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Fine spread in a spacious villa



Herbs and Spices: The ambience of an elegant, ancestral house

HERBS AND Spices, an 80-cover restaurant in Whitefield, can fool you into thinking that you have trespassed into someone's elegant, ancestral house built a few decades ago. The restaurant, in a villa, is situated amid three acres of landscaped surroundings, clipped hedges, white geese waddle, and honk.

It was a dilapidated villa till last year, when - Deepak Jaya and Padmanabhan Kolar - spruced it up. In the manor-like feel of the interiors, you feel like a guest in an aristocrat's abode, complete with carved temple pillars, period tables, wooden staircases, and huge corridors.

As the men worked on Princess Cruise Lines luxury ships, they have travelled abroad extensively, and the menu is a proof of their experience and exposure to various cuisines. Chefs in their own establishments, Padmanabhan handles the desi (Mughlai, Chettinad, and Goan) dishes, and Deepak takes charge of the continental variety.

Just a glance at the starters shows the net is cast wide. Crab quiche (Rs. 110) is a gently sautéed crab meat baked with a scallion and seasoning in a short crust. It is served with jalapeno chilli salsa. "People have the mistaken notion that jalapeno peppers are hot but they come in many varieties," explains Deepak. Frist misto (Rs. 110) is golden fried shrimps and calamari with roasted onion dip.

Then there are chicken and cheese toquito (Rs. 90, juliennes of chicken and grated cheese rolled in corn tortillas,) stuffed mushrooms (Rs. 75), bruschetta (Rs. 75, plum tomatoes tossed with olive oil and fresh basil on garlic bread.) One could also opt for chilles rellenos (Rs. 60, jalapenos stuffed with cheddar cheese and crumb fried), Caesar salad with Cajun chicken breast, while their insalata medierranea is an exquisite salad of tomato, pepper, lettuce, cottage cheese, and black olive in balsamic vinegar.

The soups, priced between Rs. 40 and Rs. 60, include bouillabaisse (fish and seafood clear soup served with toasted garlic bread), chicken consomme, minestrone, cream of mushroom (flavoured with tarragon), and gazpacho (chilled vegetable soup with celery, cucumber, pepper, and tomatoes).

The main courses follow the same "globe trotting" pattern. The list includes shrimp fradiavlo (flammbeed in brandy and fiery tomato sauce served with saffron rice, Rs. 190), psari me saliza (Greek fish fillet delicacy stuffed with creamy spinach Rs. 140), and the intriguing jerk chicken, so called from a Jamaica seasoning named jerk. This marinated roasted chicken is served with brown rice.

For the vegetarians there is vegetable burrito (vegetables, red beans, and shredded mozzarella cheese rolled in soft tortilla, Rs. 105). It is served with Caesar salsa and sour cream. The garbanzo cheese steak (Rs. 105) is made of chickpeas (kabuli chana) and cottage cheese and is served on a sizzler with a Caribbean sauce.

The restaurant also offers pastas, served with one's choice of sauces selected from mushroom, tomato, basil-olive or cheese.

Desi starters, priced between Rs. 60 and Rs. 120, include macchhi tika ajwaini, tandoori pomfret, jhinga anari, tandoori murgh, murgh tikka, shikampuri sheekh kabab, aloo chatpata, and saunfia paneer tikka. Dals, tamatar-adraki murgh shorbas (soups), and Chettinad kozhi saaru also find a place in the menu.

The Indian main course section features milloni tarkari (a Hyderabad specialty), Kerala vegetable stew (best eaten with appams), sarson da saag, bharwan paneer ke soole (cottage cheese chunks in creamy tomato gravy), and so on for the vegetarians.

For non-vegetarians, there is Chettiar's meen puzhi kozhambu , methi wali macchhi, prawn balchao, jhinga tava masala, chicken chettinad, and methi murgh to name a few.

The curries can be relished with pulaos, appams, rotis, naans, or parathas. These are priced from Rs. 15 to Rs. 40, and the biryanis are priced between Rs. 80 and Rs. 110.

A meal is never complete without desserts. And at Herbs and Spices, one can choose shrikhand, khubani ka meetha (stewed apricots), gulab jamun, kahlua mousse or tiramisu (a not-to-be-missed item).

Lunch is served between noon and 3 p.m. and dinner between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m..

Herbs and Spices can be contacted on 8452803/98440-31143.

ARUN BHATIA

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