Thursday, 25 July 2013

Linx @ Premier Inn, Bangalore

Located very close to my office in Whitefield, one evening I met with the members of the CAL Bloggers Table at ‘Linx’. ‘Linx’ is a multi-cuisine restaurant housed in Premier Inn; a chain of hotels from UK. On arriving here, I learnt that they housed not only ‘Linx’ but also a Lounge Bar 87. It was my first visit to ‘Linx’ and being late rushed to the table where everyone were seated to join them for an evening of unexpected.

Having been late in joining the members on the table who were all set with their drinks, I was almost immediately offered both the drinks and the food menu. The drinks menu comprised no extra-ordinary and fancy listings of beverages but a limited and decent listing of hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Likewise, the food menu wasn’t extensive too but had a sufficient listing of Indian, Chinese, Italian and Continental.

What we ate:
Folks on my table seemed to enjoy the martinis, margaritas, mojitos, long island ice teas and mocktails in the company of a traditional and rustic accompaniment - masala peanuts.

Shortly, followed the appetizers we had called for. The non-vegetarians appetizers included chefs recommendation ‘Charminar Seekh Kebab’ and the classic preperation of crispy threaded chicken. I was a vegetarian on this day and didn’t eat them both (Poor me L).

Crispy threaded chicken was a slice of marinated chicken strip fried in a casing of pan cake threads. This was served with a perfect accompaniment of hot garlic sauce. The charminar seekh kebab was a preperation of mutton half cooked in tandoor, slit in between, stuffed with mint infused yoghurt and finally fried. Both the dishes were relished by the non-vegetarians. But to me, the Charminar seekh kebab was fragrant enough to pull me back to Linx.

On the vegetarian front it was Paneer Tikka and golden fried basket. The paneer itself was slightly hard and the big cubes of it took away the flavor of the marination. The crowd pleaser was golden fried basket which was wonton baskets filled with tempered corn and served with it was a tangy coriander syrup. I ate it just like pani puri - pouring atleast a spoonful of the syrup into the basket and having it in a go.

We had a child on the table too. He made a meal of golden fried crispy french fries and cheese toast that was mouth watering to look at.

In the mains, vegetarians called for Dal Maharani - black dal, Miloni Tarkari, veg chili garlic noodles and stir fried chinese veggies. What I enjoyed the most was black dal with hot Indian breads and the chili garlic noodles with the yummy crispy stir fried veggies.

There was plenty for the non-vegetarians on our table not only in terms of the dishes but also cuisines. Mutton Roganjosh, hot rotis, mutton dum biryani, Grilled fish in lemon butter sauce, Farfalle in cream sauce, egg fried rice and stir fried minced chicken. I could see everyone enjoy digging into each of these dishes. I wish I had eaten it all to say more about it.

For desserts, my pick was fried ice cream. This was presented to us in a Martini glass with honey floating at the bottom of the glass. The dessert was nice, warm and crispy on the outside and cold on the inside; honey floating at the bottom of the glass adding a nice flavor.

For more food pictures from this dinner, visit the photo albums on my Facebook page Review Of Restaurants

The food tasted good, be it Indian, continental or Chinese. The portions of the appetizers were good to be shared while the mains are structured such that a portion is sufficient for one. Though, with a couple of starters, Indian and Chinese mains can be shared between two. For those focusing on the mains can go with the option called ‘Make It Large’ which you will see at the end of the mains section. With this, the portions served are larger and can easily be shared to make a meal from it.

I went to Linx with absolutely no expectations and was completely bowled over by the overall experience. What bowled me over was the unexpectedly relaxed and comforting ambiance, the unpretentious food and simple beverage concoctions. While there are many hotels and restaurants in Whitefield, I know exactly now where I must head to for a good a la carte lunch or dinner along with a couple of rounds of drinks. Conversing with the restaurant manager, I also learnt that Costa Coffee is owned by the same group of companies that own Premier Inn. So no prices for guessing, Costa Coffee kiosk is available and the same can enjoyed at Premier Inn.

