|By Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi [ Published Date: January 23, 2010 ]|
Photographs: Nithin Rao Kumblekar
Indians, especially Mangaloreans are gastronomically rich in their habits. For those who watched cowboy movies in the Sixties and the Seventies, authentic American food is not new. Of course globalization has brought little bit of the West to the East.
We have watched Chinese food catching up in the Seventies with a big bang, Italian food invading the palates of younger generations in the Eighties and now, American way is catching up on discerning connoisseurs of Mangalore.
A short walk of two minutes from The Mangalore City Corporation building in Lalbagh on MG Road, through Nehru Avenue Road before reaching Hindi Prachar Samithi, brings us to a cozy, clean and tastefully decorated A/C and Garden ambience of the only place in Mangalore serving authentic Sizzlers at most competitive rates, Sizzler Ranch. Cool Country music by Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson or Kenny Rogers may greet you and lead you through swinging glass door to a ground level lounge and elevated seating deck with matt finish wooden Tables and spacious Cane chairs with plush cushion work. Once you settle down there, you feel like just lazing and munching on some tit bits, sipping a tall refreshing mocktail in your hand.
Sizzler Ranch has a seating capacity of around 65, 35 inside and 30 outside. The interiors are pleasantly designed and the garden is too homely and comfortable to relax and eat with your family and friends. Every evening is a crowded evening and at the weekends, one may have to wait for at least an hour to get seat.
The name itself suggests that this is THE place for authentic sizzlers. It was started by a local young enthusiastic Hotel Management Degree holder from HIT Mumbai, Balakrishna who studied the pattern in which similar restaurants are run in the USA. He has 10 years of experience in running restaurants.
Sizzler Ranch was opened in the year 2008. Initially they had a few sizzlers, a few Chinese dishes and beverages on their menu. Within six months, the response from the customers was so overwhelming, they introduced many more sizzlers and snacks to suit the taste and budget of every class of people frequenting there. Today, most of the visitors are students, IT experts, businessmen, doctors and other professionals and of course local families.
I have tasted couple of sizzlers there like Chicken with veggies, French fries and mushrooms and lamb pepper steak with mushroom and cheese. The meat literally dances in your mouth and the smell of sizzling butter is divine!
As for starters, they have Chicken Wings(Lollypop) with hot garlic dip at Rs.80-/, dry Garlic Chicken balls coated with crumbs or Chicken Nuggets, favourite with the kids at Rs. 80/- and Rs. 100/- or boneless Pepper Chicken at Rs. 60/- and Lamp Pepper at Rs. 140/-. Lamb used here is very tender and juicy. For bigger portions of meat or chicken, try their Grilled diced lamb At Rs. 150/- , Grilled Chicken with chips or Crispy Chicken legs both priced at Rs. 90/-
For seafood lovers, Butter fried Squid is a heavenly dish with amazingly tender squid shallow fried with herbs, spices and butter to perfection. Squid rings melt in your mouth, as you wash it down with a beverage such as fresh lime with soda, Gingerale or Ice Cream soda. Grilled fish and prawns are available and are seasonally priced. Fish fingers with mayonnaise dip is too good.
For vegetarians, they have Baby corn and Mushroom pepper/ginger, Veg/Paneer/Mushroom chilly or Manchurian, all priced at Rs.60/-.
Soups range from Rs. 30/- for a Roasted Tomato and cream soup to Rs. 50/- for Meat Scotch Broth. Of the soups, Tom Yum Soup priced at Rs. 40/- is a bit spicy and goes well with South Indian taste buds. However, Manchow soup seems to be hot favourite with Mangaloereans at Rs. 40/-.
"We use pure spices and authentic ingredients that are mostly available in the local market but we have to get some special ingredients from Mumbai or even import them from the USA. Sizzlers here range from Rs. 120/- to Rs. 255/- but their taste and quality is uncompromised with", says the owner.
Making sizzlers is an art, and they have well trained cooks and helpers arranging the food on the platter and well mannered waiters serving them as fast as possible, so that most of the food is consumed by the customers while it is still hot and sizzling.
