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Food Hall, Bangalore

Food Hall, Bangalore

International concepts come with some good and bad! When international chains like Walmart step foot in India, there are bound to be arguments for both sides of the debates, but when Indian retail chains take up the concept from abroad and implement it in India, I believe the bad can be limited, not eliminated, but limited. So when I paid a visit to Food Hall at 1 MG Road Mall, Bangalore, I thought the whole thing was brilliant. As soon as you enter, you have a cooking station and the chef invites you to 'Bring out the Chef in you'. With lots of raw materials and a chef to help, you could make a nice meal for yourself. Or for the less adventurous, you can make your own salad or sandwich at the next counter or you could pick up a ready made sandwich or salad, but they are more expensive. I had a simple non veg sandwich and I chose the focaccia bread with two meats and two veggies for Rs 150 and it was quite filling and tasty. The spice counter is excellent - t

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Up North, Raintree

Up North, Raintree

I have been hearing wonderful things about this restaurant and though I am not a big fan of the other restaurants at Raintree Hotels in general, I wanted to visit this place for a long time. So we decided to treat ourselves here for having 'abstained' from eating a fancy dinner during Ramzan and took the plunge.   The setting is beautiful - the perfect lighting for the terrace setting, a mixture of blue and orange, well spaced out tables and a friendly waiter, all made it very classy! We were seated at a table of our choice as the restaurant was empty when we walked in at 7 and by 730, they were almost full! The menu is extensively limited - yeah I know I am contradicting myself, but that is what I felt. They have a large selection of kebabs and curries but only two options for rice and bread. Since we were only two of us, we felt that a portion of starter will be quite boring and we asked if the chef could make a platter and they were more than willing. So

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Southern Aromas, Residency Towers

Southern Aromas, Residency Towers

Southern Aromas is one of the nice South Indian restaurants in Chennai and so when I was part of an invited group from CFG to check out their new menu and the Dosa Festival, I was more than excited. The previous visit with a client to Souther Aromas was a nice experience with our guests raving about the food,while the previous tasting for their old menu was an excellent experience. Maybe that is why my expectations were high and this time, they were not met! First things first, the restaurant was not ready for the Dosa Fest, so we got to taste only one Dosa - the Kari Dosa. The dosa was a little dry to my liking, but obviously with the sambar, it tasted great. But normally the Kari Dosa can be had on its own, not this time around. The sambar though was an instant hit among all of us. That is the only dosa we got! The rest of the food was a mixed experience - the Malli Kozhi Varuval (the first photo) was a superb dish, the Chettinad Kozhi Varutha Kari was excellent i

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Ramzan Special - Iftar at Charminar

Ramzan Special - Iftar at Charminar

This Iftar has been a little disappointing as far as eating out is concerned and the trend continued at Charminar when my friend and me went there on Saturday. We were given a leaflet with two options - one buffet priced at Rs 399 and one combo priced at Rs. 249. We asked for the buffet and we were told that buffet was not there. So why then was it offered? So settled for the combo and waited. Asked for the sherbet and dates that was mentioned on the leaflet and the waiter (who had no clue what was happening), said that they were 'not doing very well 'this time' and so no sherbet and dates'. Whoa!!!! The combo came packed in a take away box with more than a dozen staples and together (yes, together), the waiter and us removed the staples one by one to reveal what you see. The haleem - teeny weeny bit and the less I say about it, the better. The biriyani, though, was quite flavourful and we both liked it. The kebab was so dry, I had a good mind to pour water t

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Ramzan Special - Haleem @ Fisherman's Fare

Ramzan Special - Haleem @ Fisherman's Fare

So after the disaster with Zaitoon and the wonderful meal at Blue Diamond, my next stop was Fisherman's fare. During my days at Apollo Hospitals, no Ramzan was complete without a visit to Fisherman's fare at least 5-6 times, during the month for Haleem. I think they were the first ones to bring Haleem to Chennai or that time, that was the only place I knew who served Haleem. Somewhere they lost their way, but last year and this year, I think they have got it right. I picked up Haleem, Rolls and Lukhmi. The Haleem was nice and flavourful, without any bones (a couple of years earlier, they had bones in the haleem) and was perfectly prices - 300 ml @ Rs 185. They have also introduced chicken Haleem, but I did not bother trying. The Lukhmi samosas were excellent, quite pricy at Rs 25 a piece, but they were excellent. The rolls were very economical at Rs 55 for 4 pieces, but they were the typical oily ones. They have a buffet priced at Rs. 329 and looking at the number o

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Ramzan Special - Iftar @ Rs. 99, Blue Diamond

