Sunday, January 31, 2010

Secret Garden Cafe

Secret Garden Cafe! Finally, I got to go here. Previous attempts at trying to locate the place have ended up with me beginning to feel like the fox that didn't get the grapes. Trying to get directions to this place was like trying to get the nuclear secrets out of the Army! No one would give you proper directions - like they wanted to keep this place a secret. I finally went there for lunch along with the food group (previously to Hae Kum Gang and Millers 46). This will be a pictorial review with just a few lines in between.

The menu

The salads were nice, and although there weren't any particular stand outs, we liked all 3 that we had.

Ham, mozzarella, fig, almond salad

Pear, cacciota cheese, fennel, walnut salad

Prawn + avocado cocktail salad

The main course: Although many people loved the Sri Lankan creamy curry with iddiappams, I liked the baked crab meat dish, as it's not easy to get crab meat cooked right. The lamb lasagna and canneloni with mushrooms and chicken were pretty good too. The chicken fillet was the least favourite - not because it tasted bad or anything (some found it too salty), but because compared to the other dishes, this looked blah!

Canneloni with chicken and mushroom

Minced lamb lasagna

Baked crab meat

Chicken fillet with sun-dried tomato pesto

Fish fillet with basil pesto

The menu, redux

Fish fillet with wine + dill sauce

Fettucine with prawns and bacon

Thai red curry

Sri Lankan creamy curry with bitter gourd salad and iddiappam

Desserts: A majority wanted the maple + butter crunch thingy (I must say it did sound fascinating, especially the fact that it was home-made ice cream), and it did taste good actually (even though I'm not a big fan o butterscotch-type flavours). I liked the Hedwig's cake with ice cream while all of us agreed the honey cake + cream was, well, flat and boring.

Hedwig's chocolate cake + ice cream

Brazilian nut (?) + honey cake + cream

Home made maple + nut butter crunch ice cream

After that we went to Fresco's for coffee, and along with the coffee they give you a stick with dark chocolate at the end. We weren't sure if we were to just eat it, or stir the coffee with it. Here, I've got a shot of the chocolate just dropping off the stick into my coffee. Coffee didn't taste all that great with the dark chocolate in it, but I like the snap below.

Food: Quite good
$$$: Slightly on the higher side (approx. 500 per head at the very least).
Verdict: Go there for the food and the ambiance, especially the ambiance.
Extra Info: It's on the road parallel to Cunningham road (see map link). There is NO turning from Cunningham road, so come on Queen's road and take the last right turn before the Indian Express signal.

Secret Garden Cafe, 7/1, Edward Road, Bangalore. Phone: 41131365

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BM Review: Cafe Mondo

Cafe Mondo! When you hear the name, it's bound to get you thinking at least about the meaning of the word mondo. South Bangalore has another nifty joint for shakes and sandwiches and coffee, and no surprises, it's 100% vegetarian - and even a lot of their cakes are without egg as well. Getting to the place can be a little tricky if you're not a native of south Bangalore, and if you are, then it's quite simple - it's on the road from south end circle towards Armugam circle (the road parallel to RV road). See what I mean!

Started by Esha and her husband Raghuveer, both of who lived in Australia, Cafe Mondo was setup with the intention of giving south Bangalore its due when it came to cafes apart from the mushrooming Coffee Days - and boy was it a refreshing change or what! Mondo is from the Spanish mundo, meaning world, and it was the intention of the young couple to represent as much of the world and not just the Mediterranean. Located at the corner of the street, this picturesque little cafe has a seating for a few outside, while the majority of the seating is inside.

My guests at Mondo were Lilian Fernandes, a techie at Cisco systems, and Bhawna Rao, a lifestyle travel consultant (I'm still trying to figure out what that means), have travelled around the world enough to know feta from gouda (and that's precisely what was required here as you'll soon read about). The menu at Mondo consists of pizza, sandwiches, salads, coffee (duh!), shakes, and desserts. We were game to try all, and so we started off with pizzas (they come in two sizes - 5 inch and 9 inch). We had 'A touch of Greece' having tomatoes, olives and feta, and 'Gouda Gouda' (both 5 inch), which had a whole montage of veggies - zucchini, peppers, olives, mushrooms, and Gouda cheese. The Touch of Greece instantly got our approval, while the gouda, though nice, had too much going on in it, to the point where I couldn't even taste the Gouda in spite of it being spread all over.

