24 October, 2014

Food Mood: Bistro Claytopia

People who know me know that the only time I’m not hungry is when I've just eaten. Some friends and I wanted to head out to dinner one evening, but we could not come up with a place to go to. We chose the Bistro Claytopia in Indiranagar as a rally point for everyone. The plan was to just sip some coffee while we waited for everyone to gather and we could figure out where to go.

Just a few days earlier, I read a post on FaceBook regarding the best burgers in town, and the burger from Claytopia was on the list. While I initially only ordered a Double Choco Cream Claypuccino, I ultimately gave in and ordered a burger. I ordered the Bistro Chicken burger which comes with a chicken fillet, salami, egg and cheese. Accompanied by some potato chips, the size of the burger was medium in size. And I say medium by comparing it to burgers I love at other joints. 

Bistro Chicken Burger

Double Choco Cream Claypuccino

Honestly, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the burger. While the taste wasn’t too bad, I feel I’ve had better elsewhere. It was filling but it didn’t make me want to come back a second time willingly. The burger surely beats the quality of all the global fast food joints. The taste was quite ordinary and really gave me nothing that set it apart from a regular burger. Also, while the drink I ordered was quite tasty it was not cold at all.

While Bistro Claytopia offers pleasant ambience to people looking to spend time catching up with friends, going by what I did eat, the food isn’t the greatest. I would like to go back some time later and try some of the other dishes to see if my opinion changes. 

14 October, 2014

Food Mood: Soho St.

Over the weekend, I was invited to be a part of a bloggers meet at Soho St. which is located in Koramangala. While I have driven past the restaurant a few times, this was the first time I would be trying out the spread there. Soho St. is a one-price format buffet that offers restaurant goers a glimpse into various cuisines from around the globe. 

Named after the famous street in London, or formerly infamous street, Soho St. has a very welcoming old-school English charm when you enter. A lot of the interior designing has gone into ensuring tables are spread out and one gets the feel of a being in an English inn of sorts. The restaurant has also provisioned for a small play area for kids, which I felt was very thoughtful. While they don’t serve liquor at the moment, I can visualize it being a fun place to catch up with friends over a few beers. The music isn’t too bad either, but they could definitely go for a more English vibe ... read Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who.

Fancy old school light bulbs
I was overly careful not to indulge in the fairly large spread of starters lest I miss out on the main course and dessert. We began the lunch with a bowl of Chicken Lung Fung soup which was hot and felt nice going down the throat. The appetizers started off with a plate of Chicken Tangdi Kabab. Besides the very tempting presentation, the kababs had been marinated really well with the masala going right into the meat. Most of the buffets tend to under-marinate the meats leaving the insides fairly bland. But this one had an even taste right through and the meat was very tender. I hope they continue to maintain this consistency. I also tried the Adraki Fish Tikka which was well done, but the chicken was top notch. 

Chicken Tangdi Kabab

Adraki Fish Tikka
From the grill section, we had a variety of bites that included Chicken in BBQ sauce and Fish in a Roast Gravy. I rather liked this fish better than the one from the tandoor. I guess the sauce made all the difference. The vegetarians also had a fair share of dishes covering mushrooms, pineapple, soya, baby corn, eggplant and more. I did not try any of the vegetarian starters in order to leave space for the rest of the meal.

Fish in Roast Gravy

Baby Corn
The dim sums were very tempting. I sampled only the Chicken Basil dim sum and the Lamb dim sum. The latter was the more memorable of the two with the lamb being well done. The spread also offered Crab Sushi and Veg Sushi. 

Dim Sums

Crab Shushi
Before I hit the main course, I tried out two of the mocktails that were on the menu. The first was the Mango Breeze, which was quite nice. I also sampled the Mint Mystic which was a very interesting cocktail of blackcurrant with mint and sprite. It was definitely a unique taste for me. But then, I don’t have anything with black current as often as the other flavours. It was quite refreshing.

Mint Mystic
As part of the main course, I started off with the Kheema Pav. This was simply superb. The kheema was done perfectly to ensure it wasn’t too chunky or too minced up. The dish had the right amount of spice to make it one of the memorable ones from the afternoon. Do not miss out on this should you go here. Although, the air conditioning made the bread a little cold, you could request for the pav to be heated just a little bit. This was still an excellent dish.

Kheema Pav
In the first round of the main course I tried the Indian spread. I sampled the Chicken Zaica Biryani, the Butter Chicken and the Mutton Curry. While the biryani and the chicken were fair, the mutton curry stood out. I really enjoyed the taste of the gravy, which seeped into the fairly tender and juicy portions of mutton. This dish is definitely worth trying on the spread.

Next up was the pan-Asian spread. I took a portion of Vegetable Hakka Noodles, well done and soft, and some Prawn in Hunan Sauce. The Prawns were fresh and crunchy, but I was hoping the sauce would be a little spicier. What really grabbed the attention of my tastes buds was the Thai Green Curry that the chef recommended. All the ingredients were in perfect harmony giving it a super flavour. 

