23 April, 2015

Food Mood: Biere Club turns 4 years old

The Biere Club on Lavelle Road completed four years on the 20th of April. An anniversary is always a good time for change, and they've done just that. A few weeks ago, some of the other bloggers and I were invited for a sneak peak of the menu that would be introduced post the place turning four years old. Having moved away from their traditional Mediterranean cuisine, Biere Club’s new menu focuses more on small eats and finger foods. This makes complete sense considering their star performers are the beer and most folks coming there are looking for grub to accompany the same. Our hosts for the evening were Shaun Kenworthy, Director F&B of Biere Club, and Vishal Nagpal, Director of Biere Club.

Besides sampling the various beers available that evening, we kicked off what was going to soon become a wild evening of eating and drinking with a helping of Pizza Samosas. These mini-samosas are to die for. With a filling that tastes like pizza, and more importantly oodles of stringy cheese, this dish is the perfect accompaniment for any beer. Every blogger fell in love with this dish instantly. This was followed by another superb veg starter, the Corn Curd Salt n Pepper. To me, it was a twist on the better known Dahi Kabab with a delicious curd and corn filling on the inside. Another perfect accompaniment with any ale. 

Pizza Samosa

Corn Curd Salt n Peppar

The next round of starters moved along with a serving of Asian style cottage cheese skewers with Thai peanut dip. This was a very simple dish and the name pretty much says it all. I personally found it to be a bit bland. That may be probably due to the two scrumptious starters from before. But that was soon forgotten when they brought out the Chicken with peppers, chilli and coriander. For those who love spicy Indian food with their drinks, this is a must have. The portions are quite neat and convenient to eat. I really enjoy how both these starters were served in the tea glasses one would find in their local chai adda.

Asian Style Cottage Cheese Skewers with Thai peanut dip

Chicken with Peppers, Chille and Coriander

We also got a helping of hummus, but with three varieties of the same. This was accompanied by a Rava fried fish and chips. I’m a bit on the fence on this one. I enjoyed the taste, the crispiness, the presentation, but am not entirely sure why it doesn’t fall into my list of recommendations for the place. Fish lovers can try this twist on the London Fish n Chips and see if it catches their fancy.  We also had a helping of the spicy Pork vindaloo with pav

Hummus Trio

Rava Fried Fish and Chips

It was at this point the evening got really fun because we began some serious drinking. We all had a helping of beer with Kahlua shots which hit a lot of people. Veterans like yours truly were still standing. Shaun Kenworthy took it upon himself to ensure everyone was adequately sozzled and ensured a variety of shots were served at regular intervals. We tried everything from the Biere Mojito to the stout float to the Biere Sangria and more. I personally enjoyed the Stout Float. Soon enough, most of us were having a good time. Some more than others. These drinks were accompanied with various starters including the Prawn Chettinad and the Mutton Pepper. I’m always partial to prawns and thoroughly enjoyed the former. 

Shan Kenworthy brings on the shots

Le Sozzled Bloggers

Prawn Chettinad

We also sampled some of the main course of which I tried Beef stroganoff with steamed rice and the Massaman chicken curry with steamed rice. A big plus point is that the main courses are served in small helpings rather than in large quantities. This is ideal for the crowd at Biere Club who are mostly full on booze and appetizers. This was a good move and shows that the restaurant understands their customers really well.

Beef Stroganoff

The final chapter – desserts. I’ve been actively trying to cut down the amount of sugar I have by eliminating it from coffee, tea, avoiding desserts and more. I’d like to thank the folks here for making me break my resolution by offering me a helping of Biere battered bounty bars with ice cream. I tried my best to resist, but alas. No one ever denies themselves fried bounty bars. As expected, the one bit I took filled my mouth with a fabulous sensation, amplified owing to the lack of sugar in my diet. Don’t miss out on this. We were also offered a Sticky date and toffee pudding and a Knickerbocker glory, which I avoided.

Biere Battered Bounty Bars with Ice Cream

This was definitely one of the more memorable blogger table meets I’ve been to in ages. Everyone had a great time thanks to the great hospitality of the folks at the Biere Club. I think I’m definitely going to enjoy the new menu. I’ve always enjoyed the ambiance of the Biere Club, and really enjoy the fact that they play retro pop and rock which is more my style as compared to most of the new age techno stuff. With the new menu in place, I’m looking forward to a lazy afternoon with friends where we’ll have some beer, good food and sing along to the music. Do head over the Biere Club and check out what are your favourites on the new menu.

