Places to eat and drink
As lost and confused foreigners in hectic Bangalore, my friend and I asked a local about his favourite place to eat and he was kind enough to take us here. From the outside Queen’s Restaurant looks pretty rundown and unremarkable but once you step in and give the food a try, you’ll find that looks can be deceiving. It turned out that the local person’s recommendation was a very good one indeed!
Queen’s can be found on Church Street, just off busy Brigade Road and a short walk from the MG Road Metro stop. If you plan to visit, keep an eye open for it as it is rather inconspicuous and can be easily missed. The restaurant is legendary, our local friend told us, for having served the same menu since it opened with absolutely no changes whatsoever – if it ain’t broke, why fix it, eh? The interior is decorated simply in what looks like clay with unusual stickmen designs adorning the walls. The restaurant is small but there is plenty of seating although from my experience it fills up quickly with people often lining up outside for a table to become vacant.
The staff, though harried owing to the fullness of the restaurant, were friendly enough and spent some time describing dishes that were unfamiliar to us. They also took in good grace our frequent additional orders as, once we started eating, we had to try more and more of the meals on offer!
We tried a number of dishes. My friend and I went for the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Chicken Methiwala while our local guide went for the Paneer Jalfarezi and the Aloo Gobi – the restaurant has a wide selection of both veg and non-veg options to cater to even the most diverse crowd. We topped this off with a side of rice and a number of garlic and cheese naans.
Not one items we ordered disappointed. The curries were delicious and not overpoweringly spicy (although we asked for normal spice, perhaps the chef toned down our dishes to a more foreigner-friendly level – who knows?), the rice was fluffy and nutty and the naans were thin and tasted great. The sizes of the portions were perfect for sharing and the prices were very reasonable– we managed to purchase a meal to feed a group for the price it would cost to feed a single person back in the UK! After demolishing our original sitting we ordered more naans, a daal dish, another Chicken Tikka Masala and a Butter Chicken curry – the food really was that moreish!
I was so impressed with Queen’s that I went back for second helpings before I left for the airport on my final day. If you find yourself in Bangalore and, like me, adore Indian food then I would suggest a visit to Queen’s should be in order. Although the restaurant might not be the flashest-looking place you will have visited, it does offer fantastic food for prices that won’t break the bank. I wish I could pop out for a curry there right now!
We originally set out to try the famous Queen’s restaurant but, owing to the Durga Puja celebrations, we found that particular restaurant shut. After a quick scrabble around Trip Advisor we discovered that Nagarjuna, a chain famous around Bangalore for eating from a banana leaf with your hands, was located nearby. Starving as we were, we set off post haste.
The Nagarjuna we visited was the one based on Residency Road. We headed up a flight of stairs and were promptly seated. The staff seemed to struggle with us as a group of foreigners and there was a little confusion when it came to taking our orders and serving our drinks – it seemed only one staff member, seemingly the manager, was able to properly understand what we were asking for. Once we got over this initial blip, service was prompt although the waiters and manager were quite miserable and standoffish throughout our visit.
Prices at Nagarjuna, for a foreign visitor at least, were negligible, with all-you-can-eat meals starting at a mere 180 rupees. I went for the vegetarian set meal on the recommendation of my friend who was told by a business partner that the meat option wasn’t worth the extra. My companion ordered the same. Refills of our food were offered regularly and there were plenty of additional side bowls brought out for us including yoghurt dips, spicy chilli dishes, a sweet rice dessert and lashings of melted ghee drizzled over our rice. Overall, I was impressed by the food on offer although I have no idea what each of the different components actually were!
We were offered spoons to eat with but we opted to use our hands like the majority of the other diners. This turned out to be harder than it seems and I made an impressive mess of my food much to the entertainment of an adjacent table of locals. Eating in this fashion can be a messy business but finger bowls are brought after your meal so you can clean your sticky fingers before you leave – there is also a hand washing station near the toilets if you wish to be more thorough.
I found Nagarjuna to be a unique eating experience for such a small outlay and feel it is worth going to at least once if you find yourself hungry in Bangalore. Although not the friendliest service or the most breathtaking food I had during my visit, the presentation and method of eating will afford a few memorable experiences and photo opportunities for snap happy tourists.
Click here to visit the Nagarjuna website for more information.
Meghana Foods (Indian)
My friend and I set out for Iniranagar one night to sample some of the nightlife on offer around that area. Before we started out on the drink we called in at Meghana Foods to fill our bellies. We arrived to find the place already very busy but we were seated without delay and quickly offered menus. I had heard a lot about the boneless chicken biryani (which consists of chicken cubes in gravy served atop a bed of rice) so I ordered a helping along with a garlic naan and a mango lassi as I had heard the spice level at the restaurant was higher than average.
