bangalore, general

A Hole Lotta Lova Cafe, Koramangala 5th Block

TLDR – Budget friendly, cozy place for breakfast. Casual, relaxed atmosphere. Good breakfast options available for both vegetarians and non vegetarians, limited options on hot beverages. Try the waffles and the burgers (without mayonnaise)

Food -3/5

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Egg White Omelette

I’ve been in Bangalore for close to 5 years now, and in all this time I have heard of Hole in the Wall Cafe so many times for their waffles, but I have never been there. A Hole Lotta Love is from the same people –  catering to the same palate. They are both commonly known for their waffles and the English breakfast.

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Veggie 9 Yards Hash

What we had – Egg white omelette, Masala omelette, Veggie 9 yards hash, Banoffee pie waffles, Sloppy Joe Beef Burger and green tea (With a slice of lemon).

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Banoffee Pie Waffles

How it was – wife and I particularly enjoyed the Banoffee pie waffle. The waffle and the whipped cream tasted unique – I guess the restaurant makes it themselves. The waffle was crispy and seemed to have been made from some sort of a cake batter, the whipped cream did not have a factory taste. Despite having reservations on our respective waistlines, we jointly gobbled this up.

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Masala Omelette

The masala omelette, while good, could have done with a little lesser oil. However this is how most kitchens make a masala omelette, and I should have asked them in advance if i wanted less trans-fat.  The egg white omelette was healthier, though the spinach tasted bland once the omelette disappeared.

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Sloppy Joe Beef Burger

I have heard the name Sloppy Joe quite a few times on American TV series, and decided to to try it out. What I should have done is asked the kitchen to make it without the mayonnaise. I am not sure why, but most restaurants in India make burgers and sandwiches with a generous serving of mayonnaise, which at least for me, kills the taste of the sandwich or the burger filling. The chilli beef filling tasted good, and the burger was truly sloppy – I had to lick my hands after every bite.

 

Service – 3/5

Quick and smooth. Nothing to complain.

Ambience – 4/5

Very relaxed and casual atmosphere. Surprisingly the crowd was for a Saturday morning. People slowly filled in though. I saw quite a few students with their bags, I’d say the average age of folks that were there would be 25, no more.

If you fancy eating your breakfast looking down on the busy Koramangala road, you could do that, or get a table inside – in the duplex style place. There is a pool table too. The bathroom does not have a mirror – they have made art that says “You Look Fine”. Ha!

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Very Casual atmosphere
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If the weather isn’t too hot, a table overlooking the road isn’t a bad option.
bangalore, general

The Flying Squirrel, Koramangala 5th Block, Cafe

TLDR – nicely sitting among a cluster of restaurants, with proper coffee-house atmosphere. Serving fresh coffee, food is decent, could do lot better. Good choice for coffee and talk with friends.

Food – 3/5

The Flying Squirrel (TFS) is a coffee-house, the kind you’d would have watched on Seinfeld – known for their gourmet coffee more than anyone else. The people behind TFS have their own coffee estates, grow their own coffee and brew a pretty awesome brew. The fresh smell of invigorating coffee hits you as you enter the place and keeps one fresh as long as you are there.

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My Parama Cappucino, loved the small cookie.

 

For the coffee, I picked the slightly conservative choice of Parama Cappucino – a South Indian style blend, and it did not disappoint. It was refreshing, I only wished it could have been served piping hot. The coffee cooled down a little too quickly for my taste. Wife ordered a Aromatique Latte – slightly on the sweeter side, due to the infusion of fruit, berries and caramel. Might not be for everyone. Loved the small cookie they served along with the coffee. It’s about the small things, really, in the end.

In contrast to the excellent coffee, food is only decent. I ordered a beef burger for self and wife chose overnight oats and the fresh vegetable crunch sandwich. The filling in the veg sandwich was perfect except for the overdose of mayonnaise – cut that out, and you almost had the perfect sandwich. The overnight oats was fine. The beef burger was only so so, I thought the patty was too crunchy for its own good.

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Veg sandiwch – If not for the extra mayonnaise, would have been perfect.

Service – 4/5

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Polite, quick service. Nothing to complain about – the folks patiently listened to our questions and gave the right answers. As we checked out, they shared their new breakfast menu and suggested us to check it out.

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New breakfast menu

Ambience – 4/5

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This was the best part of TFS. I loved the coffee-house atmosphere. The aroma, the lighting, the seating, the coffee and coffee makers on sale, the TFS folks explaining coffee brewing running on their TVs – really a good spot to meet your friends over coffee. I loved the coffee bar concept too.

Summary – will definitely stop for coffee the next time I pass through, might have to think about ordering heavy food though.

bangalore, general

Hubble Bubble, Koramangala 8th Block, Cafe

TLDR – very good location, excellent interiors. Food and service – abysmal.

