Apart from books and movies, food is another big weakness (its not that difficult to make out, once you have met me!). Hence, I always did love to try out new restaurants - though I have been disappointed quite often, I have sometimes been pleasantly surprised too.
Over the last few months, I have spent virtually all my weekends roaming around Bangalore and Chennai (on alternate weekends) with Smitha. Needless to mention, this offered me the perfect opportunity to visit some new eateries, both in Bglr and in Chn. I have been planning this particular post for quite some time, but it materialized only now.
Indi Joes (Indijoes), Bangalore: The place has some exotic cocktails, for sure. And they have an attractive Happy Hours offer as well: for any drink you buy before 8:30PM, you will get a free refill. Located inside the Carlton Towers complex on Airport Road, this swanky joint also has a good selection of sizzlers and desserts. I would personally vouch for the fondude; it was excellent. Its definitely not very quiet, though; I went there during the World Cup season, and the place was alive, if you know what I mean. I thought the nachos were excellent too, but I had to munch them up all alone, so I guess the feeling was not universal! A meal for two, including a couple of cocktails, would set you back by around Rs.750 - just make sure you get there before 8:30!
GRT Grand, Chennai: This is fast becoming one of my favorite restaurants in Chennai. The Indian restaurant (Copper Point) inside provides combines lovely interiors and impeccable service with mouthwatering food. The non-veg thalis that they serve are especially good - a typical thali comes with a thirst-quencher like jal-jeera, a non-veg appetizer plus a veg appetizer and then the regular thali with a non-vegetarian dish. The fish curry is truly awesome, and holds special memories.
The first time I visited Copper Point was with my dad, sis' and Smitha. Now, both dad and sis' are allergic to prawns, and hence we told the waiter specifically not to serve prawns. However, there was some kind of screw-up and they did end up serving prawns. Me and Smitha dug in, and the next time the waiter came by, we mildly said: Hey, you did end up serving prawns anyhow. My dad made some vague comment about how he'd have ended up puking into his plate. The waiter apologized profusely, and brought us a delicious fish-curry (which I ended up ordering on a couple of other visits too) - on the house. Now, that's service for you!
I'd recommend this hotel to anyone. Its a wee bit pricey: a meal for two, plus a couple of beers apiece would empty your wallet by around Rs. 1200. Some of the thirst-quenchers are really, really expensive though; there's one particular concoction with coconut-water and honey that costs a steep 95 bucks! If its a special occasion, I'd say its worth it.
Sikandar, Garuda Mall (4th Floor), Bangalore: This restaurant is hidden away inside Garuda Mall; the entrance obscures a finely done azure-blue decor. However, this is one of the few negatives I can point out about the restaurant. The interiors were splendid, and there was adequate space between the seats (I hate some of those restaurants where you can hear every word that the guy on the next table says). Moreover, they had a non-smoking section as well.
I'd popped in Sikandar for lunch, and I have to admit that the buffet was scrumptious. We ordered a couple of cocktails too (now, that's another interesting story, but if I repeat that here I might be sleeping on the sofa for the next couple of weeks, and I don't fancy that much!), and everything was excellent. I'd love to visit the restaurant again, and will do so at the next chance I get. you should too!
Savera, Chennai: Minar, the rooftop Mughlai restaurant in Savera, is my favourite restaurant in Chennai. For one, if you are lucky enough to get a window seat you get to have a bird's eye of Chennai for miles around (its on the 11th floor). And then, you have the ghazals; a blind singer responds favorably to suggestions and belts out ghazals and other select oldies. The service has always been efficient, and the kababs are lovely (if you ask me, I'd choose the Machli Noorjahani or the Machli Koliwada anytime). And most importantly, they serve pickled onions with the drinks (I have always been a sucker for these)! Be warned, though: Minar borders on the slightly expensive side; a meal for two could easily cost you Rs. 600 or more.
Zara Tapas, Chennai: This one calls itself a Mexican tavern. They have a nice ambience, an impressive collection of cocktails and some great snacks. And yeah, the waiters are all young and try their darnest to process your orders fast. The window tables are lovely, and by 10PM the place is completely full. They have a pepper-squid-something snack that's really yummy. However, the place is really, really on the expensive side.
The next post on restaurants will be the ones I really didn't like all that much. But that's for next time. Please do feel free to add your own recommendations (irrespective of which city they are in!)