Aalaya by Happy Retreats – A Getaway Destination Amidst the Concrete Jungle

Ever been someplace that makes you think of doing something uncharacteristic? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me a couple months ago, during a staycation at Aalaya by Happy Retreats, a charming property with lush greenery and enthusiastic, well-trained, attentive staff, located off Tumkur Road. Pegged as a venue for weddings and special events, we were invited to experience the property over a weekend, and were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. After a leisurely walk through the property, with its bountiful fruit (mango, jackfruit, chickoo, papaya), sandalwood and rudraksha trees and multitude of bushes and shrubs, not to mention a darling little gazebo and a stately set of stairs connecting the 1st floor to a wraparound balcony that ran the length of the house, I found myself thinking I could (almost) get married just to be able to celebrate the occasion here!

The very entrance to the property, the car parking area, and the grounds are testament to the love and attention shown to the space to keep it looking verdant, pretty, and event ready, not to mention providing the perfect escape from the concrete jungle, without needing to travel far at all! I am quietly plotting a reason to head back – and no you don’t have to have an event like wedding/birthday/anniversary/bachelorette/team outing/etc to book – they do accept bookings for a little vacation away from home too. Whether you are a group of colleagues, friends, a family with kids, or a couple looking for a romantic spot, Aalaya will be able to cater to your needs.There are, at present, four well appointed bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, two on the ground floor and two on the first, and with additional bedding and spaces across the two floors and a loft space as well, they can actually house 15 plus people comfortably. There is a full dining table and bar, ample living room seating on both floors, and one can’t help but feel like they are visiting a posh but still cozy and welcoming home. With so many knickknacks and objects d’art all over, it was also tempting to keep clicking away at every nook!

During the course of our 24 hours there, we were treated to home style cooking and simple but delicious food, with the spread featuring both veg and non-veg items, served by the ever-smiling and helpful staff. Oh and a shout-out to the excellent masala chai! In the afternoon, we did a little pottery making and for the evening, they really went all out, setting up a space under a canopy of lights, and even speakers so we could enjoy music as we ate and drank and enjoyed the gurgling of the little waterfall (another brilliant touch). I don’t think I have felt more at peace and been in a more chill atmosphere just minutes from the hulaboo of Bangalore city life! And if you are there to party, well, the space is made for that, after all! We all took turns sitting out on the swing on the grounds, a grand old wooden affair, and I also went and sat in the gazebo (which works beautifully as a mandap or central highlight spot) once it had been lit, spending a half hour musing about life and enjoying the absolute serenity and beauty of the place, and counting my blessings!

Details: Pricing and booking details available on their website

The Rise of Experiential Dining

Funny, how sometimes work and hobbies end up going hand in hand. Just recently at work, I wrote about the rise of experiential dining and the trend of adding zing to the dining experience. And then last week, I attended a multi-course meal that two of our city’s passionate chefs, Kanishka Sharma (founder of The Tenth Muse culinary experience) and Pallavi Mehta, had put together based on their personal life experiences and with local ingredients and influences in every dish. Part of an on-going series (of a monthly sit down wine and dine, The Courtyard Food Project) at the lovely space on Double Road, The Courtyard, which serves as an al fresco restaurant and dining space for events such as supper club dinners and dining experiences as well as a community space with performances, on arrival I was greeted by a beautifully set table and a glass of Svami Tonic Water.

 

IMG_20190427_200828

These dinners bring together a diverse set of people, who share an interest in experiencing an intimate menu created especially around a theme. NAVU, which means ‘us’ in Kannada, was the name and context for our meal last week. This meant we heard Kanishka and Pallavi’s reasoning for creating a specific dish as well as felt local influences in the dishes, while their storytelling gave us a glimpse into their lives too. Kanishka talked about how a neighbor when she was growing up, would always ask if she drank tiger’s milk, since she was a fearless kid, and this translated into our appetizer course with coconut milk (Ice apple or Ceviche with coconut tigre de leche). And then there was Pallavi’s reminiscence of being the new member of a mainly Bengali staffed kitchen, and their reaction to her throwing out prawn heads rather than using them in her cooking, which led to her serving up the chutney made with prawn head.

