Beer and 'Touchings' with Geistronomy Edition II at The Local

In their second edition of Geistronomy, the team at Geist brewing have chosen to celebrate local Bengaluru dishes, or ‘touchings’ as it is sometimes referred to colloquially, by tying up with The Local in Kammanhalli, Bengaluru. I was invited for a preview of the specially curated menu, earlier this week.

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The dishes are simple, yet scrumptious, and will instantly bring back a comfortable sense of nostalgia to any old-school Bangalorean. (Are we now Bengalureans?) Some of my favourites from the evening included Uncle Naidu’s Mutton Chops, a delightful peppery mutton that pairs wonderfully with both the Weiss Guy and the Kamacitra. The Classic Prawn Ghee Roast hit the spot and is balanced out wonderfully with the sweet flavours of the Uncle Dunkel, also fabulous with the Kamacitra.

Uncle Naidu’s Mutton Chops

Uncle Naidu’s Mutton Chops

Prawn Ghee Roast

Prawn Ghee Roast

Both variations of the bovine delicacy (I do not use the other B word any more… tis mother and all no), the teriyaki and the chilli were tender, delicious and had everyone at the table falling in love almost instantly. The former is wonderfully accentuated by the Uncle Dunkel while the latter goes great with both the Weiss and the Kamacitra. The beer battered squid was classic, uncomplicated and easily pairs with the Witty Wit.

Chilli Moo

Chilli Moo

Geist Golden Ale

Geist Golden Ale

My favourite from the evening though was the Crispy Bitter Gourd Rings. The batter was light, and mildly coated the karela. I’d gladly replace my regular bowl of chips for this. In terms of pairing, the Weiss was an ideal fit. Other dishes included the Kentucky Fried Paneer (#NoPaneer), Tawa Fried Chicken, Pork Sausages and Spare Ribs, and Apple Pie and Brownie for dessert!

Crispy Bitter Gourd Rings

Crispy Bitter Gourd Rings

Geist Kamacitra

Geist Kamacitra

The Geistronomy festival at the Local is on till December 6th.  For INR 499, you get a pint of Geist beer and a Geistronomy dish. Not a bad deal at all! Now, I only wish either The Local were located closer to home so that I could either walk down or have the food delivered over.

A little bit of France - The Tres Magnifique at the Raj Pavilion, ITC Windsor

For those of you who've been following the blog, and not just all the delightful pictures on Instagram, I'd like to re-assure you that I've not gone rogue and become a 'social media influencer' type person. I still love good old-fashioned writing. I've just been on a break from writing for the last few months, mostly thanks to absolute fatigue from writing and reviewing restaurants. I've been spending my time travelling, sorting things out at the new job and most importantly re-evaluating where I want to go with this blog considering how these days it's more about fake numbers than about engaging content or even an understanding of it all. Anyway, I'm back now and what better place to get back into the writing groove than with the Raj Pavilion at ITC Windsor.  

I'm going to be honest and admit that I still don't completely understand the world's fascination with French food. Even copious amounts of Chef's Table and MasterChef hasn't quite helped me understand the appeal. That being said, it was one of the primary drivers for me to accept an invitation from ITC Windsor to come over and sample the fare that will be part of their recently launched French food festival at the Raj Pavilion titled 'Tres Magnifique'. Given the reputation of the Raj Pavilion, expectations were high. Dinner began with the Vichyssoise, a creamy soup made from potatoes and leek. Traditionally served cold, the soup we were served went for a modern twist and was served hot. I'm not a very big fan of the Vichyssoise in general owing to my dislike of potatoes. But given the slight cold that's setting into Bengaluru, anything warm was good for me.  

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The next course comprised of a savoury souffle, served with a creamy paprika sauce, and a Vol-au-vent aux champignon. Maybe back-to-back creamy dishes was the problem, hence the souffle didn’t quite pique my interest. The Vol-au-vent aux champignons on the other hand was wonderfully done. A perfectly light pastry puff with delightfully cooked mushrooms whose earthy flavour was balanced out by the bitterness of the mesclun salad and the citrus from the orange vinaigrette. I'd have happily had another helping of the same. 

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The main course featured three dishes that we could choose from, each a classic of French cuisine. The first was the Sole meunière, a classic with two whole fillets of fish, served with a caper butter sauce. Personally, the flavour of capers is something that doesn’t quite go with everything. It didn't quite work in this dish for me. The second dish was the classic chicken dish of Coq au vin - perfectly cooked soft braised chicken served with fondant potatoes and a delightful red wine jus. It's always a hit or a miss when it comes to chicken in India where most places over cook and dry out the meat; that's where the class and skill of the Chefs at ITC Windsor makes them stand out. This dish would have been my favourite for the evening had it not been for the hearty and modern interpretation of the classic French dish, the Ratatouille de legumes. I remember the first time I had ratatouille when I was travelling abroad, and this dish would rank a close second. I'm overly critical when it comes to vegetarian dishes in general, but this dish was a clear winner for me.  

