Dear Bangalorean Hounds,
I'm at a conference near Bangalore University, down in the SW of the city. It seems like a bit of a wasteland around here. I'm sufficiently determined to satisfy my gastronomic needs that I don't mind getting autos to convey me to decent dinner in the centre (for which I've already got lots of recs from this site) but this can involve quite an amount of traffic jam pain, depending on the time of day I venture out.
But maybe I'm missing some jewels around the University area? Any help very much appreciated.
Things couldn't have kicked off any better than with a visit to Dinosaur. That it's sited dramatically the other side of a bridge that seems to channel the essence of the Industrial Revolution only helps to set the scene for an orgy of guilty carnal satiation. A meaty temple in a bleak metallic dystopia, if you will. We started with some explosive IPAs while the table became available. The only thing we didn't like was the Mac and Cheese, our UK prejudices running to edicts such as that cheese should not come in a flavour that can only be described as 'orange'. The wings were fantastic, sweet, sticky and delicious; but the blue cheese dip made it. There were other nice things, but what really excited were the ribs, which secreted a deep sweet smoke flavour that was all the more surprising (to us) for how incredibly delicate it was. As a general point, there seems to be a way with meat here that leaves it way more tender and subtly flavoured than anything I've experienced anywhere else in the world. Possible exception of duck confit.
RGR's tour is justly famous. Again the delicate & tender came together in the fantastic pastrami sandwich of Katz Deli. It's so delicately flavoured in fact, that I'd skip the mustard in future. We have Salt Beef sandwiches in the UK, of course, but none manages to achieve the melting perfection of what we tried there. Russ and Daughters' imperious, amiably snooty counter staff provided us with some fantastic smoked salmon and lightly picked herring. I failed to follow orders and got a Cherry Egg Cream from Ray's instead of the chocolate, but it was nonetheless nice (I subsequently tried to return but found that I'd wandered through a film set and there was an actress behind the counter who didn't know how to make them--true story). Rather more extraordinary was my salted peanut butter cake doughnut from Doughnut World/Planet/Factory or whatever near Kossar's. I took one bite of a Kossar's bialy. I'm afraid I can't get behind the heavy doughy Jewish breads. They're like what I imagine astronauts eat, because they have to, rather than that they want to. The Pickle Guys' half sour was gorgeous. Didn't make it to the Gelato place, unfortunately.
For dinner we tried the new outpost of XIan in Chinatown. Lamb face was probably more work than it was worth given that we were picking cheek bones out of our teeth for half an hour afterwards. I visited Xian (the place in China) for a few days a few years ago and as far as I approximate the experience as Sichuan + Cumin, the Famous Food here seemed authentic, and certainly delicious. (I was going to go to the National but with only the two of us, I wasn't sure it was the ideal outing. So we watched the Air Sex Championship instead, which was excruciating at best.)
Pies and thighs was the order for lunch. Delicious chicken, of course, but what really stood out was the biscuit. I've had 'biscuits' before, though only from one of those cans you sort of unwrap. Normally they're compared to british scones, but based on this one I think they're actually rather closer to a much older creation known as the 'baked suet pudding'. I would have guessed this one had cheese in it? In any case, it was extremely moreish and very good.
We cancelled our ridiculously late 10:45 Babbo reservation and I allowed myself to get waylaid by a friend of a friend who doesn't research restaurants with quite the insanity that I do. We ended up in a decent but unremarkable Argentinian restaurant called Nina. Crispy deep pan pizza and decent steaks but I wasn't blown away. Very subtle and juicy empanadas though.
Lunch the next day was Shake Shack, which had been described to me as 'a McDonald's, but good'. I do think this is an accurate description in that the bun is exceptionally sweet, the cheese orange and the patty itself very hammy, as if cured/brined. The whole thing disappears in a delicious mouthful or two. Hot dog was unremarkable but for the very squidgy sweet potato bun--perhaps it was nice--I make no evaluation. A frozen custard shake sank the whole thing very successfully. Perhaps I still need to have a good burger with a little more texture?
