Melting pot of world cuisine

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Bangalore, October 7:  By and large the best thing about Indiranagar is that it’s a foodie paradise. You can’t actually take ten steps without three restaurants hitting you in the face and another two peeking in from the side.

It’s got the works — almost every cuisine you can think of is represented. There’s even a brewery, but that’s old news. A binge on that boulevard should, respectably, start from Stones, a stone’s throw from Toit.

Even if you don’t want the beer – and I see no reason why you wouldn’t – the English Breakfast will put you at ease, as will the Pecos-esque atmosphere prevalent in establishments of such quality. Here is a place that feeds you good food and good music and good beer, usually not in that order.

After that, you’re pretty much set. The heretic in me, strapped for time, will want to hit one of the standard joints, get burgers or pizzas to go… but better minds will want to visit Barbeque Nation. Or Cheers Coorg! on 80 Feet Road, if simply for their pork selection, especially the Wanku Yerchi, a name that slips off the tongue with about as much as ease as the smoked pork itself. The Pandi Curry is a mainstay of Cheers Coorg! and goes with just about everything; the kind of dish that you end up licking the scraps off your spoon and your fingers. Rice is the preferred media that facilities smoother gluttony.

Then again, the other notable provider of Coorgi cuisine is also, curiously, called ‘Coorg’. A quaint establishment nestled on Krishna Temple Road, this place keeps odd timings, so your best bet is the Saturday buffet.

If Coorgi cuisine is not your thing, head on over to Raaga on CMH Road. This place has a history, according to my sources… that is, the autowallahs knew where it was, and for them to know such intimate details of a restaurant is testament to an establishment’s fame. Quite standard North Indian lip-smacking fare — tandoori jhinga, machli tikka for starters, Gosht Hyderabadi to put a lid on your appetite. They offer Chinese too, along with a good selection of deserts — Raaga Kulfi stands out — and wonders never cease, they even serve several varieties of pasta that leave you, like all good pastas should, wishing for wine. Quite similar is Kinara; the same heavy, fleshy fare that tends to throw its weight around the lining of one’s stomach.

You should be feeling peckish by this point, an overwhelming urge to kill time; this is when the faint of heart bury themselves in the nearest mall.

Time for dessert

No. This is the time to look for dessert. Two places stand out – the likes of Au Bon Pain and Gloria Jean’s notwithstanding – one is Berry’d Alive on 12th Main.

I’m not very sweet myself, but the stuff here can blow your mind regardless. Chocolate Wontons? Passion Fruit Parfait, Strawberry Crumble… and brownies that can make you weep. There’s something for everyone in here, and if there isn’t, you don’t belong here.

There’s also a KC Das outlet on CMH, if you want something a bit closer to home, or simply want your sugar rush satisfied in a jiffy.

Dinner should preferably be exotic. Italian is best enjoyed during those long evenings when you can sit back and relax and forget all the deadlines you need to meet… at Little Italy or Medici. No, for the modern go-getter or experimentalist, tougher fare is the call of the night: a touch of tequila is needed, and some Mexican spice. For that matter, there are two big names in Indiranagar: Habanero, and The Humming Tree.

Habanero is your typical high-funda joint. It’s loud, it’s happening, and slightly heavy on the wallet, but worth it. The nachos are particularly good and they have this trick they do with the nachos… it never seems to end. Ever. Your wallet and stomach will groan in unison because someone will inevitably ask you: sir/madam… may I repeat this? Sometimes before you’ve even finished the third plate!

Annoying, but you can sit there and rot before they run out of nachos. So, be careful. They also have brilliant starters – mainly, I think, to keep you on your feet until the Salsa sessions start and knock you off them. Sample the steak and the tenderloin and the fajitas… or the burgers.

The Humming Tree is quite the opposite. It’s more elegant… in so much as Mexican cuisine can be elegant… but it has more of a lounge-ish feel to it, somewhere to while away the time until someone shoos you out. They have a decent selection of wines, but there is a tameness to the atmosphere that soothes the agitated mind. It’s a good place to relax.

Different stuff

If Mexican isn’t your thing, find the Phobidden Fruit. It is damn difficult to find a table here on the best of days, so better reserve, the food is worth it. Like Jaaved Jaffrey once said, it’s different; although that might be taken out of context. There are some guidelines to working with Vietnamese cuisine. Avoid anything that has barbed wire in the title. Take the red curries with a handful of mint. Choose between rice and noodles – managing both at the same time will take up your entire evening. I found that out after ordering the Pho. It’s a rice-noodle soup. See what I mean?

There’s Spicy Prawn Fried Rice. More prawn than brain went into the making of this one. The Saigon noodles will give your jaw a workout. The key to dealing with Vietnamese cuisine is to chew. Chew regularly and with rhythm, you’ll last longer.

The last rule: wash it all down with Vietnamese Coffee. Our own is not strong enough to dislodge stray cauliflower or meat chunks that look for real estate in between one’s teeth.

One last place that I feel deserves a mention also has the strangest name ever. It’s called I & Monkey Restopub. Someone mentioned it to me in passing and I was pretty sure he was pulling my leg at that time. This is a fun joint although it does tend to overdo the strangeness. They have a dessert that’s called ‘Better than Sex’, and also offer a good range of stews — lots of meat in the matter, these people are ham-handed to the last. Bit heavy on the wallet — dinner for six went upwards of five grand… but then we may have overdone it ourselves, caught up in the strangeness of the moment. It’s bright and colourful, and a good place to have a party.

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