Ramzan Special - Iftar @ Rs. 99, Blue Diamond

So after the disappointment at Zaitoon, my next stop was Blue Diamond. I have not been here in almost a year and was looking forward to see their offerings for Iftar. The paper ads showed an outrageous package for Rs. 99 and I was quite skeptical about what could be offered for Rs. 99 All of it was served in one plate - a bowl of the 'Nombu Kanji', perfectly flavoured but just mild enough to sooth the fasting stomach, two pieces of dates, two small chicken cutlets (I love the chicken cutlets at Blue Diamond, its almost fully meat and no potatoes), a bowl of Idiyappam Biriyani, a bowl of fruits and a small apple drink pack. The biriyani was more like Idiyappam (string hoppers) mixed with a good gravy rather than biriyani, but it was quite tasty! At Rs. 99, this is more than value for money. It is available between 5 and 7 only and they take delivery within 1 km for a minimum of 3 packs. The price is inclusive of all taxes. Next stop, God willing, is Fisherman's Far

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Ramzan Special - Zaitoon Iftar Box

Ramzan Special - Zaitoon Iftar Box

It's Ramzan again!!! Last year, I had written that the Zaitoon had this wonderful Iftar box - priced at Rs 225 or so, I thought it was the best available Iftar combo in town! So this year, I started, after the first few at home, with Zaitoon Iftar Kit. The price is up, it cost me Rs 350 this year and I thought it was alright! Landed home and dove straight into the Haleem and it was super yumm! They have really got their Haleem right and it was gone in a few seconds. And then I took a spoon of the Biriyani and almost spat it out - it was dry, flavourless and generally very bad. I then had their Lukmi samosa - first bite was full of patty and no filling, second bite had wee bit of filling, and the last bite had none - it was a complete disappointment.  Next was the chicken kebab (a 65 type kebab) which was nice and juicy and quite flavourful! Then the schwarma - pathetic is the word, so I am not going to say anything more about it. The chicken gravy was alright and the qua

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Tantos Pizzeria, Auroville, Pondicherry

Tantos Pizzeria, Auroville, Pondicherry

A pizza is supposed to be a complete meal. Just because it was not invented here, does not make it junk food per se, but it has been made junk by most pizza chains - unhealthy bread, lots of poor quality cheese, very little vegetables and minuscule quantities of meat! Recently, though, pizzas are having a makeover in Chennai and are getting, even though slightly, healthier. But unfortunately, the best pizza I have had near Chennai is about 150 km away - at Tantos Pondicherry. The setting is very simple, the menu is very simple and the emphasis is more on the 'Today's Menu' and not the 'Carte', and food is served in not so good looking silver ware. But the food did all the talking. They had only a chicken and cheese pizza and the waiter suggested that we choose a good veg pizza and add grilled chicken to it and that is precisely what we did - a pizza with olives, mushroom, zucchini and tomato, priced at Rs 250 for 9" and added grilled chicken at R

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Brunch @ 601,The PARK

Brunch @ 601,The PARK

The Sunday brunches have come of age in Chennai - starting off rather slowly, every restaurant worth its salt (and some of those without that worth) have started their version of Sunday brunch and there seems to be something for everybody and every price point. I have seen brunches being advertised from Rs 299 to upwards of Rs 2000, these days. Sunday brunches have also come to be associated with the word, EXTENSIVE! Smaller places talk about how many items they have and the larger fancy hotels put up live counters left, right and center and its almost festive in these places. More often than not, it becomes very difficult to taste everything and if you taste everything, you might feel that you stuffed yourself with so much of not so good stuff and maybe the stomach real estate could have been used for the nicer things that were also on the brunch. So maybe I was so caught up with the word extensive that I missed out, till last Sunday, the brunch at 601, The Par

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Moti Mahal Deluxe - A CFG evening

Moti Mahal Deluxe - A CFG evening

The legendary Moti Mahal from Delhi, I believe were the ones who invented the Butter Chicken Masala and a host of other dishes that we might think were centuries old. (I hope they don't stake claim for Chicken 65)! I really like this place and I have been a regular customer for their packed lunch - which is a real value for money for me - at Rs 225, the quantity and quality is quite good and I have written about it too. So last week, a bunch of 15 of us from CFG were invited to test out their offerings and it turned out to be a gala evening. There is no way I can remember all the dishes we had and I was not able to try all of their dishes either, but a lot of them were excellent. The paneer, (yeah, I am talking about a veg dish), was excellent and was loved by the herbivores and carnivores equally. Their standard butter chicken was just as good and there was a Lasooni (or Lasuni?) kebab that was excellent. The range of Indian breads were just as good and the spicy pa

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Go Go Ramen

Go Go Ramen

Japanese cuisine has found its takers in Chennai for a very very long time! Dahlia has been around for ages and a few small ones kept coming and then Teppan came along bringing the Hibachi cooking, so Chennai has always been receptive to Japanese I guess - especially good Japanese. So how will the market react to specialised Japanese - one that serves just one aspect of Japanese?!? Go Go Ramen is all set to find out and going by the response in the first few days, I believe this could be here to stay. First of all, its an almost all pork menu - I say almost because out of the already focussed menu (I say focus and not limited because the target group is quite clear), there is one option for vegetarians - the ramen in miso soy broth and one non veg option for non pork eaters - the spicy grilled chicken in miso soy broth. My experience with Japanese, though at some fine Japanese restaurants around the world, is limited and I have not had Ramen at any of these places, so I hav

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