A Touch of Greece

Gouda Gouda

The fasta pasta salad was like any other pasta salad, and there wasn't anything special about it except that the cheery tomatoes used in it seemed very fresh.

Fasta Pasta Salad

To quench our thirst (and satisfy the need for caffeine in Lilian's case), we had the following: a orange sunrise, a honey mango (mango, orange and honey), an almond crunch, and a cafe mocha coffee in macadamia flavour. The almond crunch was the best of them.

Our beverages: Cafe Mocha coffee - macadamia flavoured (small glass), Orange(?) sunrise (left, and I know, it isn't orange!), Almond Crunch (middle), Honey Mango (right)

We then moved on to our sandwiches. The menu has 5 sandwiches, and except for the paneer (cottage cheese) sandwich, we had the rest. So green revolution (mix of several green veggies), Greek griller (feta and tomatoes), Caprese (tomato and basil pesto), and roasted vegetable sandwich (whole wheat bread with a whole lot of roasted veggies) it was to be. Just as with the sandwiches, the Greek one here came up trumps, with all of us agreeing that it was the best - simple, yet effective. The battle for second place was intense with both women selecting a different one apiece. While Bhawna chose the Caprese, Lilian chose the roasted veggie, and I had to play mediator. OK, it didn't get to the point where there was a cat fight (wouldn't that have been fun!) and I had to mediate, but eventually we agreed that the basil pesto in the Caprese was a little overpowering, while the roasted veggie sandwich had a little too much green pepper (capsicum). When it came to the green revolution, I liked it a lot, with the pumpkin in it adding a bit of sweetness, but the ladies thought there was way too much going on in it (like in the Gouda Gouda pizza).

Green Revolution

Greek Griller


Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

We polished off our meal with a couple of Mama Mia gelatos (Esha tells me Mondo is the only place in south Bangalore where you’ll get Mama Mia gelatos), a date and walnut cake, and a triple layered chocolate mousse (eggless). The date and walnut cake was simply superb, and the mousse was equally good, if not better. The gelatos came in second, with the ladies preferring the fudge brownie over the strawberry gelato.

Triple Layered Chocolate Mousse (eggless)

Date and Walnut Cake

Strawberry Gelato

Fudge Brownie Gelato

At present they don't accept credit cards, so carry cash.

Food: Quite good
$$$: Cheap (avg. meal for two: Rs 250 - Rs 400)
Service: Good
Verdict: Must visit if in south Bangalore, especially if you're peta ka beta, in other words a vegetarian, but that isn't to say that meat lovers wouldn't like the place, unless of course if you're a wolf or something.
Extra Info: From south end circle, go on the road parallel to the Bangalore Hospital/Vijaya College (Main)/ R V Road, so if you're coming from Nanda theatre, from south end circle signal, take the road to the left of the road straight ahead of you. Still haven't got it? Google maps check maadi.

Cafe Mondo, #2/2, Pattalamma Gudi Street, Next to Armugam Circle and close to Gunasheela Nursing Home, Basavanagudi, Bangalore. Phone: 42088686

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shanghai Salsa

Another classmate from school, who's currently in the US, had come down for the winter break, and his last day in Bangalore was when we finally caught up (he was in Mangalore until his last few days). It was a weekday, P and VP weren't very busy, but unfortunately, I was held up on that day with something at work, and so we had to settle for lunch close to my place of work, and so Shanghai Salsa it was.