Food 1/5

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Nachos Grande (er, if you say so)

Ordered cream of broccoli soup and nachos grande to start with. And that is what we ended with as well. Soup was not hot and it tasted like a raw concoction made of broccoli, nothing like what a cream of broccoli soup should have tasted like. I was surprised that the chef (or whoever it was) managed to screw up the nachos. I mean, you need to just mix nachos, some dip and cheese.

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Cream of Broccoli soup, apparently.

What Hubble Bubble (HB) served was a disaster. Firstly they served some kind of spiced nachos, and I was not able to get any discernible taste from the dip at all. We entered the place hungry, but after all this, we just asked for the check and left to satiate our hunger elsewhere.

Service 1/5 

At it’s best, the service on that day was bad. There was only one waitress. She went inside the kitchen 3 times to check if certain orders were available, and well most of the stuff we asked for off the menu was not available. She seemed rather harried, and got one full soup when we ordered a 1/2. She then told us that a 1/2 option in itself is not available. Why not mention that when we order? They don’t give plates to eat with, and no tissue holder was there. The fastest to arrive was the bill, and we promptly paid and left. Needless to say I did not leave a tip.

Ambience 4/5

So HB is a coffee house on the ground floor, and a hookah place on the first. I made it only to the ground floor, so I do not have any views on the hookah place. The interiors are tastefully done, giving the impression of a place where one can unwind, order and eat slowly. HB has some books and games also that patrons can use, and I saw one couple playing a board game. The place is an old bungalow and has a very good charm. Try getting outdoor seating if you can. The futons and chairs were super comfy.

When we checked out the inside for seating, noticed a couple that was getting cosy. Not sure if it is in my place to mention this, but well, no one seemed to object and we did not choose to be seated there.

Summary: will not be returning, unless I see visible changes in reviews.

general, Other

Murugan Idli Shop, Beasant Nagar

What makes an early morning walk on Beasant Nagar beach complete, and awesome? Breakfast at Murugan Idli shop. Sumptuous, mouth watering, delicacies of Madras that make you want to exercise self control and stop yourself from overeating.

Did not get to click a lot of photos as it was rush hour and I was busy drowning in my gastro delights.

When did I visit – the morning of August 27.

What did I have – Idli, Ghee Podi Idli, Plain Dosa, Sakkarai Pongal, Medhu Vada, Pongal, Coffee

What I loved – Everything. OK let me get into the details.

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The mouth watering Sakkarai Pongal

Idli – so soft that I remembered the old adage. “Idlis as soft as jasmine flowers”. Truly the case here, wife and I kind of lost count on the number of idlis we had.

Ghee podi idly – Imagine ghee and superbly made ‘podi’ smeared on the above.

Plain dosa – good enough.

Medhu vada – not at all oily, perfectly crisp and the right size.

Sakkarai Pongal – right amount of jaggery, perfectly boiled rice.

Coffee – fresh and strong.

Special mention : tomato chutney with burnt pepper possibly, gave a very unique taste.

Service – very fast and very good, I was not aware of how the service worked at the rush hour. I asked one of the waiters and he quickly explained it to me without the snappiness of the rush hour in him.

Tip : Morning 8-9 seemed to be the peak rush hour with lot of waiting. You shouldn’t mind waiting. The waiters also go around with specialties of the day which you can keep taking, and not necessarily stick to an a la carte model where you order and wait. After 9 the rush greatly reduced and normal service seemed to resume.

general, Rajasthan Trip 2016

Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, Jaipur

LMB’s legendary status was built up by my mother in law ever since we planned to visit Jaipur earlier this year. She was born and raised in Jaipur and been a regular there in her childhood – clearly, this place and its people have been around.

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Unfortunately by the time we dropped in @ LMB in the evening we had already had a heavy wedding lunch and could not force anything in. We ordered some mithai (walnut barfi) and a birthday cake @ the counter and proceeded inside for tea. We were led to a table quite inside and seated. However it was 5 minutes till anyone actually waited on us. We ordered one big pot of tea, a small pot and a cold badam milk. The order again took its own time coming.

It was good and the cutlery was very attractive. Unfortunately I forgot to click photos. We asked for the bill and then had to wait for another 7+ minutes.  370 rupees! For three teas and one badam milk!! Insanely expensive – legendary or not. The tea was good, but I don’t think it was worth 70 rupees.

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The cake was good, but again the same complaint – it was INR 420 per kg. I did not taste the walnut barfi as I have tree-nut allergy, but could take wife’s word that it was good.

Maybe legendary and maybe in the future I will go there to try the food sometime, but I still think way overpriced.

general, Rajasthan Trip 2016

Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar & Bakery, Udaipur

I thought Udaipur would be nice and pleasant in December – except it wasn’t. The afternoon  sun roasted us enough, and drove us back into our hotel for a nap. By the time we woke up in the evening, our tummies were grumbling again. Wife checked for a cafe in the thereabouts of the hotel and we zeroed in on Jheel’s.

