Bangalore’s BJN Escapades

BJN

Let’s have a pop quiz. Think of 5 fine dining restaurants in Bangalore.

DONE ?

I can bet at least one (or more) of them are courtesy the BJN group. The BJN group boasts of having about 19 brands & 40 restaurants in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Pune and Mumbai. They also run the boutique hotel, Museum Inn, in Bangalore.

Bangalore may not be the epitome of a ‘foodie’s paradise’ or claim to have their own unique cuisine, but has adapted brilliantly to the multicultural population that resides in it. BJN has done its bid by having restaurants & bars serving a variety of cuisines and incorporating diverse themes. Whatever mood you’re in, chances are there will be a BJN joint to cure your mood swings.

In the mood for some good Chinese ? Aromas of China may be the answer. We had a buffet lunch on a Sunday afternoon and were delighted with the service and the assortment of food.

The décor of the place is very oriental with beautiful Statues of Lord Buddha. For lunch there were dim-sums, freshly made at a counter and served with spicy sauces. In the non-veg section, mouthwatering prawns, fish, lamb and chicken dishes were on the menu. In the veg section there were some dishes but with so much more around, I didn’t ever bother.

cfond

Desert was a no brainer, honey crispy wontons and ice-cream. Would you have given a second thought? There was a couple of pastries, soufflé and of course, the chocolate fondue to experiment with (p.s. Have you noticed the chocolate fondue seems to be a trademark of sorts in all BJN buffets ?) At Rs. 400 per head the buffet included a soft drink, soup, a couple of starters, main course & desert, it’s a great way to spend a lazy Sunday.

We chanced upon Aromas of China, as the restaurant next to it Café Masala was full. I’m a bit disappointed because this is almost always the case (mental note: make reservation next time). It has an Indian barbeque buffet and I’ve heard it is much better than the current fav of Bangalore, BBQ Nation.

Vaayu is the third of BJN’s restaurant at Eva mall. Vaayu is the sky lounge with a stunning view of the stars or so they say, I’ll have to try this one sometime.

vayu

Bamboo Shoots’ is another place where authentic Chinese, Thai, Malay, Korean and Singaporean fare comes alive. It has won the H&F S National Award for Excellence in Oriental Cuisine  (which they advertise enough) It is situated in BJN’s Museum Inn, along with Angeethi & Tavern at the Inn.

Tavern and Firangi Pani have an ‘English Pub’ feel to them. The large kegs turned into tables, leather upholstered chairs, rich-dark wood furniture and large beer mugs complete the look. It’s a great place to unwind or chill out before catching a move at PVR Forum.

Sahib Sindh Sultan is the restaurant next to Firangi Paani. It’s one of our ‘let’s indulge’ places, not so much for the prices but for the amount of desi ghee they put in the food.

The cuisine served at Samarkhand comes from the North West Frontier region of Pakistan/Afghanistan. So you can expect lot of Tandoori and Mughlai dishes. A bit over priced but I guess when one says fine dining they mean ‘expensive’.

samarkhand menu

BJN Group’s new offering to add to their already impressive list of North India cuisine is Khansama. Khansama follows the “Royal Indian Theme” located on Concorde Block, UB City, Vittal Mallya Road.

Dilli ki chatt & Bengal ka puchkka, that you wouldn’t have expected from BJN ? But you’ll be surprised at the variety at Bombay House. Not to confuse with- Bombay Post this attempts to recreate the magic and romance of Bollywood of the sixties and seventies. All I can say is its’ thoda hatt key’.

ub city

Hypnos is a Mediterranean Lounge, which serves Greek, Lebanese and Spanish Food, and cool cocktails, that is typical of the Mediterranean or so I hear, never actually having been there.

Where I have been a couple of times is Indijoe Resto Bar. Go there for their afternoon buffet – at 350/- it’s not too bad. They serve a mix of Italian, salads, Thai food and Biryani. The desert section has the chocolate fondue obviously.

The other choice is to spend the evening drinking & talking with some beer and good company. The last time we went there we had some Tortia Chips with Cheese Sauce (Rs 150), non-veg combo (Rs 285), Garlic Toast (Rs 95) along with a couple of Pitchers of Draught (Rs 475).

All in all BJN has been able to add a unique dining experience by creating themes of the English pub, Palace on wheels or rustic charms of a dhaba and fine dining oriental flavors or the delights of the northern frontier, while never taking away the taste and quality of the food. Their restaurants are a bit expensive, for sure, but it lives up to its motto is `Khao, Piyo, Jiyo’ !

