Church Street Social : Of Fresh Fruit Cocktails and Fine Art

A little over a month ago, Church Street Social introduced their new avatar to the patrons of Bengaluru. Taking a step in a new direction, Church Street Social 2.0 have moved away from the ‘still’ popular industrial finish with exposed brick wall to a venue that embraces art. The ARTlet, as it has been christened will now be a venue that also curates monthly exhibitions and workshops that promote upcoming artists in the field of fine arts, visual art, sculpture and more. I’m going to quite honest here and say that while I love the vibe of the new place, there’s a lot more colour and that cheers me up a lot more than exposed brick wall, I’m still quite the philistine when it comes to modern art. I tend to leave my opinions to simpler binary choices of ‘ I like this’ or ‘ I don’ t know what this is’.

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Nevertheless, the vibrancy of the venue with more colour and art gives Church Street Social a vibe not seen at other locations. Installations from artists like Shilo Shiv Suleman, Siddhartha Karawal, Lekha Washington, Hanisha Tiralumalashetty, Laila Vaziralli, Dead The Duck, Sagarika Sundaram ( I know two names amongst this… not too bad for a fine arts philistine eh?) are currently on display. You can’t miss the rather larger dervish dancer piece as you enter. It freaks me out just a tad bit, but then, don’t take my word when it comes to fine art.

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Accompanying the new artwork, Church Street Social introduced a new range of cocktails that focus on fruit. Targeted at the ‘elder millennial’, these cocktails focus on blending the flavour of natural fruits with liquor, as opposed to being a potent mix that ensures the rest of the evening is a blur. However, even for those looking to pretty much make that ‘one drink for the evening’ count, the offer the Bamboozle Yourself (a combination of dark and white rum with freshly squeezed orange juice, served in a bamboo shell) which packs quite the punch.

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My favourite however was the Jack(son) Juice. This drink combines whisky with the seasonal jackfruit, a combination I have never quite tasted before. While one might find this to be a bit higher on the sweet quotient, I thoroughly enjoyed this drink. Your opinion on this will be completely based on whether you like jackfruit or not. While this won’t be retained in the permanent menu, another favourite of mine that will remain is the Vantablack. Made using Black Grapes and Mint Leaves, this cocktail is for those who enjoy grapes as a flavor which balances out perfectly with the booze.

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The slightly more elaborate and ambitious cocktail was the ‘Pine So Fine’. Served in a large chunk of pineapple, this dark-rum based cream on top is the highlight of the drink. More like a dinner cocktail to me, I’d hapilly polish off just the cream with a simple chocolate brownie. The Vitamin G(in) is a slightly more elaborate cocktail that’s served in jar that’s escaped the bars of a chemistry lab. I’m not a big fan of overly sweet cocktails hence this drink with strong flavours of coconut and lemon isn’t something that would make me go back for more. The CAMatka, a custard apple Margarita served in a matka, which will also feature on the regular menu is something I’m yet to make up my mind about.

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Put together by Jones Elish J, the main man behind Social’s bars in Bengaluru, and awarded ‘Best Bartender of the Year, South, 2017’ by India Nightlife Convention Awards, the festival with all these fruit-based cocktails is on till 30th August at Church Street Social only. The cocktails begin at INR 300.

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.

Tea becomes the new drink of choice for Millennials - Economic Times

I had shared my thoughts on how tea is a new attraction for the millennial crowd and how fancy tea bars need to educate folks about how tea is a lot more than chai, and help make all the various options mainstream.

As quoted in the article - Nikhilesh Murthy, food blogger and tea enthusiast, adds, “Instagrammable dining is the top trend now and has fuelled the mushrooming of elite tea bars. It’s the statement to make. Tea bars, however, must host workshops like tea-pairing to educate people and become more accessible.” 

You can read the entire article here.