Pedal to the Plate

When the head of the well-known Chennai based TI Cycles, part of the Murugappa Group, approached Ashish Thadani, the CEO of TI Absolute Concepts, the meeting was nothing short of serendipitous. He wanted him to set up a restaurant/café along the lines of those found in Europe – where cycling and good food go hand in hand. Ashish has been a passionate cyclist for close to a decade. Thus was born Ciclo [Italian for cycle; pronounced Cheek-lo], a café serving global fusion cuisine.

The restaurant echoes the cycling theme from the outer façade itself. As you enter, a cycle placed against a wall leads to an area where some of the best known cycle brands of the world are on display; along with accessories, and the helpful staff are happy to show you around. For those who love these two wheel rides, they can be bought or hired by the hour or day. The café also provides maintenance and services for bikers, who can have a bite while their rides get fixed. Already successful in Chennai, Ciclo is all about promoting cycling. The cycle theme is everywhere – from the chains used as wall accents in the bar; to a stylised clock made with the same; wheels as part of chandeliers and the metal parts of cycles doubling up as the legs of the tables.

As for the food? A word of advice – go there when you are hungry. Seriously. The portions are quite generous and you can only do justice to what you order if you have worked up a good appetite. From the starters to the dessert, everything is enough for two people; and you don’t mind the prices that are slightly on the higher side, given the proportions.

The starters included Coconut fried Prawns with a mango jalapeno sauce; where the slightly spicy sauce balanced the neutral texture of the prawns; Lemon Butter Chilli Potato, which took the world’s most loved tuber to another level; and the Steamed Bao, stuffed with teriyaki mushrooms and kimchi, which was a great option for those who love their fungi. The scene stealer here was the Oven Dried Olive and Tomato Puff, served with Wasabi Mayo. The pungency of the wasabi pushed through the blandness of the mayo and laced the tomatoes and olives with a fiery aftertaste. It won my vote for the must-have entrée at Ciclo.

puff

Next to come was a Quinoa, Beetroot and Orange salad, which to my mind could do with a dressing that livens it up. I skipped the Tiger Burger, made with lamb and cheddar, but the general consensus on the table was that the meat was a bit too rare for Indian tastes. Then came the Ciclo Full house pizza – laden with colourful bell peppers, olives, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and jalapenos – a real treasure for vegetarians. And the best part? You don’t have to order a full pizza, you can order by the slice too. Ciclo has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans, so it makes for a perfect place to go to, if you are an assorted bunch of gourmands.

salad

Mains included a Barley and Cottage Cheese Construct, strictly for health food lovers in my opinion. Being a junk food junkie, this dish did not quite excite my palate. But the Quinoa and Ragi Crèpe with leek and mushrooms, tomato cream and smoked scarmorza that everyone at the table loved, should be a mascot for fusion cuisine. Ragi, so inherently a part of the local diet, and quinoa and crepes, both western concepts, synergised perfectly in a medley of flavours and taste. If you love to experiment with your food, this is your go to dish.

ragi-crepe

The non-vegetarian mains included a Black Pepper and Chilli rubbed Grilled Chicken, with potato wedges and carrots; Grilled Kasundi Rawas – a delicious concoction of the Indian salmon, marinated in a mustard based marinade from West Bengal, and served with a parsley mash and zucchini puree; and Prawn stuffed Chicken, with a spinach mash and lemon butter sauce. The Grilled Chicken and the Kasundi Rawas overshadowed the prawn-chicken dish, which lost out due to its overall bland taste.

mustard-fish

Just when I thought I could not eat a morsel more, came the desserts. Baked Philadelphia Cheesecake, Crème Brulee and the divine Bailey’s Ice Cream Pancake. Ice cream infused with the liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and stuffed inside a pancake topped with a dribble of chocolate sauce – it has to be among the top ten desserts I have ever had. Though the cheesecake was tasty too, it paled in comparison to the pancake.

bailey-crepe

Ashish hopes that the café succeeds in promoting the cycling culture in Hyderabad; which is actually, quite active already. But, at the end of the ride, if you have a tempting breakfast or a delicious meal to look forward to at Ciclo, then it would be double the fun.

Ciclo Café, 801, Road No. 36, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. Phone: 040 2355 5511; 079959 91111 Open from 8 am to midnight.

Tuscany’s newest additions

Tuscany, the Italian fine-dining restaurant at The Trident Hotel, recently launched its new menu. What constitutes a new menu, you might ask? Well, besides adding new dishes on to an already extensive menu, it is a chance for the chefs in the kitchen to explore their creativity, use the fresh winter vegetables available, and by doing so, give patrons something new.
Executive Chef Manik Magotra informs us that based on feedback from patrons, and the change of seasons, inspired them to come up with the dishes that have been added to the menu. Besides using a variety of mushrooms, the good news is that there are now several vegetarian dishes on the menu, which means the herbivores among us, don’t have to stick to a few tried and tested options.
The meal, accompanied as always, with a full bodied red wine, started with the Aubergine stack, batter fried aubergine layered with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, and saffron cream. The unanimous feedback at the bloggers’ table was that the dish was too bland for the Indian palate.

batter-fried-brinjal-1

But then, the non-veg starter, the Gamberi fritti, a prawn fritter came along. Served with garlic cream and potato chips, this delight of a starter had a myriad flavours tickling my taste buds.

prawn-starter

Choices of soup included a Consommé with chicken mousse tortellini and vegetable julienne; or, the Wild Mushroom Cappuccino – a mushroom soup with a hint of espresso foam and thyme dust. At the Mushroom promotion held earlier, this soup was a winner, and obviously, regular diners at the restaurant too thought so; for Chef Manik to include it into the new menu. Those who chose to have the Consommé vouched for its taste appeal.
The main course too included a mushroom dish – the Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tortellini, with porcini cream, toasted hazelnuts and truffle oil. Delicately flavoured so as not to overpower the taste of the mushrooms, this is for those who love fungi.

mushroom-main

This was followed by the Bacon wrapped Chicken, filled with spinach and ricotta, and served with mashed potatoes, tomatoes and green beans. A little dry on the palate, this dish needed a bit of sauce to give it a boost.

chicken-bacon

The last option, the Beetroot Risotto, served with orange segments, arugula and goat cheese, was the prettiest version of beetroot I have seen. A lovely pink, the risotto was as filling as it was tasty.

beetroot-risotto

Dessert. At Tuscany, you absolutely must leave space for some. Chef Praful is obviously given a free hand to creatively go where few have gone before. Each time, his desserts have us all gushing over their deliciousness; and, the way they are presented. This time was no different. The Lemon Tart, a pretty little concoction served with burnt meringue and raspberry macaroons; and a delicious Homemade Gelati, made with macerated fruits, where the fruits had been churned along with the milk, were apt showstoppers to what was a fine meal.

lemon-tart

No wonder Tuscany is an award winning restaurant that is quite popular with the hotel’s in-house guests and city folk. If its new menu is any indication, Tuscany is going to win some more hearts with its ouvre of delicious Italian fare.

dessert

Tuscany is open only for dinner.

 Tel: 040 66232323

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