Review: The Only Place, Museum Inn Road – Bangalore

The Only Place

The only place is one place most old timers will know of. It used to be THE place to go to for juicy steaks, delicious burgers and cheesy pastas. The location has changed but the place is still the same, for better or for worse.

The restaurant apparently got its name long back as it used to be the only place one could get beef ! I’m not sure how true that is though.

The Only Place has moved from its Mota Royal Arcade, Brigade Road address to an outdoor’sy area on Museum Road. Parking is available at the parking lot in Raheja Chambers next door. The restaurant is very popular with expats as well the local crowd and seems to have a lot of regulars frequenting it. Go there if you are a meat lover and when you don’t want to count your calories. It is ideal for a casual dinner with family and friends.

The restaurant is located in a courtyard-ish area covered by an interestingly tiled roof. Red and white checked tablecloths on the wooden table give a festive, picnic look. The tables are well spaced and the corners have wooden benches instead of chairs.

Creamy Pastas, Juicy Steaks, Sloppy Joe Burgers, Sizzlers and Sumptuous Desserts sum up the menu. I don’t remember what I ordered the first time I went there but over the past year I have been there several times and keep going back for more.

On our last visit, Chicken Chowder Soup (Rs 75) is the first thing we ordered. Chowder typically is a rich and creamy soup full of chunks of ingredients that almost make it like a stew. Traditionally made chowder has a base of bacon and is thickened up with crackers that have been broken into the base. The one here is thickened with chunks of potatoes and corn, and is quite tasty, if I may say so 🙂

The Only Place

For the main course, we tried the Vienna steak (Rs 250) which was moist, succulent and delicious – truly a treat for meat lovers. The steaks in this restaurant are served with sides of creamed potatoes, vegetables and garlic bread. You can also customize your plate at an extra cost by adding on pepper or barbeque sauce or jacket potatoes and so on.

Dessert options consisted of apple or peach pie, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate tri-layer cake or trufle pudding. We decided to stick to tradition and ordered the apple pie (Rs 90). It was yummy – warm and delicious with the vanilla ice-cream providing the right amount of coolness !

The decor is a bit dates, the service is slow, but if it’s only the food that you crave, The Only Place is pretty good.

No hard drinks are served, but it’s an absolute delight for foodies. Go a bit early or you might have to wait for your table. Experience a slice of old Bangalore at The Only Place.

Dev D review

Dev D

Dev D is the latest incarnation of the epic Devdas by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. The idea of the movie might be from the book but the implementation is anything but.

My first thought on Dev D – What a weird name for a movie ! What an eccentric song (emotional attyachaar) ! What a bizarre promo ! And finally what a strange but totally entertaining movie !

Dev (Abhay Deol) is the son of a rich industrialist from Punjab who is packed off to London for higher studies. Paro (Mahi) is the daughter of a manager in Dev’s father’s factory and is a good friend of Dev. The movie begins with a quick characterization of the hot and fiery Paro and the spoilt brat that Dev is.

The conversations between Dev and Paro and Dev and his dad, who he liked to call by his name ( Sattu) are absolutely hilarious.

A refreshing change from the rest of the bollywood adaptations of the novel, Dev D narrates the same story in REAL situations. The screenplay is smooth, no lecture bazzi happening and no long-drunk-falling apart-dialogues.

Anurag Kashyap takes the basic structure of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s original story, but updates it to today’s time and issues, making the characters’ actions and motivations something that a lot of the viewers can relate to.

I loved the fact that names of the characters just fall into place, amazingly imaginative. The minute ‘Chunni’ introduces himself, one can’t help but smile. Wearing his goggles to see who is calling when the phone rings was an LOL moment for sure.

The songs felt like, what-the-hell-is-happening, but in a couple of seconds you are drawn into it and you come out of the hall humming ‘em. Contradictions-Confusion-Craziness all-in-all interesting.

Times of India gave the movie 5 stars, saying that Dev D is indeed a coming-of-age film. I agree.

Unlike the last couple of movies I’ve seen recently, this one keeps the viewer engaged. It doesn’t bore you with song and dance routines, or thinks that the audience is dumb or assumes that logical reasoning is outside the scope of the viewers mental ability. CC2C, Gajni & RNBDJ may have been blockbusters, but this one deserves the awards.