Some soup

Chili roast pork

Veg balls with garlic sauce

Steamed chicken momos

Cuban roast pork meal

Some fish(y) meal

Veg burritos

Food: Great!
$$$: If you go in a large group, it would work out to around 300 or 350 per head (assuming you eat properly); smaller groups could end up paying almost 500 per head.
Service: Decent, prompt.
Verdict: I'm a fan of the place, and I've never had a bad experience here. Just remember, it's not your regular Chinese cuisine (it's Cuban-Chinese, essentially Cuban, with a Chinese touch in the cuisine), so don't feel disappointed because you didn't find Kung Pao chicken on the menu.
Extra Info: It's opposite just Bake.

Shanghai Salsa, 618/1, 1st Stage, 2nd Main, Opposite Just Bake, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Phone: 25201984

BM Review: Woodstok

Sorry that it took this long to post all that was done on the food front... no, I wasn't nursing a new year hangover or anything, I was just plain busy at work. The review for Woodstok can be read here.

Crème de potage de broccoli (broccoli soup)

Loaded potato skins

Mozzarella cheese sticks

Woodstok non-veg platter

London House Grill

Pescado a la Veracruzano

Chicken Crostina

Cottage Cheese Hawaiian Sizzler

John's Joy

Blueberry Cheese Cake

Food: Nice, but I've had better for these prices
$$$: Expensive...our meal was a touch below 3000
Service: Decent
Verdict: I'm undecided for the simple reason that places like Bangalore Bistro are a lot better for the same cost.

Woodstok, #3777, Domlur Service Road, HAL 2nd Stage (after Subway and Nandhini), Indiranagar, Bangalore. Phone: 42115042

Mutton in creamy fenugreek gravey

Happy new year! No, I wasn't delayed because of some post new year celebration hangover...I was just plain busy at work. During the run up to the new year, I decided to try my hand at a mutton dish that I came across here.

I found a half KG pack of boneless mutton cubes at Spar, and so I decided to use that. Below is a snap of the ingredients I used. One thing that I missed pointing out in the image is that next to the coriander seeds are fenugreek seeds as well.

Make a paste of the above ingredients (I had half a yellow capcicum, and I so I added it - you can add anything else you want, or don't add anything in place of it at all - no problemo). Once you get a paste, use it to marinate the mutton and add some salt and curd to the mutton and refrigerate for around 3 hours (I also added something like 2 teaspoons of pepper to the mutton which later turned out to be a little spicy, so you may wanna skip the pepper unless you really love spicy food). Also, at the time of making the marinade, I didn't have cumin seeds (mom bought them later in the evening), so you could add a teaspoon of cumin seeds to the marinade as well.

Remove the mutton an hour before you're gonna toss it over the flame...give it some time to thaw. To start off, take a deep dish (I used one of our pressure cooker vessels itself) and heat it and add 2 table spoons of ghee (clarified butter), and toss in a teaspoon of cumin seeds, about 8 cloves of garlic minced, and one onion cut (I cut them into rings, you can cut them any way you like). Sauté this until the onions are golden in colour.

Add the mutton to the pot and continue to cook. Add some water to the mixture (amount should vary depending on how thick you'd like the gravy to be).

Add some coriander leaves and fenugreek leaves to the pot and mix everything properly. I also added a couple of small potatoes (cut them into small cubes) and then pressure cooked the whole thing until the mutton was soft. If you have all the time in the world, and/or if gas doesn't cost you a bomb, then you could allow the mixture to simmer on the flame until the meat is soft. I prefer the pressure cooking method :)


The proportions of the ingredients:
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
8 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger piece sliced
1 onion chopped
2 green chilies
1 tsp chili flakes
6 cloves
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup curd
salt to taste
pepper (optional)
1 onion sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp ghee
2 small potatoes, chopped to small cubes
Handful of chopped coriander leaves
Handful of chopped fenugreek leaves
1/2 kg lamb

Make a marinade out of all the ingredients and add 1/2 a cup of the curd to the marinade and allow the meat to marinate for 3 hours. Then slice an onion and some add a tsp of cumin to 2 tbsp of ghee in a deep vessel. Fry until golden, and then add the meat. Add the coriander and fenugreek leaves and add water depending on how thick you wan the gravy to be. Add the potatoes into the pot and pressure cook until the meat is soft and tender. Add the remaining curd into this, and Bob's your uncle.


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