Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Secret Garden Cafe, Bangalore

Secret Garden Cafe is a nice quaint little place located at the end of Edward Street off Queen’s road on the terrace of a lovely bungalow. Tucked away in one corner, what caught my wife’s attention was how this place has distanced away itself from all the hustle and bustle of the city yet located in the very heart of Bangalore. This has been on my list of ‘to visit’ places for quite some time now. Finally the day arrived when my wife and I decided to head out for a Saturday lunch and I just knew ‘Secret Garden Cafe  is where we should head.

The menu changes frequently and is listed down on a big black board placed on a stand. This board along with the stand is moved around the cafe from one table to another as the need arises. The menu is limited to a few dishes under salads, mains, dessert and some non-alcoholic beverages category; yet offering enough variety for both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians to choose from. The menu on our day comprised of some salads, European and continental, Parsi, and Moroccan dishes along with some cheese cakes and other desserts.

What we ate:
We started off with a very refreshing salad of avocado, tomato and figs to share along with a glass of ice tea each. The salad was a wonderful cocktail of flavors and textures – juiciness of the tomato, sweetness from the fig, creaminess of the perfectly ripened avocado, crunch of the sweet vinaigrette soaked lettuce. Must say, we were happy to have gone by the recommendation of one of the owners of this café.

For the mains, it was Moroccan veg Tagine and cous cous for my wife and Greek Moussaka and minced lamb for me. Moroccan Tagine was a flavorful assortment of chick peas, sweet potato dry fruits and more all served up with cous cous. My wife was all praise of the dish.

I was happy savoring the Greek Moussaka which was baked dish of minced lamb chunks, veggies served on a bed of eggplant slices and topped with a generous layer of cream and cheese. This dish was creamy and delicious. This was all mopped up by me in no time.

The portions here are good and well sufficient for one person. Having had a main each and a salad too share, we decided to share a dessert too. Our pick was ‘Passion fruit cheese cake with mulberry sauce’ which was a slice of passion fruit flavored cheese cake in the middle of a plate filled with mulberry sauce. Nice… The cheese cake had a mild passion fruit flavor and the tanginess of mulberry sauce was a good accompaniment to tickle one’s taste buds.

A first glance at this cafe and we were reminded of the cafes in Pondicherry housed on the terrace of residences that are run or rented out by food lovers. This place had a very relaxed non-restaurant like feel. The occupancy was about 50% which was a good mix of Indians and foreigners who came in as groups or just couples and spent time savoring the food, along with enjoying the ambiance and weather of Bangalore and/or reading a book.

On the service front, one of the partners attended to diners while another along with staff managed the kitchen. The show is run with minimum staff with each managing more than one department unlike a restaurant where normally each staff member is assigned a specific role to play. The service was friendly, prompt and fast. This cafe has an open kitchen and at no time it was difficult to grab one’s attention to our table. The food served was fresh and hot.

Located in a residential street, finding parking was not difficult. Yes, they do not offer valet parking.

For all the food we ate and beverages we consumed we paid about Rs. 1100 all inclusive.

Quick Tips:
Secret Garden Cafe is only open for lunch, Monday to Saturday. Sundays are holiday. This is definitely a good secret to know and I am most certainly going back here. 

Go here for a good food, chilled out ambiance  escape from the cities hustle and bustle (yet being in the heart of the city). 

Address: # 7/1, Edwards Road, Off Queens Road, Bangalore 560052
Phone Number: +91 80 41131365

Monday, 18 February 2013

Berry'd Alive, Bangalore

Browsing through the net, word of mouth recommendations and then recollecting memories of having spotted ‘Berry’d Alive’ while dining at ‘I & Monkey’; is how my wife and I landed up at this dessert haven one of the days last week. On this evening, we headed out with a plan to splurge on the desserts with actual dinner no where in our minds.

The menu at Berry’d Alive is a listing of 15 to 18 desserts. All these desserts are a creation that involves the use of a wide array of flavors and ingredients chosen very thoughtfully. The menu is listed descriptive and for visual help they have a screen that keeps playing the images of the desserts. 

What we ate:
We took a good 10 minutes to decide the first 2 desserts that would visit out table. We were both tempted to try out something that was not chocolate based. Not that we do not like chocolate, but it was more to do with the interesting combinations that made the other desserts to have a better appeal. So the two desserts were – ‘Coffee and Walnut Crème Rolls’ and ‘Strawberry Mango Verrine’.

‘Coffee and Walnut Crème Rolls’ arrived first. While we knew how they’d be presented (courtesy: Menu Images) we did not anticipate it would be down-right delicious to its last bite. This dessert had a very interesting blend of texture and flavor - creaminess of the coffee-walnut flavored crème filling contrasted with the crunch of the sweet crispy crust and dusting of cocoa powder. 

The ‘Strawberry Mango Verrine’ was excellent too. This was a colorful presentation symbolizing the use of crème, strawberry and Mango as ingredients. Each of these layers contributed to the taste that lasted even after this dessert was downed.

