Set in the heart of the City, Bangalore Express owned by acclaimed Chef-Patron Yogesh Datta, has a versatile menu offering loads of options to cater to every palate. On a pleasantly warm spring evening a large group of journalists and freelancers like me were invited to enjoy the launch of new A la carte menu.
Greeting familiar faces, as everyone arrived was a great way to settle in. The ‘Bindass bar’ is located on the ground floor and the stainless ‘dabbas’ that adorn the back wall reminded me of Mumbai’s efficient dabbawallas, ferrying impossible looking tiffins expertly balanced on their head snaking through busy and crowded railway stations. No wonder that the one of the cocktail’s is called Shantaram ( a very common name, also reminded of the book Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts) – which has amongst other flavours – mango and vodka.
I would highly recommend the new cocktail aptly titled ‘Bangalore Summer’. Strong flavours spicy green chilli and fragrant coriander delicately balanced with gin to create a refreshing summer drink – a pleasant reminder of cuisine typical to the southern states in India. Punchy and refreshing this cocktail seemed to be the popular drink of choice that evening.
The menu has all the usual classic dishes one would expect in any casual dining Indian restaurant, but the reason this place is such a firm favourite with not just the huge expat population that works in the city, but also with corporate clientele is the sheer variety of dishes they offer.
We ordered a selection of dishes from the starters and small platters, also the grilled sharing platter to really get the table buzzing.
The lollipop chicken from the Indo-Chinese small plates does not disappoint and is exactly what I was expecting – sweet and sticky chicken drumsticks with a crunch and a kick of red chilli with a hint of sesame flavour. The chilli squid is a fusion of flavours and a great accompaniment to summer cocktails.
The Nepalese momos – both the steamed chicken and tandoor grilled vegetable dumplings seemed to be popular with the other guests. I had to resist because compared to tandoori prawns they didn’t stand a chance;)
Without doubt, the star dish from the grilled sharing platters is the deluxe prawn platter which I shamelessly pretended to share with the two ‘foodies’ seated next to us. I could have asked for another platter if it had not been for the absolutely fabulous crispy okra chips. Very moreish these chips are coated with a light batter that is deep fried to a give it a deep golden colour. Devoured it dipped in tangy raw mango chutney and I guarantee you will greedily ask for more, just like we did.
Other gems like from the grilled sharing platter like the long chicken tikka skewer and mixed mini has some enthusiastic takers 😉
For mains, while I choose the rustic Marathi chicken curry on the bone, my friend ordered a crispy dosa – masala mash. The curry was very homely and is best paired with chapatis rather than rice. A surprise winner for me that evening though was a Punjabi boiled egg curry, It was so comforting and delightful that I would go back just for that one dish ( oh and the okra chips too!)
There is also a Deluxe dish section in the new menu with tempting offerings like the Asian seabass Nilgiri curry and culinary inspiration from around the world finds a place too in the big plates section. With offerings such as the Anglo-Indian fish and spicy chips, Dhaka Biryani to South African bunny chow all vying for attention. If that does not interest you then the popular ”Curry Plate Matrix” which lets you customise and build your own dish with a protein added to a curry base of varying degrees of heat, a choice of sides and also a choice of different types of rice – this matrix is a very creative option.
Express thali’s and old favourites sit nicely alongside vegetarian delights Paneer Lababadar and Bagare Baingan – an ode to the humble aubergine.
What makes this new menu so good is the fact that it reminds me of the way menu’s have evolved at my favourite casual dining restaurants back in Mumbai. All the usual suspects like Chicken sweet corn soup – an Ind0-Chinese favourite, to fish Koliwada for starters, are dishes I identify with. What delighted me most, was a Maharashtrian Chicken curry on the bone – a very homely treat best mopped up with several chapatis hot off the tawa with just the right amount of ghee trickling off the sides.
Mango ras malai topped with pistachios seemed like an appropriate way to appease my sweeth tooth, creamy and satisfying this dessert is apt for the summer months.
This gem of a restaurant nestled in Gracehurch Street opposite the iconic Leadenhall Market is a fail-safe choice for popular Indian curries, crispy dosas, cracking cocktails and popular Indo- Chinese favourites amongst other food. For the more homesick crowd – the breakfast menu with its masala chai and the homely curries will definitely hit the right spot.
*With thanks to Humayun Hussain, Chef-Patron Yogesh Datta of Bangalore Express for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.