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!

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

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.

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The Buns and Sours Pop-Up

The Apple catchphrase ‘there’s an app for that’ popped into my mind when I realized that these days, there’s a day for everything. You know, not just the biggies like father’s day or teacher’s day, now there’s a day for sports journalists, and hopping on the bandwagon, are days for food – and as a food writer, how can I not celebrate food days, I ask you?! Did you know, yesterday was Whiskey Sour Day, and tomorrow is Burger Day? Neither did I! But the folks over at The Hilton, EGL, decided to combine the two and create a special buns and sours menu for a three day pop-up at their Salt Grill restaurant.

Available the 25th to 27th of August, I checked out the preview a couple days ago, and came away very happy. For one, the price point is great – the burgers are INR 799 plus taxes, and the Whiskey Sours are INR 599 plus taxes. My suggestion is to go for the combo, which gives you one of each of your choice (there are 5 sours and 5 burgers on the menu) for INR 999 plus taxes. The Whiskey Sours range from The Classic, made with Jim Beam, egg white, sweet and sour, to country-inspired, like the spice-infused, Paul John Bold concoction, Made in India and the Irish Cider featuring Irish Whiskey, Peach Schnapps, Angostura Bitters, and sweet and sour (my fav. from this menu). My second fav. from the lot was the Tuscan Smash, which had JD, Sangiovese, sweet and sour and grape mist.

I was delighted to find two red meat (buffalo) burgers on offer – the Panko Crumbed Verde Burger with the patty, blue cheese, onion jam, streaky bacon, Verde sauce, served betwixt a ciabatta bun, alongside the Thai Cobb Burger, which had avocado, caramelized onion, peanut sauce in a multi-grain bun. For people like me who want their burger to not be chicken or lamb or fish, finding not one, but two of these beauties was a great thing, especially since they also turned out to be the best of the five on offer! For the vegetarians, there is a Tofu Teriyaki Burger, and they will do a veg patty on request as well. The chicken option was the Black Burger, served – you guessed it – in a black sesame bun, with Cajun spiced chicken, roasted peppers, Glenlevit and fig marmalade. This was my second fav. of the evening. My fellow blogger loved the Tempura Fillet Fish Burger. There were three kinds of fries that came as accompaniments, as well. Oh, and the mustard and ketchup were in those little glass jars/bottles, in individual servings.

We rounded out the meal with the soon to be launched new menu’s decadent desserts, which I will have to go back for separately, to be able to do proper justice to, as well as petit-fours. Kudos to Chef Deb, who’s new in town, for this lovely little pop-up. It’s only on until tomorrow night, so do head over and enjoy the food, drink, and ambience of The Salt Grill’s outdoor setting. And a quick note, some of the pics are of the tasting portion sized burgers, since we were eating ’em all.

For the Love of Big Brewsky

I have a secret – I’ve developed quite a crush, one that has made me grab every opportunity to be with said crush – to the tune of four visits in one month! I’ve battled cabs and traffic and distance to be close to my new favorite, and indeed, even now am plotting ways to return. And no, this is no human love interest, but a place. Big Brewsky had been on my radar for well over two years now, but its location on Sarjapur Road meant that a trip from Jayanagar just never happened. Until a couple of months ago – and then the spell was cast!

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The space itself is the perfect foundation – the lighting is amazing and I really don’t think there can be a bad picture taken there in the daytime; the Koi Pond with numerous fish swimming about dominates the central part, like an old fashioned home where the courtyard is open to the sky in the center; there is an imposing three storey building where all the eating, drinking and partying happens; a special area set apart and again, off the ground, for a DJ or live band; a garden area which makes for a cozy private party; bars on more than one floor, and just an all-round expansive feeling. Plus it has some well-known and old hands in the F&B industry in charge of the place now – so you’re assured of being in good hands.

