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Vera Mascarenhas Malkani

Vera

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Reviews Posted by: Vera

6 Reviews

Café Basilico Bistro & Deli - Colaba

"Bellyfull of Deli" 11 Jul 2008
Basilico still has pretty much the same hustle, bustle and crunch as it did when it opened about 4- 5 years ago. This little Deli-Café at Arthur Bunder Road, is as refreshing as the popular Melonade it serves. Open from ‘7.30 a.m. till closing’ which would legally mean 12.00 a.m., it was probably one of the first ‘all day diners’ outside of Five Star hotels. Beginning your day at Basilico with a choice of cereals, fruit platters, juices, eggs, waffles, French toast and freshly baked breads, is a good idea. Its probably also the best time. Lunch time can get a bit clackety and high-pitched with Sobo chicks at their giggly best! Post 11.30 am, on offer are soups, scrumptious salads, appetizers, sandwiches, grills, pastas, tagines, and a whole drool-worthy dessert counter. Basilico signatures over the years have been the Teriyaki Chicken Salad, Chilled Pear and Artichoke Salad, Conchigle Pasta, Currant Cooler, Limeade and my favourites- the Melonade, Wild Mushroom Risotto and the Tex-Mex Sea Bass. The only irritant with Basilico – the regular menu revamp, which knocks off old favourites for awhile. Having an extensive dessert menu is bad enough, but displaying it all on a counter is torturous. You run the risk of rendering patrons completely speechless not to mention the sweaty paw marks from repeated taps on the glass case! If you’re stuck for choices, opt for the Apple Crumble Pie, Chocolate Mikado or Molten Lava. Basilico’s greatest offering by far is the sugar free desserts for diabetics. They have all the sin of a regular dessert minus the sugar. Diabetics, be depressed no more – take your pick from the Pecan Nut Pie, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Baked Blueberry Cheesecake, Hazelnut Torte and Cheese and Chocolate Brownies. Be warned though that the diabetic desserts can kickstart a mild increase in heartbeat thanks to the pricing! With each portion priced around 200 bucks, sin don't come cheap.

Dewar's Bar

"One of my favourite sipping spots..." 17 Nov 2008
A visit to Dewars bar in Bangalore’s cantonment area is like travelling in a time warp of sorts. Dewars is probably the oldest bar in Bangalore, and arguably the one with the most character. It was the favourite watering hole of young defence officers, bachelors and burra saabs left over from the Raj. A place steeped in alcohol-initiation traditions! Nestled in one of Cantonment’s infamous little lanes, you’ll find it hiding surreptitiously beside a small over bridge... a cozy, colonial bungalow that has a distinct Raj hangover. Its unassuming old-world allure is a bizarre blend of religious piety coupled with the kind of gaiety that a peg or two brings. Dewars used to be a Hakim shop before P.D Kanainaidu converted it into 1,485 sq.ft of bar space in 1933. His grandson Vardaraj has since taken over, but the old traditions remain. Like first offering a drink to the Gods, before opening the bar to the tipplers that roll in. Vardaraj performs this quaint ritual everyday, garlanding the long line up of sacred pictures that adorn the wall, just above the array of liquor bottles! Amongst the pictures is a yellowing photograph of an Englishman in trousers and a summer shirt. Vardaraj explains that his name was Corroro (or something like that!) He was a soldier in the British army who ‘lost everything’ after the Second World War. Vardaraj’s grandfather gave the young soldier shelter and in exchange Corroro helped run the bar till the day he died. Dewars is a delightful peep into the past. Quaint booze bottles on the shelves rub glass shoulders with flashy Smirnoff’s. Seated at the sturdy teak tables are old men playing cards, enjoying their evening drink, and the rare group of youngsters fed up of the disco ball syndrome A haunt for ‘hard core’ drinkers, Dewars stays open between 10 am and 11.30 pm with mainly men as customers. They sit slouched in cane chairs, legs stretched beside the muscled carved legs of the table. Order your drinks by the quart and punctuate the pegs with chips, “mixture” or better still brain fry, liver dry, chicken, mutton and other animal spare parts. Either way, you can still stagger home with a heavy wallet and a blissful grin. Dewar loyalists consider it a heritage house and their blood shot eyes get misty as they reminisce about the day they began flooding their livers here! There is no loud music, no ranting DJ, no sweaty, swaying bodies. Just the drone of deep-throated conversation and sounds of traffic mingling with the occasional clink of glasses. ‘Cool’ in a very quaint way, Dewars is a quiet, reassuring flashback and with a little help from well-placed customers will hopefully live on as a legend.