 

We actually began the meal with a tangy Rasam and deconstructed Sabudana Vada. This was followed by the Tigre de leches appetizer and then a raw mango rice with mango salsa, topped by a fried papad. The next course was the prawn pickle and head chutney served on an amazing rice cracker that made me think of the rice apalam/papad I would eat as a kid in Chennai. This was one of my two favorite dishes of the night. And then came the other stellar dish, a beautifully cooked and seasoned pork chop served with sauteed local greens – this dish also incorporated 100% Karnataka single origin chocolate. Of course there were veg versions of both dishes, with veggies replacing the prawn and meat.

 

IMG_20190427_220202

And then it was time for dessert, which came in two rounds, the first being a jackfruit cremeux with fried cheese on top and black rice kheer topped with puffed black rice. I have never warmed to jackfruit, so left that one after a bite, but the gusto with which another diner accepted my offer of it, proved its appeal! And then out came a caramelized roselle flower and chocolate truffle made from Naviluna chocolate (formerly Earth Loaf – with their little factory space in Mysore). Our entire meal was accompanied by the always delightful wines from Big Banyan Wines. I loved all the local touches, from the chocolate to the wine, and it was a pleasure to spend an evening with a new set of folks. Just proved to me yet again, that a good meal is a great way to get people together, laughing, talking and relishing! Something that the team at The Courtyard and Kanishka have been doing successfully for some months – I met some folks who were on their third such dinners.

IMG_20190427_221947

Old School Chinese at Mahjong Room

ITC WelcomHotel recently opened a specialty Chinese restaurant called Mahjong Room, and a lunch there a couple weeks ago made for a delightful afternoon, what with the pretty interiors, the fun company, and the old school Chinese offerings. With an eeye to reminding us of childhood Chinese dining, Mahjong takes the old favorites out for a spin and adds some new touches, in a fine dine ambience. The Chefs and team have taken pains to bring an amalgam of Chinese dishes from regions known for their spicier food, like Sichuan and Hunan, and Canton, to suit the Indian palate. Literally every one of us at the table was moved to reminisce about going out to eat to a nice Chinese restaurant with parents and family!

Now as anyone who knows me, or reads the blog knows, I have a particular soft spot for Chinese cuisine – it is my comfort food, more so than Indian. In fact, my “Swiggy Memories” mail pointed out that it was wonton soup and noodles that featured rather heavily and very regularly, in my order list! So having a new restaurant that pays homage to the meals of our youth alongside offering comfort and staple flavors, is definitely on my winning list!

We began our meal a delightful, old school Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup, along with Crunchy Corn Kernals served in a edible cup, Crispy Lotus Stem with Sesame, Golden Fried Prawns (my absolute childhood fav!!) and Sichuan Chilli Pepper Chicken. This was followed by dimsum – an outstanding Chicken and Onion Sui Mai and Shrimp Har Gao. We also ordered some of the restaurant’s signature cocktails and were served a Butterfly Pea tea (that cool blue liquid that turns purple when you add some lemon!) along with our meal. Needless to say some amount of fullness was already being felt, and our mains had not even made an appearance!

Now the mains is where Mahjong Room’s food really shines – whether it was the vegetarian offerings of Ma Po Tofu with Black Bean and Chili Flakes and the Double Fried Beans with Mushrooms and Pickled Chilies – two dishes we would have all liked to continue dabbing our forks into if only space had allowed; or the Cantonese Lamb, Hot and Spicy Hunan Prawns and brilliant Gong Bao Chicken Dry Chili with Cashews. I know I will be heading back there so I can order just the beans and mushroom dish and the chicken with a side of their Lotus Leaf Wrapped Jasmine rice, and enjoy them fully!

Now whatever else you do or don’t do, you absolutely must leave ample space for dessert. Alongside the typical offerings of darsan and ice cream, date pancakes and all, Mahjong Room has a few boozy sundaes (but they are also available sans the alcohol) that are heavenly. The Hot Chocolate Cookie over Fudge was good, but it was the tart and coconutty, tropical paradise evoking Passion Coconut Lime Shortcake (tender coconut and passion fruit ice creams, sour lime drizzle, dry apricot compote) that elicited a series of oohs and aahs and the clashing of dessert spoons. The addition of a coconut liquor was rather literally the icing on the cake! Come to think of it, I might even just head back for some Butterfly Pea tea and dessert, next time I’m in that area!