Shekhar @ Stalefresh says it was a bold & well thought of movie; most my friends are of the same opinion. But I’m sure this is the opinion of a certain segment of people. If this was a report I was working on I’d say – ‘Teens & Young Adults, living in urban areas, adventurous and outgoing are the key segments’. Some movies are not made to please everyone, but to shock a few.

My verdict – Thums up  (With vodka please 😉

Review: President is coming

The President Is Coming – 8 Hands , 2 Birds, 1 Bush

President is Coming

THE PRESIDENT IS COMING follows the likes of Khosla ka Ghosla, Bheja Fry and many other films of their ilk? It does seem like a script of a play and also flow the same way; I’d say that it is at least making an attempt in that direction. Low Budget, mainly shot in one room, outstanding cast, witty script & totally entertaining.

The Plot: George W. Bush, President of the United States is visiting India & in addition to the many diplomatic and political things on the agenda, he has thought of a rather unique event- a meeting with one of the young faces responsible for shaping “The New India”. A PR firm has thus been hired to shortlist an Indian below 30 years of age to shake the President’s hand. In a contest inspired by Survivor & Big Brother, 6 contestants are to fight it out in a talent contest to be the ONE to shake hands with the most powerful man in the World.

An out-n-out comedy, the movie is directed by the debutante Kunal Roy Kapoor and carries a star cast ranging from Konkona Sen Sharma, Shernaz Patel, Ira Dubey, Vivek Gomber, Satchit Puranik, Namit Das, Anand Tiwari to Shivani Tanksale. ‘President Is Coming’ is laced with an intelligent script that pours light on the social issues like male chauvinism, gay relations, homosexuality and brain drain and still makes you LOL.

Konkona Sen Sharma plays a novelist, who thinks that she is an ideal contestant because she is a booker prize winner (being manipulative also help). There are other contestants, which include a software engineer from Bangalore, IIMA pass out social activist, Gujju Stock broker, a Page 3 socialite with an MMS scandal history and an American-born-confused-desi accent trainer from Gurgaon. Watch the movie to know who actually shook hands with Bush!

The film has been made in English, hence catering to a niche segment. The publicity is mainly depended on Word of Mouth (I’m doing my bit). I enjoyed the humor, the mud sling, and the humor on region, profession, social status, Language, marital status & obviously G.W Bush J.

My verdict: its sarcastic humor will appeal to only a select section of the audience; the masala-glossy-yashraj-types may find it a bit drab.

Review: Ghajini

GHAJINI

Revenge is what I want to take for the 3.5 hrs of complete torture I had to go through while watching Ghajini.

For once the problem was not with the script. The idea and the story were good; it had (supposedly) a great cast with Aamir in the lead. The movie had a big budget and two good looking women … So, what went wrong?

Firstly, it was way too long. I mean three & a half hours…

Secondly, I wanna understand – Why those songs were shoved in the middle. Have a music album or background music or something else!!!

Then there was the new comer so to speak (She has done a version of the same movie in the south and dubbed for another version so this was her third attempt at the same thing). Don’t wanna comment about her acting skills, but don’t you thing she moved way too much. I mean can’t a person be normal.

Did I mention the bakwas songs? Well! They are worth mentioning again. The songs standalone are good no doubt. AR Rehman is still awesome. It is just that they were not required & made the movie extra long. Aamir’s six-pack … Oh Sorry! eight-pack did not need so much airtime. “We get it Aamir you worked your assoff to beat SRK, but we really don’t care”. The songs were just a ‘look-at-me-I-am –aamir-the- muscle-uncle’ the girls just came & went with a blink of an eye.

Lastly, I have to mention Jia Khan’s Wanna-be-Dr-activist-confused-idiot Item number at college annual day. So-out-a-place.

Ghajini movie is a must watch for an Aamir Khan Fan cause he’s all you’ll get to see.

Let me end by saying that this movie is nothing like the movie “Memento”. Do watch Momento so that at least you enjoy the genius behind the real script/movie.

RoadTrip, Indiranagar – Bangalore

Road Trip is a 50+ seater restaurant located in Bangalore’s upmarket Indiranagar area. Road Trip is a first of its kind concept restaurant that features motorcycles as a theme

The place opened in 2003 and has seen a lot of changes in the past 5 years. I believe it was also closed for some time during this period.

RoadTrip is a restaurant in Indiranagar which serves continental/Italian cuisine. To reach the place, if you’re coming from the (Old) Airport flyover, take the first left and then the first right.

