Sunday, 14 August 2016

A Tale of Two Restaurants

At the start of a long weekend, I decided to dine out on my own, as always. Since the palate craved something South Indian, I thought the nearest restaurant offering a reasonably OK fare should be my first choice. So, off I headed to Adyar Ananda Bhavan, popularly known as A2B, to savour a South Indian Thali.

At the very outset, I was disappointed to find that only one of two floors was operational that weekend. The management had decided, for some strange reason, to keep the upper floor locked/closed. The lower floor with limited seating arrangement was already full, but I was soon led to a table for 6, which I was to share with another lone diner - a lady who was about to finish her meal. I thought it would be all right as it was a no-frills eatery. However, what annoyed me was that as soon as the other lady got up, a couple of thug-like guys was asked to occupy the same table. One of them immediately took out his smartphone and was holding it ON the table - all which was very suspicious and made my antennae stand up!

I decided to get up and leave. I did request the management and waiting staff to see if another table was available, but obviously, an eatery like A2B was only interested in larger groups and not a lone diner, that too, a lady. I paid just for the coffee I'd managed to gulp down and left - having sworn never to step into this awful place again! In the while I'd been there, I saw a couple of young working women also turned away from the place as also a family. Surely, this is not the way to run a restaurant?

Still, I was not discouraged in any way for Koramangala is a diner's paradise! This time, I opted to head to a Fine Dine Restaurant just a few meters down the road from the above-mentioned dreadful eatery. I walked up to Bayleaf, on the ground floor of Raheja Complex. The welcome was so good and I was made to immediately feel comfortable. What a refreshing change...The serving staff was attentive, made suitable suggestions about the food choices and the best part was their music playlist! So many of my old favourites from the 1990s and early 2000s...

Since I cannot consume alcohol, I opted for my usual Fresh Lime Water, which arrived promptly and was spot-on. Bayleaf serves complimentary roasted papads with a divine mint chutney for diners waiting for the food to arrive...I opted for Aloo Chaat Chandni Chowk Wali as my starter, and was I hooked to the flavours or what! Hot, tangy, spicy and delectable...It took me right back to Delhi in one spoonful. I couldn't wait to have more of this...
For my mains, I ordered a Butter Naan and Nizami Handi, a mildly spiced dish full of vegetables in a thick gravy. While the naan was flaky and hot off the tandoor, the Nizami Handi had plenty of carrots, peas, beans and other vegetables. Again, the taste was near-perfect, the beans were not stringy, and the extras served along with the Mains were mango pickle and Pickled Baby Onions.
And finally, to finish off this wonderful meal, I decided to got for a Dessert Platter - their Mithai Sampler. I chose Gajar Halwa, Pista Gulab Jamun and Sondesh Aur Gulkhand Pasanda...Needless to say, this was the highlight of the entire meal (or, was it the starters?)...The desserts are heavy and surely not intended to be consumed by one person. However, I could not help but eat as much of these flavourful desserts as I could.
Bayleaf matched ALL my expectations - and then, some more! I will surely be back for their weekday lunch buffets and their Lunch Boxes. More than anything, what was endearing was their treatment of and attention to every diner. Surely recommend this place to all! It is an oasis of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of traffic at the Forum signal. The interiors are tastefully done up and nothing jars the eye.
In brief, a perfect meal for a lone diner!

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