Urban Eatery- A Restaurant Review

A Zen-like Place awaits you amidst the bustle of Secunderabad. Opened this year (or maybe the end of last year), Urban Eatery occupies a wide area of the shopping street of Trimulgherry. I doubt whether they’ve been advertising much; I’d never heard of it until I saw it! If I wasn’t paying attention while we were out shopping, we would’ve just zoomed past it.

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The moment I entered the eatery I was struck by how spacious, how cool, how minimal the design is with huge, clean, open shelves; the not-so-extravagant, but cozy seating arrangement; the aesthetic display of desserts (including the traditional Indian Sweets) with a few books placed around thoughtfully, for those of us who love Books just as much as (or maybe more than) Food.

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I knew I’d come back again; If not for the Food (which I loved just as much), at least for the Ambiance. “Tranquil” is the Word I’d like to use here.

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The First time around, we just had Coffee and Doughnut. They have a Coffee Day Dispenser and the Cappuccino tasted just like the one that’s available at CCD (For those of you who are not aware- Cafe Coffee Day) and the Doughnut tasted good (I didn’t mention ‘great’, please bear this in mind). Their desserts could use a touch of flavor-  appearance-wise they are drool-worthy, but their taste and texture need to be improved upon.

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So far we love their Veggie Soft Roll (sliced open and filled with the yummy gooey goodness of Cheese and Veggies), Urban Omelette (packed with veggies and the right amount of spice and taste) and Waffles.

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Kids loved the making (the butchering?!)  and the taste and pop pop of Magic Pops in the Stone Cold Red Velvet Ice cream they chose.

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These are the ones we’ve tasted so far, and we’ve been there thrice already. We will be going back to try the hodge -podge of other delicacies they serve like Pizzas, Chats and Burgers. And why not? The Food here doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket!

I’m glad we found a quiet corner for ourselves, so close to home. It is a place that floods us with sweet memories of San Diego. We don’t have to try too hard to imagine that we’ve  just walked into a bakery by the beach there. Now if only the huge glass windows looked out to the Deep Blue Sea and the White Sandy Shore instead of a jam-packed road, then we’d be in heaven, right here, in Secunderabad!

Love,

Manasa.

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Thinespo – Eat and Go!

Thinespo has been on our radar for quite some time now. We’d been there once, to pick up our food and had almost decided to eat right there, outside, in the soft glow of pathway lights and under the awning of a clear night’s sky. But we had other plans. So we promised ourselves and the kids (Medha simply fell in love with the place!) that we’d go there again, maybe for breakfast?

“Thinespo”- a term in Telugu (a South Asian language) apparently means “Eat and Go”. But don’t just eat and go! Eat-Unwind-Savor-Pay-and then Go! Thinespo is a place to hang out with friends and family, let kids run about to their heart’s content, have a romantic dinner outdoors (like they show in the movies) and enjoy some great food too! Doesn’t that sound amazing?!

The Pizzas (Popeye Pizza and another one whose name I can’t recall)  we’d ordered were surprisingly thin but truly delicious! We fought over some leftover slices too, can you believe it? We didn’t even suffer from the bloated feeling we normally experience after we eat at the usual Pizza places. We simply HAD to dine there.

Thinespo
Thinespo

It was quite sunny when we made our way into this restaurant (It is easy to miss this place if you drive too fast). We sat on the patio while the kids hung outside, on the lawn (and sun-bathed!). The fans and the comfy chairs made extra sure that the sun didn’t cook us slowly. No… Really, It was pretty comfortable even on a sunny afternoon. You can choose to sit indoors too, though that’s not something I went there for. (Come on… there are a ton of restaurants for that and only a few that have outdoor dining area and serve great food too!)

We ordered a couple of omelets and burgers for us adults and Garlic Bread for the kids. They must have only just fired up their kitchen, because the place had that hungover look about it after the day before’s birthday party. At noon, the staff was still cleaning up the tables, but when the food did arrive, we just dug in right away! The Thinespo Fluffy Egg whites I ordered just drove us wild with its appearance and texture! We’d never seen Eggs cooked that way and wondered how the chef whipped up something so fluffy!