18 April, 2015

Gig Review: Pepsi MTV Indies Featuring Parvaaz, Prateek Kuhad and Opposite Sex at the Humming Tree (Pt.2 of 2)

The final band for the evening was Parvaaz. I am extremely proud of this band, they're one of those bands that has matured so fabulously and are growing with every gig. It’s evident that the more shows they’re doing, the more they learn and improve their performance and sound.  I remember seeing the band play a few years ago and Khalid (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) came across as this very shy and reserved person. This evening’s gig has shown how fabulously he’s grown as a front man. He’s freer and more comfortable on stage and handles the audience fabulously. I won’t even start to write about how fabulous his voice is. There was this one point where the vocal mic went kaput, but Khalid shrugged it off and got to get the audience to sing along. I don’t think anyone even noticed and felt it was a part of the act. 

Kashif and Fidel are absolutely rock solid on guitar and bass respectively and have become a lot more confident with their presence on stage. From their earlier gigs where they were more or less rooted to the spot, they’ve learnt to use the real estate on the stage and get the crowd going. Sachin on the drums was brilliant as always. There was a point when Khalid introduced him to the audience and everyone went ‘Sachiiiiiiin….Sachin….’  One of the high points was this little nifty bass and drum piece by Fidel and Sachin that got everyone really crazy.

The band played the title track from their latest album Baran and mixed it up with some of the older material from their previous EP with Marika and Itne Arse ke Baad and more songs. We also got to listen to some of the new material that the band has been working on in the studio. They’ve truly embraced the psychedelic vibe. One of the new songs sounded like something Gilmour would have written.

I always go back delighted from a Parvaaz. The way the band and the individual members are growing, they’re on their way to become a monumental part of India’s rock scene (if not already) and of India’s rock history. 

Gig Review: Pepsi MTV Indies Featuring Parvaaz, Prateek Kuhad and Opposite Sex at the Humming Tree (Pt.1 of 2)

While most of the folks at the Humming Tree had come for Parvaaz and Prateek Kuhad, there was a very interesting opening set by a band known as Opposite Sex. This was the first time I’ve heard of them and I’m quite impressed. The band is a simple three-piece ensemble with Ragini Ramanathan handling vocals and bass and Siddharth Gautam along with Pradip handling vocals and guitars. The band sticks to writing simple songs of the world around us that looks at things like people in a relationship but working in different shifts, people who ‘faff’ their way through work and other more relatable topics. I did enjoy how the band did not complicate the sound with too many electronics (a trend that seems to be picking up faster than it should). Ragini’s cheerful demeanour and interaction with the crowd made everyone like the band almost instantaneously. While their sound was a little off on the vocal harmonies and the guitars got a little loud at times, it was still a very nice gig. I’m hoping the band matures with time and continues to stick to the simple guitar-singer-song writer formula.

Opposite Sex

Ragini from Opposite Sex

Next up was Prateek Kuhad with his band. I’ve been in love with his recent album ‘In Token & Charms’ and have been eagerly looking forward to see him play live. Prateek’s performance is exactly like the album - very chilled-out and enjoyable. Prateek is clearly in love with his music which comes across as extremely personal (even on the album) and is on stage just sharing the same. This simple three-piece band kept everyone grooving right from the first song. No time is wasted between songs, not even to talk to the audience or to address the one annoying person who kept screaming that he wanted to listen to Artist from the album. Prateek played some of the songs from the new album and mixed it up with a few Hindi numbers. The overall performance and sound was fabulous and I’m looking forward to more music and live gigs from Prateek Kuhad.

Prateek Kuhad with his band

Prateek Kuhad

Prateek Kuhad

Guest Column: Deccan Chronicle

In this week's column for the Deccan Chronicle, I write about why I'm in support of some of the major music festivals banning Selfie Sticks.

08 April, 2015

Food Mood: Tim Tai

I was invited to be a part of a food bloggers meet at Tim Tai to try out their new menu. I’ve visited the restaurant three times in the last year and have always gone away happy. Hence, I was eager to see what the folks had put together to tantalize our taste buds. The evening started with an assortment of dimsums. These included Spicy Soya and Basil, Vegetable Cristil, Chicken and Shrimp. I ensured that I did not have more than one of each despite their freshness lest I get full and miss out on the main course.

