Sunday, December 6, 2015

Maplai, Nungambakkam (4/5)

I have been to Maplai twice; first was when they had newly opened and the other was a couple of days back - based on a meal organised by the management/zomato. 

During my first I had a lunch thali - a chicken meal. It was a point when the restaurant was at the receiving end of criticisms from one and all - a view that I did not agree. Though my experience was nothing out of the world - the restaurant had a few good dishes. 

What impressed me more is how the restaurant did a phoenix move and pulled their act together. Despite all criticism they faced during its first few months, they are easily among the better restaurants today in the chosen cuisine. 

Ambience (3/5)
Kept simple and elegant - they do justice to the price band they are operating in. 

Pricing (4/5)
The restaurant believes in truly feeding its customers and that means 'a lot' of food and a price one would definitely not mind spending. 

The sit down menu which consists of a soup, 6 starters, 3 main course, ghee rice, indian breads (parota, naan (soon to be introduced), idiyappam, dosa, etc), desserts is great Vfm

Drinks (3.5/5)
1. Virgin green apple mojito - a drink that I would have never ordered again - if not for maplai renewing my love for it. Unlike other places which get the balance of green apple syrup wrong most times- this was spot on. 
2. Ginger berry Margarita - that was no margarita, but the ginger and berry blend was an enjoyable mid-meal drink. 
3. Rose milk - a childhood favourite for most TN kids. Unlike the diluted ones you commonly find, their offering was thick and tasted good. 

Food (4.5/5)

While their veg starters were decent, the offering is much more promising for non-vegetarian.

1. Thanjavur kari kari gola
Eaten hot, this mutton kola balls are yummy. 

2. Mutton chukka
Did not eat much of the same - but came across as  just ok when compared to other finer offerings in their menu. 

3. Nethili fry
A vanilla offering that was fried to perfection. Had the perfect crispy crunchy flavour - cant expect more from this regular fish offering.

4. Cheesy lollypop
In the midst of all the spicy enjoyable food - this was slightly a spoiler for me. Am unsure if this was on account of the spice-joy moment I was having, 

5. Kozhi kaal ney roast
Nothing but chicken legs - ghee roast style. My favourite starter for the day.  The mallu in me refused to eat it in without their parota's.

Loved how the parota and this dish combined. A combo that I expect to lure me back to this restaurant.  

6. Veg starters: while most of them were decent, what stood out for me was the crispy guntur corn. 

Other decent dishes were chepankazhangu roast (only when combined with the chilly mayo dip) and vazhapoo kola urundai. 

Main course: 
1. As a mallu another dish I has to try and judge was the puttu and kadala curry. The kadala curry was nice and thick - but I am used to having a more diluted version with puttu. 
2. Ghee rice with paneer butter masala - I was told this is one of their fastest moving combo and there was no reason it shouldn't be. 
3. Varathuariche kozhi - Among my favourite curries when made well, more so when combined with parota. The irresistible consumption of this curry with parotas and ghee dosa left me nearly immobile (was so full after the meal). 

Challenge dishes:
- theepori chicken
- theepori paneer
The spiciest dish you would ever come across and a dish that is not for the faint hearted. 

Try it only if you can handle spice and this dish is exclusively for challenge; couldn't really appreciate the taste. 

A mixed bag for me: 
✔️ salted caramel akaraivadasai - salted caramel, white chocolate topped rice cake. An infusion that thoroughly impressed me.
✔ ️3 way vattapalam - not a fan of caramel puddings usually - but this was delectable
✔️ jigarthanda - not the best I have tasted, but almost there. 
✔️ maplai falooda - having a good rose milk offering can clearly help when making faloodas - a lesson that I learnt by experience at maplai. 

❌ gulab jamun cheesecake - a total spoiler. Jamun and cheesecake hardly combined.
❌ mud pie - too gooey for a mud pie. 

On a summary note, I loved their food, the drinks and some of their dessert offering. Definitely going back for more.

Big Pitcher, Domlur (3/5)

Another place I have visited twice before reviewing. First experience I feel in love with their pizza's and the second time I realised maybe hunger got the better of me during the earlier visit. 

Ambience (3/5)
The property is located 500mtrs into old madras road when you enter from domlur bridge side. This multi-floored property has a different theme and offering across different floors. 

I have been the ground, first and second floors (though I believe the real fun are in the floors above). The ground and first floors have jarring music and is over populated with boy gangs - effect of having 100ft road (the party capital) - less than a KM away. The second floor is relatively peaceful and might be a place to watch a sports event (the all blacks vs Australia rugby finals were on when we visited). The rooftop charges an entry for couples I was told. 

Otherwise the ambience and seating is decent. 

Service (4/5)
The staff are quick to respond to requests. Service is pretty good. 

Pricing (3/5)
Pricing is moderate. A meal with a drink per person for 8 cost INR. 4800, i.e 600 per head.

Food (3/5)
Some of their dishes and starters tasted pretty good. But across the visits I learnt the pizzas lack consistency. 

Among the starters - the chicken wings (served in drumstick style) tasted pretty good. Rest of them were quite ordinary. 

Not a fan of their beer. 

Son of a beach and mojito were of good standard. 

On a summary note, despite the decent offering the place fails to attract the best crowd due to its location and proximity to Indira Nagar.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Om Sai Skanda Dosa Camp, Ulsoor (4.5/5)

Whenever I crossed this place I have wondered what all the crowding was for in front of what looked like any other corner side dosa shop. Zomato ratings and reviews added as an additional motivation to check the place out. 