Now walking around in Gangaur Ghat with Google Maps is a bit of a joke and a disaster to boot. The roads are extremely narrow with vehicles zipping in and out that walking with your eyes on a phone can be hazardous to self and others. The winding lanes also mean that your English accented Google voice can take you on a wild goose chase if you aren’t alert. It happened to us when we started to head in the seemingly opposite direction to Jheel’s. Realizing the futility, we resorted to the oldest version of Google maps, and asked an ‘uncle’ standing outside a hotel called Krishna Vilas, I think. He gave us the perfect directions and we were there in less than 3 minutes.

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The interiors of Jheel’s is as good as any cafe in Bangalore, but mildly cramped. Wife wanted a table by the lakeside (ah, women!), but they were all occupied. So we placed the order at the counter and took a window table, which still offered a pretty good view of the Pichola lake. As we started chatting, we noticed one of the lakeside tables emptying. We pounced ahead of a couple who had arrived just then and were in shock of our cat-like reflexes.

Though I was initially uncomfortable with the low seating and proximity to the water, I must say the view was much better from here. From this vantage point, you can see the lights all across the lake, the two bridges that take pedestrians and vehicles take to Hanuman Ghat. The water keeps splashing close to your feet on the potted plants and you could say that it was relaxing. They could have done something about the mosquitoes though.

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Our order consisted of plain toast and chilli cheese toast to be washed down with a cappuccino for self and a irish coffee for the wife. While ordering I felt that the coffee was a bit overpriced and might still hold that view, but the food definitely wasn’t. They gave us a healthy quantity of toast and cheese toast that made us happy and forget our hunger and the coffee prices.

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The chilli cheese toast wasn’t too heavy and the toast was pretty good, wheat bread as well even without us asking. The coffee was on the money as well, I didn’t have anything to complain. Wife said the Irish Coffee spiked her up and ready for the evening, so I guess it’s a thumbs there as well.

For a posh looking place, they don’t accept cards. I think the place does have good breakfast as well, check it out the next time you are here. I could smell some good pizza as we walked, so that is something you can try as well.

general, Rajasthan Trip 2016

Hari Garh, Udaipur

Gangaur ghat is a hotspot for foreign travellers in Udaipur. It is close to the city centre, City palace, the railway station and most other attractions. We stayed on the side of Bagore Ki Haveli, and crossed over the lake at night to try the restaurants there for dinner.

The other side, called Hanuman Ghat has the high end hotels like The Leela Palace and Ambrai Garden. It also has fine dining restaurants like the Ambrai Garden, Hari Garh, Upre and 1519 AD. Little did we know that all these restaurants are sought after in the evening – we walked to each one of them to be told that we needed a reservation in advance, or we’d have to wait for 45 minutes at least. On a weekday! I don’t know if this is due to preferential treatment for foreign tourists, as I did see quite a number of them having the coveted lakeside tables, I only hope not.

Wife wanted to have a lakeside dinner – our search started at Hari Garh and ended there, though not by the lakeside. We tried all the other restaurants I mentioned only to be turned down and finally took a table in Hari Garh.

I liked Hari Garh’s ambience at the first look itself and was surprised that it wasn’t as crowded as the other restaurants. They have a small garden in the entrance leading to the ground floor. The lakeside tables are not so much tables, it is an elevated level with soft mattresses and pillows. With lit candles, the place makes for a very cosy, quiet and romantic dinner experience.

The waiters did a bit of bungling initially, but finally got us a table. Exhausted with all the walking, we took a pot of hot lemon ginger honey tea first up. Having had a rather heavy evening snack, we told the waiter we’d take a little while in ordering our meal. The tea arrived soon and the first thing I loved about it was the cutlery. All white, the perfectly sized pot and cups instantly charmed me and I told the wife that we’d have to get a similar set in the future. She burst out laughing. The tea was perfect – we took our own sweet time sipping and discussing our tales in Udaipur.

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Soon, the tea worked its charm and we felt hungry. I decided to go for the Laal Maans which was the local Mewari mutton specialty along with couple of tandoori rotis, and wife chose the Macaroni Mexican. Interestingly, the menu has the same description for Laal Maans and Mewari Mutton, but different prices! Oversight?

Laal Maans was awesome – the meat was succulent, the gravy at the perfect spice levels and a little oily, but the overall taste was excellent. I could not spot any coriander leaves in the garnishing as described though. It was after a long time that I had mutton and did not regret ordering it. Was too busy licking the mutton off my fingers that I did not try the pasta, but the only complaint I heard from wife was that it had a little extra butter. Otherwise acceptable I believe.

I haven’t been to the other fine dining places at Hanuman Ghat, but would definitely recommend Hari Garh as a place to have dinner. Was thoroughly satisfied as I made the walk back across the lake to our hotel.