Thinespo Special Fluffy Egg white
Thinespo Special Fluffy Egg white

It felt as if I was spooning up a dollop of ice cream or something and tasted melt-in-your-mouth good! The Garlic Bread slices topped with vegetables and cheese were crispy and the kids gobbled them up pretty quickly. My mother-in-law (who doesn’t eat eggs) was delighted to dig into the Vintage Veg Burger (Ooh! So much veggies in this, she squealed with delight!). Even I found the delicate patty in my Thrilling Tiki Burger to be refreshingly different from what I’ve always eaten. There was a home-cooked feeling about everything we tasted.

Garlic Bread @Thinespo
Garlic Bread @Thinespo

I thought Egg Florentine stole the show with its varied textures in one single plate and delicate flavors of Eggs, Spinach and Bread. This will be the first thing I order the next time around!

Egg Florentine @Thinespo
Egg Florentine @Thinespo

Prasad was pretty bummed about not being served hashbrowns on the side, but I didn’t mind one bit. I thought the Florentine deserved to be on the plate all by herself, like a queen! Doesn’t she look pretty in the picture above?! 🙂

Anyway, we simply HAD to try the desserts. The Dessert stand was the first thing to greet us as we entered Thinespo and the cupcakes and pastries, casually displayed, looked too tempting to skip!

Desserts @Thinespo
Desserts @Thinespo

So we ordered a couple, one a chocolate ganache with fruity flavors and a red velvet cupcake for Medha, who simply wanted to try it because of its fancy name!

Red Velvet Cupcake
Red Velvet Cupcake

If Egg Florentine stole the show, it wasn’t a piece of cake (no pun intended) for her! The desserts put up a good fight for our appreciation too! Medha (who isn’t too fond of sugary treats, except candies!) just didn’t want to share a bite with any of us and the chocolate frosting on top of the slice of cake was unlike anything I’d tasted in India! We cleaned the plate in seconds! Mmmm… The whole experience just flooded me with fond memories of our breakfasts in the US.

Chocolate Heaven @Thinespo
Chocolate Heaven @Thinespo

We have finally found a good, no Great Breakfast (Lunch and Dinner too, but especially Breakfast!) place in our part of the World… Thank God!

With Love as Sweet and Decadent as an extra-chocolatey Chocolate Cake,

Manasa.

Rajdhani Restaurant

One of our favorite family pastimes (actually, this one tops our list of favorite pastimes!) is to dine at different restaurants every Sunday. We mostly go for a North Indian Lunch Buffet, but occasionally we do try other cuisines like Rajasthani or Gujarathi. Nothing beats the taste and variety of Food offered at the Rajdhani Restaurant in Banjara Hills, which serves both Rajasthani and Gujarathi delicacies on a Thali (or a platter).

The friendly staff here makes you feel at home; Until the meal is over and the bill arrives, one almost forgets that he is eating at a restaurant and not at a relative’s home. They abide by their slogan of “Atthithi Devo Bhava” (The guest is equivalent to God) and treat their customers so.

Ambience

A smiling employee applies vermilion to your forehead at the door, another brings a traditional decanter filled with water and a bowl to help you wash hands right at the table, someone else comes to find out whether you wish to eat the Jain or Non-Jain version (The Jain cuisine is completely vegetarian and also excludes onions, potatoes, brinjals and garlic, according to Wikipedia). We picked the Non-Jain variety.

Welcoming guests with a tilak

Rajasthan, the word means “the Land of Kings” and its food with its generous use of Ghee (clarified butter) is fit to be served to the Royalty. Ghee is extensively used in the preparation of even the simplest of Dals, to the making of special desserts (apparently, they aren’t even called desserts in Rajasthan, as unlike the desserts which are served at the end of a meal, Rajasthani sweet dishes are served before, during and after the meal) like Malpua or Gulab Jamun. And that explains the reason why we walk around feeling full the rest of the day after having gorged on traditional Rajasthani food.

Where are my chapathis???

Rajdhani apparently has 72 different rotating menus with 22,464 delicacies from Gujarat and Rajasthan! Phew! But I go for their Dal baati churma, a dish that opened my eyes (and my palate) to the rich cuisine of Rajasthan, thanks to our friends, Vinay and Vandu. I first tasted this dish (or a combination of 3 dishes- Panchmel Dal, Boiled and baked balls of whole wheat flour called the Baati and a sweet powder of broken baati and jaggery called the Churma) at their housewarming ceremony, and I was hooked. Every chance I got, I asked them to prepare this delicacy.

