Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cafe xtasi, Pondicherry

3 friends from Bangalore visited Pondicherry over the weekend and explored the city and hangouts. All we did there was relaxed, eat, and drink... this kept repeating all through the weekend. Going through the city magazine, we discovered Cafe Xtasi and with a little review research headed to this restaurant for a late Sunday lunch.

The cafe just outside its entrance had a wood fired oven by the side. The entrance leads us to this cafe with very simple and basic interiors. The cafe was about 60% occupied which is very good considering it was past 3.30 (odd hours).

The menu has a wide range of pizza selection for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. You get o choose from a total of 75 different pizzas. Each listing is well classified into vegetarian and non-vegetarian section on the menu. Their pizzas come in 3 standard sizes (small, medium, large) and 1 jumbo size. At café Xtasi, if ordering a medium, large or jumbo pizza; you are given an option to go for half and half pizza which is a mix 2 pizzas from the menu.

What we ate
We went in for 2 medium pizzas - 1 was veg and another non-veg. With the option available to call for half & half pizza, our vegetarian friend after a lot of confusion (from being spoilt for choice) ordered Half of Vegetate and another half of Panpepp. We non-vegetarians ordered for half CHUKINI and half TANIZZA – both of which had chicken toppings. 

Sorry for the poor image quality. This probably was a result of our hunger.   ;-)
Non - Vegetarian Pizza
Vegetarian Pizza - 1/2 & 1/2

The pizzas arrived in about 15 minutes and were all washed down accompanied by coke in no time by us 3 hungry musketeers. The pizza base was very light and thin. The toppings were really generous and every pizza had a very distinct flavor. Though both (actually 4; if we consider the 1/2 & 1/2 option) the pizzas were fantastic. A special attention grabber was the PANPEPP pizza which had cream drizzled over as one of the topping.

By the time we finished, we were so full that we barely had the energy to walk. I can with confidence say that, "Cafe xtasi has served me the finest pizza I have ever eaten." I highly recommend this place for delicious pizzas. For travelers, this is one place you should; by no means miss when in Pondicherry.

Travelers (from outside of Tamil Nadu) may face some concerns with service at restaurants in Pondicherry for the main reason that the staff generally communicate in Tamil and find it difficult to understand another language. So was the case here; when we interacted with the staff. Otherwise, we had no trouble in placing the order and having the order served.

We were on a 2 wheeler and had no difficulty in finding parking space. However, with its location on a very busy road, finding parking for a four wheeler can be a hassle, especially if you happen to visit this place on regular work days.

A medium sized non-vegetarian pizza would cost anywhere around Rs. 550 can be termed as expensive when one considers it is Pondicherry or considering what one pays in Bangalore for wood fired pizzas in a fine dine restaurant. If ignored, the pizzas here are worth every penny shelled out.

Quick Tips
Pizzas are served all day unlike most places in Pondicherry which do not serve lunch post 3 or 3.30 PM.

The toppings on the pizzas are generous. The owner of the café especially recommended not opting for extra cheese as a topping when we requested for it.

Oh yes! I am def. going back to this place when in Pondicherry again and hope to try the jumbo pizza for its sheer size I am currently imagining about.

Address: #2458, Mission Street, (Opp. VOC School),  Pondicherry 605001
Phone Number: 0413 - 4209062, +91 9043023470

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I & Monkey, Bangalore

Driving towards Indiranagar, I wondered which new restaurant to visit for dinner. 3 restaurants much heard about were in my radar, all of them were situated on the 12th Main road. Not giving much thought, we zeroed down on ‘I & Monkey’ only on the basis that it was the first we spotted. Though this decision was quick, what intrigued me was the name – ‘I & Monkey’. The décor looked elegant with a lot of emphasis and use of white but provided me no answer to why the name I & Monkey. Finally, spotted a monkey resting on the bar counter by the bottles.

You think this gave me an answer? No, it didn’t. Actually, it is the menu that helped me understand why the name. The management wants to create an environment where, I can awaken the monkey inside me by letting go of my corporate, social face or any other.

