Restaurant Review: Ballal Residency

Posted on March 7, 2011

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Every once in a while D and I catch a morning show; this weekend we saw the awesomely made The King’s Speech. Colin Firth was absolutely sensational. After a long time, I saw a movie that gripped me for its entire duration. But this post is not about The King’s Speech; it’s about the lunch we had after the movie.

D was keen on a vegetarian, south Indian meal and we decided to make our way to the Ballal Residency; more specifically the Palmgrove restaurant. Some friends had recommended the Ballal thali lunch but we had never got round to sampling it, so we decided to remedy the situation. Ballal Residency is located off the Residency Road and ’cause the road allows traffic only one way, you have to carefully plan your route to the restaurant. You drive down Brigade Road and at the junction turn left onto Residency Road. Be quick and nimble and get to the right (other) side of the road. Do so quickly ’cause you have to take the first right turn off Residency Road and there is not a lot of road between the junction you turn left at and the lane you turn right in. If you miss it then you have to drive round the whole block to make another pass. Ballal Residency is located at the end of the lane that is officially known as Residency Road 3rd Cross.

As the name suggests, Ballal Residency is a hotel and has a largish campus. There is ample car parking which is a boon in the center of town. The restaurant is a huge dining hall that can comfortably seat 60-75 people. The spacious, bright and airy dining hall makes up for its old style decor. You are offered a rather large menu and in the true tradition of the fancier Bangalore darshinis, the restaurant will offer you not only set meals but also a wide choice of South Indian snacks, juices and North Indian curries with rotis and parathas. Of course everything on the menu is vegetarian. We were there for the thali (set meal) and without a lot of fuss ordered the standard South Indian meal. On offer is also a standard Punjabi (sic!) thali and both the South Indian and the Punjabi thalis are available in a deluxe or special variant. We also ordered the Bhindi (Okra) Fry on the side.

The thali was all that it should be. There was rasam and sambar with brinjal & drumsticks and heerakai (ridge gourd) curry and yam kootu. There was a small portion of corn & freshly grated coconut salad, two kinds of pickles, a bowl of curd and to round off the meal Ada Pradhaman (raw rice payasam/sweet) . You have the option of choosing pooris or rotis for your first course; we chose pooris. The food was excellent and piping hot. Surprisingly and thankfully nothing in the thali was spicy. Rasam is my favourite aperitif (I know rasam has no alcohol but it still is an aperitif) and this one was true to its calling – peppery and fire hot. The heerakai curry had a coconut base and was nice and thick with the heerakai well cooked and without the annoying threads that stick in your teeth from an improperly cleaned heerakai . The yam kootu was well cooked but crunchy to taste. Your second course is this massive serving of rice. I could barely finish half of it but is was lovely with the brinjal & drumstick sambar. I needed more sambar than what was served but instead of asking for more, I simply mixed the little remaining rasam and curd. It’s difficult to fully express the taste of this combination – rice, sambar, curd with some pickle and appalam (pappad) – its warm, filling (in a nice way), slightly tangy, a little bit spicy and a whole lot satisfying. The Ada Pradhaman was nice and sweet but a little too rich for my taste. Perhaps it was all that poori and rice I had filled myself with, but I couldn’t finish the payasam. I didn’t try the Bhindi fry but D informs me that it was nice, well cooked and the masala was different from the rest of the food; it was as if the restaurant was trying to make up for lack of meat by using the meat masala in the Bhindi fry.

For Rs. 110/- the Ballal thali is a bargain. It tastes wonderful and satiates your vegeterian cravings. The service is friendly and adequate. This is now my second most favourite place to get a vegeterian South Indian thali in Bangalore.

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