Coconut Grove (Bangalore, India)

Cross-posted from


Sadly, this is another review with no photos, because we dined at Coconut Grove during the period in which we were PowerShot-less (which we remedied later the same night).

We visited Coconut Grove on a Sunday evening in a large group; when we arrived, we had the run of the place (and it is not small). The dining area is a large open patio, with coconut trees and tile floors. The food is served on banana leaves and the beverages in copper cups. I haven’t been to Kerala yet, but I assume that they’re going for an authentic Keralan feel.

“The” thing to order at Coconut Grove (and other Keralan restaurants, I’m told) is appams – the appam is to Keralan food what naan, rotis, and chappatis are to the cuisines of other parts of India. It is simply a round rice batter pancake, but it’s thick and spongy in the middle, and is perfect for soaking up delicious coconutty curries. I was also told that they’re wonderful with a fried egg on top, but we had to save something for our next visit.

We ordered several curries for the table:

  • Chicken Stew – the most popular appam accompaniment, a coconut curry with chicken and potatoes. I was actually a bit disappointed by this one, as the flavors were bland compared to the other spicy tomato-ey curries that we ordered.
  • Veggie Stew – a vegetarian version of the above.
  • Kuraliach Kadi – crabs in a fiery red masala with a hint of tamarind. Spicy and delicious, but lots of work dissecting the crab.
  • Nadan Chemeen Curry – this was basically the same as the Kurialach Kadi, but with prawns instead of crabs. The prawns were slightly less flavorful than the crab meat, but much easier to eat, so I think this dish actually wins for overall enjoyment (we ended up ordering a second round of this one).
  • Kozhi Melagu – a Chettinad chicken dish with a masala curry and black pepper. Yum.

Coconut Grove was delicious and fun. I can’t wait to go back with the camera.

Coconut Grove
No. 86, Spencers Building, Church Street
Bangalore 560 001, India
+(91) (80) 25596149

Hotel de l’Orient (Pondicherry, India)

Cross-posted from


All of the India guidebooks rave about the excellent French food in Pondy. From my experience so far, I’m not quite convinced, as most of the places we’ve checked out seem to offer generic “continental” food that often appears more Italian than French and not particularly exciting. Last night we took a short walk to check out menus at three of the restaurants that both the Rough Guide and the Lonely Planet recommended: Madame Shante’s, Rendezvous, and Le Club. We found all of them rather uninspiring, but along the way we passed the Hotel de l’Orient, and were compelled by the gorgeous setting and live music to stay for dinner.

The hotel is a beautiful converted heritage house in the French Quarter. Like many of Pondicherry’s heritage houses, it features a lovely open-air central courtyard, which is where they’ve set up the restaurant. There were a couple of musicians playing guitars and singing American and British piano-bar-favorites with French accents (an effect made even stranger by the fact that they were Tamil).

I would classify the food at l’Orient as “French-Creole” rather than strictly French; many of the dishes on the menu were obviously French takes on Indian dishes, like curries and local South Asian vegetables.

We were very hungry when we arrived. We ordered a citrus salad with dates and figs in a rosewater dressing, a shrimp “cassoulette,” (apparently not a misspelling of “cassoulet”) and a lady finger curry (“lady finger” is the local term for okra). The food took a long time to arrive, and the bread that was placed on our table looked like a baguette, but tasted stale and chewy (typical for India, but a travesty in a town known for its French food and pastries). The salad was refreshing and quite a nice combination. The shrimp cassoulette was rich and creamy, in a green sauce that we wanted to lick off the plate. It was served with roasted potatoes, which soaked up the extra sauce nicely. The lady finger curry was enjoyable for the first few bites, but there was some strong flavor in the sauce that I tired of quickly.

Courtyard restaurant

Ladyfinger Creole curry

Shrimp “cassoulette”

The food was good but not amazing. The service was gracious and polite but slow. The ambience was fantastic. Overall, it was a very nice romantic setting for dinner in Pondy, and likely better – and more unique – than most of the “French” restaurants that the guidebooks recommend. And because this is India, we were in and out for about $10 US.

Hotel de l’Orient, Pondicherry
17, Rue Romain Rolland, Pondicherry 605001
Phones: 0413-2343067, 2343068, 2346589

Coco La Ti Da Kaput

I’ve been meaning to try Coco La Ti Da – the trendy new dessert spot in the Loveless Building just off Broadway – for a few months. Vidya raved about a great dessert experience there, and a former Microsoft employee that Kenny and I know even landed a job there as a baker.

Well, I guess I’ll never end up trying it – it seems chef Sue McCown has already thrown in the towel. Their website still exists (and features photos of many gorgeous desserts), but supposedly they’ve stopped answering the phone and potential business owners are already touring the space.

Wincing the Night Away

I like the new Shins album. I finally got around to reading Seattle Weekly’s feature from January about The Shins and how they have helped Sub Pop move out of the grunge era. The article even credits The Shins with attracting quite a few other bands to the label. One snippet I found amusing:

The record the Shins have made, Wincing the Night Away, is a boldly produced, sonically dense record that stretches the band’s retro pop sound into broader, spacier territory. Anyone looking for the jangly, Brian Wilson-esque numbers of Chutes Too Narrow will need to check their expectations at the door.

While I agree that this album is more complex than the first two, I still hear Brian Wilson all over it. The first time I heard “Phantom Limb” (on KEXP via my alarm clock one morning) I actually wondered whether it was The Beach Boys, but it also reminded me of The Shins and then I remembered that a new Shins album was imminent. The Beach Boys comparison had never even occurred to me with Chutes Too Narrow, which the reviewer seems to think was the more Brian Wilson-esque album.

And “Pam Berry” sounds like Travis to me.

I’m going to see them at the Paramount tomorrow (even though I hate the Paramount for concerts). I hope the theatre isn’t full of Garden State fans who think that “New Slang” changed their lives.

P.S. The 6-CD changer in my car broke last spring (fortunately it was under warranty). I took it to the dealer to get it repaired, which they did very quickly and for free, and when I got my car back the CDs that had been inside the changer were mysteriously gone. No one at the dealership seemed to know anything about it. One of those CDs was Chutes Too Narrow, which I still need to replace. Grrrr. Thank god for Rhapsody.