Every foodie, be it a TV personality, writer, blogger or a plain Jane who loves to eat, goes nuts over French desserts. And creme brulee is supposed to be the king of them all, hyped up beyond imagination. After a lot of trepidation, I tried out my first Creme Brulee (Rs 220) recently. I say trepidation because I was sure that I would be disappointed that the real thing did not live up to the luxurious tasting dish I had imagined it to be. Well, I was not too disappointed. Creme brulee is essentially custard, but it is very different from the custard our aunts made for us as kids. It is richer, creamier and the burnt caramel crust offsets the sweetness of the custard. The original French version may be out of the world, but the Indian version doesn’t disappoint (at least Cafe Noir’s version doesn’t).
The first Monkey Bar was trailblazing in a lot of ways- funky cocktails, great ambience and consistently good food. The second Monkey Bar in Bangalore takes it up one notch. Located in a big airy place off Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Road, this place blends class and quirk together. The exposed brick walls and gorgeous wood panelling speak of old-world charm and comfort; the quirky posters add some new-age hipster chic. The menu too has also undergone some changes, with some new guys and a few old favorites.
The preview meal I attended began with a host of cocktails, of which I could sadly taste none. But my lunch companions told me that crowd-favorite Manga (aam panna and vodka) was just as awesome as ever, the Red Riding Wood (vodka and plum juice) gave a good kick. The new cocktails like Copper Monkey, which came in a cute copper pot, were well-received too.
For starters were pork and chicken pirogies, the Polish version of momos, that came with a sour cream dip. We wolfed these down just as an old favorite landed- the deviled fish, which I’ve had a couple of times before. Sauteed Thai style with a burst of spices and some melt-in-the-mouth seer fish, it warmed my Bengali heart.
The Goan chorizo pao sparked off a discussion about favorite Goa hangouts, as we bit into the buttery pao enclosing chunks of spicy Goan sausage. The calamari was easily my favorite dish of the afternoon, the wasabi mayo adding an extra zing to the green curry in which the squid rings were tossed.
A meal at Monkey Bar ain’t done without the burgers, and the Sloppy Joe was one barbeque flavored deliciousness. The pork belly sliders were something I always missed trying out on previous visits when I came with non-pork-beef-eating people. The pork fest continued with pandi curry and pita bread. I must say Monkey Bar cooks its pork really really well- the meat in both the sliders and the curry really soaked up the chilli and spices in the respective dishes.
We were groaning by this time, but we couldn’t not have Mobar’s famous tiger beef. Easily the best beef in the city, the dish is an explosion of flavors- chilli, ginger, lemon- and the beef so tender and juicy. Ordinarily, I don’t eat beef as the meat at most places is very tough and chewy, but such issues don’t exist at Monkey Bar.
The crab rangoon, which was supposed to be a starter, arrived nearly at the end of the meal, but we made some space for it. It’s a new dish on the menu, wontons stuffed with crab meat and cream cheese, accompanied by a honey chilli sauce. The veg equivalent- veg and cheese wontons- was quite appreciated by the vegetarians as well.
We were nearly in a food coma, but were roused by the arrival of dessert. The chocolate pot de creme was a master creation- chocolate mousse with salted caramel popcorn and a slice of lemon poppy cake. The hint of salt in the popcorn balances the chocolate flavor and the crunch of the popcorn in the creamy mousse is what makes the dish such a hit. I loved the lemon cake too, the tart acidity of the lemon offset by the sweet strawberries and the quenelle of whipped cream on top.
For foodies who don’t have the money to travel to New York or London to eat at gastropubs, Monkey Bar offers a great ambience to kick back, chill out, sip some cool drinks and eat some great food.
No 612, 12th Main
Note: I was invited to the restaurant for a sponsored meal. Opinions are honest and wholly my own, and not influenced by anyone else.
Tangerine’s previous avatar in Indiranagar was a favorite for meetups with friends, the place cosy without being small, the food quite good. So, when I received an invitation to review their new place in Koramangala, I looked forward to a sizzling lunch (pardon the pun) and a nice afternoon.
First off, the new location is amazing. Sunshine permeates the whole restaurant, and the cream-colored wooden furniture add a nice touch to the place. The menu is more extensive than any other sizzler place in the city, and more inventive too. It is less heavy on the shashliks and satellites that dominate menus of most sizzler restaurants, and has more funky sizzlers- the fish moutarde has a marinade of mustard, oregano and olive oil; the chicken malacca puts stir-fry in a sizzler, the beef musketeer has small slices of beef cooked in a peppercorn and wine sauce.
Step into this restaurant, and you feel like you have been transported to some Middle-Eastern palace, complete with chandeliers, beaded decoration and a red theme throughout. It starts feeling a bit tacky after a while, but as first impressions go, it’s pretty impressive.
The restaurant has both buffet and a la carte, but this being a team lunch occasion, we decided to go for the buffet for more value for money. We started off with s light clear chicken soup and an array of salads- egg, caesar, chicken. The Caesar salad had huge chunks of paneer and the chicken salad had way too much tomato sauce. The starters were a better affair- paneer tikka, lemon chicken, fish fingers (or rather thumbs), baked potato, spring rolls and oddly, a fried karela (probably to relieve the guilt of all that hogging). Chaat arrived as dahi vada in a small cup, and a giant masala papad. Service was good, with numerous refills, and among all the starters, the lemon chicken left a long lasting impression, and the paneer was quite good as well.
We were quite stuffed after all the starters, so I tried only a few of the main course items. The vegetarian section had the usual suspects- pulao, aloo gobi, mushroom mutter; murg biriyani, gosht masala and a chicken curry were the non-vegetarian equivalents. The crab masala and the prawn curry were the most memorable parts of the meal- perfectly cooked, succulent meat with a hint of sweetness in the masala, the taste of which remained with me throughout the meal.
How I managed to eat dessert after all this food I don’t know (I didn’t eat a solid meal for another 24 hours, that’s how). The gulab jamuns were warm and fluffy, the pastries (chocolate, strawberry and pineapple) not rock hard (they were dry though), the gajar ka halwa passable and the mousse boring. The coolest thing on the dessert table was the three sauces they gave with the vanilla icecream. The bitter chocolate sauce, the sweet strawberry sauce and the tart kiwi sauce produced an explosion of flavors when they came together.
It is always difficult to review a buffet, because restaurants use it as a way to dish out generic dishes, and the large number of items available makes it difficult to remember how each item rated. This buffet has a good selection teetering on too many, and is complete value for the Rs 449+taxes (total= Rs 570; 10% discount if you pay by cash) it costs.
EPIP, Opposite Vydehi Hospital Bus Stand
Tiramisu and mousse are the most bandied about words in the dessert dictionary. Nowadays, anything with cream and cake in layers, with a hint of coffee, passes for tiramisu. So, when I came across Fava’s Tiramisu (Rs 250), I was soooo happy. Each tier adds to the overall dish- the chocolate dust at the top is very bitter, and cuts the sweetness of the mascarpone and the chocolate cake, with the beautiful drop-like design to the left containing the coffee. And the plating, by god, so beautiful! I almost didn’t want to disturb the plate by eating it. Eat it slowly, savor every bite, and the tiramisu will linger on your tongue long after you have eaten it.