Done with two desserts, we were all set for the third one. About to place the order and we met Aljeesh, the owner of Berry’d Alive who not only helped us make our third pick but also shared with us the history behind the desserts on offer, how Berry’d Alive came into being, process of introducing a new dessert into the menu, future plans etc.

Our 3rd dessert was something unusual, really light, mildly sweet and definitely not chocolate based. It was ‘Raspberry Coconut Panacotta’. Unusual because - Imagining coconut as a base ingredient for the dessert was quite hard, yet what we received turned out to be great.

On the service front, the orders need to be placed at the counter itself. Desserts are served on the table. The service is fast and prompt with nothing much to be written about. The ambiance was quite nice.  The desserts were really nice and I am glad we chose to skip dinner and actually make dinner out of the desserts.

There is no valet parking service available.  

Each dessert served here ranges between Rs. 130 to Rs. 160 each - definitely, value for money.

Quick Tips:
Go for delicious desserts.

Address: #1079, 12th Main, Indira Nagar, HAL 2nd Stage, Bangalore 560008
Phone Number: +91 9611348003

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Barbeque Nation, Bangalore

Barbeque Nation; a couple of months ago opened its 3rd outlet in Bangalore in Ascendas Park Square Mall, Whitefield. This restaurant will undoubtedly be the most preferred and frequented restaurant among folks I know at my work place.  My most recent visit was for lunch with 10 other friends from office. This lunch finally happened after a month long push due the festive season; which along with fun, frolic and joy also brings in restrictions of consuming meat.

What we noticed initially on our table was a hoisted flag of Barbeque Nation and a placard listing the spread on the buffet. This restaurant serves only buffet. During lunch one gets to choose from 2 buffet options; One is a 5 starter buffet which includes 3 Vegetarian and 2 Non Vegetarian starters and another is a 10 starter buffet which includes  5 vegetarian and 5 non vegetarian starters. Irrespective of the buffet chosen, the spread of main course and desserts remains the same for all diners. For dinners, patrons only get the 10 starter buffet.  

What we ate:
A hoisted flag means the 'starters can keep coming'. It was time we pay10 starters buffet is the one we opt for usually and this time too it was no different. This includes chicken (2), mutton, fish and prawns for the non – vegetarians and paneer, aloo, grilled veggies and more for the vegetarians. 

All of these starters are served on the table; with most of them placed on the personal barbecue set up on ones table. I like this part where, I can roast the starter further to suit my preferences. There are a variety of sauces placed alongside the barbecue allowing diners to cook the starters with the sauce of choice and personal preferences.

A star at our table was the tawa pepper mutton which was brought to our table as a special starter in addition to the ones listed on the menu. The meat was tender with the fat content left on the meat adding to the taste. The service has always been efficient with the starters been served consistently until the flag goes down. Yesss… you read it right.. Until the flag goes down because a flag down indicates 'we are done with starters'. 

The main course does have a whole lot of options from Indian (usually North and south, may be more), Chinese, Italian, and more… Usually, I am happy with the whole lot of starters served, but who can resist a biryani? At least I can't… So I head to the main course buffet for some biryani (mutton or chicken) and probably some crab curry (served only during dinner) with some Indian bread served hot on the table.

Desserts… There have been numerous times when I skip main course and head straight to the dessert counter. A good spread to choose from – fresh cut fruits, ice creams, toppings like nuts and sauces, pastries, Indian desserts like gulab jamoon, phirni and more again…. The desserts are excellent to taste. A winner to me personally is the phirni served in small or mini clay pots.

I have been to this place numerous times and must begin with saying that, "experience at Barbecue Nation has been overwhelming each of these times, both during lunch and dinner." Food spread is fantastic, service has always been outstanding. The staffs are very pleasant to interact with. The most recent visit is one we will always remember for we in true sense felt pampered. The service is very quick and efficient. The barbecues are refilled with starters of your choice constantly until the flag goes down.

The ambiance is very good, making it suitable for a family/ friends/business dinners. This place can sometimes get too noisy for business dinners. There are live performances in Indiranagar branch where on some days of the week live band performs while in Whitefield branch the staff gave us a performance on the latest sensation…. Gangnam Style. Reminded me of Hard Rock Café where the staff perform on Y.M.C.A.

Being situated in a mall, the restaurant does not offer valet parking service in this outlet. While the other 2 outlets – One at Indiranagar and another in Koramangla provide this service to its patrons.

Pricing of the buffet varies during lunch and dinner. The 10 starter buffet at lunch is charged at about Rs. 525 for the vegetarians and Rs. 580 for non-vegetarian while the same at night is charged at about Rs. 750 – Rs. 800.

Quick Tips:
I recommend making a table reservation before visiting this place. Reservations open 4 days in advance and is best made at least 2 days prior to the planned visit.

For unplanned visits, do not be disappointed for usually 70% of the seating capacity is max limit to the reservation are taken in advance meaning 30% of the seating capacity is left for walk-ins on a first come first serve basis.

Address: Ascendas Park Square Mall, ITPB, Whitefield, Bangalore
Phone Number: 9900080401