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Food parade in a colonial ambience


AMITABH CHAUDHARY, the chef at the Chancery's South Parade, has travelled all over India and to Muscat and Texas. His anecdotes of various dining luminaries across the world could make for absorbing reading. What he does at the South Parade, the 24-hour eatery, is to apply his knowledge to give something that would satisfy the most discerning diner.

The restaurant is named South Parade after the original name of Mahatma Gandhi Road five decades ago. For the British, it was the lifeline of Bangalore, which was essentially a Cantonment town. South Parade has most activities revolving around entertainment, lazing around, having short eats, and indulging in full-scale dining. The restaurant looks over M.G. Road and captures the spirit, essence, and experience of the past. The interiors draw inspiration from the British Raj with wood-edge glass looking over the lobby. Gothic architecture is incorporated in its teakwood high windows, Italian marbles, and panels. The restaurant itself invokes further nostalgia as it is lined with antique original photographs of the then South Parade, depicting the life in the good old days. Old Bangalore architecture at the entrance of the restaurant and the geometric patterned tiles on the floor, add to the ambience in this 70-cover eatery.

The cuisine is authentic British, including the colonial Mulligatawny soup (Rs. 55), Welsh rarebit, a cheese savoury (Rs. 60), scotch woodcock (Rs. 90), a savoury dish of anchovies on a toast and cullen skink (it is the famed Scottish soup of potato and fish, Rs. 65). You can order the Scotch broth (Rs. 65) — a barley soup with finely chopped vegetables and lamb, even cock-a-leekie (a Welsh chicken soup, Rs. 65).

The main course in the vegetarian section offers Whitley goose (Rs. 150), a traditional dish from Whitley Bay on the coast near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There are no geese in this dish, but it is a very cheesy affair. Carlings (a north Umbrian green peas and fine herbs cake served with traditional tomato sauce), broccoli flan (Rs. 150), and Scottish spinach roll (Rs. 150, stuffed with cheese) are some of the delicacies. Non-vegetarians can treat themselves to fish and chips (Rs. 265), Cornish buttered lobster (priced at Rs. 450, it is a simple lobster recipe that helps bring out the full flavour of the crustacean). There is also baked pomfret with gooseberry sauce and Cumberland stuffed fish with mustard sauce (Rs. 165 each).

Those fond of Indian flavours can bite into a dozen kababs and curries (Rs. 125 to Rs. 175) that includes boti-kabab, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, paneer tikka, fish tikka masala, chicken dopyaza, and so on. Each item is served with rice or a choice of Indian breads.

The restaurant serves an authentic and exclusive dish called lamb cutlet reform. This, explains chef Amitabh, was invented in 1830 by the head chef of the Reform Club Alexis Soyre, a favoured club of the parliamentarians. He also adds that people who stay at the Chancery are regular diners at the South Parade. "They look for variety and thus we offer lunch/dinner buffet every day at Rs. 265."

On our day, we sampled the fusion item dahi papri gosht. Papri, a chat item was mixed with gosht in pale gravy and was scrumptious. Mushroom and shallots jhal frazie was another such dish, and there was the intriguing yam aur leek biriyani. We also savoured the palak paneer bhuji, louki celery kofta, fish in soya ginger sauce, and grilled garlic chicken.

Honey/almonds gateaux, eggless fancy pastry, mocca soufflé, maltua, cheena carrot, rasmalai, honey, and nut quiche, apple pie with custard (delicious), bread and butter pudding are some of the dessert items served here.

The restaurant is open from 10.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.. Sandwiches, croissants, burgers, pizzas, fritters, French fries, fish fingers, milk shakes, lassi, et al. along with the speciality teas (Rs. 50) that includes camomile green tea, Darjeeling, orange pekoe, Early Grey, and lemon, are the other delicacies that one could look forward to.

South Parade can be contacted on 2276767.

ARUN BHATIA

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