Rice Bowl - Lavelle Road, Bangalore

This is one place that I've been to on several occassions, and I've tried various dishes. Only one has come out a winner for me. The Phad Thai noodles. They aren't listed on the main menu, so most people miss it, but it's on the special menu, and is a steal.

For best effects, have it plain without a side order of meat or vegetables. Don't even bother with a soup as that could dilute the taste in your mouth. The Phad Thai here is best savoured alone.

The place has nothing to boast about as far as the decor is concerned. Lighting is dim but sufficient to see what you're eating. Music is interesting, and I've heard them play Metallica and The Scorpions with a largely family clientele. The air conditioning is a tad underpowered, making the place seem a little warm.

They have separate smoking and non-smoking sections, but no partition between them. Alcohol isn't marked up too much from the MRP.

Note: Don't mix this up with the Rice Bowl on Residency Road

Blues rates it:
Food - Tasty
Service - Good
Price - Decent if you know what to order
Ambience - Nothing to boast about
Overall - Good for some dishes

Recommendation - I'd suggest going there to try the Phad Thai noodles. A few other items on the menu are good, but this is the best.

Getting there:
Walk down Lavelle Road from the MG Road end. Just after the road curves, you notice SQL and Desmond's on the left. Immediately after Desmond's, you'll see rice bowl. It's in the basement of a larger building. The board is quite small next to the entrance and easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.


Menino's - Dona Paula Jetty, Dona Paula, Goa

Menino's hasn't changed a bit in the last 15 years. The food and service are exactly the same, and the prices have gone up very moderately. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration because my memory isn't that good, but it feels close enough.

This is the kind of place that could quite easily goof up the details of your order while getting it mostly right. It's the kind of place where the local jetty workers would turn up for breakfast and coffee. It's the kind of place that a bunch of guys would just sit at to eat and chat, and of course, it's the kind of place where you do not order experimental stuff, because everything is.

Highly recommended is the Goan sausage bread. It's the best I've tasted in my latest trip to Goa. Not recommended are the samosas. They just aren't samosas, so don't bother with them. I'd also suggest staying away from the water.

Blues rates it:
Food - Good if you know what to order
Service - Goan
Price - Cheap and completely worth it
Ambience - None whatsoever
Overall - Good if you're travelling alone or looking for a quick meal with a view

Recommendation - Go there for a quick breakfast or lunch

Getting there:
Get down to the Dona Paula Jetty, and look out on your right. It's one of the few restaurants there.

Noah's Ark - Panaji Jetty, Panaji, Goa

It's not often that a land lubber gets to dine on a boat, so this is probably an experience worth paying for. Better food may have made it worth it. In my opinion, a name like Noah's Ark itself should raise your shields and set your senses on alert. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen the name mentioned anywhere until I'd actually ordered.

Let's start with the drinks. We ordered a bloody mary and a cosmopolitan. The bloody mary was terrible. It had tomato pulp in it and wasn't spicy enough. The cosmo was made well, but served in a whiskey glass with a lot of ice - which ended up diluting it till it tasted like water.

The food wasn't much different. We ordered satay chicken as starters and fillet of red snapper on thai rice noodles as the main course. The satay wasn't. It was more like chicken tikka kababs without the red colouring. The red snapper crumbled to bits, and the noodles weren't very conducive to the fork and knife that they'd provided us with.

One of the waiters had a fake accent and made lewd sounding comments (I couldn't actually understand what he said).

Blues rates it:
Food - Edible, but that's where it stops
Service - Fake accents and mush
Price - Through the roof
Ambience - Great - what you'd expect if you ate on a boat
Overall - Don't waste your time here, try a different boat

Recommendation - Go there for the experience, have a drink, and maybe just starters. Skip the main course. Do the cruise if you'd like, but do it with someone special.

Getting there:
Get to Panaji Jetty, walk towards the Mandovi bridge, and keep a lookout on your left for the big boat with the lights.

Mum's Kitchen - Miramar, Panaji, Goa

Mum's kitchen came highly recommended from several friends, so I had to try it out. Time, however, only allowed me to try the desserts there. I can't do justice to the place with this review, but it will serve as a placeholder until I've sampled their wares well.

The dessert I tried was the crepe pancake with vanilla icecream, and it was divine. Just the right combination of icecream, coconut, and all the other fillings. Even if you're not given to trying sweet dishes with strange sounding combinations, I'd suggest you give this a try and suprise yourself.

The staff is quite helpful, and from what I've seen, the place is always crowded during daylight hours.

Blues rates it:
Food - TBD
Service - Good
Price - Not too high
Ambience - Plain
Overall -

Recommendation - Go there

Getting there:
On the way to Miramar beach from Panaji, stop just before the beach. Mum's kitchen is on the left.