DSC02606

Details: Mahjong Room is open for lunch and dinner, and a meal for two will set you back around INR 2000 plus taxes. They offer both set and a la carte menus.

Sunday Brunch at JW Marriott: A Soothing Affair

I am an avid bruncher – everything about a weekend afternoon meal that stretches for hours, is lazy yet luxurious, and where a wide variety of food and drink are available, speak to me – it’s soothing, happy, and everything good about the weekend. My latest Sunday brunch sojourn was at the JW Marriott’s JW Kitchen. A themed affair, this is a Monsoon Sunday Brunch, with a vast menu of curated dishes that appeal during the cool rainy months. You know, pakodas, chaats and jalebi, hot-off-the-grills meats and veggies, kebabs, freshly tossed pastas and a whole lot more. Because aside from the monsoon specials, there is a whole slew of dishes and counters to whet your appetite and satisfy even the pickiest eater! The brunch offerings encompass the restaurant as well as the outdoor section – and there is a big play area for kids, as well as a separate menu for them. Live counters rotate, and each specialty restaurant of the hotel sets up shop one week – it was Spice Terrace when we visited – and showcases a couple of dishes from their menu. The stuffed chicken kebab was superb!

After walking around and getting a tour of the offerings, I started off with an order of Malaysian Roti Jala and Goan Ros Omelette Poi. Both these were spectacular, and had I not run out of space by the meal’s end, I would gladly have ended with these, too! The silky Malay curry, along with the crisp honeycomb style roti, and the delicious Goan masala ros elevated the humble omelette to another level. The drinks options were plentiful, with a bar set up outdoors and another indoors. We began with a glass of sparkling and then I decided to stick with wine, enjoying a smooth red wine sangria while my dining companion tried out a couple of cocktails. We then enjoyed a round of freshly grilled meat from the BBQ station including fish, pork, prawns and chicken.

Although I was too busy eating to take pictures of each and everything I ate from the various counters, indoors and out, I definitely remember them! There was a nice mezze spread with hummus and various other Middle Eastern dips, a salad counter where one of the chefs s making Caesar’s salad to order, a variety of cold cuts and picked and grilled veggies, and of course, extensive mains, including Indian and Continental. We absolutely loved the honey glazed ham, and there was also an interesting ham/spam cutlet with peas and mash. There was a good spread of desserts of course, and between us we sampled a fair number of gateau, mousse, cake, pudding (the hot chocolate pudding was very rich and delicious) and more. I had to end with hot jalebis from the live counter, and had really run out of space for any more, of anything, and we called it, after a solid two hours of gorging, while enjoying the gorgeous, windy Bangalore weather. The special Monsoon Sunday brunch will be available for a couple months, and it is a wonderful way to spend one’s Sunday. The attentive, warm service was a definite plus!

Monsoon Brunch at JW Kitchen (10)

Details: JW Kitchen, JW Marriott Hotel, Vittal Mallya Rd; Sunday Brunch; INR 2450 plus taxes/INR 3400 plus taxes for non-alcoholic/alcoholic options.

Sula Wine & Indian Food – Rotarian Wine Fellowship Dinner at The Conrad

Finding time in the midst of the work week tends to be a challenge, but there are certain events for which one most definitely makes an exception. An invite from a dear friend to be a part of an exclusive private evening – a Rotarian Wine Fellowship dinner at one of the city’s newest star hotels, The Conrad, for Indian food paired with Sula wines, did not go unanswered! Starting out at The Conrad’s rooftop pool, we gathered to enjoy some bubbly – Sula Brut, and take pictures a-plenty, before we headed to our sit down dinner at Indian Durbar, The Conrad’s specialty Indian restaurant. With the co-founder of Sula, Kerry Damskey, and the brand’s chief wine maker, Karan Vasani in attendance, we knew we were in for an evening that would be both educational and delicious! I hadn’t realized that Sula has been around for close to 2 decades, or that it as one of the earlier vineyards in the country. And did you know that Sula is the brand that brought Zinfandel to India?