Dal Baati Churma

Now, whenever we eat at a Rajdhani (I’ve tried and loved the one in Dubai too), I joyfully look back on the days spent in the US with our best buddies.

Food Food and more Food!

Coming back to the Rajdhani in Banjara Hills, the folks here take hospitality up a notch (did I mention that already? Well…). Like an aunt or grandma that adores you and can’t stop asking you to eat “just a little more”, here, the waiters smilingly do the same. Or, they ask you whether you want a bit more Ghee on the already rich-looking Khichdi (a preparation of Rice and Lentils) and pour some, if you show signs of yielding. One even suggested I slather a bit of butter and Jaggery on my tiny Bajra (pearl millet) Roti, roll it up and eat. And when I complimented on its taste, he slathered more butter and jaggery on another Roti to enjoy some more. I was too happy (or too dazed?)  to complain!

All of us took a nice long siesta at home afterwards, which did nothing to bring down the sluggish feeling we had. A walk around the neighborhood in the evening helped a bit.

I guess (and hope?!?!) there’s nothing wrong in indulging in some good food sometimes, right? After all how many lifetimes do we get! Yeah yeah… I see ya rolling eyes!

Enough said.

(By the way, the meal costed us about 350 Rupees per head)

Spice Garden

 

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We had thoroughly enjoyed the food and the ambience at the Spice Garden Restaurant on our  first visit and were going back for more.

Back in the US,  especially in Tucson, where we lived, there were pretty good Indian restaurants,  but they weren’t strictly vegetarian. That meant the restaurants paid more attention to the dishes containing meat, or so we used to feel. It always felt like we didn’t have enough variety and that when we paid for a buffet, we were covering the expenses for preparing non vegetarian food, which we didn’t even touch. In India it is so different. We have so many purely vegetarian restaurants to choose from, that serve banquets fit for a King, that we are spoilt for choice here!

Being a foodie family, that’s what we are found to be doing most weekends, trying new restaurants.

As I was saying, we went back to the Spice Garden once again, ’cause we LOVED it the first time around. This time too we weren’t disappointed.

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We were served a welcome drink called Spice Green, which was, like the name suggests, Spicy and Green. We adults loved it but not the kids. When I asked the waiter what went into its making, he said something along the lines of “Sprite and Cough syrup”!

“I’m sorry, Cough syrup?”, I asked.

Again, he repeated something, very fast, that sounded like “Cough Syrup”. I don’t think it was Cough syrup, why would anyone put Cough syrup in a juice? At a fancy restaurant? Maybe I should have asked someone else for clarification. That didn’t occur to me then!

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The soup was served. I chose Sweet Corn over Tomato soup. There were a good number of Salads to try.

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The starters were the real stars of the “show”! They were served at the table itself, hot and crispy. There were Cheese Balls, which surprisingly the kids didn’t like, but we did. And Paneer Tikka and Aloo 65, each appetizer tastier than the other.

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I was busy trying to figure out the best way to capture their beauty with my camera, than focusing on finishing my plate, that I was soon served an ultimatum by my husband – Eat first or be abandoned!

Even though the mouth-watering starters filled up most of the space in my tummy, I decided to give the main course a try, as everyone else was raving about the dishes.

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The Kids loved the Pasta and Coriander Noodles. I loved the buttery Paneer Masala with Roti; Vegetable Do Pyaza was a pleasant surprise, since it didn’t look appealing, but tasted nice.

Even if I feel full, I can’t resist digging into a dessert. Kova Puri looked and tasted delicious, while Heera Jamun looked so cute like tiny marbles that I had to pop a couple into my mouth, even as my tummy began protesting because it couldn’t be stuffed anymore!

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P1100245I didn’t TOUCH the Saffron Phirni, no, really, although it looked tempting and came in a clay bowl. I just thought it looked cute paired with a scoop of Butterscotch Ice cream.

I fed them to my dear husband! 🙂 (Psst…. The family dustbin!)

Price for the buffet – Rs. 299 (plus taxes)