The monkey in me was excited to receive the menu cards. The beverage menu had the regular listing of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. The food menu was a mix bag of European, continental, Indian and coastal food from Kerala. The mains listing seemed to cater to mostly non-vegetarians with just a couple of options thrown in for the vegetarians.Surely a disappointment for the vegetarians.

The listing on the menu did bring back memories of the same dishes listed on the menu of many different pubs. The jig saw puzzle was solved, when I arrived to section ‘Best of Windsor’s Selection’. What struck me was - is I & Monkey run by the Windsor Pub management? Yes, it turned out to be true. 

What we ate
The monkey in me did wake up only to notice the special listing on a menu placard standing on the table. It decided to play with ‘Momo cheesy supreme’ for starters and appointed beer to team up with it. For the mains, it was ‘Vegetable nilgiri korma with a choice of either appams, sannas or parotha (all Indian main course dishes come with choice of accompaniment) and in non-vegetarian, while I initially preferred the good old Fish ‘N’ Chips, I was recommended Pan fried chicken breast by the restaurant staff.
Momo cheesy supreme was the first to arrive at our table. This was presented to us in a cane basket with a tomato and chilly based sauce. The momos were quite different from its more familiar counter-parts but nice to taste.  The notes of melted cheese, minced onion and carrot stuffed momos were well recognized. The chili sauce was not really spicy and had a tad bit tanginess coming from the tomato. The momos were not well shaped. Not having tried this before, my wildest guess for a reason would be due the melted cheese stuffing.
The vegetable nilgiri korma came plated with the spinach based korma in a bowl, 2 appams and shredded vegetable salad. The korma was really nice and it was savored in no time. The appams were light and crisp around the circumference and soft and fluffy in the center.
Pan fried chicken served was not cooked well and the chicken was raw in the middle. Though the sauce tasted very good, it seemed more like black pepper sauce than mushroom sauce. The mashed potatoes lacked freshness and were a tad bit too dry. The mixed vegetables plated with the chicken were pan fried too in the same sauce that was smothered on the chicken. It just seemed like an overdose of sauce in every bite. The dish could have been neutralized by plating boiled and buttered vegetables instead.
Better than Sex! No, I am not deviating. This is the name of a dessert served at I & Monkey. It’s pure chocolate pastry with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. This definitely was the best part of our meal. I’d highly recommend you to try this dessert when dining at I & Monkey.

You may have noticed the use of the word ‘mix bag’ a couple of times in this restaurant write up. Now, I use it again to describe our experience on the service front. A couple of staff members attended to us. One declines the availability of WIFI, while, the other gets us access to it. One tries to sell us a beverage just like a credit card salesman would try to force upon a card, while, the other offers us a complimentary dessert. One says, “No more momo cheesy supreme available while the wait staff actually serves us a momo cheesy supreme.” At one point, food menu had to be asked for and we were given just one of it while 2 of us were dining and at another food were served hot and in a reasonable time.  The service otherwise was smooth but definitely has some pain points that need to be improved upon.

Drive your car right up to the restaurant door step and you’ll be first greeted with a valet parking car token. Yes, we have the restaurant share responsibility of the car park for its patrons.

An average mean for 2 here with a drink, a starter, 2 mains and a dessert to share will leave the wallet short of about Rs. 1500 – Rs.1700

In all, the monkey in me was not so thrilled with the experience. Oh Yes…. Before I sign off, the monkey sitting at the bar by the bottles was just a soft toy. (Just in case, you thought it was for real initially)

Address: #968, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage,  Indiranagar , Bangalore
Phone Number: 080 - 40923656, +91 8861986909

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Millers 46, Bangalore

2 of our friends were relocating bases in a gap of 2 weeks. One was relocating to Mumbai and the other to Vancouver, Canada. We had one meet up at Boca Grande for a continental breakfast and this time we met for dinner and our pick was Miller’s 46. Being a weekend, and since the restaurant runs full house, we decided to make a reservation over the phone while we headed there. In spite of being given a heads up that we might end up waiting, we did not change our venue. While we waited, we looked around the place which is spread across 2 levels. The ambiance is really nice and has a very Texas feel to it. 