Britto's - Baga Beach, Baga, Goa

On a cool evening, a walk on the beach can be calming and hard on the legs. Walk into Britto's to rest awhile and stay for dinner. Get there early to get a table, because it gets crowded really quickly.

I can't think of anything specific to recommend here. They have Goan and continental, and both are good, though I'd say their continental style is better than their Goan. We tried the Vindaloo with sannas, and it was amazingly spicy. The sannas were sweet to counter the spice, but weren't soft and fluffy like they're supposed to be — a victim of mass production I guess.

A tip - if the spice gets to you, eat a plain sanna, or some plain white rice. Leave the gravy; that's where all the spice is.

The fenny at Britto's is the cheapest I've seen anywhere. We tried Palm fenny with lemonade, and it was quite heady.

Blues rates it:
Food - Decent, spicy
Service - Good
Price - Medium high - normal for a beach restaurant
Ambience - Crowded, nicely lit
Overall - Promising place

Recommendation - Go there a couple of times, but there are better places for real Goan food.

Getting there:
Take the bus to Baga, and get off at the stop just before the last stop (you could ask the bus conductor for Britto's). A board on the road announces Britto's, and it's a few feet in towards the beach. If you're approaching from the beach, keep walking towards the north end of Baga, and look out for Britto's on the right near the end.


Taste of Tibet - Calangute, Goa

RochetskeIf you're looking for a place to hang out with a bunch of friends for a really long time without doing much more than talking over a couple of beers, then this is the place. It's quiet, with not too many tables, and never gets crowded. They also have excellent momos.

The place is staffed by tibetan students and the menu cards and bill folders all have stickers proclaiming students for a free tibet. The boy who served us - Temzin - was a big Bryan Adams fan.

We tried Cashew Fenny and Rochetse - a kind of Momo Soup. The soup was yummy, and the momos hot. The fenny warming. A good start to eating out in Goa.

Blues rates it:
Food - Palatable
Service - To the point
Price - Not too hard on the pocket
Ambience - Dim, open, almost romantic
Overall - An interesting place

Recommendation - Definitely worth a visit even if you don't frequent it.

Getting there:
Go down towards Calangute Beach from the circle at Calangute Market. Once you pass the tourist hostel, look on the left of the road. It's a little tent like place in the compound. They sell T-Shirts at the entrance.

Casandré - Calangute, Goa

Casandré is one of those restaurants that you walk past at dinner time and think, "Man, that must be expensive". We walked in at lunch time - well, much after lunch time actually - while most Goans had their afternoon siesta. We were greeted by a friendly waiter with a smile from ear to ear, and he remembered us on subsequent days as well.

There are two seating areas. The first on the verandah, with a view of the road, and the second inside, which is rather dark. A prominent sign inside reads, "No Drugs".

Peter ArajoA glance through the menu told me that if Goan was what you were looking for, then this place had the right kind of food. We ordered a Kingfish curry, and baked mussels, washed down with palm fenny. The owner - Peter Arajo - suggested that we try it with lemonade. We tried it neat and with lemonade, and the latter really gave it something.

While we waited for our meal to arrive, Peter told us stories of how he'd save up pocket money as a youngster to buy fenny for 5 rupees and have it with lime cordial, and how the art was dying out as no one wanted to collect toddy anymore.

The fish curry and rice was authentic, and I lapped it up with delight, eating with my hands. The smile on my face said it all. The feeling was shared by my companions. The mussels weren't bad either, but January not being prime season, were medium sized. We were told that they get bigger in the following months.

The next morning we were back for breakfast and tried the Full Monty English Breakfast for Rs.100/- It is comprised of Sausages, Bacon, Eggs, Mushrooms, Baked Beans and Toast and is quite filling. They have several types of pancakes as well, that were nice, but could have been more imaginative. Also try their high protein milk shakes.

There's also a pool table to spend some time on. A definite do not miss place.

Blues rates it:
Food - Excellent
Service - Friendly and prompt
Price - Affordable, high if you go for proper seafood
Ambience - Quiet, charming and lazy
Overall - Nice friendly place to have a meal

Recommendation - Make it one of your regular stops

Getting there:
Walk down towards Calangute Beach from Calangute Market. It's on your right just after Eden. The place looks like someone's house.


Souza-Lobo - Calangute Beach, Calangute, Goa

There are places that end up on tourist guides as the recommended place to be, and there probably isn't much point in writing about them. I cannot, however, leave Souza-Lobo's without a mention.

Like all other places on Calangute and Baga beaches, Souza-Lobo's puts tables out on the sand in the evening, with candles on each table. Unlike the others, they've been there for decades, and have a solid structure behind it all. You could choose to sit inside, on the verandah, or on the beach. The decor is very Portuguese, or maybe, just Goan.

