This review first appeared in Bangalore Mirror, and has, as usual been modified to fit the blog’s ahem editorial guidelines.
So, after a lot of tapas, divinity has finally been attained. In other words, what used to be Zara Tapas Bar on Ulsoor Road is now a representative of God’s Own Country – Ente Keralam, which translates to ‘My Kerala’. Here’s a map to get you there. This is the road that joins Dickenson Road to the gurudwara. I think access to it from the gurudwara side is closed temporarily, since one of the government agencies have received reports of some ancient buried treasure. Massive digging in process, but it’s not really a spoilsport.
‘Ente Keralam’ tries to capture the varied cuisines of Kerala – from Thiruvananthapuram to Thalassery, but despite a great setting and a compact menu that looks good on paper, the food came perilously close to being labelled Keralame. Here’s the menu.
The ambiance is probably the best thing about the restaurant. The décor includes a few traditional vessels – para, uruli, they have Malayalam books and magazines at the Reception, there’s a miniature Chinese fishing net on the table (Cochin is famous for its kind) and I saw an elephant’s nettipattam too! What works even better is the music – hits from the 80s, which took us all on a nostalgia trip.
We started with Keraleeyam, (coconut drink) and the Sambharam (butter milk) . Both were extremely good, particularly the latter, which turned out to be a major hit. We also tried a Thengappal soup (Chicken). Though it justified the name (coconut milk), it was only just above average. Among the starters, the Erachi cutlet (beef) was reasonably good. But the other three were, well, non starters. The Kozhi Kurumulakittathu was stingy on pepper and was particularly insipid. The Malabar Konju Porichathu (prawn) and the Vazhapoo (raw banana) cutlets were only just okay. Since the veg and non veg cutlets looked similar, we had some minor drama as the sole vegetarian in the group was ‘encouraged’ to try beef.
In the main course, the appams were fluffy and would’ve been perfect if they had held back a bit on the sweetness. The Chicken Stew complemented it well. The Alleppey Vegetable Curry was a tangy marvel, but the best dish was the Meen Pattichathu (fish), which did a lot to salvage the regular combination – with Kappa Vevichathu. (tapioca) The Kappa turned out to be mushy and almost spoiled the combination. The Beef Thenga varutharacha curry was an outright disaster. The Thalassery biriyani, of which much was expected, chickened out and even the unique date pickle couldn’t save it. The Paal Ada Payasam was watery and its sugar kick overcompensated.
The service is quite good, and very prompt. Except for the cutlet fiasco, we had nothing to complain about, and even though we only ordered after we finished each set, they managed to get the next course on the table pretty fast.
A meal for two would cost you about Rs.1000, and you could get quite a fill with that. I’d recommend that you drop in if you want to try some Malayali cuisine that’s not commonly found in menus. And unless you have a Malayali in your group, practise saying Kurumulakittathu a few times before visiting. Trust me, it will help.
Ente Keralam, No: 1/3, Ulsoor Road, Bangalore – 560008. Ph: 080-32421002
PS: This review was extra special because I was meeting a few friends after more than 7 years. To say that we had an absolute blast would be an understatement. )