El Tablao: Spanish Tapas in Koramangala

El tablao

From Spain with love

Tapas, tapas everywhere – excessive, don’t you think? Seems to me that every  Tom, Vik, and Hari thinks he can plop down a minuscule amount of food on a teeny tiny plate and charge a premium for it by calling “tapas”. Was that what El Tablao, this new, supposedly Spanish restaurant in Koramangala, was going to be about?

Thankfully not. In my opinion, there are very few restaurant owners or chefs in this city who understand what tapas are supposed to be – you can count them on the fingers of one hand, even if a couple of your fingers have been amputated. To that very short list, I am happy to be able to add new kid on the block Sachin Nair of El Tablao.

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Naati Manae in Koramangala: Cuisine of Karnataka

Naati Manae in Koramangala

Naati Manae's rustic theme

Once in a way, a dining experience makes an impression. If you are well-traveled and eat out more often than not, that kind of experience becomes especially elusive. That’s why I am happy to report that I recently discovered an experience of that sort – pretty much on my own doorstep. It’s called Naati Manae (naati = rustic/country-style; manae = house), serves only typical Karnataka cuisine, and (this was a surprise) as of now, only non-vegetarian dishes. K. Girish and B. Ravi Shankar, Koramangala-based friends and real estate developers, got so tired of having to schlep off to Cubbonpet or Malleswaram every time they needed a fix of honest-to-goodness local oota (meal) that they decided to go the DIY route. The result is an unpretentious little eatery that dishes out specialties like raagi mudde (raagi = finger millet; mudde = balls), donne biriyani (biriyani served in a cup made of dry leaves), naati koli saaru (naati koli = free range chicken; saaru = a thin, soupy curry), and more. Disclaimer: In a break with my standard policy, I have only dined at this restaurant ONCE. It was good enough to share.

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12th Main, Koramangala

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Um, no. That’s not my address. It’s the name of a restaurant situated on (no prizes for guessing) 12th Main in (no prizes here either) Koramangala. And a very good one it is too.

Although the food at 12th Main is excellent, I want to focus for once on service – an area that many mid-range fine dining restaurants seem to neglect (two notable exceptions, off the top of my head: Caperberry and Via Milano). 12th Main has gotten service down to a T. Partly because I enjoyed the food immensely, but mostly because I simply couldn’t believe they’d gotten it so, so right, I visited 12th Main on several separate occasions. My conclusion: these guys know a little secret – service is an attitude, not a script.

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Mezze: World Cuisine Network, Indiranagar

Mezze at World Cuisine Network

I’d heard several people mention the World Cuisine Network in Indiranagar, but hadn’t been motivated enough to check it out until musician Avril Quadros suggested I do so.

World Cuisine Network, part of a Dubai-based chain, serves multiple specialty cuisines in separate restaurants housed under one roof.  The Bangalore establishment comprises Lebanese, Italian, and Indian restaurants, plus a coffee shop. I chose to check out the Lebanese restaurant, Mezze. Keep reading…

Pizzeria Romano, Koramangala

Pizzas... right?

What would you expect to find on the menu of a restaurant that names itself “Pizzeria Romano“? Duh. That’s what I thought too. However, I have asked several people – articulate, knowledgeable, well-traveled people – this question, and they have all, without exception, been wrong (this has less to do with them than with the restaurant in question).

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Secret Garden Café, Edward Road

Secret Garden Pasta

Making pasta at Secret Garden Café

Secret. Garden. Café. Three of my favorite words, all in a row.

Tucked away on Edward Road (betcha dunno where that is) off Queens Road (a clue, but eight out of 10 of you still won’t find it), this garden – okay, rooftop – café is so secret that only a select few know it exists. Which is a pity, really, since they serve some very good food indeed.

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Café Thulp: Burgers, Sandwiches, Milkshakes, More

Ever since the sad and sudden decline of the Indiana Burger (if you’ve been in Bangalore for more than 10 years, you know what I’m referring to), I’ve been trying to find a suitable equivalent. The Ice and Spice burger comes close, but really, who wants to squish themselves into a 2’x2′ space, or wait half an hour to grab one of three tables?  And then share the ketchup and mayo squeeze bottles between tables, because there aren’t enough to go around?

Go Thulp!

Go Thulp!

For those of you who share my idea of the perfect burger, I am happy to inform you that I have discovered a kickass post-Indiana burger that surpasses its predecessor in size, flavor, and succulence (and, I must warn you, price). Best of all, it’s available right here in my backyard – Koramangala – and comes to you from the kitchen of Gautam Krishnankutty, the man who gave us Tai Tai and the hugely popular Asia in a Box. Appropriately, he’s called his latest venture Café Thulp! (such a Bangalore word – I’m lovin’ it!)

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