Thursday, 29 May 2014

mmmBurger Festival @ Smoke House Deli, Bangalore

My tryst with Smoke House Deli began with a friends visit one Sunday afternoon. It was an afternoon that left each of our stomach and heart very well satiated. The food was fabulous; most of the dishes hit the good notes be it the appetizers, the burger, Italian or continental. Desserts provided for a perfect end to a fantastic meal. This was enough to make for a good reason to visit Smoke House Deli again and again.

Burgers have always been successful in tempting me into submission. And this is what happened when I  heard about 'mmmBurger Festival' being hosted at both - 'Indiranagar' and 'Lavelle Road' outlet. One fine evening, I ended up at SHD with a cousin and no points for guessing, it was an evening spend over conversations and burgers.

First off, the special Menu - mmmBurger Festival menu. specially crafted by the chefs at SHD. This special menu on offer till 8th June, has an interesting selection for burgers and something for everyone; be it vegetarian and non-vegetarian. In addition to this, their regular menu is also on offer so there is plenty to choose from if you do not wish to go for burgers.

What We Ate:
Burger.. Burger.. Burger.. Yes, we tried 3 of the burgers that evening. It was 'Fried Chicken with Peri Peri Sauce', 'Lucy's Juicy' and the 'South-West Lamb Burger'. We also called for a martini each which we drank while the burgers arrived. All burgers come with a generous potion of french fries and a small portion of side salad. 

The star of the evening on our table was the 'Fried Chicken with Peri Peri sauce'. Do not get deceived by the hint of sweetness as you bite into it because by the time you think of peri-peri, you will then be introduced to the heat that comes from the sauce. What a wonderful transition! If heat is what you love then this has got to be your pick making this festival a must visit. 

'South-West Lamb' was a burger that I looked forward to get my hands on. A first bite into it and I could say the meat was of great quality and cooked perfectly to keep it moist and juicy. What did't work for me though was (in random bites, not all) a mystery ingredient that brought in a distinct flavor. Must have been a one off thing because a few friends who gave a shot at the SHD mmmBurger menu loved this burger.

'Lucy's Juicy' was an interesting take on the original Jucy Lucy, introduced and made famous by 5/8 Club (well, this can be debatable), Minneapolis, MN, USA. The original is a mined beef patty which comes with melted gooey cheese oozing out of the center of the patty on the very first bite. Here, it was the chicken patty with the melted cheese oozing out. This was nice but I'd have preferred the patty to be a minced lamb patty instead of chicken for the sheer flavor lamb meat imparts.

While these burgers will be gone post 8th June, I find solace in the super delicious Lamb burger from the regular menu at Smoke House Deli. I have enjoyed eating this on numerous visits and am glad it is a part of the regular menu.

For dessert, like always we indulged in a White Chocolate and Orange Creme Brulee.

The food, ambiance and service standards here have been quite consistent making me want to visit SHD on a time and again. The burger festival per say has a very interesting menu and some burgers do make their presence felt. A burger meal for 2 without drinks will cost around Rs. 800 plus taxes and charges and is more than sufficient to keep you away from hunger for the rest of the night.

SHD offers valet parking in both the Indiranagar and Lavelle road outlets.

Quick Tips:
This special 'mmmBurger Festival' menu is available only till the 8th of June. Go give it a try; it surely is worth a visit.
Read more about Smoke House Deli Here - SHD Review

Address: Ground Floor, No. 52 & 53, Lavelle Road, Bangalore 560011
Phone Number: +91 80 4127 6272 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mango Mania Festival @ 12th Main, Grand Mercure Bangalore

This fruit needs no introduction - It's called the 'king of fruits' and is my only respite during the summers. My love for mangoes got me really curious drive up to Grand Mercure Bangalore where a special menu has been crafted to celebrate the season and love for mangoes. They call it the 'Mango Mania Menu' and is available as an a-la care option at 12th Main - a fine restaurant at Grand Mercure, Koramangala.

Being a specially crafted menu and to pay tribute to mangoes this menu will be available only until the 17th of May for you to try. 

What tempted me totally and to tempt you as well - each of the preparation on the menu; be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian; starters, mains, desserts or beverages contains mango in it. Here's a look at the menu:

What We Ate:
Pretty much all of it from the menu, Yes, we were a group of about 10 of us so tasting most of the menu listings was an easy task. Of all that we ate and drank, here's what appealed to my palate and I think you will share common views with me once you've tried them.

It all began with the arrival of the vegetarian and non-vegetarian salad. Mango Caprese Salad (Yes, you heard it right - Mango Caprese) was the first to arrive on our table and was an absolute stunner. The mango used was well ripened and beautifully complemented the creamy soft texture of the cheese. The cherry tomato and lettuce added a nice flavor too.

Shrimp and Raw Mango Salad comes with a soy-chilli dressing. The salad gets its punch from this very dressing. Hence, I recommend you ask for the salad to be served with a generous amount of dressing and you are up for an excellent salad.

