Bangalore Brew Works

We were walking through Bengaluru, having a wonderful walk, headed toward the highly recommended Mavalli Tiffin Room for lunch, when we realized, “It’s Ganesha Chaturthi! I wonder if they’re open!” Sure enough, closed. Rats. A quick search for alternatives, though, showed that we were near not one but two microbreweries. We settled on lunch at Bangalore Brew Works (and ended up at the other, Arbor Brewing, the next day).

We’re not sure we ordered our food very well. We ended up with three fried foods: corn and cheese balls, Indian loaded pots (essentially India’s answer to poutine), and potato and cheese bites. We also got the “Cottage Cheese Delight Slider”, which came with more fries. Oof. Veggie burgers around here are in general quite good — potato and lentil based with varying amounts of masala flavoring and other goodies — and this one was exactly that, quite good. That other stuff all would have been perfectly fine, if we had only one of them. As it turned out, it was a whole lot of fried food. For what it was, it was good enough.

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The beer was ok. This is only the second local IPA we had had, but we were starting to worry that IPAs here aren’t the same. Like the one at Druid Garden, it was a little maltier and the yeast was a little, let’s say, Belgianier.

They highlight of the place was the view. It’s on the 10th floor of a building that looks out over what feels like the entire city. There are several spaces, from quiet to raucous, each with its own version of the view. Down one hall, they even had their own poolside bar.

We got there before it was officially open, and by the time we left, there might have been one other group there, so we had the place to ourselves. To this point, we had pretty much either experienced service that was either overwhelming and pushy (in restaurants and stores) or hard to flag down. The young man helping us here got it right. He kept a comfortable distance, but was on top of it when we flagged him down.

Everything at Bangalore Brew Works was good enough. If we end up here again for whatever reason, we’ll be happy. We probably won’t go out of our way to come again.

Druid Garden

After a couple of failed attempts, we finally made it to Druid Garden. The place came with crazy high expectations. Shane (Tom’s Head of School) intended to send us there for out anniversary (it was closed — we ended up at Saffron instead), and everybody seems to indicate it is their go-to for a nice, festive night out. In fact, Tom’s colleagues had been the night before, and one of them, Ivana, was very excited for us to try the Vietnamese salad rolls.

When we thought we were going there for our anniversary, while we were still in Portland, we looked at their menu on-line, so we already had a good idea about Druid Garden’s most notable characteristic: a multicultural breadth neither of us had ever seen. They serve Italian, American, Southeast Asian, Latin American, and Indian.

img_1829Despite the vast size of the place, it is really very warm. Though there is one large main space, there are a number of smaller, more intimate spaces, as well. We were seated in a secluded little section at a window overlooking the surrounding neighborhood of Sahakanagar, which was lovely, except that we were afraid we were forgotten. Melissa had a nice view of a very large TV, from which she got not only an intro to the ubiquitous cricket, but also an intro to kabaddi, a sport we had been told was basically full contact tag and is a very popular professional sport in India.

Oh, yeah, and we had some food. We went with a multinational spread: the Vietnamese spring rolls Ivana suggested; leak, corn, and emmenthaler empanadas; and a margherita pizza. We also had their own IPA.

All of it was good if unremarkable. We will return for the festiveness and friendliness and the reliably decent food.

Koshy’s

For our first meal out on our own at a restaurant we found all on our own, we decided to go to Koshy’s for brunch on our first Sunday in Bengaluru.

Koshy’s first opened its doors in 1940, so it’s been around a while. Melissa had read about it while researching places to go in Bengaluru – while no one lists it as their favorite restaurant, everyone feels compelled to give it a nod, referring to “good old Koshy’s” as a stand-by. When Tom described to his peers that we had been, they had the same unenthusiastic but respectful reaction.