We started off with an amuse bouche of a miniature sized dhokla topped with a mint foam – quite living up to the name of the course! This was followed by the soup course, which was a lamb broth, simmered overnight, served with pickled lemon and tomato relish. Our appetizer was Kandhari Murgh, a wonderful spring chicken marinated with red chili spiced curd and dried pomegranate and served with dollops of the sauces. It was interesting how the combo tasted citrusy rather than having the sweetness of pomegranate. The Sula Riesling was the accompaniment for the early courses. Now if you’re a Riesling drinker, you’re likely to find this one mild, but it, as the winemakers pointed out, makes for a perfect starter wine for someone who has just begun to drink wine. And it’s unassuming nature means that it pairs well with a variety of food.

With the breaking out of the RASA wines from Sula, the evening got even more interesting. To accompany our Kashmiri Lagan ki Seekh, which had a charcoal sauce, we we were served Rasa Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine I will definitely look out for on the shelves, as too the Rasa Shiraz, which was the next pour, to accompany the main course of Hyderabadi Dum ka Nalli or Seabass Polichattu for the non vegetarians. I am usually a fan of Shiraz, and this time was no exception, offering the anticipated body and flavor. And I learned that decanting it for a bit before serving to open it up and release the aroma. While the Nalli – my choice for mains – was nice, it was the accompanying da-e-durbar and tadka saag that packed a flavor punch. A variety of naan and paratha made dipping into the gravies all that more enjoyable.

Our dinner ended with a dessert trio: Belgian dark chocolate kheer, Sonpapdi, and Kerala vanilla pod kulfi, decorated with gold leaf., and the wine poured was the Late Harvest Chenin Blanc. I must admit to not being a sweet wine fan, and usually avoid dessert wines. Sula’s Chenin Blanc was no exception, and registered quite high on the sweetness notes. So definitely for my palate, it was the two reds that worked, over the two whites served that night. Rasa Shiraz is definitely making an appearance in my drinking at home wine collection! Getting to hear first-hand, the story of Sula, the expanding team of winemakers on board, and break bread with the co-founder and chief winemaker made for a memorable experience, in the recently opened Conrad Hotel’s opulent surroundings.

 

 

The Big Bawa Breakfast at SBOW

SodaBottleOpenerWala isn’t kidding about their #BigBawaBreakfast. It’s available every day of the week, from 8.30 am for the breakfast first thing set, until noon, for those like me who can’t eat first thing in the morning. Now, Parsi cuisine is known for its egg preps (Akuri, anyone?), so a Bawa style breakfast menu is a match made in heaven. Eggs are also a personal favorite food, probably the first thing I began making for myself. Whenever dinner wasn’t to my liking, I would go into the kitchen and make myself eggs, as a teen. Even today, eggs are my go-to option for a quick and simple meal. I have also been known to make a meal of pancakes or waffles!

P_20180417_122226

 

P_20180417_114844

Ghotala Pav

SBOW’s breakfast offerings cover Bombay Pao pairings, sandwiches, pancakes, breakfast trays for those who want variety on their plate, a selection of Poros – Parsi flat omelettes with fillings like Goan Chorizo, ham and bacon, and smoked cheese, and some brilliant cold brew coffee (Star Anise & Mandarin, Hazelnut, Lime & Cinnamon), alongside fresh smoothies, iced teas, and old favorites like their Irani and Masala Chai. You can also have eggs to order. Pancake fans have four choices including the exotic Espresso & Whisky Cream or Coconut & Organic Jaggery.

