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    A well known American chain Howard Johnson debuts in the city

    WHEN we heard that a Howard Johnson (also known as HOJO) was up and running near the Manyata Tech Park, we were not too impressed, going by the HOJO experiences we were familiar with in the United States – budget motel type spots with very little excitement by way of food or service. But this Howard Johnson is different — all shiny glass and chrome, with bright interiors. From the moment we stepped through smart foyer and were ushered into the dining area upstairs, we were pleasantly surprised by the upmarket vibe.

    Fusion flavours
    The bar list is quite impressive and we started with our bartenders’ litmus test — classic gin martinis. They were served with a flourish, in individual cocktail shakers, properly chilled glasses and with the right number of skewered olives. The bartender also shook up a decent pink lady and a refreshing orange mojito with fresh orange juice. We nibbled on soft creamy paneer tikka and well-marinated spicy murgh tikka which melted in the mouth, a bite-sized mixed vegetable cutlet and pudina fish nuggets madefrom very fresh basa. To pamper our palates further, we had a surprise platter of fried haloumi cheese, the subtle salt complementing our drinks nicely.

    Mainlining it
    The chef also whipped up an impromptu spaghetti carbonara, deliciously combined with egg and parmesan cheese. Mixed seafood
    cooked in the sous-vide fashion, a melange of prawns, salmon and calamari came as another surprise. For the mains, we tasted kotamari kozhi, a South Indian chicken dish flavoured with mint and coriander. The chicken was fork tender and delicately spiced, which made a nice contrast to the robust rogan josh and the dal makhani — rich with butter and cream. Orange-scented mascarpone
    cream-filled cannelloni and a shooter of orange juice laced with coffee powder made a perfect ending to our gourmet meal. And a shot of espresso that kept us from going into a food coma! RS.1,400++ for two including alcohol.Details: 30407100
    —Frances Rao

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