Grilled Fish with Lemon and Butter
The desserts on display were impressive. Soho St. has tried to be different by including a cold stone ice cream counter as part of their dessert. They had three varieties up for grabs with a variety of sauces and accompaniments that people could choose from. I also tried the jelly and the Fruit Custard which were quite alright. 

Cold Stone Ice Cream

Caramel Custard
Also available, is a cotton candy machine which more or less brought out the child in everyone. I mean literally, everyone screaming "I waaaaaaaant...."

But up next was the crowning glory of the entire meal – The Chocolate Mousse. The mousse was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. Extremely light and very consistent throughout, the chocolate mousse had a mini party in my mouth. It was definitely the most brilliant way to sign off the meal. I couldn’t control myself anymore, so I helped myself to two more of the same. I just could not get enough of that.

Chocolate Mousse
Soho St. offers a very decent spread and good food with super hits like the Kheema Pav, the Chocolate Mousse and the Tangri Kabab which leave you wanting more. The restaurant also comes with a live pasta counter and a salad bar that catches your fancy. The cuisine covers Indian, Chinese, Thai, Continental and more. I really enjoyed the ambience of the venue even though it was completely packed. You rarely saw people waiting in a line to serve themselves. The staff was courteous and fairly quick in responding. While buffets are always a very subjective experience to people, Soho St. is definitely one that I would vouch for. 

Located opposite the Forum Mall on Christ College Road, the meals at Soho St. are very competitively priced at Rs.575 from Monday to Thursday and Rs.675 on weekends.

05 October, 2014

Food Mood: Madras Pavilion at the ITC Grand Chola

The Madras Pavilion at the ITC Grand Chola offers one of the best spreads for a buffet that I have seen in a long time. Keeping in tradition with the fact that the hotel is located in Chennai, the buffet offers a lavish spread of south Indian cuisine that was made superb. It also offers the less ambitious foreign traveller their fair share of less aggressive food to suit the palette. I won’t go into a detailed description of each of the dishes because I honestly don’t remember the names. But dinner lasted about three hours, so you can take a guess at how good the food was. 

Somethings that did stand out were the Blueberry Creme Brulee, the apple and potato thingy (I hate it when I have food amnesia), the filter coffee and the best part – the absolutely kick-ass pongal-vada for breakfast the next morning. Normally, the larger hotels make an absolute mess of the local dishes like idli, pongal, etc. But the Madras Pavilion got it spot on. It’s second on my list of all-time awesome pongal-vada. The first being a little place in the small town where the family deity is present.

So here goes...

Prawn and pineapple salad

Prawn Biryani

Filter Coffee

Stay Shay: ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

About a week ago, I was invited for an event at the ITC Grand Chola in Chennai. Having only seen pictures of the rooms on their website, I was eagerly looking forward to staying at the place and experiencing all that the hotel had to offer. Since there is too much too talk about, I’ll cover the awesome hotel first and then put up pictures of the delicious food I had there in the subsequent post.

The first thing that greeted us as we entered the hotel was the massive staircase at the reception. Defining absolute class, the staircase reminded me of the one from the Titanic movie where Leonardo Di Caprio is waiting at the bottom step and Kate Winslet walks down to greet him.

The reception area also has many of these nice little sitting areas for people to meet. These are spread across the ground floor. I want to steal one of those insanely comfortable chairs.

We were soon escorted to our rooms. I entered and the room simply blew my mind away. It took me almost ten minutes to sort of soak in how classy and cozy the room was. The room is well-sized and well lit. The cool part was that almost everything in the room was controlled by this nifty little ipad application. It controlled everything from room service, to the television, to setting the lights according to the mood you wanted (don’t get cheeky ideas here) and even the door locks. It pretty much controlled everything but the water taps. The bed was just so comfortable that I didn't want to move. I also had to put a leash on the child in me who wanted to jump up and down on the bed. (Yes, I still enjoy doing that.)

I always judge a hotel by the bathrooms they have. And the one here just took my already blown-apart mind, put it back together with super glue and blew it apart again. The bathroom had a luxurious bath tub, a separate shower area and a water closet. The sink area was opulent. And the best part, mirrors everywhere. While the bathroom was almost seamless with the rest of the room, one could pull the doors and then be enclosed in room with superb lighting and mirrors all around. This made the otherwise small bathroom seem really large. Kudos to the designer.

I really enjoy swimming. So, I checked out the pool area at the ITC Grand Chola. The pool area is well-laid out with a large pool in the center which is 4 feet deep, and smaller pools for the children on either side. And given the weather in Chennai, a dip in the pool is what the doctor ordered.

The ITC Grand Chola offers ten destinations for food and beverages. We ate at only two of them – The Madras Pavilion and the Cafe Mercara Express. I’ve put some pictures here, I’ll cover the food later on.

Madras Pavilion

Cafe Mercara


The two days I spent at the ITC Grand Chola were one of the most memorable ones I’ve had in recent times. The staff was extremely courteous, rooms were very clean and the food was quite amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and look forward to stay there the next time.