An average meal for 2 which includes an appetizer to share, 2 mains and a dessert will cost around Rs. 1000 plus taxes and charges.

Quick Tips:
If you are living in Whitefield, look no further. Linx @ Premier Inn is a fantastic place to dine at. You are sure to enjoy a really nice meal without having to travel to other parts of Bangalore in a look for some a-la carte options.

Address: Premier Inn Bangalore Whitefield, No 3-A1, Brookfield Main Road, Mahadevpura, Opp. IFB Campus, Whitefield, Bangalore 560048
Phone Number: +91 80 4348 8888

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

My Place @ Movenpick Hotels & Spa Bangalore - Grand Trunk Road Culinary Trail

A road stretching 2500 kilometers has been of great significance in the Indian history. What is this road called? Where does it run through?

The answer to this is Grand Trunk Road (GTR) running from Bangladesh, then Kolkata in West Bengal, in the northwest direction through a couple of Indian states, into Rawalpindi and Peshawar in Pakistan and ending at Kabul in Afghanistan.

Reminded of school, the history text book does take us through (1) how this road developed, evolved and expanded starting from the Maurya dynasty, to the British Empire with all the dynasties and empires in between. (2) How its significance grew with every passing empire; be it for trade, invasions, transportation etc. While all this was covered in good depth, what remains uncovered in these books is; at the minimum a reference of the rich culinary extravagance this route has to offer.  

No worries, I’m here to share my experience from what I savored when I travelled across this route. Not literally, a couple of bloggers including me were invited to My Place @ Movenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore to experience the ‘Grand Trunk Road Culinary Trail’.  This is a festival on at ‘My Place’ up to Sunday, 21st July.

As a part of this festival, the buffet spread at ‘My Place’ is expansive and covers signature and symbolic dishes starting with West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab in India and then runs into the north-west frontier to include delicacies from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yes, all of this in the form of salads, appetizers, mains and desserts amalgamating under one single roof at Movenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore.

To achieve this culinary feast, Executive Chef Thomas Joseph travelled a part of the GTR in search of local chefs who would also bring in authenticity to the preparations. The team comprised of both in-house and visiting chefs. When introduced to them, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the visiting team mainly comprised of women to which another secret was let out, “They are home chefs who only entered a big or commercial kitchen a couple of weeks ago for the first time; that too after a lot of convincing.”

What more? Let’s go through what we ate.

What we ate:
We started off with an assortment of kebabs. Non-vegetarians had Ghutwa Kebab – a flavorful mutton kebab finely minced to bring it to a paste like consistency and fried, Macchi ka Kebab – cubes of fish mildly spiced and cooked in a tandoor to perfect flakiness and the delicious and hot samosas. They were no ordinary samosas but something, the name of which is sufficient to get many mouths watering – ‘Mutton Keema Samosa’.

On the vegetarian front, it was ‘Anjeer Mawe ki tikki’, ‘Bengali Begoon Bhaja’ and Punjab’s very own ‘Bhutta kebab’. What intrigued me was the very different Anjeer mawe ki tikki. The name gives a clear hint, “This kebab will be sweet”. And sweet it was. This did not appeal to most palates but I liked the preparation and enjoyed it with a contrasting flavor of mint chutney. The Begoon Bhaja was crispy on the outside with the inside being mushy and moist. A very simple yet a fabulous dish made live on request.

GTR runs through most of North Indian states and not having chaat on buffet would be disastrous. This cannot happen at Movenpick. My guest and I, in true street style indulged in a round of gol gappas. Both of us being avid lovers of non-vegetarian food retained our focus on the main course and moved on.

It was a meaty affair, Haleem – Lucknow style was on the spread. I didn’t like this much. Personally, the Hyderabadi version of the haleem is the only format that appeals to my palate. However, the buffet also had a delicious Lucknowi style ghost biryani which was no – nonsense and an absolute meat lovers delight. The Delhi style Mutton do pyaza was ‘bang on’ on flavors and tenderness of the mutton.