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My first visit was by invite, to check out the new menu the brewpub has launched, bringing in Chef Saby Gorai to plan and implement the overhauling. Chef Saby’s fame precedes him – he has restaurants in Pune and Delhi and after having met him a couple times now, it is safe to say his food and his charm are both swoon-worthy! The next trip was for their Sunday brunch, since a dear friend’s band was playing. And then one just-like-that visit happened. And the last one was the epic party they had to celebrate the new menu launch. Details of that evening remain a tad fuzzy, shall we say? 😉

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Sunday brunch, by the way, is an expansive feast set across two floors, including chaats, grills, pizzas, biryani, and with an entire car of desserts (that hacked off teal blue ambassador does serve a purpose!) and there are options for food only, food+beer, and food+cocktails, which makes it a really good deal and a good way to spend your Sunday afternoon – live music, DJ spinning tunes, loads of good food and drink, all in a very convivial atmosphere!

In addition to Saby, who flies in quite often to check on things, they have a brilliant man behind the bar, Karthik Kumar, who is weaving magic with his innovative cocktails, including using Kashmiri Kahwa! Must try that, along with The Great Pretender, which is a potent purple drink featuring tequila, tropical juice, egg white, and a homemade purple syrup that gives it the color; the gin based Pink Orchard; The Yellow Jacket with Bourbon and a turmeric syrup made in-house; and if Karthik has the popsicles in place, then the beer cocktails with a stout or blonde and a corresponding cola or orange popsicle in them are perfect for a hot summer day. My only kvetch is that the beers need some work, and I am looking forward to their pulling their socks up in this respect – the 3-4 beers I tried on my various visits were all kinda blah.

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One thing that really blew our minds was the sushi – better than what is served at some of the city’s Asian restaurants, even, rolled just so, and we couldn’t get enough. The Avocado Maki Roll, Vegetable Black Rice California Roll, Non-Veg California Roll with Salmon Roe and Tuna, and the Tempura Prawn Roll were what we had on that first visit and even though the Sunday brunch doesn’t have so many, if you’re there for it, don’t pass up on whatever sushi is on offer. The Shine Crystal Dumplings, vegetarian, taste as good as they look and are also a great inclusion amongst the Asian fare – delicate translucent wrapping without and crunchy veggies within.

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The Stir Fried Beef Chilli, Iranian Seekh Kebab, and Hot Black Prawns are all quite delish and pair perfectly with a cold one. Then there’s this absolutely brilliant, flavorful African spiced chicken, the name eludes me but its a must order! There are also salads, pizzas, pastas, mains including a bacon wrapped chicken, and more to choose from. If you’re a Risotto and Mushroom fan like moi, then the Black Rice Mushroom Risotto will also make your repeat order list – mushroom pate, truffle essence, parmesan cheese – need I say more?

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Desserts are good too – so if you can find the space, order the Asura’s Devil Chocolate Mud Cake with its rich center and gooey topping of cream cheese frosting, or the Chocolate Fondant, a lava cake with vanilla ice cream accompaniment. It is quite an expansive menu for a brewpub and we as a group had nothing against anything we ate, so there!

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With Karthik Kumar and Saby Gorai

Details: The Big Brewsky, Sarjapur Road. INR 2000 plus taxes for a meal for two, including drinks. Sunday brunch packages start at under 1k a head all inclusive, and go up to INR 1600 (depending on the drinks package).

Sunday Brunching in Style: Movenpick Hotel & Spa

Sunday brunch brings back memories of awakening late, fighting the pater for the Sunday newspaper and drinking tea out on the balcony at home. Sitting in my PJs until way past decent, and finally only being goaded into showering and dressing with the promise of mum’s brunch. Some weeks it would be Indian – parathas and egg bhurji or the Hyderabadi egg dish Khageena, while other times it would be sausages, eggs, bacon, baked beans and toast. Whatever the main course, a fab dessert was always there to end on. Oh man, those were the days! The grown up me has to either prepare the brunch herself, or else head out to one of the many restaurants in town that offer a special brunch on the day of rest. When an invite to such an afternoon comes along, gathering with the fellow food writer pals and our other halves makes it all the sweeter. Such was the occasion a couple weeks ago, when four couples and two munchkins arrived at The Movenpick Hotel & Spa for their 250 dish and cocktails/beer/wine/champagne Sunday brunch.

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Sushi to start us off

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