We were seated by the bar and provided with an option to place our order if we wished as steaks and sizzlers take a good 20 minutes to arrive. Fantastic! We were anyway getting hungrier with every passing minute. The menu was presented to us in a cow boy hat shaped card. We get a lot to choose from – burgers and sandwiches, Tex – Mex starters, steaks, sizzlers, desserts. The menu was very impressive with a lot of options available for vegetarians to choose from and I must say; the non vegetarians will drool as they glance through the menu.

What we ate:
On this night, vegetarians outnumbered us non-vegetarians. The score stood at 4:2 and for this reason, I will begin with the 3 items on the menu that grabbed the attention of my vegetarian friends. One was Grilled Veg. Ratatouille, another was Millers Mix veg. Grill and the third was grilled veg. Steak. For non-vegetarian, I placed an order for both my friend - who joined us late but well in time for being seated on a table and myself. So, Jamaican jerk steak and much heard about 46ers half pounder chicken burger it was.

Once seated on the table, hunger could no longer be pacified. We were almost immediately served complimentary baskets of assorted breads with delicious herbed butter. What must I say? It only whet our appetites for the scrumptious food that was to arrive soon.
Millers mix veg. Grill came sizzling; piled with a variety of ingredients. This sizzler was a mix bag of velvety smoothness of the spaghetti, crispiness of the veg. fritters, creamy croquettes, the soft cottage cheese/paneer with a crunchy coating and the lovely butter-boiled vegetables.
Grilled veg. Steak was platted with herbed Mexican rice and butter-boiled vegetables, a nice big patty put together with minced vegetables and mashed potato; topped with mushroom sauce. Rice flavoring was perfect, spice levels of the mushroom sauce and veg. steak was well balanced and the portion was more than sufficient for one person.
The grilled veg. ratatouille was not of the most impressive looking dish; but someone has said it right, “Looks can be deceptive.” This dish was totally fabulous, packed with a lot of flavor and arrived at our table with toasted garlic bread. Superb!
Coming to non-vegetarian, a humongous ‘46ers half pounder chicken burger’ as it is called made itself available with a side of French fries and coleslaw. Just a look at it and a friend asked in astonishment, “How the hell does one eat this big a burger?”  In between the bun was, lettuce, sliced cucumber and tomato, sautéed herbed vegetables like green peppers, onion, grilled, juicy and succulent chicken breast topped with a slice of cheese. 
The Jamaican jerk steak was a fantastic looking chicken breast drowned in pepper sauce served along with herbed rice and boiled-buttered veggies. We missed mashed potatoes and without wasting any time called for a portion of it. The chicken was nice and moist. The sauce was spicy and flavorful (just the way I like it). While the herbed rice was really nice, I would any day choose mashed potatoes with the meat when having it from a sizzler plate.
A Chilled bottle of ‘Miller High Life’ beer was a perfect accompaniment to the awesome food that was being devoured by us.

We were a good mix of first time visitors and frequent visitors. In no time, we were pitting this restaurant against other steak houses in Bangalore. No surprise, each of us loved the food so much that we declared it as the finest steak and sizzler place in Bangalore.

The service was excellent. The staff knew their menu well and was very cordial in their communication. Even with the restaurant being packed full house, there was not a moment we felt we were unattended to. Food, as must be; was brought sizzling hot to our table.

Parking is our own responsibility; the restaurant does not offer valet parking. Finding parking on Millers road can sometimes be a task. However, the by-lanes always come to our rescue.

An average meal for 2 with a couple of drinks, 2 mains and a dessert to share comes at about Rs. 1500.

Quick Tips:
A good idea would be to verify the waiting period over the phone before heading to Millers 46. On weekends, be prepared to wait to be seated especially if you happen to visit the restaurant for dinner post 9 PM.

Address: #46, Millers Road, Vasanthnagar, Bangalore
Phone Number: 080 - 41148022, 41131740/6