Monday, March 04, 2013

Smokin’ it up

Written by Sandhya Mendonca 
Raintree Media Features

Friday evening found us at the brand new Smokehouse Deli on 100ft road, Indiranagar. I had called ahead for a reservation; the restaurant called back to apologetically offer a table outdoors.

 Hello, who in their right minds would choose to sit indoors in Bangalore if there is an option?
  When I went there though, there was not a table free on the miniscule lawn and none that showed signs of emptying any time soon.

My friends were yet to arrive so I stepped down and indoors into the brightly lit restaurant. It seemed to be blindingly white and I secretly hoped they would not palm us off there. A few minutes looking at the deli section and I was back again on the pavement; where one of the bustling staff (I learnt the next day that he was Riyaaz Amlani, the owner) offered me a drink. “I can hardly drink standing here, can I ?” I quizzed him and was told, “Oh no”, someone would escort me to the bar upstairs. (When I had called to reserve, I was told it was not yet open.)

By friends joined me by then and once again we were invited to go up and have a drink while we waited for a table. “I hope the drink’s on the house”, I said cheekily as we trooped up.
 Upstairs was nice, though one my friends had to be hauled up on to the tall chair
(ha ha – that was a sight). We decided we didn’t want to move and the same gent instructed our waiter that the first round of drinks would be on the house.  The cocktails were potent, and I don’t say that only because they were free. I did order another that I paid for.

Some of the dishes on the menu were not available that evening but we were not disappointed by the taste of what we had. My tortellini was melt in the mouth delicious; my friends had steaks that they found equally good. The only grouse we had was that portions were a little small – if we had not eaten a starter or devoured the bread sticks, we would have been ravenous after dinner. And at nearly Rs.500 bucks a dish (if you add taxes), that would not have been value for money. Since we were pleasantly full by then, it didn’t bother us as much.

As we left, the owner came by to ask us if we had liked the place. We dutifully informed him of the above, and he didn’t smirk or whine, he took it as constructive criticism. Pat on the back to him and the staff. It was only the third day that they had been open and they delivered very well, considering the pressure of people.

Twitter @sandhyamendonca
Smoke House Deli is @ No. 1209, Hal IInd Stage, 100ft Road Indiranagar.

Tel: 08025200898 / 99

Visit only if you respect music

(This is an updated version of an earlier article titled 'LOUD is the chatter')

I am a huge fan of Kamal Sagar’s Total Environment projects and I was keen for some time now to visit his latest creative offering: the Windmills Craftworks. I was sure it would be a spectacular place.The only problem is that it is in Whitefield, too far from town for a week night;  the place also features interesting bands on weekends. A Saturday did arrive when I was free and had amenable company.

With a little gentle persuasion, we managed to get a table ( they had closed bookings two days prior). We clambered into a cab and sallied forth.  Alighting from the lift, were very politely received and escorted to a nicely placed table; in a secluded corner right in front. (The place could do with some signage to show the floor at which the jazz theatre is located. We had to come out and ask the doorman who told us it was on the fifth floor.) 

The interiors are stunning – there are wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lining the large space. The stage is spacious and obviously, no money has been stinted on the acoustics.

We had gone prepared to be charmed and we were. Even the experience of using the Ipad to order drinks and food was glitch-free. The band that was playing was billed as New York Jazz – a blend of Latin and Brazilian rhythms. By far, one of the best I have ever had – Magos Herrera has the sexiest voice I have heard in a woman and the musicians were flawless.

The beers brewed in-house were good; my salad was cold but so was my friend’s Kerala beef fry! We had to send it back but the tikkis and chicken breast that followed were pretty good.

We were enjoying ourselves a lot until the entry of a LOUD group of people. Turns out that they had reserved the entire first row but none of them were interested in the performance.

They chose to hang out in the small balcony that opened right behind our table and as the evening went on, the decibel level of the chatter and high-pitched shrieks of laughter were almost drowning out the music. There were sliding glass doors that were left open, because the waiters were busy refilling the drinks of the party-makers. (There was a similar terrace space at the back where diners were sitting down to dinner; they weren't so noisy. The party makers in front could be heard even here.)

After half an hour of quiet cribbing amongst ourselves about the kind of people who would choose to come to a live performance only to spend the whole evening standing outside, we told the staff our grouse. We were given a choice of moving to another table when it emptied.

My friend told the waiter that more than disturbing us, the noisy guests were being disrespectful to the performers. A short while later, we left. The spell had been broken and we didn’t feel that there was anything to be gained by staying.

A large private party ensures good revenue for the evening but how should such a party be accommodated on a performance night and intruding upon the enjoyment of other patrons? On the long ride to that place, I had repeated a story I’d heard: that Kamal Sagar is very particular about who buys his apartments because he is very quality conscious.
On the ride back, my friends asked me: ”Are you sure this is his place? How would such a particular person allow such crass behavior?”

Following the publication of the earlier piece, I heard from Kamal Sagar. Referring to that night he said that a group of 35 people had come in and had been very demanding and disruptive. The manager and staff had to deal with them diplomatically to ensure that the problems did not escalate and that the programme could continue without a major fracas. After that night, Windmills Craftworks has decided not to take up group bookings on event nights as the place is dedicated to promote good music from all over the world.

This is good news indeed for people who genuinely appreciate music. People who just want to hang out and party can find other venues

Written by Sandhya Mendonca
Twitter @sandhyamendonca

Windmills Craftworks is @ 331, Road No. 5 B, EPIP zone, Whitefield. T: 080 25692012

A high five from Innovate Publishers

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