Their website describes them as

“Road Trip is a 50+ seater restaurant located in Bangalore’s upmarket Indiranagar area. Road Trip is a first of its kind concept restaurant that features motorcycles as a theme.”

The place opened in 2003 and has seen a lot of changes in the past 5 years. I believe it was also closed for some time during this period. The current incarnation is not as cool as the pics on the website will lead you to believe, but I’ve been assured that the food is still the same. They still have those motorcycle headlamp fixtures and two motorcycles standing in the dining area but the rest of the stuff is gone.

Unlike most places serving Italian/Continental cuisine in Bangalore, the food here actually tastes of the real thing and the Chef is willing to listen and make changes to the dish according to the guest’s preferences.

The menu is pretty basic. Its a simple one page menu with a couple of starters (veg and non-veg), couple of main course dishes and some drinks (Iced tea – Rs 40 , cold drinks – Rs 40, fresh lime – Rs. 40 etc.).  They also serve Alcohol but all I’ve had at this place is beer (The price of which I don’t remember 🙂 ) so I won’t comment on anything else.

The last time I was there with some friends, we ordered a plate of Lamb chops (Rs. 240), a Pizza (Rs. 190), and a Penne Based pasta.

The Lamb chops, frankly, were nothing to write home about and the dish was quite bland. The meat was still nice and succulent, but it could have done with a little more spice. The chops came with some vegetables and Mashed Potatoes.

The pizza was definitely the best I’ve had in some time. They beat Little Italy (100 ft road) hands down. The toppings were ham, chicken and sun dried tomatoes. This is a thin crust pizza and, of course, highly recommended.

The pastas that we ordered were Penne based and we asked the chef to put in some extra cheese and sun dried tomatoes in it. Excellent 🙂

I’m definitely going back to this place … again.

Update 1: Was recently at Roadtrip again and tried the “Grilled fillet of fish with Lemon and Mustard sauce” and it was absolutely awesome. Rs 240 well spent. The dish is not on the menu and you can find it on the specials menu.

Reminder to Self: Check out the specials menu at Roadtrip before ordering anything 🙂

Kareem's, East Street – Pune

After successfully running 7 outlets in Mumbai – The well known Kareem’s is now in Pune. Sadly it has replaced another one of our favorite joints – Olympia Kathi Rolls.

Not to fret, though, there is some good news. Kareem’s has retained the Olympia Kathi Roll on its menu and have the same guy cooking them. 

Olympia Kathi Rolls was almost an institution, next to Portrait Studios on East Street. One can not miss the long queue outside the restaurant in the evenings. 

Olympia serves perhaps the best Chicken Kathi Rolls outside of Kolkata. Priced at a about fifty bucks it is value for money. The piping hot paratha enriched with a generous and well cooked soft covering of beaten eggs and filled with substantial pieces of succulent spicy chicken – it tastes heavenly as you dip it in the accompanying pudina chutney and freshly sliced onion rings.

One word of caution for the delhiites: This is not the Kareem’s from Old Delhi but Mumbai so don’t go expecting something you won’t get.  

Like I mentioned, the rolls have been incorporated in the menu, but apart from the rolls the menu has a lot of other stuff too. Recommended are the Kebabs, one can choose from a dozen or so in the menu. We had Murg Kurkuri Potli’ (Rs 119) but a good idea would be to take the non- veg platter (Rs449) to sample the assortment. Also, try the unusual Indian bread on offer like the Taftan (a soft rice flour bread) or Khamiri or kulcha or lachedar Parantha (Rs29/39).

 

 

Interesting observation: Almost every price mentioned on the menu ends with a 9, Rs 99, 119, 129 and so on as if the menu belongs to a Bata shoes shop 🙂 Don’t know why … I don’t judge, I only make observations 😉

You are here – by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

You are here… or… so you think !

What do a couple of college friends do when they are reunited after a long time ? Think about the good old days ? Especially if you are one of the lucky few who have had an entertaining & adventurous Teenage to Twenties. That was the feeling I got while reading ‘you are here’.

It looks like Ms. Compulsive Confessor has had some good times, some not so good, some difficult (which every 20 year old has) decisions to make and has met some interesting people. Except … that is all it is.

Half way through the book I stopped to think “hmm… Where is the story going ?” and then it dawned upon me… there is no story, no plot, no event, no climax, no nothing. Just a peak into the life of Arshi.

