Posts Tagged With: restaurant reviews

Big Sur Food

I do not expect exceptional food when I go to a place merely 2 hours away from SJ. I mean, how different can things be?

Boy, I was so wrong!

We drove down to Big Sur during the 4th July extended weekend. As usual, the trip was about lot of hiking. But unlike typical touristy spots, where food options are limited and expensive, Big Sur had a lot to offer. Big Sur has wonderful restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines along PCH 1. It is a tourist place that has some worthwhile stuff to offer to tourists. Restaurants are done up thoughtfully, interiors are artistic and food is top of the line. Along with restaurants, you will see art galleries. Sometimes, art galleries and restaurants are combined. Imagine the combination?

We tried 4 restaurants in our 3 day stay and were completely blown away by what we got. Here is an account of my experiences and my recommendations.

Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe

You cannot miss it. It is strategically located right on the coast on a curve of the road. Ample parking and brilliant views of the ocean, not to mention the pleasure of looking at artsy stuff, makes this a must-stop place. We were tired after a tough hike (Ewoldsen) and wanted something to cheer us up. Coffee and a turkey sandwich, each exceeding our expectations, did the trick. Yummiest cafe-stop in recent times. We managed to get a place with a good view on the deck and then, we were in no hurry to get up!

coast safe big sur 1

The exterior

big sur cafe and gallery

The view!

coast cafe big sur

Turkey Sandwich

Big Sur Roadhouse

Another place where art and food come together. Tastefully done in wood, abstract art and greenery, the mid-priced restaurant is also located right on Highway 1. We went there for dinner and it was a good thing we reached early because soon this place was packed with couples, families and groups. Roadhouse offers local Californian cuisine with some Cajun flavours and Louisiana / Traditional Southern American dishes thrown in to create an interesting mix. Everything about this place was delightful – the servers, the interiors, the food, its presentation. Here are some appetizing pictures. Apart from all this, we also ordered a bowl of Gumbo, which was near perfection. My sweet white wine was a great accompaniment.

I wonder how their coffee must be.

big sur roadhouse restaurant

Southern Chicken Drumsticks

blackened catch big sur

Blackened Catch of the Day

big sur roadhouse 1

They don’t have this on the menu anymore but it was chocolate cake, chocolate and vanilla icre-cream with custard. Interestingly, their dessert menus keep changing according to the season.

Big Sur Lodge Dining

I usually do not eat at the place where I stay. Stay and food are two different things. Never ever have I had great food at the very place I stayed – until the breakfast at Big Sur Lodge. Amazing ambience (patio surrounded by trees and slight sound of water flowing in the stream below) and fantastic food. We went for Eggs Florentine and French Toast. The eggs were one of the best I have ever had. Breakfast is highly recommended here!

mountain lodge breakfast

Eggs Florentine

big sur birds

Steller’s Jays regularly haunt the patio and they don’t seem to be afraid of humans.

Nepenthe

I do not have to sing praises about Nepenthe. It is one of the oldest and probably the best restaurant in Big Sur. Might be a little pricey, but you pay for the view here. So, it is best to come here during day time or in the evening to watch the sun set. We did not have a complete meal here; just a cocktail (which was wonderful, by the way). Being a busy long weekend, the place was packed. Servers scurrying around, barely managing to answer questions, people sitting inches away from each other and a never ending stream of waiting crowd. I wouldn’t want to dine in this situation but otherwise, when crowds are low, this would be a delightful choice.

Do you have any other recommendations for Big Sur food? It is close to SJ, so I may end up visiting again and food is always a highlight for me during travels!

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Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bangalore’s Culinary Treats

Five days in Bangalore has added some inches to my waist. Being a foodie, it is difficult for me to refuse food, especially when I am in a new city and I know I may not be visiting that place again. I tend to eat greedily like there’s no tomorrow. And this is exactly what happened in Bangalore. M, the perfect host, took advantage of my weakness and stuffed me with lots of wonderful food.

I experienced quite a many restaurants and cafes during this time but the following 4 are my favourites for their uniqueness and history.