P_20180417_121557_1

Espresso & Whisky Cream Pancakes

P_20180417_121623_1

Navsari Style French Toast

I’ve been to SBOW for the express purpose of breakfast a total of three times already, and can safely say that these breakfasts are the best meals I’ve eaten there. And that it’s available 7 days a week is a big plus! The Poro section is delightful – I loved the Smoky Poro as well as the Meaty Poro with bacon, ham and cheddar, and the Angry Poro is stuffed with red chutney, for those who like a fiery start to the day! Akuri, Paneer and Classic are always  a good bet too. But the one dish you absolutely must order is the Navsari Style French Toast, which is french toast with special toppings – for maximum satisfaction, I suggest you first slather on the cream, followed by a thick coating of Lagan Nu Achar aka wedding pickle, and then take a big bite. Another brilliant dish is the Ghotala Pav, where mutton kheema and eggs combine for a treat! Just writing this has made me want to head back for brekkie again and soon!

P_20180417_114526-1

Angry Poro for a fiery start!

P_20180417_114540-1

Check out all that ham and bacon on the Meaty Poro

Details: SodaBottleOpenerWala, Lavelle Road; Breakfast is available Monday-Sunday; 8.30am to 12 noon; Meal for two will cost INR 1000 plus taxes.

Start your weekend with breakfast at Sly Granny

I am not a morning person, much preferring the wee hours to the sunrise and early start. Night owl and all that. So breakfast isn’t really a meal I give that much importance to. That being said, I love eggs and count them as comfort food. Breakfast foods and dishes I can eat any time of the day. Indeed, I have been known to make dinner out of breakfast foods, and Eggs Benedict is in my list of top ten things to eat.

Of recent, doing lavish breakfast menus seems to be the new thing in town, and since these brekkies don’t end by 10 and go on until noon or later, they work for brunch too – which makes me happy, ’cause that’s a much more civilized hour of the weekend that I can totally wake up for and then dig into eggs and such with gusto.

Sly Granny on 12th Main in Indiranagar has been in existence for a year now, and to commemorate that anniversary, they’ve recently launched a sumptuous and decadent breakfast spread that is available between 9am and 1pm on the weekends. All the dishes have interesting twists and ingredients, and whether you love eggs and bacon or pancakes and doughnuts, they’ve got you sorted. Along with pots of tea and coffee and a couple of healthy fresh juice concoctions. Aside from the usual breakfasty options, there are things like Duck Pao, Keema Rolls, Shrimp Fritters, and even a Cheeseburger.

I missed taking pictures of the dishes from the SWEET ONES section of the menu. My bad! Definitely try the OG Doughnut and Pineapple Upside Down pancakes, and for the Elvis Presley lover like myself, The Elvis Pancake marries traditional pancakes with banana, peanut butter, nutella, milk crumbs, powdered sugar, and wait for it – crispy bacon too.

Generous portions mean that having a friend or three along will make it possible to order and try more. Here’s a look at and explanation of the various dishes we ate, and since we covered about a quarter of the menu, a repeat visit is on the horizon!

P_20180422_111832

The Morning Bun: Think savory cinnamon roll with creamy broccoli and pesto. Flaky and very delish! This is made fresh and in limited quantity – so order it as soon as you arrive!

P_20180422_120700

Skewers for breakfast?! Yes, when they are these fragrant and flavorful Lime Leaf Chicken ones that have a punch of lime leaf and lemongrass, and a hot salsa sauce!

P_20180422_115503

This was the only dish I didn’t think highly of – Fried Chicken Bun – not bad, just ho hum and not worth the space when there’s so much more interesting stuff to try!

P_20180422_113108

HASH – Corned pork, sweet potato cubes, peas and turnip, topped with a crisp fried egg. A meal unto itself!

P_20180422_112323

This dish of fried eggs on a bed of Yoghurt with spices, herbs and Labeneh was quite spectacular! Who knew yoghurt and eggs would go so well together? A must-order from the EGGY ONES section of the menu.

P_20180422_123329

Eggs Benedict upped its game with this version! A buttermilk biscuit base (to which I am most partial), thick sliced maple and brown sugar bacon and a chipotle hollandaise sauce gave this all sorts of fantastic flavor and crunch. Happiness on a plate!

Details: Sly Granny, Indiranagar 12th Main; Breakfast menu available between 9am and 1pm on weekends; INR 1200 plus taxes for breakfast for two.