For dinner we went to Café Boulud and had the tasting menu, devised apparently on the fly by the chef. Unexpectedly, I wasn't blown away, I'm afraid. As with so many upscale places, of which I may be becoming jaded, I just don't think it's worth the expense. There's something so generic about the fine dining experience that it could be happening anywhere--this sentiment has, of course, been expressed before. The savoury jelly, the deep-fried knickknack, the pea puree, the pommes puree made with 50% butter, the micro-greens... They're everywhere and it's all the same. That's not to say there weren't some standout dishes, such as a perfect mushroom risotto and two splendid desserts, one kumquat-based and pithy as hell and one rich chocolate one sitting on a pistachio cake. The wines served in the flight were also pretty generic, (we tasted them blind and got quite a few more-or-less right...) For what we spent, which was more than a tasting menu with wine at the Gavroche in London, a few things also simply weren't right. The waiters, of whom there were not enough, did not know enough about the food, seemed overfamiliar by way of attempt to cover up incompetence, and the distance between tables didn't stretch to more than five inches (meaning we spent half the evening listening to a barrage of self-satisfied yet impotent 'business prospects' that some Jewish guy was explaining loudly to his mother on what appeared to be her birthday, while his girlfriend of Asian extraction sat mute next to him--the whole thing as ridiculous as it was annoying). Anyway, given the amount that is going through the till, the lack of personal space strikes me as very greedy. I think in future I would either go super-experimental like Momofoku Ko (if I could get in) or simply not bother with the top end.
From this point I'm on my own. Lunch at Momofoku Ssam bar. On recommendation I eschewed the pork buns in favour of the rotisserie duck on rice. It's clearly amazing, as were all the accoutrements on the table, most of which I couldn't identify. But I definitely suspect some foul play with the duck. The breast was so tender as to have the texture of spam. And there's no way you can perfectly roast a whole duck and somehow have the legs falling off the bone and the breasts still perfectly pink. I reckon they brine the breast somehow leaving the legs sticking out, simmer/sous vide the whole thing for hours/days and then crisp up the skin on the rotisserie. (Happy to be corrected.)
Finally it was Fette Sau for dinner. This is a total marvel of a place. Stinking with personality. You feel whipped back in time/place to 19th Century Midwest America. The radio's playing Country and Western; fantastic mucking-in mess-style seating; sarsaparilla in a big jug on the counter. I could totally imagine someone plucking out bluegrass on a steel string guitar and people jumping on the tables. And the food! Seems squarely aimed at a purist market. None of the caramelisation of Dinosaur in action, it's all smoked with a dry rub that gives it a funky, evocative taste of hot dry summer days. Also, it was interesting that the barbecue sauce is totally devoid of sugar, and is really quite hot. The mustard, similarly. I found I could concoct a good lubrication by mixing them both together with some ketchup. Anyway, it's a brilliant place and I'd be very proud to have something as special as that in any city I lived in.
A last word for a great bar, 61 local, on Bergen street. Great beers, lovely staff, and a very comfortable venue with no bloody TVs.
Oh, and PS Sarabeth's bakery in Chelsea Market served the best Palmier I've had outside France, possibly ever.
Thanks to all those who helped with recommendations. Certainly you all helped make this a gastrotour to remember.
Ray's Candy Store
I've heard that if you turn up to Dinner (rubbish name) on the day (say 11ish) 'looking hopeful' you've got a chance. I think they reserve some tables for guests at the hotel. It IS worth it. I would consider ordering ALL the desserts, regardless of party size but do not miss the Tipsy Cake or the Bread Ice Cream.
Hibiscus is also, of course, famous.
Do I need to book that National?
Thanks, villainx, should have mentioned. I'm from London. So I suspect I don't really need the whole British w/American twist thing; nor Indian as that is something we do actually do rather well across the entire spectrum. I've eaten Korean, Japanese, Af & Carib a few times, so it would be a case of whether to recommend any because they were totally exceptional.
Actually, thinking about it, I've never had Filipino and I've noticed there are a few highly rated in NY. Purple Yam?
And of course, the Mexican we get in London is utterly embryonic at the moment, although things are improving. Mesa Coyoacan sounded good? My initial reaction is for authentic Mex, rather than Cal-Mex. (I realise this is a minefield.)
OK. I'll swap Shake Shack for Peels and put Candelight and Pies up for grabs. I'll also try to make a decision between Dinosaur and Fatty Cue. That should give me enough space for a Mex, Filipino or Pizza if recommended.
Thanks so much to those who have replied. I'll certainly do the LES gastro walk and will probably jettison the Candlelight in favour of one of the great suggestions. Daniel changed to CB.
New to the forum. I'm going to be in New York for five days and have assembled this list out of the recommendations I've read, both here and elsewhere. The main principle is to cast as wide a net over the food scene in NYC, so I'm trying to get balance as well as essential box ticking.
This is what I've got planned
Friday night: Dinosaur BBQ
* Have seen many suggestions to swap this to Cafe Boulud, which I intend to do today.
I'm particularly up for altering Tuesday; for instance, if I can get an EMP rez for lunch as there seems to be consensus that that's totally amazing.