There was also Macher Jol; a Bengali fish preparation which tasted very different due to the use of mustard oil in its making. It took me a couple of bites to really enjoy these flavors. Then there was also, 'Chooza Khas Makhani' (State: Punjab) and 'Murgh Kari' from Pakistan. Unlike the usual makhani dishes, the 'Chooza Khas Makhani' was not sweet but has a unique and wonderful flavoring coming from the use of anise and some more ingredients. This was a universal winner on our table. Murgh Kari was another fabulous preparation. Mildly spiced and packed with a lot of flavor.  All main course gravies were enjoyed with hot Indian breads that were served hot on our table.

With literally no appetite left to give vegetarian dishes a shot, I just looked through the arrangement to see what I had missed from the vegetarian section. A look and I wished I had tried at least a couple which included the classic Pindi Channa masala and the Karela dish.

I like desserts but it is not something for which I will usually give up or compromise on the meal. So for me it was a piece of delicious gulab jamoon, Sandesh, chilled phirni, Qubani ka mitha and blueberry something. The desserts I had were all good and did make a good end to a fabulous meal.  

For more food pictures from this dinner, visit the photo albums on my FaceBook page Review Of Restaurants

Overall, the food at this festival is fabulous. What takes this festival to another high is a wonderful and fascinating ‘Desi’ cocktails menu especially concocted for this Grand Trunk Road Festival.  Here’s a very interesting range of cocktails which we sampled - Piru Pyala, Imli Mojito, Kala Khatta Diaquiri and Sharabi Nariyal. Of these, Piru Pyala - a tequila based drink with guava juice, spices and black salt was a clear favorite closely followed by the Imli Mojito.

The GRT festival is on till the 21st of July. This special buffet is available only for dinners and is priced at Rs. 1200 plus taxes and charges (Alcohol extra). There is enough the spread to savor for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Valet Parking is available.

Quick Tips:
Grand Trunk Road Culinary Trail culminates on 21st July with a Sunday brunch. If you are unable to make it for a relaxed evening dinner; this Sunday Brunch will be an exciting affair to be a part off.

Address: Movenpick Hotels & Spa Bangalore, 115, Gokula Extension, HMT Road (Near BEL Circle), Bangalore - 560054
Phone Number: +91 80 4300 1000 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Feast @ Sheraton, Bangalore

Last year, around the same time Sheraton, Bangalore hosted a Japanese festival. OK, let’s be precise, it was a Sushi festival. And now; ‘Feast’ a multi-cuisine restaurant at Sheraton, Bangalore plays host to yet another Japanese food festival. On till the 14th of July, Chef Kyoji Endo from Westin, Tokyo is here to take you through the culinary delights from the ‘land of the rising sun – Japan’. An invite came my way for this event and it took me no time to say a ‘Yes’.

Since it is Japanese food fest, a section of the buffet otherwise shared between the South East Asian countries has been solely dedicated to Chef Kyoji Endo’s creations of his homeland. This spread included specialties like sushi, sashimi, miso, udon, green tea ice cream and not to forget something Chef Kyoji Endo is a specialist at – Tempura preparations. All of this was accompanied by a magnanimous spread of food and desserts representing various cuisines of the world. So aptly named is this restaurant!!! ‘Feast – world of flavors’

What we ate:
Of course! It was a Japanese fest and that’s exactly what we kick started our meal with. My companion seemed very fascinated with the concept of customizing her own soup. Chef Kyoji Edno helped her with the customization. The soup was served cold in a broth made of miso, dashi and more. Ingredients include udon noodles, topped with tofu, nori, finely chopped scallions and some other toppings. This was a winner since when we dug into it.

My pick was the miso - egg drop soup that was served hot. This soup was really light in consistency, the flavors well balanced appealed to my senses. I remember having not enjoyed this soup much at another Japanese restaurant a couple of months ago. But here, I loved it.

Moving on - next on the radar was tempura and sushi. I savored the non – vegetarian version of both while my partner in crime – a vegetarian went with the vegetarian options. Both tempura and sushi were served plated on our table. The tempura was the first to arrive. One look at it and I could say, “The batter must be really light and crunchy”. True to my imagination, the batter was light, crisp, and non-greasy. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and retained its flavor, moisture and softness.

