Saturday, August 29, 2009

Veggie Nook: Venue

Sumptuous spread to suit your palate

Photos: G. Krishnaswamy

Your pick Diners enjoy a meal at the Quality Inn Residency (below) the spread.

The 3-star Quality Inn Residency hotel in Nampally houses Venue, the One Flight Down pub, and Café Capri – all of which offer pure vegetarian fare.
Opposite the hotel’s main entrance is the 120-seater Venue. The restaurant itself doesn’t have a notable ambience but looks quite hygienic, as expected of a 3-star hotel. It is known for its buffet, though a high-priced a la carte menu is also available. Tables are arranged around the oval-shaped buffet spread in the centre of the room. This well-planned display leaves a lot of room for easy manoeuvring by the diners.
Look up all synonyms of sumptuous to describe this very generous buffet spread. At the foot of the buffet table is a spread of salads and at the far-end are the scrumptious desserts. Conspicuous by its absence in this huge array is a live food counter. Second, in the vast assortment of desserts, there are no sugar-free desserts for the more health conscious.
Here is a complete list of items on offer this day:
Soups: corn garlic, almond
Salads: green salad, coleslaw, aloo chat, salad de capri, walnut & apple in thick mayonnaise base, beans sprout, peanut pickle salad
Starters: samosa, dahi wada, kachori, sesame vegetable dry, potato in barbeque sauce
Indian curries: gatte ka saag, thuria tamatar , ker kajoo, palak mushroom, matar paneer, gobi musallam, paneer tikka makhanwala, palak mushroom, veg dopiaza , dal makhani
Chinese: golden fried baby corn in HP sauce, diced vegetables in hoisin sauce, Schezwan noodles
South Indian: avial, bhindi pakodi, rasam, sambar
Rice: White rice, curd rice, dum biryani, lemon rice, China town fried rice
Desserts constitute dry sweets, ‘Bengali’ sweets, Ice creams, pudding and cut fruits—in all 15 varieties on offer.

Others: Indian breads, gypsy king (diced vegetables in thick brown gravy), au gratin, five varieties of papad, pickle, chutneys, curd, boondi raita, mirchi ka salan
The USP of the restaurant is the excellent service provided by the amiable waiters. They hover at a respectful distance, alert to your needs. Plates are removed promptly and water refilled almost instantaneously.
Not all food is labelled and some of the erroneously-spelt labels are quite baffling to interpret. The lack of such attention to detail prevents it from being counted as one of the more upscale buffets. Yet, it is worth a try especially as the great selection pandering to every palate leaves you quite satisfied with its taste.
The lunch Buffet at Venue costs Rs. 175 on weekdays and Rs. 199 on weekends. Special buffets are offered on days of national and regional festivals at Rs. 225. South Indian tiffin, fast food, breakfast and dinner buffets available at their Café Capri.
A la carte costs between Rs. 700-800 for a meal for two. Two-level parking with valet-parking facility offered.

Pluses: No noise, no waiting lines, value for money
Minuses: No special items that you don’t find elsewhere
Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3/5
Location: On Public Garden Road, Nampally

This article was published HERE.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The dumper, the dumpee and a movie review

Watched Kaminey last week. What movie and what performance by Shaihd Kapoor! I normally avoid watching those dark movies and those portraying violence but Rajiv Masand’s verdict of 4/5 compelled me.

From the bumbling 22 year old Shahid in ‘Isq Vishq’ to the sassy 28 year old of ‘Kaminey’—what transformation!

The promos of ‘Jab we Met’ showed him trying hard to hide the pain (of a very public dumping) from the media. But getting dumped proved to be the magic required to transform him into this success story…first ‘kismat connection’ which was an average hit and now Kaminey which has turned out to be a smashing hit. On the other hand, the ‘dumper’ Kareena had both her movies fail miserably…first ‘Tashan’ and now ‘Kambakht Ishq’. ‘Golmaal Returns’ saw moderate success.

Shahid’s rippling muscles and flying mane in the ‘Kaminey’ promos had actually turned me off. Have enough of those beefcakes in Bollywood. But saw that the lean-mean image was very necessary to the role. Looks like Shahid has turned Kaminey with a vengeance. Of course, the title doesn’t have much to do with the story line. The strength of the movie is that the twins’ roles actually looked as though portrayed by two different people…one, the common man with whom we identify so easily; the second, a man on the streets, a small-time con-man. One of the twins who lisps could actually have lisped better…but that’s just one minor flaw in the otherwise excellent story. I sat glued to my seat throughout the movie not wanting to miss one single scene. Am no fan of Priyanaka but her restrained performance does win a grudging appreciation. Her girl-next-door image was a relief to the eye too..

This movie is to be seen in the theatre and not on the small monitor.