"This is what I like the most about this place. Sizzling hot food any time!" says Jivakan Jeremiah, a medical student. Pritam Dugar, his colleague appreciates the quality of food served here. Manu Prakash also agrees with them but they all say, shortage of seating arrangement is a worry for them, especially on weekends. Being students staying in hostels, they have time restriction and they feel it difficult to wait for the seats to get vacant.
"We do have plans to expand, and are looking for a bigger place. We also have plans to open branches in other parts of the city", Balakrishna is firm about it.
"We reserve tables for families and groups, but they have to be on time to occupy their seats so as to avoid disappointment to other clients. It is very difficult to expand the restaurant in the present premises. It also helps to place the order over phone and have them at the table as soon as they arrive" says the manager Santhosh and the Captain Suresh Shetty.
Some of the regulars like Kulyadi Priya Pai and her children Pallavi and Shravan simply love the food here. Their favourites are Fish 'n Chips, Mixed Grill Sizzler and Chicken Sizzler with mushrooms and oyster sauce.
I spoke to three Dental PG students of a renowned Dental College who were seated next to our table. Dr. Anas Abdul Khader, his wife Dr. Amal MB and Dr. Irfan say that they simply love the food here, especially lamb sizzlers. It is a complete meal with lamb chops, veggies, French fries, potato mash, cheese and eggs, they say.
Sanoor Shashidhar Kamath who resides 1KM away says Chinese food is too good here. They normally order soups for children 2-3 starters and 2-3 main course Chinese dishes. "Children do like sizzlers, but are not particular about having them every time" says Mr. Kamath.
Sizzlers Ranch has free door delivery (Within a reasonable distance) and undertake party orders, as per their menu. I normally would order food over phone for my nephew Sweekar Shenoy and bring them myself, since the restaurant is very close to my home. Sweekar likes Grilled Chicken with chips and Lamb fried rice the most. Whenever he visits Sizzler's with his friends, he orders any good sizzler and drink and finishes off the meal with Sizzling brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream.
For kids, they have a special package called "Bounty in a Basket". It has Chicken breasts stuffed with cheese, served on Noodles veggies and fries.
Roshan Rao an amateur photographer comes here often to taste different kinds of sizzlers but his favourite is Chicken Steak Satellite which has mostly mushrooms, cheese and French fries. He also like pepper chicken and his favourite drink is Strawberry Scoop on Coke with cream and crushed ice which costs Rs. 60/-. Videographer Sukumar, who was seen with Mr. Rao said, it was his first visit to Sizzlers Ranch and he liked Chicken Shashlik that has grilled Chicken, fries and veggies served on a bed of rice. It is more than a meal for me, he says as he sips his Gingerale to digest the food.
Arnold comes all the way from Jeppu to taste food here. He says, he was mostly brought up in the Gulf and he is fortunate enough to find such good stuff at most reasonable rates in Mangalore after he settled down with business. Govindaraj who is a young investment consultant likes the Crispy Chicken legs, Lamb Pepper Dry and Butter Fried Squid. In main course dishes, his favourite is mixed fried rice that costs Rs. 60/-.
Srinivas an IT expert from Bangalore says its Chicken sizzler with Oyster sauce any time for him, while Kriti, an intern likes Sizzling Chicken with mushroom and garlic and pepper.
One could see a large number of Muslim men and women frequenting here for the meat is halaal cut and is authentic. The quality of lamb is excellent, opines Sheik Nawaz, a businessman from Bhatkal who makes it a point to visit here with his family, whenever he visits Mangalore.
All said and done, Mangalore is fast growing and the demand of Mangaloreans as far as good food is concerned, is endless. From road side eateries to 5 Star facilities, Mangalore has something to offer to all sections of people.
Of all the sections, the middle and the higher middle class people prefer Sizzlers Ranch for the cool atmosphere, good food, value for money and most of all, friendly and efficient staff. A casual visit to this cozy place is just the beginning in one's life. You will feel like having more and more!
For food order and reservation, Contact:
Nehru Avenue Road, Lalbagh, Mangalore 575003
Timings: 11.30 to 3.00, 6.30 to 10.30.