They serve all kinds of food, but when in Goa, one mustn't eat anything but Goan food.

We tried fish tikka (King fish), Goan masala fried prawns, Chicken Xacuti and Sausage Pulao. The king fish and goan masala fried prawns were excellent. The prawn gravy was especially tasty, and the fish was soft and succulent on its own. The Xacuti, I thought, had a little too much gravy, but it treated the palate well. The sausage pulao (and sausage is one way to judge a Goan chef) wasn't the best that I've tasted. I'd recommend it anyway, but there are places where you'd get better sausage pulao.

Souza-Lobo also has a seafood platter, which has a whole bunch of things for Rs.300/-, this too, not unlike other restaurants in the area.

The thing that stands Souza-Lobo apart from others is the music and dancing. They have a live band playing popular numbers, and every now and then, a dance troupe of four performers doing a little Goan or Portuguese number. It's very entertaining, and drunken tourists often join in, dancing alone when the band plays.

The alcohol selection is pretty standard.

Blues rates it:
Food - Good
Service - So-so
Price - Touristy - more than what you'd pay if it weren't on the beach
Ambience - Open air, live music and dancing
Overall - Definitely the place to eat at Calangute

Recommendation - Go there in the evenings, and sit outside. Get the dancing.

Getting there:

Get down to Calangute Beach from the Goa Residency (GTDC) hotel. It's the third place on your right, on the beach. You can't miss it.


Copper Chimney - Bangalore Central, Residency Road, Bangalore

Breaking breadIt isn't often that a restaurant serves me something that makes me jump with glee. Copper Chimney in Bangalore did that. We arrived there at a little after 10pm, which in Bangalore generally means closing time. The girl at the door initially turned us away, but when I asked again she got us a table.

The ambience of the place just envelopes you as you enter. It's uncluttered, simple, yet pleasing to the eye, but they could do without the television screens. This is the kind of place where you'd rather listen to some light music while concentrating on aromas, flavours and conversation. Choose a table on the balcony if you prefer the view.

Moving to serveOur waiter was very friendly and helpful with the menu. He knew what each dish was, and also how they were made. Our choices were Tomato Soup, Lahori Chicken, Malai Kofta, Vegetarian Biryani and Taftan Naans. On the whole, the food was good, but the Biryani was terrible, and I would not recommend it at all.

TaftanThe first time I tore a Taftan into two is a moment to be cherished. The aroma that lifts out of it is intoxicating. A fermented sweet smell of yeast, yoghurt, milk and sugar. Soft and fluffy and wonderful to eat. That's how I'd describe the Taftan at Copper Chimney. They claim that it's the house speciality, though I've seen recipes elsewhere.

Both the Malai Kofta and the Lahori Chicken were well made, and of a quantity sufficient for two.

I've been progressively disappointed by Copper Chimney in Mumbai, but the outlet in Bangalore is completely different. While prices are high, I'd say that this is one place where the experience is well worth it. Do not miss an opportunity to dine here.

They do not serve alcohol.

Blues rates it:
Food - Great
Service - Very friendly and quick
Price - Uppish around 200-300 a head.
Decor - Minimal, sharp and appealing
Overall - Very nice experience

Recommendation - Go there often especially with good company

Getting there:
Bangalore Central is at the junction of MG Road and Residency Road going down Comissariat Road. Go up to the fifth floor and Copper Chimney is the first thing you see as you turn out of the lift.


Take 5 - 100 ft Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore

Take 5's logo is a saxophone, giving the impression that it's a place for good Jazz music, and, one hopes, good food too. It's not.

There are two sections to the place, which I'd like to describe as the lively area and the quiet area. The former is alongside the bar and beer flows freely. It's got the most crowd. The outer area has far fewer people, and is better if you just want to enjoy a quiet dinner. The music is nice, but not all Jazz. The genre shifts between Latino, Disco and classics, and a little Jazz.

The ambient lighting is dim, with a single light focussed on each table. You may have to move the menu around a bit to read it clearly. The tree outside the window has a nice effect through, especially when it glows with light from nearby neon.

The food is what we're here for though, so let's get on. Aglio Olio with chicken, an Italian dish, which should have an olive oil dressing arrived with a good dose of Indian spices. The whole garlic cloves that make up a good part of the flavour of this dish even had the skin still on.

The wine was passable... they could do with a selection better than one limited to Sula and Chateau Indage.

Blues rates it:
Food - Mediocre
Service - Decent
Price - Slightly uppish
Decor - Nothing to write home about
Overall - Not that great

Recommendation - I wouldn't recommend going there more than once, but it's skippable altogether.

Getting there:
Get to the Café Coffee Day on 100 ft. Road. It's on the 2nd floor above.