Café Lombard - San Francisco, CA

An Italian restaurant run by a Chinese lady chef, with Chinese waiters, and an Italian clientele. The food is good, which is what keeps the Italians coming back. It's also terribly full of oil. The chef will also take orders, since there's only one overworked waiter. Don't go in expecting her to speak Italian, she'll reply in Spanish.

Unfortunately they have just one overworked waiter.

Blues rates it:
Food - Good
Service - Good
Price - Affordable
Ambience - Nothing major
Overall - An entertaining place

Recommendation - Go there and make friends with the cook.

Getting there:
1424 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94123
N 37° 48.079
W 122° 25.494


Pho Nam - Sunnyvale, CA

Driving around, landed up at Pho Nam, decided to go in and try Vietnamese. The food wasn't bad. The sauces were nice, as were the steamed spring rolls. The chicken pho that I had was largely tasteless, so I can't say that I liked it, although it was filling. The place has nothing much in the way of ambience, but the staff are quite friendly, helpful and give good suggestions.

Blues rates it:
Food - Okay
Service - Good
Price - Reasonable
Ambience - Bland
Overall - Okay place

Recommendation - Go there if you prefer Vietnamese

Getting there:

844 W El Camino Real,
Sunnyvale, CA 94087


Opus - Palace Cross Road, Bangalore

I believe my slot for favourite restaurant in Bangalore has just been filled. Opus is a Goan restaurant and stage for musical talent right in the heart of Bangalore. It's there because there was nothing like it before. Created by Gina and Carlton Braganza, Opus has the stars as its roof, a bricked and pebbled garden as its floor and white cushions with little stone tables fixed into the ground for visitors to laze around. They also have a stage area where musicians and plays perform live. Once a week Carlton's band plays.

The crockery has been finger painted by Carlton and you'll notice a fish theme all around.

While you may want to visit Opus for the food on occassion, the live shows are the real attraction. If you're an amateur artist and would like to perform there, just contact Gina.

Opus is one of the few restaurants that serve pork in proper Goan catholic style. I didn't see any sorpotel on the menu, maybe I didn't look closely enough. The sausage pulao is good, though I found it a little salty. The lamb chops are great.

Service is where Opus is found lacking. Having a packed house doesn't make things any easier. In short, if you go to Opus, intend to sit back and chill. Don't be in a hurry. Just get a good view of the stage and relax. You're bound to see Gina running around the place in her cap and Carlton strolling around with his camera shooting the band from various angles.

They have a Rs.100 entrance if a live band is playing or a play is showing.

Blues rates it:
Food - Goan
Service - Not if you're in a hurry
Price - Highish
Decor - Excellent
Music - Excellent
Overall - A live band with food attached

Recommendation - Go there often, weekly if you'd like. Treat it like an evening of art and music with a few goan cocktails and drinks.

Getting there:
The easiest way to get there is to start off from Mt. Carmel's College and move towards Windsor Manor. Slow down after you cross the underpass and look out on your left for the Dance Studio Inc. You'll see the board for Opus a little further inside.

Phones: Gina: 9844030198, Neil: 9845953242

Casa Picola - Residency Road, Bangalore

Casa Picola is an open air café style restaurant where you can get good continental food and tasty desserts at an okay price. Everything we sampled was very good, and highly recommended. The chicken and vegetarian casseroles are baked, covered with mashed potato and served with garlic bread. The chicken stroganoff is served with rice.

Among the desserts, the black forest crepe/pancakes are highly recommended.

Don't expect much in the way of decor. They have round metal tables and metal chairs and a parasol over each pair of tables.

Blues rates it:
Food - Good
Service - Good
Price - Slightly uppish
Decor - open air café
Overall - Good food, good place

Recommendation - Go there often if the cuisine suits you

Getting there:

It's in Devtha Plaza, right opposite Bishop Cotton Boys' school on the junction of St. Mark's Road and Residency Road. Once you get to Devtha Plaza, get to the entrance, and take the stairs on the outside going downwards.

Shiok - CMH Road, Bangalore

Potato croquettes with a far eastern touchShiok is a far eastern cuisine restaurant and cocktail lounge, all in one large second floor on CMH Road. The proprietor and head chef - Madhu Menon - used to be a usability guy, and Shiok is his own design. I liked the leaf shaped ceiling and the lamps that hang from there. The idea of placing a bottle of wine on each table is smart.

Spicy tamarind chicken wingsThe menu has a combination of Thai, Singaporean, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine as well as the chef's special. They have an extensive vegetarian section as detailed as the non-vegetarian section, including Mee Goreng - a Singaporean dish made with whole wheat noodles.

I found the food a little too oily, while at the same time flavourful. Ask the captains to suggest something based on your preferences and you won't be disappointed.

I can't recommend anything in particular as it all looked good and has been recommended by various people. The Mee Goreng was definitely good, and Madhu's Thai Red Curry with Chicken was tasty, though some people may find it spicy. I should try the Spiced fish grilled in banana leaves the next time.
The cook and the cleaver

Update: Recommendations: Drunkard's noodles, Laab Kai, Spicy tamarind chicken wings.

Alcohol served: Yes. They have a collection of Australian, German, Chilean, South African and Indian wines apart from all other spirits served at the cocktail lounge.

Blues rates it:
Food - Very good
Service - Good
Price - High, and an additional 20% on seafood because of the Tsunami
Decor - Charming
Overall - Lovely place for far eastern cuisine

Recommendation - Go there, definitely.

Getting there:

Map available on the website.

Go down CMH Road from 100 feet road. Stop at Bombay house on your right. Shiok is on the second floor.

Phone: (080) 5116 1800

Sufi - Wind Tunnel Road, Bangalore

SufiPersia, formerly, and currently known as Iran is in a region of the world where meat is the staple diet and Sufi is very much a meat eaters place. The first thing that strikes you is how large and grand it is. Sufi is designed to look like palatial balconies that overlook a central lawn. The seating area is arranged along two parallel balconies connected by a walkway. Persian art and curios line decorate the walls. The floor is wonderfully tiled. Lamps hang from the ceiling and rope curtains hanging about two feet down from the top provide the perfect punctuation to the ambience. Each table is placed on a persian carpet, some of which are 30 years old. Some tables have large, soft cushions instead of chairs.

If for nothing else, visit Sufi for the decor and ambience.

The food is nice, and one gets a good selection of chicken, mutton, beef and sea food. I wouldn't rate it as excellent though. What is good is the Doogh - a drink made of yoghurt and persian spices, however quite a few people do not like it.

They also have butter chicken, called Makhani Chooze. Most dishes are just a single piece except for the kababs.

For the veggies there is some Indian fare too. Hara Bhara kababs and various baingan and spinach dishes.

If you're someone who doesn't eat red meat, or stays away from beef, be warned that the kabab platter contains beef, mutton and chicken.

Now, you could go to Sufi and not eat. They have an art gallery with persian

Blues rates it:
Food - Ok, acquired taste
Service - Average
Price - Very Pricey
Decor - Excellent
Overall - Nice place to eat at once.

Recommendation - Go there, if only for the ambience

Getting there:

Go down Airport Road until you get to Pizza Hut on Wind Tunnel Road (the autorickshaw drivers know it at Murgeshpalya). Turn along Pizza Hut and move a few furlongs down. Sufi is attached to ClubX, just behind the Pizza Hut building.