine and so on. All these conversations were enjoyed in the company of delicious appetizers that followed one after another.
Mrs. Umi Abdullah (3rd from Right)
Taking the lead were fried onion fritters and deep fried pockets of spiced chicken; the former called 'Ulli Ada' and the later being 'Kozhi Ada'. A bite into each of these and you know right away that the food is non-greasy, not spicy / hot but the emphasis is clearly laid on the use of fragrant spices. I can be biased towards non-vegetarian food and you know that very well too. But in this case, I was really impressed with 'Ulli Ada' the fried onion mini samosas if I may call them.
Kozhi Ada
Fried Onion Fritters
The filling of deep fried sweet onion and it's marriage with the fragrant spices hit the right notes on my palate. 'Kozhi Ada' was minced chicken subtly flavored with spices stuffed in a really thin yet perfectly crisp casing. I was amazed to hear that this can be deep fried and then stored for over a month packed in containers for consumption as a tea time snack. How cool is that! Isn't it?

Next up were 'Thenga Unda' and 'Chemeen Unda'; both being steamed rice dumpling with the former containing onion and coconut while the later contained fragrant - spiced minced prawns. subtle and delicate flavors and the simplicity of flavors is what made me happy about 'Unda'. 
Tenga Unda
Chemeen Unda
If you thought this was all we had for starters, the best was yet to arrive and when it did; it seemed like a complete meal by itself. This was the 'Meen Porichandu' - grilled seer fish slices marinated in Malabar spices. A drizzle of lime and accompaniment of onion was all that was required to make this soul satisfying.

With this, we made a foray into the mains which were served in the classic Dakshin thali. Served on the plate left to right in the cups is - 'Meen Mulakithattu' a traditional moplah fish curry made with tamarind; 'Chena Varatharacha Curry' yam simmered in coconut gravy; 'Erachi Nadan Porichathu' an authentic preparation of succulent lamb in a paste of garlic and coriander; 'Thakkali Vattichathu'; 'Kozhi Varattiyathu' chicken drumsticks tossed with traditional malabar spices and to the extreme right is 'Alisa' a porridge of slow cooked broken wheat and lamb topped with fried onion and ghee. This was similar to haleem and traditionally in a Moplah household; Alisha is best enjoyed with a mixing of sugar and hot ghee. I tried it both ways and did love the rich consistency of Alisha. 
Main Course - Dakshin Thali


The mains were accompanied by 'Appam', 'Podi Pathiri' and Ney 'Pathri'. Each one was very different from another and was a blend of distinct texture and unique tastes. The course does not end here. What followed was a delicious 'Thallasseri Mutton Biryani' which was fragrant rice  with succulent mutton and topped with dried fruits.

Mrs. Ummi Abdullah at the start of the meal introduced our table to a dessert that is a result of finesse. This uses egg as a main ingredient and when plated traditionally it takes the form of a garland and hence the name 'Muttamala'. Muttamala made with egg yolk is served resembling string hoppers and comes topped with 'Kinnathappam' steamed and sweetened egg white disks. Saffron, cardamom and the sugar syrup used as ingredients in the making of this dessert wonderfully basks the otherwise prominent flavor that egg can leave behind in a dessert if not done right. This was perfect and was polished off in no time. 

This meal at Dakshin is available for lunch and dinner as a thali or can be called for a la carte from the menu till 12th September. At Rs. 2300 + taxes (ITC does not levy Service Charge), trying the thali is the perfect way to experience the unique tastes of Moplah cuisine which is yet another experience wonderfully curated by the team of ITC Windsor.


Address: ITC Windsor, 25 Windsor Square, Golf Course Road, Near Sankey Road, Bangalore
For Reservations - Phone Number: +91 80 4140 1205


Note: This visit to ITC Hotels Windsor, Bengaluru was on invitation but the opinions expressed are solely mine and are absolutely unbiased nor influenced by the brand in any way.