I work in Whitefield. The drive from Airport road to my office is like a treacherous and painful way to kill time – which is inevitable when you are stuck behind the wheel of a car moving at 5 km/hr. Thank God for small mercies, the Alila Barbeque night was a hop, skip and short drive from office. And Friday night I’m always in a jubilant mood, no matter what tragedies transpire during the week!
This was an invitation to the CaL Bloggers table to experience Alila’s take on Friday night bbq. Now almost everyone I know loves a bbq night. But no one has the time or the patience to marinate the meat in advance, set up the grill, stand around while your burger patty gets cooked and then wait for someone to plate it! So Alila lets us skip all the prepping and just enjoy a good bbq night with a couple of friends and fun cocktails. And with weather like in Bangalore, it almost seems ridiculous that no one thought about the idea before!
The table members trickled in one by one (I came in a proud second – working in Whitefield has one advantage!) and the usual greeting shenanigans began. Rounds of drinks were ordered – Pomegranate Martinis (which came in a funky double glass), Cardamom Lemonades, Pineapple Mojitos, Peach Daiquiris, Pina Coladas and Strawberry and Chilli Martinis. Not all the cocktails were up to the mark with respect to the flavor balance, but the peach daiquiri and the pina colada were fabulous. The strawberry and chilli concoction had the right amount of sweet, tart and spice to make your palate sing. My pineapple mojito hit the nail on the head but some others were not too lucky. (I would suggest using canned pineapple chunks to avoid having to ungraciously pull out the pith from your mouth!)
The last of the table guests arrived exactly one hour after I did and by that time, I was tipsy and ravenously hungry. The hotel used their café and garden area to set up the grilling stations. Five grilling stations with different menus were raring to cater to the crowd. (There were quite a few Whitefielders who had already warmed up to the idea of an evening bbq!) If I remember correctly there was a Vegetarian station, Western Char Grill Station, Arabic Grill Station, Indian Grills and a Grilled dessert section.
I started with the Vegetarian grills. They tried to make it exciting with Paprika Smoked Vegetable Brochettes, Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Summer Squash and a couple of other veggies. I like the maple glazed sweet potatoes the best. It’s a tried and tested combo so you can’t really go wrong! But on the whole, I thought the vegetarian offerings paled in comparison to the meat line up.
I pretty much hung out at the Western Grills section. It had all the things I like to tick off on my bbq hit list! (I took a pic of this menu to help me recollect what I liked). The Thai Fish Cakes packed a flavor punch and I went back many times for these. Oh and how can I forget the Lamb Chops – marinated in a hoisin sauce and perfectly cooked, it definitely deserved a recco. I eyed the Bulgogi with some longing, but I’ve given up on beef – so I had to be content on just letting the delicious aromas tickle my nose.
The Arabic Grill section was an interesting addition. Surprisingly they chose to ignore the ubiquitous shawarma for more interesting offerings. The surprise package was one that stayed true to the adage that ‘all good things come in small packages’ – the Grilled Sardines. My cats eat canned sardines for lunch – so I’ve never really associated the fish with anything other than cat food. But this one converted me. Hot and Crispy, seasoned with a hara (harissa) sauce – they were almost like fish chips. Snack-a-licious! They served Koobeideh (Iranian minced meat kebab), Chicken Kefta Kebab and Arabian Style Wings as well.
Each barbeque station had accompaniments that supported their main grills. Right from soft Dinner Rolls, Burger Buns, Pita Breads and Naan to Nasi Goreng and even Arabian Maklouba Rice. Apart from these you can find a decent salad range to complement your meats. (I recommend the Bacon and Potato Salad and the Couscous Salad).
The Indian grills section had the usual – Malai Chicken, Hariyali Chicken, Tandoori Phool, Achari Tandoori Aloo and Tulsi Paneer Tikka. This seemed like the only station that had a little something more for vegetarians. Nothing to get excited about, but a hearty set of dishes nevertheless, to cater to people who prefer Indian cuisine. (I saw a table comprising three generations of a family, celebrating the octogenarian’s birthday that night!).
The dessert section is one that left me the least impressed. I wanted the Mango Malpua but was saddened to find that it really doesn’t lend itself well to grilling. The Grilled Muffins were a brave attempt, but just felt like it’s sole purpose was to beef up the dessert menu. Grilled fruits completed the sorry trilogy. I just helped myself to a scoop of ice cream and heaped on some very interesting preserves (strawberry balsamic, cherry and orange marmalade) they had laid out. After the novelty wore off, I ordered the Frozen Peach Daiquiri and made that my dessert instead!
The Alila Friday Barbeque night is a wonderful way to spend time outdoors with your family or a large group of friends. The ambience and relaxed vibe add an almost holiday like charm to the place. (If you’re driving from afar – it might actually seem like a holiday!). The service is pleasant but maybe a couple of more hands could ensure that the customers are not kept waiting for their food. The vegetarians might find the offerings a tad unimaginative and limited. But for the non-vegetarians, it’s a veritable feast. And at a price of Rs.1199/- all inclusive, Alila makes it quite hard to resist.
P.S. If you’re too drunk and don’t want to drive back home – I suggest staying the night over. The room rates are reasonable and you wake up to a lovely pool and Saturday morning brekkie!
Varthur Main Road,
Cost: Rs.1199/ – All inclusive for Friday Night Barbeque
Parking: Valet Available