Koshy’s, Bangalore

Koshy's Bangalore

 Koshy's Bangalore

 Koshys Bangalore

Koshy’s was founded in 1940. It has retained its old world charm. As such it is a very ordinary place but it is popular because it is more of an institution and a legend than a restaurant. The waiters dress in traditional white uniform to add to the aura. Koshy’s is known to have served Prime Minister J Nehru, Soviet Union dignitary Nikita Khrushchev and Queen Elizabeth II. It is a very laid-back place and I read in reviews that service is usually slow. We went there on Makar Sankranti day for breakfast. We landed there at 9 am sharp when the restaurant just opened and 4-5 tables got occupied quickly. Our waiter moved really slowly and I was half afraid we would miss our flight.

This place is not to be visited in a hurry. You don’t go to this restaurant to eat. You go there to relax, think, ponder, converse and absorb the charming aged air.

They have a huge menu, which makes it difficult to make a decision. Our Veg Spanish Omelet was stuffed with loads of vegetables and cheese giving a very happy feeling. The Chicken Liver Toast was yummy too. I have never had such delicious chicken liver ever. Incidentally, Chicken Liver in various forms is their specialty. Their toasts and omelets have also got good reviews. Complete your meal with their hot or cold coffee (a tad expensive but in Bangalore every meal MUST end with coffee).

CTR, Bangalore

CTR Bangalore

 Benne Dosa CTR

CTR or Central Tiffin Room (erstwhile Shree Sagar) is a very old restaurant located in Malleswaram. The hotel was originally established in 1920s by a family. It passed several hands and changed names several times before being rechristened CTR. It is a small, ordinary place often crowded and messy. The reason why one goes to CTR is their superbly delicious food. Their specialty is the award winning Benne (Butter) Masala Dosa. This thick dosa is crunchy and soft at the same time. One side is crispy and the other is soft, which makes it so unique. I had taken one bite of this heavenly butter laden dosa and then eaten the rest of it in complete blissful silence. Have their Benne Dosa before trying out other dishes for that must not be missed. Their coffee is one of the best I have ever had. Other dishes worth trying are Kharabhath and Mangalore Bhajji.

Our Native Village, Hessaraghatta

Ragi Roti Our Native Village

Our Native Village (ONV) is an eco resort located in the secluded flatland of Hessaraghatta. People primarily go there to spend a quiet weekend with basic forms of living away from all modern interruptions. We ended up at ONV to have lunch after visiting Nrityagram. We were starving by the time we were looking at the menus and hoped the food would do justice to our hunger.

It did. We ordered simple wholesome food like Ragi Roti, Akki Roti with Tomata Palaya & Cabbage Gojju. The Tomato Palya was exceptionally tasty. We were told that the restaurant grinds their own masala (spices) and grows their own vegetables. We also had the option of plucking vegetables ourselves. We were too famished to do that. Lately, they have started serving non vegetarian food but otherwise, their vegetarian food is cooked using less or no oil and feels very light on the stomach.

Their filter coffee was a letdown.

They have a buffet option too. Food is amazing. The ambience is good. They also have some books you can read while waiting around. It was totally worth going there instead of Taj Kuteeram, which is right opposite the dance school.

Kamat Lokaruchi, Mysore Road

Moode Idly Kamat

 Sugarcane Appams Kamat

If you are travelling towards Mysore, you cannot not stop at Kamat. It is located 70 kilometers away from Bangalore and is a perfect lunch / breakfast destination for travelers. Done up simply yet tastefully in traditional ‘hut’ style, the ambience is really cozy. They have lots of seating, most of it is outside. They serve buffet on weekends and holidays. Otherwise, you need to battle your gluttony and order something from their vast menu. They have lot of popular and traditional dishes that are served with very little wait time. Try their Moode Idli (Steamed cylindrical idli wrapped in banana leaf) served with wada, sambhar and coconut chutney, Ghee Rava Dosa, Sugarcane Appams or Ragi Dosa. Dosas are often served with Tomato chutney and Veg Korma. Do not forget their memorable filter coffee in the end. I chose to have a glass of refreshing sugarcane juice. I was denied this tempting drink throughout my India trip for the fear of falling sick. But the Kamat sugarcane juice did me no harm.

