BON SOUTH, BANGALORE
A Cosmopolitan with champagne? As the perfect accompaniment to Thengai Paal soup? Stranger things have been known to happen at “fine dining” south Indian restaurants in Bangalore.
Late on a Sunday evening Bon South in Koramangala is chock-a-block with diners. We grudgingly opted for a window table as all the open-air balconies were already occupied.
Uppu Kari served at Bon South is lamb cooked with shallots and curry leaves.
Besides the indoor and outdoor dining areas (spread over three floors, the restaurant can seat 220 guests), there is a small enclosed lounge bar, a conference room, two private dining areas and a live kitchen.
A long, painted sari—let’s call it a sari mural—covers the wall on all three floors, and tracks you as you go up in the glass lift. Soft lighting, world music and artworks that depict various aspects of south India complete the picture.
Bon South, by the same firm that runs the vegetarian South Indies in Indiranagar, can’t really be considered south Indian until you look at the menu.
The good stuff
The bar menu has an elaborate wine list, and some interesting champagne cocktails such as Cosmique (half champagne, half Cosmopolitan), that I couldn’t try because the bar wasn’t completely stocked as yet. I opted for a Caipiroska, with the perfect mix of sugar, mint and vodka.
The Arrati Puvu Garelu—a starter of deep-fried banana flowers (an Andhra Pradesh staple)—was light and mildly spicy. The Chemeen Porichatu, (prawns deep-fried with chilly paste) was crisp on the outside, succulent inside. The Thengai Paal Soup—finely cut vegetables dunked in a light coconut milk base seasoned with garlic—was refreshing.
If you are feeling experimental, try the Kane Bezule, a Mangalorean fish speciality. The taste of lady fish is an aquired taste. Another non-vegetarian speciality, the most expensive item on the menu, is Malla Yetti Neerulli, herb-flavoured lobster cooked in tomato and shallots.
The main course is served with a variety of appams and Kerala parotas. The neer dosas are soft and thin. For dessert, try the Elaneer Payasam, tender coconut morsels in coconut milk and cardamom—light and mildly sweet—and end the meal with Degree Kaapi, good old filter coffee.
Bon South is a good alternative to a five-star hotel business lunch, especially if you want to introduce your guest to food from the four states of south India. The restaurant is Wi-Fi enabled. The servers are quick and attentive, without being over-enthusiastic.
Some of the dishes are too rich for a health-conscious diner’s liking. The Harasoppu Huli, or dal cooked with greens, and Ennai Kathirikai (ennai means oil), baby brinjals in a tangy sauce, were far too oily. The Aatukkal soup or the lamb soup was appetizing, but the flavour of the meat and the spices got lost in its thin, watery consistency.
A meal for two without alcohol costs around Rs1,200. Dishes start at Rs100 (for a simple Cabbage Onion Vada starter) and go up to Rs900 for Malla Yetti Neerulli.
AROMATHAI FOOT SPA, MUMBAI
The AromaThai foot spa is inconspicuously located in a leafy lane in Pali Hill, Bandra.
As you enter, you are given a platter of aroma oils to choose from. I chose lavender over lemon grass, mint and jasmine. A petite Thai woman introduced herself as my therapist and started with a foot scrub and wash. I opted for the Ananda Thai massage and the Sukhothai Silver, which meant that I would be getting a foot massage and a facial simultaneously, along with a back, hand, neck and head massage later—all in 90 minutes.
The good stuff
The spa makes good use of the compact space it is housed in. As I sank into the soft reclining chair, my therapist handed me a pillow and tucked me in with towels. She applied techniques of foot reflexology and acupressure that Thai massages are famous for, wrapped my foot in a warm towel, and moved on to the other. The experience was rejuvenating and non-messy. There are a limited number of options to choose from, but the treatments are reasonably priced and the balms and oils used are light.The not-so-good
A Sukhothai Silver in progress at AromaThai.
With no private treatment rooms, the ambience is more salon than spa. So expect phones to go off in the middle of your therapy. And although the facial was relaxing, there was nothing to show for it on my skin later.Talk plastic
The 35-minute foot massage costs Rs450; the hour-long option, Rs690. The Ananda Thai is for Rs1,290 and the combo of foot massage and facial is for Rs1,490. Manicure and pedicure start at Rs750.