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Global tastes on a local street

If you're a foodie, head for Church Street that houses several eat-out joints, each promising to be different from the other.

There is a restuarant for every palate and wallet.

PEOPLE HAVEN'T started calling it Food Street, but a walk down Church Street fills your senses (especially of aromas and taste) like nothing else. The street has food joints catering to diverse palates and pockets — Chinese to Japanese, Punjabi to Kerala, Andhra to Avadhi, and everything else in between.

Start with the Brigade Road end and duck into dark, mysterious Oasis, the place for exquisite seafood such as prawns, oysters, and fish Peshawari prepared in coconut oil. The spicy Kerala fish curry with rice, a couple of beers, and you are ready to take on the rest of the day. A table for two can fit in for a comfortable Rs. 250.

Step back on the street and the neon light next-door flashes — NASA. The blaring music at this tinsel pub makes it impossible to hear one's own voice. With the bartender in the captain suit, the pictures of astronauts on the walls and the interior created to resemble a space shuttle, this place promises to take you off your feet. The menu sounds even better. It has intercontinental ballistic missiles (a potent mix of six drinks), and others such as UFO, star wars, alien invasions, light years away, and twilight zone. The drinks are priced slightly higher, but the service is quite impressive.

Further down the road, Queens is a den for a perfect evening with homely service. The restaurant, Queens, serves delicious North Indian cuisine with phulka — the only place in town where this special chapati is available. Baingan ka bharta, mutton rogan kosh, jeera alu... the enormous list making it difficult to choose from. Kheer and gajar ka halwa are the special desserts served here. Well, next time you wish to be here, be prepared to wait for 15 minutes or more, and if you are the lucky one you get a table without prior reservation.

From North Indian to Japanese, it's only a hopping distance to Dahlia, opposite Queens. The waiters here are definitely not Japanese, but the food is. The chef prepares an expansive array of authentic Japanese food such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, and teri yaki. If you wish to fold your legs and have food the Japanese way, then have it on the tatami, the Japanese mat. Japanese and Korean delegates and businessman who regularly visit this place don't find the prices steep, but they can be really heavy for Indian pockets.

Brown and White is a mall cafeteria next to Queens, a place to grab a bite in the evening. Built the American way, it serves burgers and sandwiches (that's how this place got its name) with awesome toppings to choose from.

Walking further down the road, Three Quarter Chinese on the left, doesn't restrict itself to the name, but serves Avadhi too. Regular Chinese dishes are on the menu and the special Lucknow kababs and gosht can surely savour many non-vegetarian diners, but for those who love the Lucknow delicacies, the place has been a disappointment. Well, it's a new place on the street and the bowling alley on the first floor does help attract people.

Back to South Indian cuisine at Coconut Grove.This eating joint on Church Street is divided into three sections, not because it serves different kind of food, but for its open top, a thatched roof cover, and a full covered room. Pandi curry from Coorg, sorpatel from Konkan, and Chettinad preparations are the specialty that attracts foreign tourists here. Coconut Grove with its reasonable prices is a joint one can visit with family on a quiet evening.

Kaycee's is a place for the executives. It serves buffet lunch and snacks. The place opens during lunch and people from nearby office flock here for a bite. An underground parking place used as an open cafeteria is a good place for a quick lunch.

The Andhra special, Bheema's, is also a regular place for most families. Andhra style thali and the Biryani sure taste good. While coming to the end of the street, it is time for the most happening place on Church Street — Java City. This hot hangout has a jazz band playing live on Sunday evenings. Pastries, sandwiches, and salads are a go along with the exquisite varieties of coffee. Both traditional and international flavours of coffee are served till 1 a.m..

US Pizza, which is beside Java City, is another fast food joint on the street. True to its name, Mexican Passion, Texas BBQ, Hawaiian Escapade, Calzone, are the names of the pizzas and burgers. The special lunch packs are designed with different combination of pizzas, burgers, and fries to suit Indian tastes.

As we come to the end of our journey, the popular Bengali hangout stands at the juncture of St. Mark's and Church Street. K.C. Das sells a variety of sweets, rosogulla, sandesh, radha vallabhi, and luchi, have the typical taste of the Bengali palate. The mishti dahi (sweet curd) is perhaps the most popular dish. Standing by the Bengali tradition, the amazing low prices can call in for a party anytime.

Church Street has always been a paradise for food lovers. The narrow lane stays awake till 11 at night. A walk down the street into the food parlours gives you a great option to choose from.


Photos: Sampath Kumar G.P.

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