And who is Arshi ? She’s twenty five, works in a PR agency in Delh, comes from a broken family, lives with her room-mate who can’t decide if she is Ms-goody-two-shoes or anything-for-love types… who’s boss is a slave driver… has a boyfriend who for bizarre reasons blows hot or cold… Sounds like Bridget Jones (oh! Come on… at least a lil bit) However, the humor is used pretty well, and several passages will have you smiling at the images created, metaphors used, almost like Carrie from SITC.

If you have read/like her blog “The Compulsive Confessor” you may enjoy the book, otherwise it will be a bit of a drab. So pick up the book if you have nothing better to do.

A bit about the Autor: Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan studied English Literature at Lady Shri Ram College at the Delhi University and has been a journalist for many years. She writes the popular blog The Compulsive Confessor where she talks about her experiences as a young, single woman in urban India. You are Here published by Penguin, is her first novel.

Copper Chimney, Bangalore

Copper Chimney at the Central Mall (MG Road) is an upmarket restaurant which serves Mughlai and North Indian cuisine.

My wife and I were at Central today and decided to check out the place … once more. I’ve been there a couple of times earlier and unlike most North Indian restaurants in Bangalore, I actually like the food at this one.

The ambiance is quite nice … classy, uncluttered and soothing. The only problem I had with the decor were the television sets. No, they’re not loud, but they just intrude in the place and stand out. A place like copper chimney would do well with nice, soft music in the background which actually facilitates conversation unlike the television sets which are only distracting, to say the least.

On to the food – The have a kabab festival going on right now. Rs 500 will get you unlimited kababs (they have a variety of 5 vegetarian and non-vegetarian kababs), veg or non-veg gravy, nans or rotis and dessert. All unlimited. Which for a place like Copper chimney is quite good value for money and I’d recommend going for the buffet if you’re in a group (and you’re really hungry 🙂 )

We, unfortunately, weren’t in the mood for the buffet and ordered ‘La carte. Our order was a plate of Chicken Chelo Kababs (Rs. 290) (Chicken kababs served with buttered rice), a plate of Rarra Chicken (Rs. 250) (Chicken cooked with a spicy tomato based gravy) and nans (Rs. 40 each).

I’m a big fan of Chelo kababs btw, but the ones that we got here were unlike the chelos I’ve eaten anywhere else. This definitely wasn’t the kababs I’m used to. What we got was basically a rice risotto like dish with chicken kababs mixed with the rice. The rice was basically cooked in butter and was gooey and sticky. The kababs were excellent though and that was the only nice thing about the dish.

The Rarra chicken was decent enough although it could have been a little spicier (and could do with a little less tomato ).

They serve alcohol and have a decent range of cocktails and wines also. I had a pint of budweiser (Rs. 145), btw.

I’d recommend this place and would definitely be visiting again myself.

Review of Fashion … and … when will it finish

So … I just finished seeing the movie Fashion and I have only one thing to say to Madhur Bhandarkar … that was one loooonnnggg movie dude ! Oh and I also think it was a very boring movie.

I mean I get the idea of realistic cinema and and all that and I’d probably have been fine if this movie had gotten over in about 1-1/2 hours instead of the 2-1/2 hours it took, but the whole look and concept of Fashion just didn’t work for me.

The movie is about a small town girl who comes to the big city to become a model. Her struggling days, her success, the arrogance and her downfall have all been depicted convincingly. Priyanka’s role is pretty good and her acting commendable, and that is just about the only thing that I liked about the movie.

I just feel that the movie took a long time in getting the message across and that made it slow and almost tortuous. I don’t remember seeing a movie, in the recent past, which I wish would have ended sooner.

Another thing which doesn’t work for me is that Madhur’s movies for some reason look like they’ve all been made on second hand reels which he found while lurking in the back alleys of the entertainment industry.

And no by second hand reels, I don’t mean that the concept is old. Kudos to Madhur for daring to make a film which actually shows the reality of the industry like it is. But, he could have atleast used better lighting ! Or a better camera-man !

Well, I agree that I don’t understand the movie biz very well and how expensive it is to make movies … but I really wish I hadn’t paid so much money to see this movie.

Oh, btw, Madhur … taking a dig at real life and packaging it in a movie is not realistic cinema. Show us something we haven’t seen. I mean we’ve all seen the gay fashion designers and their socialite trophy wives and the drug addict models … ‘Nuff said !