Sushi Unrolled at The Fatty Bao

The Fatty Bao has brought us eighteen days, fourteen varieties, and some new flavor combos, textures, and tastes of sushi. This is sushi like you’ve never seen it before thanks to the ‘Sushi Unrolled’ food festival that has taken the traditional roll and unraveled it to reveal hitherto unknown depths (sushi as taco, sushi as pizza, sushi as sandwich, sushi as pita). This is not the delicate sushi one usually gets, either. These are heartier portions and pieces, and in shapes and dimensions that don’t require or actually, allow, for a pair of chopsticks to be pressed into service. Using one’s fingers would really be the best, so you can pick up that slice of tuna sushi pizza, or the sushi pita pocket, and pop it into your mouth! And of course, there’s the delectable Edamame and Fatty’s range of cocktails to go along with the meal.

The fest, which started a few days ago at Fatty outlets in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata, runs through the 8th of April, which means you have two full weeks to visit (and revisit) the special menu. And now, here’s a look at some of the delights…talking about my favs here, but there were more like the Smoked Mackerel Compound Sandwich and yes, sushi rolls like the Spicy Tempura Fried Prawns, that we tried.

The Liberal Tobimayo Pita Pocket Sushi & The Progressive Vegetarian Pita Pocket The tuna pita pocket was my favorite dish from the ‘Sushi Unrolled’ menu – a must try!

Cross Bred Tuna Pizza
I was excited to see a cold pizza aka sushi pizza, and enjoyed the flavors and textures. It had a crispy sushi rice cracker base (although we felt it tasted more of other grains) and was liberally topped with tuna, cream cheese mayo, jalapenos, tobiko, capers, and mustard cress. There’s a veg version too.
P_20180316_135450.jpg

Cross Bred Salmon Taco
Fancy a sushi taco anyone? Not words I ever thought I would be writing, that’s for sure! I really enjoyed the crispy shell with sushi fillings. Crunchy outside with a nice tangy filling of Sriracha mayo, spicy salmon, avocado, yuzu and tobiko. There’s also a vegetarian version, and a fried fish one (that sounds pretty darn close to a Baja Fish Taco with an Asian twist!).
P_20180316_142329.jpg
We, being a largish table, also got a tasty peek into a couple of dishes off their new menu, including a brilliant Cold Green Tea Noodle Salad and the always delightful Fatty Bao desserts, which never disappoint! A special shout out to the Wild Apricot Salad dessert, which had that combo of tart and sweet that makes my tastebuds happy. The festival offerings are priced between INR 395 and INR 645, and the portions are good for sharing. A meal for two will run around INR 2000 plus taxes.

Plan B’s Burger Fest

What does one do when their favorite burger joint in town has a festival that’s basically an ode to the burger, featuring 21 different burgers with influences from many different places? Well if that someone is me, then you head to said place as many times as possible to savor the deliciousness! I have long maintained that Plan B’s burgers are the best – the flavors, the portion size, the fillings, and of course, all that bacon and beef. Their burgers are the closest I have gotten in India to the gourmet burgers I would eat at various restaurants and pubs in the US. That they have fantastic cocktails as well is a plus!

 

They have now upped their burger game with a month long burger fest that features 21 new burgers – yup, you read that right – 21! And fear not, the options cover every spectrum from vegetarian to chicken, seafood, and full on red meat eaters. Having been part of a large table to taste the burgers, I was able to try pretty much everything on the menu. The fact that they have both slider and full size options is great, though be warned, when Plan B says slider, its more like what fast food chains hand out as full size burgers! We ordered slider portions and asked for Wedges on the side, and yes, each of our burgers came with a flag bearing our name – perks of being a part of “The Official Tasting Crew”! Now with such a range, it is kind of hard to pinpoint favorites, but there are three that I ordered the next time I went, and will be going back to eat again, before the fest concludes on the 18th of March.

 

The Belgian Waffle Pork Burger won my heart as much for the BBQ pulled pork as for the actual waffle, for the batter of said waffle was a spiced Southern biscuit one, which gave the waffle incredible texture and taste. I have also always been a blue cheese gal, so the Black and Blue which comes with a liberal dousing of Blue Cheese sauce, made me all kinds of happy. And then there was the unique combo – the Clam and Bacon Burger, which was a definite ode to the Po Boys from the American south. A generous portion of crispy fried clams and even crisper bacon – what’s not to love?! The Japanese Tonkatsu and Korean Pork Bulgogi Burger bring a touch of the Far East to the proceedings. The Surf and Turf Burger which has pulled chicken or pork and beer battered prawns, and the Baconator which is a minced bacon patty are decadent. The Zucchini Burger was a hit at our table of mostly staunch non vegetarians – that should say it all!

