Saturday, November 15, 2014

Eagle Boys Pizza

When I heard of a new pizza outlet which opened not too far from my home at Begumpet, I was excited. Not only because of the proximity to my home, the chance of tasting something new but also for the lucrative 1+1 offer. Usually I am apprehensive of trying any restaurant in the beginning weeks, but these three factors swayed my decision in favor of visiting the place.
I walked in to quite a spacious place to order my pizzas. I ordered one Mexicana and a much less priced Hawaiin one. I requested the lady at the counter to replace one topping from the Mexicana with another one. She asked me to pay 479/ for the two pizzas and a coke. When I asked for bill, she said that it would be given along with my order. Therefore you actually end up blindly paying without being able to have a look at the components of the bill.
After a wait of about 10-12 minutes, my orders were delivered. I dug into the Hawaiin one first as I like that and what hit my taste buds strongly was the taste of salt. It was salt all the way. I did something sacrilegious...adding sauce to my pizza. With every bite, I tried adding all the sauces they had including KETCHUP! But nothing toned down the saltiness of the pizza. I ate away, hungry as I was around 4 in the afternoon, wondering how soft the bread was. Only after the hunger pangs had subsided, did I notice the very frugal toppings. They were hardly 2-3 pieces per slice. Most of the time, I was chewing only bread. 

Hawaiin Pizza
The next I started on was the Mexicana pizza. Thankfully, this didn't have the kind of salt that the previous one had. When delivered to my table, I asked why the toppings were all confined to the centre and about an inch and half of space left all around with neither topping nor cheese. He says,"I dont know ma'm. I am only the cutter here." Sigh!

Veg Mexicana

As I chewed through, I realized slowly that I was chewing at a bread which tasted like, well, a bread! There was no fermentation/resting that seemed to have happened. I am no baker but it felt like freshly kneaded dough was used to make the pizza base. This perhaps ensured that the pizza didn't stiffen up even when frozen and re-heated. 

Once I was home, I had a look at the bill and found I was charged extra 25/- for the replaced topping! A first time for me, as all my previous experiences have told me that I'd be charged extra only if a topping was added and not replaced. And if this was the policy of the outlet, why was the customer not informed of it even before being billed for it?

As far as service is concerned, there were no welcoming smiles of a newly opened outlet, no one bothered to find out if I was ok with the tastes. The table was cleaned only on request. When the lady came to clean the table, she holds the glass I was using by inserting her fingers in it. Also, there was a heap of tissues lying beneath my table along with its holder. 
Already extremely uncomfortable with the whole experience, I was readying to go when the owner , who was casually passing by, paused to ask how the pizzas were. Upon my saying that they didnt meet my expectation and one of them was salty, he sat himself down opposite me and spoke about the issues he is having in running the place. That was a long-winded chat. My sympathies are with him but, I, as a customer, still left the place unhappy.
Doling out low quality pizzas, not going the extra mile to take care of and wrongly billing the customer will surely not help the pizza chain retain itself. I had thought that it had the courage to open beside three other pizza outlets but then my one-line conclusion for Eagle Boys is that it is no different. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Olive Bistro

Three of us planned to avail the Groupon offer which we considered a steal for a three-course veg lunch + a mock-tail at Olive Bistro for Rs.700/- each.
First... to reach the place. I think it would be interesting to see how many reach the restaurant in their very first attempt without losing their way at least once. You go through wide roads, narrow roads, no roads, through slum-like areas to finally reach this place which has no signages to guide you. Even after reaching there, the restaurant name is not too prominently displayed.
Park your vehicle and be prepared to walk quite a few steps through a winding way to the restaurant. But while doing so, pause, look around and breathe the fresh air, look at the tall trees and the surrounding woods. The scene will make you forget the frustration of the time and effort taken to find your way.
After confirming your reservation, you walk into the cool interiors and what further sets the mood and brings a happy smile to your face is your name sitting on the table indicating your reservation :)
That was an impressive beginning!
The environment inside with all the wood, emulates old-world Europe; the warm sunlight flooding through the wide green slatted windows lighting up the room with natural light. How I wished wistfully, I could also smell wood polish like I used to when a child!