Other starters included Falafel Mango poppadums and the chicken, mango poppadums. Both were baskets made out of poppadum and filled with respective fillings. I didn't get to try the vegetarian version which was filled with mango and falafel but the non-vegetarian one was nice. Distinct flavors and textures could be identified as a result of the chicken, sweet mango and the spicy poppadum. Made for an interesting appetizer but jumped up a notch when the previously served soy-chilly sauce was poured in to the poppadum baskets.
Chicken, Mango Filled Poppadums

For the mains, a look at the menu and a few dishes caught my interest right away. Let's begin with 'Stuffed chicken breast' which was served with a mash of potatoes and mango,and veggies in jus. There was a lot of mango as the chicken stuffing too included raw mango and mushroom. Great for a mango lover! I absolutely loved this preparation and only looked forward to the other mains.

'Grilled Fish with raw mango parsley picada, roasted baby potatoes and a mango tender with coconut salsa was a much awaited dish. The topping of the bean sprout was weird and to what it looked didn't complement well with the dish. Each of the elements tasted brilliant on its own but together they were unable to whip up a storm.

What tempted me to try the next 2 dish was the description on the menu - Balsamic Grilled Vegetables, Parmesan Mango Polenta and a glaze of Pomegranate'. I just know I wanted to try this preparation to savor the complexities of flavor coming from the various ingredients like balsamic, mango and pomegranate. It was brilliant and was loved by each one of us on the table.

The second was the raw mango, spinach and ricotta ravioli in a mango sauce. A real delight for a mango lover. This dish had many takers on our table and did have its share of repeat order. 

Last of the mains - 'Thai Green Veg Curry with jasmine rice' also had mango chunks in it and made for a fabulous dish. Again, this was loved so much that a repeat of this was called. I hear that the Thai Green Curry on the regular menu at 12th Main is equally good and is one dish that must not be missed. I know for sure that, the next time i'm at Grand Mercure - 'Thai Green Curry' will be on my table.

While this was the good stuff, the menu did have it's share of misses. The alcoholic menu was interesting but when served was a disappointment. Likewise, in the mains I hear, "though cooked perfectly, the tenderloin steak lacked any mango ingredient to it and this was the cause of disappointment." Anyways, there's nothing interesting about recommending what not to eat. I love food and love to share only what to eat. Moving on...

We had to end with desserts which again were; of course - Mango based. I'm usually content with the other courses and am pretty much done till we arrive to the sweet endings. Like always, this time too I had no appetite for desserts but there were 3 of them served on the table. Of the 3, I enjoyed the passion fruit mango tart though I wished the dough was slimmer than served.

You love mangoes and love it in every way it can be served. This festival has got to be on your mind. It clearly shows Executive Chef Vijay David's love for mangoes and trait of being experimental and innovative with food.  

The ambiance at 12th Main is fabulous with options for both indoor and outdoor seating. While the outdoor setting is fabulous, the flies can be a problem. Barring that, 12th main has always been a pleasure to dine at. Grand Mercure Bangalore nestled in the residential by lanes of Koramangala also boasts of another brilliant restaurant 'By the Blue' which is a pool side set up serving Indian cuisine.

A mangolicious meal for two at 12th Main will cost around Rs. 2500 plus taxes and charges. 

Quick Tips:
Go enjoy the Mango Mania menu at 12th Main, Grand Mercure Bangalore before it ends on 17th May.
Mango Mania menu is served only for dinner between 7 pm to 11 pm.
While you try this out, I'll soon be back with more 'Mangolicious' posts from some restaurants across Bangalore that are running a Mango festival.

Address: 12th Main Restaurant, Grand Mercure Bangalore, 12th Main, 3rd Block, Koramangala, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 4512 1212 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ottimo @ ITC Royal Gardenia, Bangalore

'Ottimo' ('Excellent' in english) is the most recent restaurant offering from ITC Hotels in Bangalore. This Quintessential Italian restaurant replaces West View Grill and resides in ITC Royal Gardenia which also houses 'EDO' - one of the finest Japanese restaurants in Bangalore.

Resident Chef Vittorio Greco of Italy, takes centre stage in the kitchen of Ottimo. Inclined towards traditional Italian cuisine, Chef Greco at Ottimo offers a rare fusion of traditional Italian with emphasis on both nutrition and fresh ingredients which are sourced both locally and internationally. While maintaining simplicity and keeping food at its authentic best, plating of food at Ottimo is exquisite and in true sense signifies 'food porn'.

