Church Street On Invitation

Street Food - a la Church Street Social

Tuesday, March 17, 2015Me! In words

There is something about lugging all your shopping, standing by the roadside paani puri wala, holding that little paper bowl out and having your fill, right there in the middle of all the traffic, pollution and the elbowing from other patrons around. From hot bhajjis, to biryanis to goli/goti sodas with questionable rims, street food has evolved to be a cuisine in itself... a universe you can happily lose yourself in every time and find something new. I know I have - floating paani puri, teetar kebabs, beef fries and idiappams, rasgulla chaats... but I digress.

Church Street Social (CSS) has a street food special going on, but they have taken it one level up. As is customary with bloggers tables such as this one, there was an overload of food and drink. So I will pick what stood out for me and will tell you about some that was so brilliant I ate it before I photographed it! There were a few misses as well.

I remember a biryani stand I used to frequent ages ago. After gobbling a plateful, it was a goli soda from a strategically placed cart that completed the job. Now if I had sodas CSS style back then, I would have been a much happier soul. Pick from a range of six sodas or go in for a crate - For me the Masaledaar Nimboo Paani and the Raspberry Cream Soda Vodka (it will bring back happy memories of that Ice Cream Soda game) were two thumbs up each. The White Rum Roof Afza did not work for me thanks to Roof Afza which is still an acquired taste. The same goes for the Gin and Ginger Limca - the wrong ingredients overpowering.

The Banarasi Patiyala with Rum - Ganne ka Ras, sugarcane juice freshly pressed at the bar, topped with a patiyala peg (90ml) of rum which packed a solid punch. Sprinkle on some chaat masala for that added kick and give this age old street thirst quencher a whole new avatar. 

By far my favourite set of drinks - shots made by childhood favorites - Mango Bite, Hajmola, Pan Pasand and Kaccha Aam. Order a set of them in a glass jar filled with ice and shoot! Potent mind you, transporting you immediately to that tiny store outside your school that you used to run to with your pocket money.

A stream of Bhajjis came flowing to the table. Each with just the right amount of batter coating, hot enough to turn you juggler and the inside deliciously sinful. The Ballistic Bhajji - chilli bhajjis with the sweet-sour chutney, tamarind, chilli, jaggery I think it was said, was lovely with that single wrap of molten cheese around the chilli. Slice in half and eat, rather than take bitefuls. 

Chicken Lollipop, perfect after a shot - Hot and Crispy on the outside and juicy/spicy on the inside (did I just sound like a KFC ad. Believe me I was not aiming for it). I had a couple of these before it was passed around. 

I did my Masters in Manipal and there was a small cart that we used to frequent. The guy made only Pav Bhaji and used to sell for it Rs 10 back then. I used to pay him the 10 bucks and ask only for the Bhaji. A generous squeeze of lemon and those shredded onions and I was sorted to go back to the TV lab and work. The bhaji in this Sambhaji Pav Bhaji however did not cut it for me. While it did have flavour, the texture was that of tomato puree and that killed it for me completely. 

This Dry Fry Chicken Kebab I loved - it kind of reminded me of the one that Empire serves, but with a tadka of curry leaves. I really liked these and could see them gracing my table with a couple of beers thrown in for good measure. There was also the Prawn Star, spicy, juicy prawns with the tails on that I really liked. Again, I am the types who likes the desi masala type stuff with alcohol. So this paired especially well with the Coronas that seemed to be floating around the table. The Pappadoni - Pepparoni Pizza on a Papad if I were to elongate that short form for you was another great one. Pepparoni bits on a masala papad with flavours to mimic a pizza. Nice interpretation of a masala papad/pepparoni pizza, though it does not really constitute street food.

While the Paani Puri thali was nice, I still prefer mine on the sweltering hot roadside. The Kharare Bhindi ki Videshi Chaat was a brilliant version of chaat. I would never have thought of bhindi doing well in a sweet-tangy-spicy set-up. 

By far my favourite of the small plates - The Mutton Biryani Burrito - greasy affair yes, but the mutton is done beautifully and it comes together as one gorgeous biteful of rice, meat and spices. Two Thumbs for this one. A lot of stuffed parathas made its way to the table and I think it was the Kheema stuffed one that hit all the right notes. Do not miss the freshly churned white butter that makes a generous appearance with every paratha. 

By the time we reached the main course section we were stuffed to the gills and beyond. But we did taste the Nalli Nihari which should have been served with a roti instead of rice. It also was just too thick in terms of consistency. That glistening layer of fat over a thin gravy feel was completely missing. The Pindi Chole was nice and the Sheek Kebab Wellington was quite interesting as well. 

Of the desserts, the Gulab Jamun cheesecake was nothing to talk about. The Tiramisu Softie did better when eaten with the cookie and the Izzat ka Falooda was nice. 

The Church Street Social Street Food Festival is on till the end of the month. The menu is massive and you are not going to be disappointed for choice. An average meal for two with a couple of drinks thrown in will be in the Rs 2500 bracket. 

Address: 46/1 Opp. Empire Hotel, Cobalt Building, Church Street, Bangalore 
Phone: 41713016
Cuisine: Alcohol, breakfast, A mix of everything
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: Valet on weekends

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