Upon being seated, the set menu was placed before us. Of the five options, we skipped the soup and falafel and opted for the salad, the rice balls and skewered cheese.

First to be placed on the table were these bread balls along with  the salsa. We were at it till our salad arrived. The warm bread and the salsa made a good beginning.

I am a big big fan of salads and this one didnt let me down at all. It had all the delicateness required of a salad: the freshness of the greens, the crunch, the balanceof acidity, sweetness, salt, a hint of chili , all tossed in an olive oil base. I could easily have skipped the rest of the meal and just gorge on this one item. For me, a hands-down winner and a 10/10.

Apple, Feta, Pine nut salad
The next on the table were the Arancini or the rice balls served with red pepper mayonnaise. They were quite crunchy with a soft centre filled with mozzarella cheese. Not oily, soggy or chewy but perfectly crunchy even after they had cooled.

The third entree was the cottage cheese skewer. A very reluctant order from me as I do not fancy paneer in an Italian restaurant. Well, even before the taste, the presentation caught my eye.The paneer was soft and marinated to have a mildly chilli flavor. I am not sure whether the roast garlic aioli was a good combination as we needed a more assertive sauce to offset the taste of that cheese, (not that it was bland).

Cottage Cheese Skewer
For the main course, we skipped the pasta and the tart from the menu and instead went for, first, a 12-inch pizza. The wood-fired, thin crust pizza was delicious, roll-able and served with ample toppings consisting of spinach, olives, sun dried tomatoes and corn.

The highlight of the lunch was this ravioli. Four of them tossed in Parmesan cream sauce accompanied with tomato salsa and sprinkled with pine nuts. I went bonkers with all these delicately balanced tastes. The creaminess of the sauce complemented the ravioli so well .The contrasting taste of the salsa and the crunch from the pine nuts completed the dish.

Lemon, Broccoli and Ricotta Ravioli 
The risotto which came with crumbled goat cheese was quite decent in taste but I thought that the rice could be a little more sticky and cohesive.

Green Pea, Zucchini and Mint Risotto 
Sweets are strictly not my forte. But my friends who had accompanied me were delirious over the taste of this. I loved this bread pudding which came with  peaches accompanied by Crème Anglaise. Slightly rich but definitely not heavy. 

Bread and Butter pudding
Next was this coconut and white chocolate pannacota which was well set and surrounded with perfectly crunchy  hazelnut nougats. The flavor of the coconut was mild and not sharp but this was not creamy enough for me.

Coconut and white chocolate Pannacota
The hot chocolate fondant was eagerly awaited by my friends and probably, to their delight, I dont eat chocolate and they had this all to themselves. I was reveling in their expressions when a small scoop of the chocolate brought the hot chocolate gushing out. I managed just a bite of this but was happy tasting the blueberry compote surrounding the fondant. 

Hot Chocolate Fondant with Blueberry  Compote

Though the setting created an environment of a lazy, relaxed, warm, winter afternoon, for me, this came the closest to a fine dining experience, in terms of the delicate balancing of tastes, the textures, or the presentation of food.
I have been to restaurants which hugely compromise on quality on offers with Groupon deal coupons. Glad that this one didn't.
On the minuses, the portion size wasn't really filling and left me yearning for a bite more. Also, the pricing for those portions are rather steep and I haven't actually tried to figure out how much this fare would have cost us had we gone for a la carte offer.The service was quick and good.
The advantage of the three of us going there was that each of us could order one item from each section of entrees, mains, desserts and mock tails and actually end up tasting everything on the vegetarian menu. And if you are wondering at my skipping mentioning the mock-tails, it is because of the extremely forgettable experience. They paled horribly in comparison to the rest of the menu. Diluted versions of the actual taste.
Olive Bistro is definitely on the list of must-visit places in Hyderabad.