 

You’ve got a full two weeks to take advantage of the Plan B Burger Fest 2018, and you really should! The festival menu is available at all three of their outlets (Castle Street, Indiranagar, Shanthi Nagar) and the sliders are all well under INR 200 while the full sized burgers range between INR 348 and INR 448 plus taxes, and the latter come with wedges.

P_20180225_162423

A South Bangalore Haven: Staycation at The Woodrose

In the midst of the madness of work, life, traffic, and more, a staycation provides the perfect antidote – without having to book a ticket or plan a lot, you check into a local hotel and have a mini vacation. So, an invite a couple weeks ago to spend the weekend at The Woodrose, the Brigade Group’s Club property located right next to the Brigade Millennium apartment complex in JP Nagar, was one I couldn’t pass up. After all, its not every day that there is a place just a couple miles from home, and I was also curious to check out the club facilities. And impressive they were! Badminton with a coach on hand, tennis court, a giant swimming pool with a lifeguard/coach, and a gorgeous property with plenty of greenery and cozy nooks, a lovely little library, and good F&B, too. Although we didn’t avail of these services, there is also a salon and spa, Ayurvedic clinic, and a store on premise.

 

What really stood out for me was the service – this is a team that takes the term ‘service with a smile’ seriously, and goes out of its way to ensure the comfort of guests, be it in-house room guests or club members and their families. Whether it was the librarian, the coaches, the service staff at the restaurant – everyone was smiling, welcoming, and interactive with all the guests. The rooms were well appointed, quite large, had every amenity in terms of toiletries as well as a mini fridge and something that I really depend on, being a tea drinker from the moment I wake up to the time I sleep – an electric kettle with mugs and tea/coffee setup. And since we were on the second floor, there was a cozy sit out area where I sat and pondered life, tea mug and Kindle on hand.

 

The food too, was a cut above what one usually expects from a club – homely fare, concentrating on Indian and Indian-Chinese with a smattering of Italian. Nothing greasy or over spiced, and in fact, attention paid to healthy options. The breakfast buffet spread was sumptuous, with Indian as well as Continental offerings. We enjoyed an al fresco dinner on the upper level/terrace space – highly recommended! With a cocktail, glass of wine or beer in hand and some dimsum, satay, or fried snacks to munch on, you can unwind and enjoy the serene space. The Sunday brunch – well it was really a lunch time and lunch menu focused meal, was packed with multi-generational families – clearly a popular activity with club members. There is a different live station each week – it was a chaat counter the Sunday we were there. On the campus there is a small outlet of The Baking Company, Brigade Group’s bakery, with cookies, tea cakes, muffins, and more, which are made in-house at the Woodrose kitchen, under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Prakash Kumar. Both sinful and healthy options are available, with millet being a focus. The Coffee and Lemon sponge cake is to die for – definitely will be stopping by to pick that up soon! The Bajra with peanuts and Raagi cookies were great too…again this felt like old school bakery or home bake products.

P_20180210_170041

 

The property is so serene and pretty, you won’t even believe you’re still in Bangalore, much less a bustling main road in JP Nagar! The trees and shrubs and plants, the feeling of being away from city and in a secluded space makes for such a welcome respite. And it is also popular for private events and parties, with the outdoor space rented out for such gatherings – there was something on every night of the weekend. The club membership is available in 1/3/5/10 year buckets, and is surprisingly affordable, if my eulogizing has gotten you interested. For people with kids, or who would avail of the sporting facilities, it’s really worth it – especially that pool! There was someone doing laps, breadth wise, to give you an idea of its size. If you just want to check it out for a weekend, or book rooms for someone visiting, then you can do so on the club website or by calling 9972305352 or 080 41995999.

P_20180210_173042