Damn the Hyderabad weather! It is freezing! Night temperatures of 20°C, day temperatures of 23° and incessant rains over the last 3 days! And it is not even winter—I would have been prepared. Don’t feel like getting out of bed or do anything. The tips of the fingers and the toes have turned white and cold. Just want to down loads and loads of hot coffee.

I wonder how I used to bear the Rourkela winters then. A week ago we were supposed to be facing drought! Now this!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Veggie Nook: Annapurna

Fare for all


A tempting fare The ambience makes quite an impression; Veg ‘thali’ is very popular among foodies

Nallakunta finds many eminent training institutes for students and a large community of middle class people. This is the clientele that the four-year-old restaurant, Annapurna caters to. It prides itself on being the sole caterer of a multi-cuisine, pure-vegetarian fare in this locale. Located opposite Shankar Mutt, it’s easy to locate by the huge lettering in front. As you enter the restaurant on the first floor, you are escorted through a metal-detector, through the lobby and into a 100-seater. The decor, a wood and glass arrangement in traditional Indian style makes a pleasant impression. The artistic motifs on the ceiling and lamp shades add to the ambience. The soft ghazals playing in the back-ground also add to the mood. The restaurant is open from 7 am to 11 pm. The menu consists of South Indian, North Indian and Chinese cuisines. The thaali is served at lunch and dinner. The conventional South Indian tiffins are available throughout the day.
The tiffins are in high demand here. This finds its proof in the soft and fluffy idlis. The accompanying powder, known popularly as ‘gun-powder’, with its sharp taste is quite mouth-watering. The tiffins range from Rs. 25 for a plate of idli to Rs. 60 for special dosas.

The thaali priced at Rs. 105 has a good variety to offer with a soup, dal, five curries, butter naan , biryani, chutneys, rasam, sambar, curd, sweet and an ice-cream. The spicy aroma emanating from the Biryani is quite tempting and finds its match in its taste.
The Chinese and Indian entrées and main course range from Rs.100 to Rs.120. Amongst the starters, the Paneer Majestic is disappointing with its copious use of jeera. Even the Punjabi Kofta comes as a disappointment with its non-descript taste. The kofta consists of vegetables and paneer bound in maida and fried. These dumplings are then served with yellow gravy prepared of onion, tomato, butter and cashew. Perhaps what makes the curry so insipid is the overuse of vegetables—vegetables not only in the koftas but also in the gravy (chopped carrot, beans, potato in the gravy). Amongst the Indian breads, the stuffed paratha stands out. Different vegetables (mainly potato) are used judiciously to stuff the paratha and it is prepared with very little oil. A limited choice of desserts containing sweets and ice creams are on offer but this is offset by the variety of mocktails.
The Hawaiian mocktail, a creamy- yellow, thick and frothy blend of pineapple juice, orange juice, Angostura sauce, vanilla ice cream and mango ice cream with its dominant vanilla flavour is quite delectable. A meal for two would cost around Rs. 500.Ample parking space with valet parking is available.
Pluses: Ambience
Minuses: Overcharged fare
Food: 2.5/5;
Ambience: 3.5 /5
Located at: Nallakunta, near Shankar Mutt

This article was published HERE.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Veggie Nook: Pongal

Amidst all the malls and eateries that are fast mushrooming all over the burgeoning Kukatpally area, Pongal does find its niche with its pure vegetarian fare. The restaurant, barely a year old, looks quite decent on the exterior and is part of the hotel One Place.
As you step into the foyer, you are greeted warmly by the usher who guides you to your table inside the softly-lit, cool interiors of the restaurant. The well-separated tables in this 90-seater give a feeling of privacy and space. The waiters are alert and helpful with the menu. The menu consists of South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, beverages, juices and desserts.
The South Indian section runs from 7 am to 11 am and again from 6 pm to 11 pm. This section consists of Idlis, Dosas, Wadas, Upma etc. Idly, two to a plate, costs Rs. 25 but the rest of the items are priced around Rs.50 for a plate.
The restaurant also has a South Indian and North Indian Thaali priced at Rs.90 and Rs.100 respectively. There aren’t many varieties available in the Thaali but given the fact that you get unlimited food, you might still consider it a value for money.
À la carte has a more tempting fare to offer—
The soups, priced around Rs.65, range from the milder corn soup on one end and the peppery Cantonese on the other. Abundant use of garlic and ginger in the Cantonese Soup makes it quite pungent but delectable.
Amongst the starters, the Singapore Fried Cauliflower is worth a mention. Small florets of cauliflower are dipped in corn flour and fried. This is different from the usual Gobi Manchuria as it retains its original color, is crisp and has a smattering of lightly sautéed diced vegetables. This appetizer too comes with a whiff of garlic.
The Chinese Main course consists of rice and noodles priced between Rs. 110 –Rs. 150. Among this, the mildly spiced Crispy Fried Noodles will sure appeal to the kids. The noodles are fried, the way it is done for the Chopsuey, and is tossed with diced vegetables. It is a dry preparation and needs to be eaten right away. If allowed to stand for too long, it loses the crispness.
The main course in the Indian fare consists of about 30 kinds of curries (Rs. 115- 125), a choice of 8 varieties of Dal and an assortment of rotis. The vegetable curries, available in three kinds of gravy-bases, ranging from mild, moderate and spicy are quite delectable. What speaks for the curries and the biryani is the restrained use of spices. The absence of fiery pungency normally associated with the Hyderabadi cuisine makes it palatable to a varied clientele.  A paneer- baby corn- capsicum masala prepared in the moderately spiced gravy is a special creation offered here.
Desserts include sweets, fruit juices, ice creams and fruit salads. A must-try is the Fruit Punch. It is served in a tall glass and contains a mix of fresh and canned juices: pineapple, lime, watermelon, orange, mango and mixed juices. The thick juice, orange-yellow in color, is mostly dominated by the orange flavor but as you sip, all the other flavors come through.
A soup-starter-main course-dessert meal for two would cost around Rs. 600.
The restaurant has ample parking in two floors.
 Food: 4/5; Ambience: 3.5/5
Located at: KPHB, Kukatpally near Kalamandir