The menu showcases specialities of Rome, Florence, Parma, Milan and Livorno in the form of appetisers, soups, pastas, pizzas, other main course dishes and desserts. The menu offers both vegetarians and non-vegetarians with plenty of options to choose from. On our table was a pre-fixe 4 course meal which included both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

What We Ate:
I was late for dinner and when I arrived, what I first saw on the table was these really pretty looking  Aperitivo. There were 3 of them -

'Paramigiana de Melanzane' is the chef's deconstructed version of the classic Paramigiana. Served cold and presented with a twist to the classic, this was a ball of deliciousness. The best way to enjoy this creation is to take the whole ball into your mouth in one go and let the magic happen in your mouth.
Paramigiana de Melanzane

'Rocher Al Fegato Grasso' is another aperitif of Foie Gras stuffed in a Ferrero Rocher. Foie Gras was my first time and was not something that appealed much to my palate. I enjoyed the rocher though. On a more serious note, a Foie Gras enthusiast was really happy with the preparation and gave it full marks. So I'd say, this didn't appeal much to my palate but for you it may not be the same.
Rocher Al Fegato Grasso

A lamb aperitivo which is a preparation inspired from Chef Greco's mother but comes with a twist from the kitchen. This dish is still being experimented with and will hopefully make it to the regular menu soon.

Moving on, we headed for the next course - 'Antipasto' which is an appetizer and signifies a start of a traditional Italian meal. On the vegetarian side it was Potato dumplings with gorgonzola in bell pepper and tomato coulis. Chef Greco loves to experiment not only with the food preparation but also with plating the food and this is what he did with this dish. We had this antipasto presented to us in the form of an abstract art. If the looks aren't sufficient; I will add that, "this dish was a fantastic preparation and set the state for a lot more to come."
Morbidoni di patate e gorgonzola con pepperoni dolci e pomodori

On the non-vegetarian front was another fabulous dish of gratinated scallops ad shredded cuttlefish with leek coulis and pumpkin. I absolutely loved this dish and imagined this would be the only highlight of the entire meal. The scallops were simply brilliant and looked like they had been treated with a lot of love. All ingredients complimented each other really well and made for a lovely treat.
Capesante gratinate e sfilacci di seppie con crema di porri e zucca

We had just begun... Soon followed the next course - 'Primopiatto' which translates to first course. I was blown away by 'Risotto con funghi selvaggi, scampi e cipollina croccante'. A simple and exquisite dish of wild mushrooms and shrimp risotto with crispy shallots. Yes, you know I don't like mushrooms, but this preparation had me stumped. Easily the best risotto I have ever eaten. Another highlight of the evening.
Risotto con funghi selvaggi, scampi e cipollina

The vegetarian option for the first course was yet another delicious preparation - Tortelloni di melanzane con salsa al pomodoro fresco e ricotta salata. A preparation of roasted aubergines in homemade tortelloni dusted with smoked ricotta and tossed in fresh tomatoes.
Tortelloni di melanzane con salsa al pomodoro fresco e ricotta salata

'Secondo piatto' the next course also considered the main course comprised of 'Sea bass crusted with pistacchio and served with a sicilian styled fresh vegetable caponata. Expectations were at its peak and for me this dish did not do the trick. I wished the fish was more moist and flaky while the pistacchio crumble could have been finer.
Filetto di branzino in crosta al pistacchio con caponatina di verdure

On the vegetarian plate was a bed of delicious tomato tomato and basil sauce on which came a  buffalo mozzarella sphere stuffed  parmesan spaghetti. The presentation was really fine and the Parmesan spaghetti along with mozzarella cheese made for a fine combo with the sauce.
Sfera di mozzarella di bufala e spaghetti in salsa la pomodoro

'Dolce' - What arrived was a show stopper - A chocolate based desert called 'Torta Caprese con sorpresa akka caniglia'. A ball shaped casing of hard chocolate with a gooey center of white chocolate, dark chocolate cake with a burst of tantalizing vanilla. The only perfect end to a lovely meal is this very chocolate dessert. I was suddenly hungry and polished off the plate clean. Felt like I'm in Heaven...
Stage 1 - Chocolate Dessert
Stage 2 - Steaming hot chocolate being poured over
Stage 3 - Chocolate crust melts to give way to the decadent chocolate cake and white chocolate

What's an Italian meal without an accompanying wine!!! As we cruised through our meal, we enjoyed sipping a few glasses of the Fratelli white wine.

It was a long eating session and the food was fabulous. Normally, for an invited event I do not include comments on service for it is expected to be top notch. However, I must mention that i was delighted to see the staff paying attention to the other guests dining at the restaurant, guiding and suggesting to them various options and ensuring they had a fabulous experience. 

The interiors of the restaurant are really classy and rich. The coat of arms; specially crafted for Ottimo, elevates essential herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage to royalty like status. In all, its a nice place to dine at with Chef Greco raising the bar by retaining the authentic flavors of a traditional Italian meal yet incorporating his nuances and giving the food a very contemporary feel.

An average meal for two at Ottimo will cost around Rs. 4000 ++. This does not include alcohol. As for the parking, it's no hassle for ITC Gardenia provides for valet service.

Quick Tips:
Go here for a leisurely meal. There is a lot to be enjoyed at Ottimo but for me the highlights of the meal were - Paramigiana de Melanzane, scallops and cuttlefish dish, mushroom and seafood risotto and the chocolate dessert.

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