The veg tempura was stuffed with chunks of assorted veggies and was also equally enjoyed. What took the whole tempura experience up a notch for us were green tea salt and chili salt; the unique accompaniments prepared by the visiting chef.

The sushi followed soon. The buffet displays just the rolls format broadly known as Maki sushi. On enquiring, we were told, nigiri and sashimi was on offer too. The reason for it not being present on the buffet display was just to maintain the freshness factor. What came to my table was a platter of sushi, sashimi and nigiri. While I love maki sushi rolls, it was the salmon nigiri that stole the limelight for me. There was California roll for the vegetarians which had a crispy cucumber as the filling. I did dig into this and loved it too.

The Japanese section of the buffet also had fried pork (Ton Katsu), whitefish in a vinegar sauce, potatoes in teriyaki sauce and fried tofu. The whitefish in vinegar sauce was cooked but served cold; traditionally the way it is eaten and was good in flavor but the fish seemed a tad bit hard and dry. ‘Potatoes in teriyaki sauce’ was a nice preparation with sweetness felt from both potato and the teriyaki sauce.
Whitefish in Vinegar Sauce

At a Japanese dinner one would definitely expect to dig into a scoop of green tea ice cream. Though not displayed on the buffet, this in-house creation is brought to the table. The ice cream had a mild flavor of green tea but was one dessert we relished.

In between all this, we also paid visit to the other sections of the buffet. To show you the magnitude of the spread Sheraton has on offer here is a quick pictorial representation:
Salad Bar: Make your own salad or choose from ready salads
Mediterranean Fare: Pita bread with assorted dips; herbed rich with Chicken and Lamb kababs 
Indian Non-Vegetarian Fare: Meen Pollichattu, Chicken Biryani & a gravy I do not recollect

This is not all; the buffet also hosted a vast spread of Italian and American food as well. Not to mention, a fantastic array of desserts Indian and international.

For more food pictures from this dinner, visit the photo albums on my FaceBook page Review Of Restaurants

The Japanese food was nice especially the soups and the tempura. I’d say, “If looking for Japanese food and you are in the vicinity – Feast is the place.” What better? You also get to experience the whole range of spread offered on the buffet.

True to its name - ‘Feast – World of flavors’; we got to experience not just the Japanese fest but also a diverse range of cuisines from across the world all under one roof. The dinner buffet priced at Rs. 1345 ++ is absolutely worth a splurge. The ambiance during the day is filled with a lot of natural light and at nights the warm lighting sets the mood for a great evening ahead. On the service front, I appreciate the attention the staff gives to every table to ensure that the diners’ requests are met in the best of their capacity.

Feast at Sheraton, also offers a lunch buffet which is priced at Rs. 1195 plus applicable taxes and charges.

Parking is never a problem here. Valet service is available.

Quick Tips:
Go here to experience a world of flavors the buffet has to offer. 

Address: Sheraton @ Brigade Gateway, 26/1, Dr. Rajkumar Road, Malleshwaram - Rajajinagar, Bangalore - 560055
Landmark: Adjacent to Orion Mall in the same campus
Phone Number: +91 80 4252 1000

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Live @ Aloft Hotels - W XYZ Bar

‘Live at Aloft Hotels’ may be a very familiar phrase to a lot of travelers and locals who have visited Aloft Hotels in the United States. It is an event that acts as a platform to showcase the hottest upcoming artists and bands once every week at their signature W XYZ Bar across Aloft Hotels in the United States.

After a very impressive response in the United States; on 28th June, 2013, this highly successful event ‘Live at Aloft Hotels’ was launched at Aloft, Bangalore. This is among the four Aloft hotels in the whole of Asia-Pacific to host this signature series of live music performances.

 It lives by the concept of mix, meet and mingle over drinks, music and events. Taking cue from this, here are a few aspects that I’ll touch upon beginning with ‘events’.

