Saturday, October 25, 2014

A very short 'Food Trip'

Hear of an eatery named Food Trip and you think of a global menu, a vibrant décor and at least something that you've never seen or tasted before. So with moderate expectations of a ’cool’ new joint in Koramangala , the husband and I stepped into food trip (where the semi decent Leb Mex was previously located). I glanced at the interiors and kind of got what the owners were trying to do, giving out this cute global vibe and a clean minimalistic not kitschy way. The color scheme was white with red and yellow thrown in. The walls were plastered with icons of a Mexican hat, the Golden Gate bridge, leaning tower of Pisa, a kathakali dancer and so on.  

We took a look at the menu and I thought it was missing a few pages, but once I glanced carefully I realized that that was it. So the concept, if you would like to call it that, is you pick a main protein/carb from a ridiculously short menu of 6, 3 vegetarian and 3 non vegetarian and choose to have it served as a burgerwich  (apparently a square bun) or a roll or a rice bowl . They also had a selection of fries and some other deep fried starters. And if you thought you are short of filling your daily calorie intake with one meal, they had some shakes to make up for the deficit. 
So the 6 options that you could choose are pretty uninspired and randomly named – Netaji’s Tandoori Paneer, Bitter Sweet Bangkok Dreams, Ninja Fried Chicken and Empire State Spicy Chicken. This is 2014 and even the colonel has gone grilled and most options seem to be directed towards deriving value from the deep fryer investment. 
My husband is the most indecisive meal-chooser at a restaurant that I know, he mulls over the menu even at a Shiv Sagar and here he was mulling yet again, but for the opposite reason, there was nothing to choose from!
We finally chose, Punjabi Lion Tikka Rice Bowl and Empire State’s Spicy Chicken Roll with Exotic Carribean  Fries. 
We looked around the ambiance whilst waiting for our meal and realized that the management was fairly weak, for example there was an open half door that exposed the not so aesthetic kitchen, the music was super random hindi stuff from the 90s, the front desk was empty for half the time, the wait staff was courteous but not particularly well trained.

Finally, the food arrived, the rice bowl was ok, very desi flavors but nothing unexpected. The roll was again fine nothing to complain in terms of taste but nothing to go gaga over either. There were no special sauces no unexpected twist. The portion sizes were modest but for the cost they were justified. The best part of the meal was probably the fries, the flavor was just right.

The rice bowl

The roll

The fries

We were kind of hungry at the end of the meal but the menu just had nothing that we could order so we quickly left after paying the bill and walked towards the numerous smaller joint in the same row thinking, "we wanted to like you but ....."

Overall verdict: Only if you are really hungry, in the area or both

Food Trip
487, J.T Plaza, Jyothi Nivas College Road, Koramangala 5th Block, Opposite Krishna Temple, Koramangala,Bangalore

Friday, October 10, 2014

The 100 foot journey

Food movies, movies on food, eating, cooking have a magical capability of bringing out the warm fuzzy in us, couple it with a side of romance and you have a 100 odd minutes well spent. 

The 100 foot journey does precisely that, albeit, in a slightly clichéd way. So, we have the Mumbai based Kadam family - Mama, Juhi Chawla (in a sweet cameo), Papa, Om Puri, the 'star son' Hassan, Manish Dayal (dishy!), who is blessed with haath mein jadoo when it comes to cooking and another 2 sets of brothers and sisters who complete the family. Driven by communal riots, death of the mother, political asylum and a dislike for the UK, in that order, leads the family to wander across Europe, only to have a (expected) vehicle failure in a quaint French town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. Since cooking is what they do best, the family decides to start inhabiting the town and open an Indian restaurant across the street, about 100 feet away, from an uber sophisticated Michelin star holding one run by the haughty Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren). They also meet the warm and affable Margarit who is a sous chef under Ms Mallory. 

The rest of the story follows a slightly predictable path, sprinkled with the right dose of humor and romance. Hassan’s culinary genius spanning Indian curries, classic French sauces, contemporary French as well as modern molecular gastronomy is the crux of the film. 

What was good?

Heartwarming story: The characters and situations are warm with a lining of humor. The romance between Papa and Madam Mallory was better conceived than the one between Hassan and Margarit, although the two made a great couple. The mother- son scenes were a little forced but, added to the story well.

Acting: The acting was pretty top notch by most of the cast, Manish Dayal is perfect as the innocent faced genius who has an unending passion for food. Om Puri and Hellen Mirren are fab. The rest of the cast excel in their limited roles.

Food, food, food: The love, passion, hard work that all the main characters have towards food, oozes out in multiple scenes. Hassan and Madam Mallory obviously are the top of the lot, with their passion to create magic and win the coveted Michelin stars. Margarit’s jealousy and the head chef’s defiance and for that matter Papa Kadam’s arrogance were all a result of their love for food.

Indian food is the best ‘not’: I liked the fact that at no point there was a dramatic declaration that only Indian food can solve all problems. The story showed the Indian restaurant coexisting with the French one and not a dramatic turn of events where the clientele upon one taste of a curry turn their backs on French food.. Hassan’s signature style was also shown to be one  blending contemporary French with a hint of Indian. 

What could be better.

The ‘clichéd-ness’: From the sea urchin seller prophesizing about Hassan, the spice box (which seem to be unlimited to have survived of years usage at a restaurant), to Madam Mallory’s turn of heart for Hassan, to the scene around  home cooked food in a swanky Parisian setting. But, if you could ignore these minor irritants and focus on the beauty passion and chemistry the movie really works.

The last 20 mins or so: Too slow, too much, too rushed, the last 20 mins or so could do with better screenplay and direction.

Overall, the 100 foot journey is a lovely, heart warming story that should be savored like a perfect omelet on a lazy morning.