Hotel Fanoos

"The story of a rocking roll" 17 Nov 2008
Its hard to believe how something wrapped up in a non descript Roomali roti can attain an almost cult status over the years. Since 1976, when Fanoos started feeding hungry Iranian students and bachelors, it has remained Bangalore’s favourite late night chomp. Till today loyal customers return for a whiff of nostalgia and a large bite of its trademark Sheekh kabab. Fanoos started out in an old car shed at a time when Roomali rotis were still confined to 5-star kitchens. Aijaz Ahmed was one of the first few to turn it into a street performance of sorts. Over the years, he’s managed to keep the street performance alive and people satiated till the wee hours of the morning. The plump Sheekh kabab has always been the piece the resistance at Fanoos. To this day, the Sheekh roll is everyone’s fat favourite and comes in different sizes- Single, Jumbo, Mumbo, Rambo and Sambo! That’s 1,2,3,4 or 5 fat Sheekh’s rolled up in one brave Roomali! With the onset of polygamy, the Roomali has since been romantically entwined with mutton, chicken, paneer, egg and even (God help us all!) veggies. While the roll revolution is at an all time high across the city, no one has been able to steal Aijaz’s thunder or his loyal clientele and that’s because the masalas and marinades are a closely guarded secret. The spices come from Avenue road and Hyderabad. He makes the masalas at home, marinates the meats himself and supervises the rest like a hawk. “It’s been worth treating Fanoos as my first wife all these years”, he says, his eyes getting misty as he talks about the love and affection he gets from old “Fanoos-ians” who return from different parts of the world. Media persons who gorged on rolls in their struggling impoverished youth now return to pay tribute to Aijaz and his masterful creation with articles, publicity and heaps of praise. Fanoos rolls get chomped on by at least a 1000 people a day and have been on picnics, flown executive class (well concealed in cabin baggage) across the country and form a juicy part of generations of Bangaloreans. Aijaz has suffered a stroke, has lost most of his hair and his gait has considerably slowed down. Talk to him about his “first wife” and his eyes still gleam. Here is a man who will continue to roll it out ensuring that Fanoos occupies as large a space on the map of Bangalore as Vidhana Soudha.

Tiffin

"Thoda Tiffin Try Karo!" 17 Nov 2008
Remember that little plastic or aluminium box with side clasps in which you carried your “tiffin” to school? Small snackies or sandwiches would be crammed into it for you to devour during recess. You’ll find its namesake at the Oberoi, though the spread bears no resemblance to school lunch dabbas. TIFFIN is the relatively new swank all day dining lounge at The Oberoi. Executive Chef Matthew Cropp took pains to explain that conventional coffee shops serve food with heavier sauces and large portions that sit like Sumo wrestlers on your chest. At TIFFIN, the only thing the food is big on, is taste. Simple, light and creatively presented miniature morsels are served right through the day. The cuisine is defined as Pacific Rim and Indian influenced food and there is even a Sushi bar for those with a yen for that superb Japanese legacy. The space itself is refreshingly informal and inviting. The open styling lends an air of casualness to the dining experience, creating a café-lobby-lounge feel. Seating is of three types – lounge, a sushi table and a reading table accompanied by a well-stacked magazine rack. People stroll in and out during meal times and even at munch time for a quick coffee and snack. The affable and ardent Chef Prashant was responsible for TIFFIN when I checked in and was bustling about his baby like a proud papa, helping me choose from a fabulously well thought out menu. Sushi virgins are handed over to Sushi Chef Francisco Balanquit for their “initiation ceremony”. Though TIFFIN is open from 6.30 a.m. to 11.30 pm, the menus at corresponding meal times are different. If you’re dropping in for breakfast prepare to be greeted by a sumptuous continental buffet or an a la carte offering that includes International favourites, a few Indian staples, a Japanese breakfast and a few TIFFIN specials. At lunch and dinner there are two menus on offer – the “all-day dining” menu with Pacific Rim and Indian cuisine and the Sushi menu with delicious and healthy Sushi and Sashimi. At teatime a special “high-tea buffet” sits pretty with forgotten favourites like Scones and other light bites like Cookies, Quiches, Tartlets, Finger Sandwiches and much more. With a goose bumpy dessert menu that has Chocolate Harmony, freshly baked Soufflés and exotic Ice creams like Green Tea and Candied Ginger, Wasabi and Caramelized Sugar, your sweet tooth just got an upgrade to first class!

Peshawari

"Pesh hai..." 18 Nov 2008
Should the sign at the entrance of Peshawri fall off for some strange inexplicable reason, the ITC Grand Maratha would have no cause to worry. Newcomers to this place of culinary pilgrimage can simply keep a ear open for happy grunts and the intermittent sounds of content diners licking their fingers. In the quest for the perfect, exotic frontier cuisine your search ends at Peshawri. Inevitably almost any beginning at the Peshawari is bound to be a good one, but the Tandoori Seafood Platter is a personal favourite and sets the tone for the maestro meal that follows. The delectable Dal Bukhara is next in the process of smooth sinful gastronomic intoxication. This signature dish simmers all night on a slow fire before it is brought to your table for you to pay obeisance to its rich buttery flavour. While you smack your chops repeatedly, moaning in delight, the smoky and succulent Raan Sikandari should make its grand entrance. Vegetarians don’t lose heart; Chef Bhaskar stirs up some serious scrumptiousness with the Paneer Khurchan, Tandoori Phool, Tandoori salad and Simla Mirch. Intriguing is the manner in which the stewards serve out your meal in true Peshawri style. Carrying 5-6 platters laden with food on one arm, while the other arm balances another 2 is a rare acrobatic feat. Do remember to compliment their efforts and slip them a tube of pain balm! The Peshawri deserves much more than a greasy thumbs up and its no wonder that it is reputed to be among the top 20 restaurants in the world. So if you’re new to the city or are planning a trip sometime soon, give the Gateway of India a miss and head towards the ITC Grand Maratha instead.