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Veggie Nook: Rajdhani

Savour the traditional meal


For a cosy meal The ambience and the thali

If the recent pervasion of Rajasthani serials on the TV has whetted your curiosity for Rajasthan, a visit to the Rajdhani augments the experience. Rajdhani is located in the Big Bazaar Complex in the busy Ameerpet area. It caters to the moviegoers fr om the multiplex (also housed in the complex) and the people who come from far-flung places in search of a Rajasthani meal. Picture of a colourful ‘thaali’ with a promise of 32 items tempts you right at the entrance of the restaurant. A ‘haarthi-tilak’ at the entrance by a person dressed in the traditional Rajasthani attire also greets you.
But as you step in, you do not find the Rajasthani ambience—it’s like any other restaurant. The 62-seater is air-conditioned and all the tables are pre-set with ‘thaalis’ and bowls.
Started two years ago in Hyderabad, this restaurant is a part of the Encore hotels’ group. It serves ‘thaali’ only and runs during lunch and dinner times: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Rajdhani also serves the more popular dishes from Gujarat. In addition, you also find one Punjabi curry for the more spicy Hyderabadi palate. Condiments like cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida, coriander seeds and coconut in the recipe perhaps lend that unique and subtle taste to the Rajasthani cuisine.
Before and after the meal, the server pours water from a long-snouted jar to let you wash your hands into a bowl. The Rajdhani has a fixed menu across all its restaurants in the country. The meal starts with two Farsans, or starters. This is followed by two green vegetables, a potato dish, a dish made of pulses, two ‘dals’, three rice varieties, three kinds of Indian breads, three chutneys, pickles, salad and accompaniments.
The green chutney made of coriander and mint; the red chutney made of tamarind and dates and the fiery garlic chutney cater to the tangy palate. Sweet ‘dal’, sweet ‘kadi’, ‘theplas’ and ‘dhoklas’ constitute the Gujarati fare. Three preparations that stand out in the Rajdhani are ‘dal bati’, ‘khichidi’, and ‘phulkas’.

Dal bati is perhaps the best-known Rajasthani food. It consists of ‘dal’, ‘bati’ and ‘churma’ .
‘Khichidi’ made of green gram and rice boiled together, is subtly spiced. When ghee is added to this, it is awesome! Third are the phulkas, around 3” in diameter— very thin, fluffy and soft. At the end of the meal, one gets the feeling of having had a balanced wholesome food.
What is unique in the restaurant is the sign language used between the captain and the waiters. Each sign stands for that particular item in the menu. These silent messages help reduce din in the restaurants.
An invitation on the kitchen door saying ‘Rasoi mein Swagat’ takes you to a very neatly maintained kitchen. The vessels washed thrice in soap, scalding water and lastly normal water adds to the sense of hygiene. Newly begun, is a take-away working lunch aimed at the busy corporator. The parking fee is deducted from your fare.
Priced at Rs.169 for a thaali during weekdays and Rs.199 on Sundays, a meal for two comes to less than Rs. 400.

Rajadhani Restaurant -Ameerpet
Pluses: Mildly-spiced food; Alert waiters.
Minuses: No washroom within the restaurant.
Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3/5; Hygiene: 4.5/5
Located on the 4th Floor in the Big Bazaar Complex; Ameerpet

This article was published HERE.