For adventurous foodies, there are more ethnic dishes like Akki Rotis, Jawar Rotis and Ragi Mudde meals. Such meals are usually consumed by farmers and locals in interiors of the state.

Kamat concluded my tryst with ethnic South Indian food. And it was totally unforgettable.

These were some memorable food moments of my Bangalore trip. It could not have been better devoured than with M & E.

Any more food recommendations from you hardcore Bangalore foodies?

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Categories: India, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Barbeque Grill, Vadodara – Restaurant Review

I am usually unhappy about monopolies. Why let one entity enjoy all the privilege? Why let people feel helpless at the hand of that one entity? Let there be choice. Let there be an open competition!

So I was excited about this new barbeque restaurant in Vadodara (Centre Square Mall). And yet I compared it with the popular and solidly standing Barbeque Nation umpteen times. As excited I was about seeing how different it was from BBQ Nation, I was restless. What if their brave attempt of walking on a road less travelled fails? Closed down, failing restaurants always give me blues.

I was baffled to see that The Barbeque Grill (TBG) was almost a replica of BBQ Nation. The same stone flooring, the same short wooden partitions between booths, the same open kitchen, the same menu, the same glass windows. Even the same napkin holders. Was I disappointed with the similarity? No.

As long as the aesthetics appealed to me. I liked the open spaces between tables, the minimal wall art, the bamboo lanterns and the huge glass wall facing Vadodara Central. We were lucky to get a table there despite the crowd. It was an absolute delight to stare at the wide road and glittering Central sitting there while the staff cleaned our table. The charm of a restaurant goes up by 50% when you are sitting by the window. As per me.

Talking about the crowd, we had to wait for 1.5 hours to get our table because food guzzlers of Vadodara kept flocking in to check out the new restaurant. Was it their love for food or the on-going Eat-two-pay-for-one scheme that dragged them there till as late as 11 pm? The latter, I suspect. Crowds from all pockets of the city sauntered in and were willing to wait endlessly to get a space in this new joint. We were one of them, naturally.

I wondered how the food quality was going to be (I was hell-bent on being extremely critical. I minutely observed and compared each movement with BBQ Nation) given that the restaurant was new and they were suddenly faced with huge crowds. They met my expectations mostly. The starters (two chicken, one fish, one prawns and one mutton) were good. So were the main course dishes. I am told Dal Makhani was delicious.  The plethora of salads and main course looked a bit smaller than usual but I did not feel any deficiency. How much can one eat, after all? Desserts included cakes, Gulab Jamuns, Fhirni and some soufles. The Gulab Jamuns lacked taste but the cakes were yummy.

The most commendable thing I thought in the whole experience was the manner of the staff – everyone from Manager, Owner, Servers, Cleaners to Receptionist. Despite the mad crowd, demanding customers, new operations and excess workload shared by few people, the staff remained friendly and calm. I never saw anyone show any hint of irritation or frustration. Neither was anyone ever rude. They smiled, offered us more food, patiently catered to all our requests and behaved like it was not their duty, but a fun assignment. I will think of them next time my job tries to drive me nuts.

Given the chaos and delay that happened on this visit, I was not able to experience the elegance and charm of the place. Even after being given a table, the cleaning and putting basic things on the table took close to 20 minutes and that too, after millions of reminders. It was understandable given the situation but will not be tolerated in the normal course. We just used the time to observe and analyse.

TBG is going to give a tough competition to BBQ Nation. Some crowds will shift to the former and with them will shift loyalties.  I observed that the menu is a bit smaller than BBQ Nation’s while the price is almost the same (Rs. 525 per head). They better be good consistently, going forward, to keep attracting crowds.

Definitely give this a go. And do go early to grab a window seat.

Categories: Restaurant Reviews, Travel, Vadodara | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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