Event - 'Live at Aloft Hotels'
The opening act on 28th June was a performance by ‘Little Wings’ with Herbert Paul on the guitar and vocals, Gerard Roy on bass and Raj Sampath on drums. Their music seemed to be heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and more. Every week, come Friday and you will see a different band playing different genres of music.

As for ‘Little Wings’; I must say, “The band did a good job performing live and to second my view was my guest who accompanied me to this launch event.”

Drinks and Eats
W XYZ serves a limited but interesting selection of cocktails along with a good listing of regular alcoholic beverages, and wines by either bottle or glass. The menu also comprises of a selection of both cold and hot appetizers in both vegetarian and non - vegetarian.
Squid Rings
Veg. Sushi

My personal pick from the mixes was the mojito – made strong on request to my liking, the Fiji Lychee cocktail and a name I do not recollect but the mix contained whiskey, orange juice and tonic water.

Music and Ambiance
W XYZ bar welcomes its guests with vibrant interiors and a wonderful bar counter. You can either choose to sit by the bar, couches, comfortable chairs or sofas. At the bar, you also get to enjoy some flare maneuvers by the bartender.

The music here is well modulated and does not interfere with conversations being made allowing you to enjoy the music, conversation, drinks and food in parallel.

There is no entry fee or cover charge for this event. Instead, it can be enjoyed in the company of some great offers. The current promotion fetches you a buy 1 get 1 on the drinks and a portion of appetizer too is served on the house.

Event: Live at Aloft Hotels
Performances: Upcoming music bands and artists
When: Every Friday, 7PM to 10PM @ W XYZ Bar
Where: Aloft Hotels, Whitefield, Bangalore
Entry: No cover charge / No entry fee
Offers: Buy One Get one on beverages + a complimentary portion of appetizer

Address: 17 C, Sadaramangala Road, Whitefield, Bangalore 560066
Landmark: Road opposite to ITPB
Phone Number: +91 80 6670 7777 / 7888

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Banjara @ Gold Finch Hotels, Bangalore

One Sunday night, as we drove past M.G. road; we wondered which restaurant to visit for some good North India food. As we juggled between various options, my mind traced back to the amazing tandoori gobi (starter) and palak rice I had eaten one afternoon with 2 of my friends at Banjara restaurant - a part of the Gold Finch property. This is how; we decided upon where we would be dining that night.

The menu comprised of authentic North Indian delicacies. The listing is well split between the vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes.

What we ate:
Being just 3 of us, we knew one starter, one main course and breads would be all we’d need. So it was murg afgani tikka for starters, Paneer khurchan was our preference for main course which was accompanied by a couple of laccha parathas and butter naan.

We were served roasted papad and mint chutney to munch while to food was being prepared to be served to us. For a change, fresh lime soda was the preferred drink. by a c� � e o �I �I parathas and butter naan.

As requested by us, all food arrived at once. Murg afgani tikka was succulent and moist and did not need accompaniment to go along with. The meat was cooked to perfection. Paneer khurchan was rich, creamy and flavorful gravy with chunks of paneer drowned in it. Like the rest of the food, the parathas and butter naan too were served hot. The paratha was nice and flaky while the butter naan was really soft and loaded with butter. Both these breads were the perfect accompaniment to the delicious paneer.
Murgh Afgani Tikka (Right)
Paneer Khurchan

Desserts were nowhere yet on our minds; instead we had the same dish that actually brought us here.. YES - Palak rice. As expected, this came really hot and tasted heavenly. The creamy texture of the spinach gravy and rice left our taste buds so enticed that we were happy to take home the unfinished portion.

We were happy with the hospitality. The food was served hot, the staff was polite and gentle in greeting diners, they knew the menu well, and service was swift and efficient. While the service was great, one place where I would strike off a point is; poor lighting in the section we sat.

Valet parking is available which saves diners from the struggle of finding parking space for themselves which otherwise is a big task on this busy road.

Rs. 1200 will be the cost of an average meal for 2 here which includes with a couple of non alcoholic drinks, a starter, a main, a couple of breads and rice to share. Taxes and other charges are not a part of the average meal cost.

Address: Gold Finch Hotels, Cresent Road, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 41291300