The menu looked ok and the prices affordable, so we thought it would be a good first breakfast out. It definitely has a sort of dimly lit, by-gone charm, and it was packed, which is always a good sign. We enjoyed a dish that was totally new to us, the Sunday special of Appom with vegetable stew, after seeing people around us eating it. Appom are large pancakes that are very thin around the edges and very thick in the middle so they almost look stuffed. They are made from rice flour and coconut milk (gluten and dairy free!), and they are really delicious. The only thing we could equate them to is the Ethiopian bread, injera, but the similarities are really as thin as the outer portions. The accompanying vegetable stew was mild with a coconut milk base and potatoes, carrots, and green beans in it. The combo was delightful. We also enjoyed a cheese omelette (it was cold — we’re interested to see if this is the norm), toast, and coffee.

When trying new restaurants, we always wonder about the Delhi Belly risk. We were, after all, the only white people there for a good chunk of time. Our worry was nonsense. It was a delightful meal.

Saffron at the Shangri La

On our first night in Bangalore, we were exhausted, but there was no way that we were going to stay home and overlook the fact that it was also our sixth wedding anniversary. This was a big day!

After a bit of confusion about where we were going (our intended celebration spot, Druid Garden, is closed on Mondays), our driver Marthi pulled up to the Shangri La, a beautiful, opulent, 5-star hotel. Before entering, we had to walk through a metal detector – this seemed odd at the time, but we now know that it’s a normal part of life here. In the lobby was a beautifully dressed woman who offered assistance. We told her that we wanted to have dinner and she told us about our five options there: a buffet on the first floor, a Chinese restaurant on a lower floor, or one of three restaurants  on the 18th floor.  Without choosing a restaurant, we knew we wanted a view so the 18th floor sounded right to us. She escorted us to the elevator and pushed the button for us.

When we got off, there were five women in stunning saris standing there in a line, asking where we wanted to go. We said that we were interested in seeing menus and one of them told us about our options including a Mediterranean restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, and Saffron, an Indian restaurant. We looked at each other silently agreed that was what we wanted for our first night in India. As she walked us down the long hall, we told her we’d just arrived in Bangalore at 3 am that morning and that it was our anniversary.

We were immediately seated in the beautiful dining room right next to a table covered in rose petals – a couple that had clearly planned ahead for their anniversary arrived shortly thereafter.

The meal was wonderful. We wanted only one glass of wine each, given that we were already struggling to keep our eyes fully opened, and we wanted it to be Indian wine. The waiter brought us tastes of a 2016 Cabernet-Shiraz from Grover Vineyards, about an hour north of us, and a 2015 Sangiovese from KRSMA in Hampi, quite a bit north of us, but still in the state of Karnataka. Both wines tasted young and had an unusual minerality, but the Sangiovese was a bit smoother and we both chose that one.

The menu was organized by regions of India, something you’d never see in the states. They had two different vegetarian prix fixe meals (oh, the joy of being a vegetarian in South India!) and we considered them, but decided that we really wanted to choose for ourselves. We started with a stuffed paneer appetizer unlike anything we’ve had before and incredibly delicious. It consisted of rounds of paneer sandwiching a spicy tomato chutney, coated in spices, and then cooked in the tandoor. Yum! Because we wanted to have something familiar, we selected the ghobi muttar and vegetable biryani which were both outstanding.  For the final dish, we wanted to try something local and our waiter suggested a Karnatakan vegetable stew in coconut milk. To round out the meal, we ordered one naan and one paratha. The waiter wanted to know what kind of paratha, the one from Kerala or another one. Not knowing the difference, we’re floundered and may have ended up with both. These breads were flakey and delicious enough to just eat by themselves.

We were far too full to finish and they offered to “parcel” our food. After declining dessert, our waiter returned with a lovely chocolatey anniversary cake and asked to take our picture with it. We could only manage one bite each before having that parceled as well, but we were really touched by the gesture.

While the restaurant was far from empty, Mondays are slow nights everywhere, and that was certainly the case here. Our service was very attentive and sometimes a bit intrusive, but generally charming. They clearly cared that we enjoy our meal.

I can easily imagine returning again for a special occasion.

On our way out, there was lots of hubbub in the lobby and outside. It seems that a Bollywood star was on the way and people were gathering for a glimpse! We didn’t see the actor, but did get to admire some gorgeous clothing. All of the women were wearing bright, embroidered, sequined works of art. I felt so drab in comparison in a simple floral dress which I had previously believed to be colorful.