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Dessert was the classic Tarte Tatin Aux Pommes, a pretty looking plate that consisted of an apple tart with berry sauce, cocoa streusel, mascarpone cream and caramel sauce. Personally, I was hoping for a more delicate affair when it came to dessert because the previous course was quite filling. Each of the courses was accompanied by wine that complemented the dishes being served. (Wine remains a mystery to me... maybe, look at some beers from France?) 

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The Tres Magnifique menu will feature dishes as a part of the regular dinner buffet at the Raj Pavilion, priced at INR 1995++. The plates you see in the pictures were created only for the preview dinner. The festival is on till the 15th of December. I can't say that I'm convinced about all the hype of around French food, but I'll gladly go back just for that ratatouille!

HMSHost at RMZ Eco World

With new restaurants opening almost every second week in the city, there’s more than enough fodder for the enthusiastic food blogger to graze on. For someone like me, balancing it all out has been a challenge. And somewhere in this challenge, I’ve ignored something that’s a lot closer to home… or in this case…closer to work. I was a bit surprised when the team at HMSHost reached out to me a few weeks ago through a friend to come over to the food court at RMZ Eco World in Bengaluru. Instead of absent-mindedly making my way through a meal while talking shop, they wanted me to sit down, draw a deep breath and see what all they had to offer.

If you’ve travelled through the Bengaluru, Delhi or Hyderabad airports, you’re probably more familiar with the brands of HMSHost. The company offers traditional fare from Taste of India and 4-States, to the more popular Indian-Chinese from Noodle. Also bringing in international brands like KFC, Pizza Hut and Lily to such establishments, HMSHost has over a decade’s worth of experience in India.  

Now, it was impossible for me to go through everything on the menu at each of the 12 brands they run at RMZ Eco World, so we decided to choose a handful of restaurants and have the executive chef present what he felt were their best dishes.  We began with food from 4-States, a restaurant that’s traditionally been my choice for breakfast. Priced at INR 140, I was very sufficiently impressed with the quality and (a tad excess) quantity of the lunch thaali. With rice, sambar, kheer and a south-Indian styled curry that was very homely for place that looks at mass production, this meal was an absolute steal. For someone with my appetite, this meal can be shared by two people quite easily. No wonder it’s a top-seller. I also liked the ‘very-instagrammable’ appams and wished I had a delicious mutton stew instead of the veg stew, which was quite nice. (I’ve been brought up on the mutton stew-appam from Koshy’s combo) The masala dosa served was crisp, with fab chutneys… and quite filling.

Veg Thaali

Veg Thaali

Appam and Veg Stew

Appam and Veg Stew

Dosa

Dosa

From Noodle, their Indian-Chinese outlet, we tried the Malaysian Noodles which were well cooked and met the expectations I had in mind. We were confused as to why the dish was being served with both a boiled egg as well as a fried egg. (I can hear a Master Chef contestant going, ‘Eggs done two ways’). What I really fell in love with, thanks to a wonderfully prepared sweet-soy-sour sauce was the Pan-Fried Crispy Noodles. It also was my favourite dish among everything that we tried that afternoon. The fried rice with XO sauce is also something I’d recommend. (Do ask for a fried egg instead of the boiled egg that it’s served with)

Malaysian Noodles

Malaysian Noodles

Pan-fried Crispy Noodles

Pan-fried Crispy Noodles

Rice in XO sauce

Rice in XO sauce

Moving on to the Taste of India, we began with a plate of kababs, which could have been a lot more enjoyable than they already were, had they been boneless. The paneer tikka was surprisingly good. Not dry, not overly spicy, and relatively soft. However, the popular Chicken Biryani from Taste of India was what stood out for me. Wonderfully flavoured rice, with a tender leg piece of checking that was perfectly complemented with one of the better salans I’ve had in a while. The meal closed with a sizzling brownie.

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Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

Sizzling Brownie

Sizzling Brownie

While I’ve got another visit scheduled to try out some of the other non-mainstream brands they have at RMZ Eco World under the HMSHost umbrella, it’s important for me to point out that these joints are open to the general public, and operate on weekends as well. So, if you do work in the area, do check out the numerous options available under one roof. 

PS – One stand out point, is that the Pizza Hut here serves Pizza by the slice as well for those of you who, like me, have cravings which you know can be satisfied with just one slice.