Today, on my way back home I stopped here for a small pre-dinner meal and decided to try the place out. 

Service (4.5/5)
Food is ready and served in seconds from the time you order. 

Ambience  (3/5)
Despite being a corner shop/fast food joint, they have taken efforts to maintain the cleanliness inside and outside the restaurant. It's no surprise that I found quite a lot of people crowding this joint whenever I passed by. 

However, as a fast food diner- there is always the discomfort that one faces, especially considering the customers need to stand in the footpath of a busy main-road as the indulge in these delicacies. 

Pricing (5/5)
Extremely cheap. Two masala dosa's, 1 vada and 1 idly cost us INR.90. That is great VFM considering the quality of the food we ordered

Food (4.5/5)
Masala dosa- easily the best masala dosa I have had in recent times. It was very crisp, perfectly dosed with masala and red chutney on the inside and adequately sized (I am literally craving for more as I type this). 

Vada - not hot as it was readily available. However; one can just not complain about the crispiness of this offering. 

What made it better was the not so sweet sambar (perfect for a Chennai origin foodie) and the not so bad- thick and fresh coconut chutney. 

Would be unfair if I rate them anything lower than 4.5 - especially considering how satisfying the experience was. 

Definitely going back!!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

One Night In Bangkok, Indira Nagar (3/5)

Been hearing about this place from every foodie I spoke to and decided to visit them for some good Thai  meal and drinks last Friday night. 

Ambience (3.5/5)
What impressed me about the ambience was the effort taken to introduce the Thai theme to the Bar. They have wall paintings of MMA fighters and other art representing Thai. 

However, personally I did not enjoy the ambience enough on three counts:
1. Cramped seating arrangement and limited floor space
2. Dim lighting
3. Jarring loud speakers (sound quality was not the best)

Pricing (3/5)
Their cocktails were priced moderate; however, the starters were relatively more expensive. 

Cocktails (3/5)
Some of the cocktails we ordered were exceptional while some were unique and different. 

What I liked:
- Pattaya Sour
- Muay thai punch

What I was indifferent to
- Mango spice

What I did not like
- Passion Margarita
- Thai Basil Mojito

Food (3/5)
This place functions as a Thai bar and does not really have much of food options except for their starters and thai curry. 

The following veg starters were exceptional and are a must try if you visit:
- fried lotus stem with peanuts
- pad thai wrapped in egg

The thai curry and rice was also pretty good, except that the quantity of curry served was inadequate for the rice and chicken portion. The chicken was cooked well and had a barbecue flavour to it. 

Non veg starters we tried the following and it did not quite agree with our taste preferences:
- stir fried chicken with basil and young peppercorns
- bbq chicken isaan style (similar to the chicken served with thai curry and rice - was better of the two non veg orders)

Service (4/5)
The staff responded well to requests and replaced wrong orders without any complaints. 

On a summary note, the place needs to re-look at their food offering- both in terms of adding dishes and also improvement in the quality of few of their offering.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Big Bang Theory, Kodamabakkam (3/5)

Been staying in and around the locality of this bar since birth and have seen the property undergo a sea of change - starting from woodlands in the early 90s to maharaja inn (a north Indian restaurant) in the late 90s and early 2000 and Brownstar hotel thereafter. The less successful restaurant at Brownstar was revamped along with hotel renovation and is now what you see as Big Bang Theory.  The most pleasing fact is that my neighbourhood now has a fancy looking place. 

The place attracts a decent crowd and you might want to visit them on a party night. 

Ambience (4/5)
The interiors is the biggest plus for this resto-bar. They have pictures of Einstein, UFO's and a lot of space related objects that adorn their walls. The seating is well planned and I found the D shaped sofa's very comfortable. 

They also have an attractive bar counter, DJ area and a covered smoking room. Perfect set-up for a good classy bar. 

Pricing (3.5/5)
Their food and drinks are priced reasonably when compared to few of their counterparts. But on a non-relative note- I would grade the pricing as moderate. 

Service (3/5)
Their service was quite slow and they took forever to serve some of our starters. The drinks were however served pretty quick and the staff were timely in clearing the dishes. 

Food (1.5/5)
We tried two starters and a dessert, all of which were terrible. The dishes were however well presented. 

1. Paapad potato fry - the potato fry standalone might have tasted relatively better; the paapad coating made it blah for me. 
2. Paneer fingers - crispy coating and tasteless/bland paneer. It was served with green chutney and they were a poor combination. Would have been much better if they offered an alternate dip (barbecue, flavoured mayo, etc)
3. Churros - after a perfect churros last week in Bangalore, this was intolerable. The sugar coating on the churros was not consistent and overall very low standard churros and chocolate dip.  

Drinks (2.5/5)
Of the three of our cocktail orders, only adult oreo milkshake would classify as a worthy cocktail. Despite the overpowering oreo milkshake taste, this drink was unique and had a strong vodka flavour. 

Our other orders were: 

1. orange basil caprioska - overdosed with sugar. Was too sweet for me! 
2. Sex on malibu beach - I do not know what happens in Malibu beach, but I definitely like my SOTB thicker. 

The place has everything going right for them except the two most critical items: their food and drinks. With alterations to the same it could potentially be the next most happening thing in the neighborhood.