Despite the hustle and bustle of the restaurant our dishes arrived promptly. The biryani dish is quite substantial and is easily enough to fill the belly of a regular diner – as an Englishman I found it hard to believe I could get such a big helping all for less than £3! The food did not disappoint and I can honestly say that this was probably one of the best curry dishes I have eaten and I have tried Indian restaurants all over the world. Just a word of warning: the curries here are very spicy! My mango lassi came in handy as the spice level increased exponentially the more I ate. By the end of my meal my nose was streaming and I was slurping lassi like there was no tomorrow!
I was suitably impressed by what I had ate to try another Meghana location, this time on Residency Road across from Nagarjuna. Here I tried a few of the restaurant’s other meals alongside my biryani. These included the lemon chicken appetiser which was very tasty, very spicy and again served in a large portion and the butter chicken which was likewise delicious – be warned, however, that this dish was scorching hot so if you aren’t used to spiciness it might be best avoided. It might be worth noting that certain stores seemingly offer slightly different options – the Indiranagar restaurant had garlic naans whereas the one on Residency Road offered chapati instead. Regardless of location, however, dishes come with complimentary dips that you can slather over your breads for additional heat (if you’re brave enough!) and a yoghurt based offering which can be used to soothe any lingering burning of the palette. Takeout can be ordered if you are feeling lazy or would like to challenge yourself to the punishing heat of these dishes with the safety net of your own personal lavatory nearby!
I’d highly recommend Meghana Foods. The fast service, cheap prices and delicious taste all combine to make a dining experience worth returning for. Be warned, however, that dishes here are hot and people without a tolerance to spice should be wary of what they order!
Click here to visit the Meghana Foods website for more information.
Pubs and Bars
During our stay in Bangalore my friend and I were taken to a number of drinking holes by people we met in and around the city. Bangalore offers an enviable selection of craft-style beer places and the avid drinker is sure to find something to love. Craft places that we were taken to and I feel are worth a mention include Toit, Arbour Brewing Company, Brewsky and Prost. All of these places offer a wide selection of ales to cater for every taste – from easy drinking sups to heavy, high percentage IPAs – as well as offering impressive arrays of well-prepared bar foods from around the world. Those looking for a vast range of better known world beers could do worse than checking out Beer Cafe in Indiranagar. Be warned that these places are widely spread out across the city so be prepared for lengthy travel times between places (often exacerbated by heavy traffic) if bar hopping.
Where I stayed
The JW Marriott Bengaluru is situated on Vittal Mallya road near the famous UB City shopping mall. It is an oasis of calm in the tumultuous city of Bangalore, offering a safe haven from the crowded roads and honking horns of the outside world. From the high-ceilinged lobby to the well equipped rooms, everything about your stay here screams luxury.
Our deluxe room was on the ninth floor, offering a lovely view of the distant skyline and the lush greenery of the nearby Cubbon Park. The bed was enormous and very comfortable and the fittings and decorations of the room were high end. The bathroom was opulent with plenty of free toiletries that were refreshed each and every day. Conveniently, electrical sockets in the room were designed to fit every international variant which means you need not pack a clunky adaptor in order to charge your laptops and gadgets. There was also a home cinema interface which allows laptops, phones and game consoles to be connected to the room’s TV should you wish to watch your own media on the big screen.
The hotel has a complimentary pool, jacuzzi and gym and the breakfast for guests is something to behold with dishes from every corner of the globe – including, strangely, various ice cream flavours! There is also a fancy poolside restaurant called the Spice Terrace which offers a romantic ambience and fine Indian cuisine, a highly respected beauty salon, a well stocked bar with affable and talkative barmen, and a bakery offering elaborately designed cakes and various exotic coffee concoctions.
Staff are very attentive and helpful, offering assistance at every opportunity and trying their best to make sure your stay is as pleasant as possible. Housekeeping is available at any time of the day and if it seems like you have accidentally left on your ‘do not disturb’ light front desk will call you up to double check or push a personalised letter under your door. Cleaning staff will even take the time to leave you pleasant notes inquiring about your stay and fashion you an elephant from your freshly cleaned towels!
Sports fans finding themselves in Bangalore would be sensible to use this hotel as a base as it is located right next to two of the biggest city’s stadiums – one for football and the other for cricket.
I can highly recommend the JW Marriott should you ever find yourself needing a roof over your head in Bangalore. Rooms are available from around $150 per night which is not to be sniffed at when you consider the resort is 5* and the luxury of the rooms and the amenities on offer. This is easily one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in and if I ever return to Bangalore I would definitely stay there again.
Click here to visit the JW Marriott website for more information.