Veg Cristil Dimsums

Chicken Dimsum
For the starters, we began with a helping of Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish. This was one fine dish as the natural taste of the leaf blended very well with the spices which were very Thai in nature with the chilli and peanut taste coming through. The meat itself was cooked perfectly. A definite must have for someone who likes the Thai-styled fish.  There was also a Fish in Chilli Pepper which was average in preparation compared to the Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish. We were also offered Stuffed Chicken Wings with Glass Noodles which were a very unique preparation. The dish retained none of the usual traits of chicken wings; the messy spicy sauces that go all over your hand and make you behave uncivilized in public. This was a very different-tasting more civilized dish. I’m on the fence on this one because while the taste was nice and spicy, the lack of messiness didn’t give me the satisfaction of wings. Among the vegetarian dishes, I enjoyed the Crispy Baby Corn with the Roasted Chilli Paste. While the baby corn was nothing new, the chilli paste was really nice and spicy. 

Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish

Stuffed Chicken Wings

Roasted Baby Corn
For the main course, we had a variety of dishes. The first one was the Mushroom and Spinach in Soya Chilli. This dish was definitely a highlight of the meal. The sauce was excellent with the right amount of spice and was just a tad stronger than the taste of the mushrooms and spinach. This is one of my recommendations for any of the vegetarians going here. We were also served the Malaysian Family Style Chicken which had one of the usual pan Asian tastes that one gets. The same goes for the Sri Lankan Fish Curry. While the tastes were not bad, I was expecting a lot more from these dishes and was disappointed. 

Mushroom and Spinach in Soya Chilli Sauce

Malaysian Family Style Chicken

All that went away with the Vietnamese Spicy Prawns with Lemongrass. Besides being a delight to look at, this dish was superb. The lemongrass and spice blended perfectly and infused with the prawn to give it a very fresh taste. The spice levels were set just right to tickle your taste buds but not so high as to force you to drink a lot of water. The prawns were fresh and crunchy. Overall, from the main course, this dish was my favourite. My recommendation for sea food lovers.  I also had a helping of the veg Jungle Red Curry with rice. This was a no-frills classic thai red curry and rice combination that performed exactly as it was supposed to.

Vietnamese Spicy Prawns with Lemongrass

Jungle Red Curry
We tried a variety of noodles and rice including the Ginger Capsicum Fried Rice, the Garlic and Broccoli Fried rice and the Hakka Noodles. The noodles were quite dry for my taste and were not as rich in taste as I was expecting them to be. This required copious amount of gravy to have them. Feedback was promptly given to the chef, so I’m expecting a lot more the next time. Among these, the Tim Tai Special Chilli Coriander Noodles stood out for having the most flavour and the ability for us to have the same without resorting to the addition of a sauce.

In the final leg, the desserts, we tried the Water Chestnut Rubies with Coconut Milk. I didn’t have this because I’m not too fond of Water Chestnuts. I did however really enjoy the various flavours of ice creams including chilli chocolate, lemongrass, green tea and more. My favourite dessert, something which I had tried during their Christmas special lunch was Apple Fritters with Blue Berry Compot and Ice Cream. I loved this dessert the first time and was happy to fall in love all over again.

Apple Fritters with Blueberry Compot and Ice Cream

Ice Creams

Summing the evening,  some of the newer side dishes blew my mind. Especially the Vietnamese Spicy Prawns with Lemongrass and the Mushroom and Spinach in Soya Chilli. The Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish was very memorable too. Just as was the Apple Fritter dessert. I wasn’t too pleased with the rice and noodles and was expecting a lot more flavour. Otherwise a really enjoyable evening and I’m looking forward to going back in a few months’ time.

06 April, 2015

Gig Pix: Live Banned, Skrat and Fuzz Culture at Humming Tree

Sponsored by Vans, this gig at The Humming Tree featured three bands. First up were the boys from Bengaluru - Live Banned. They were followed by Skrat from Chennai. Anyone hwo knows me knows the admiration I have for both these bands and I dont want to repeat myself as to how they played super gigs. Instead, I'd like to write about the closing band of the evening. All the way from Delhi, Fuzz Culture are an electronic act. I was planning on leaving, but this two member band had a very different sound from the usual electronic stuff I've heard previously. What stood out was the thunderous drumming and energy of the duo. I was honestly quite impressed and stayed for a large part of their set. Below are some pics from the gig.

Live Banned

Live Banned

Skrat Crew member and friend - Ashwath

Live Banned

Live Banned







Fuzz Culture

Fuzz Culture

Fuzz Culture