First published in Bangalore Mirror.
The original Adventures of Huckleberry Finn begins after Tom Sawyer and Huck come into a fortune. In the modern day Bangalore retelling, an investment banker couple build a brick oven on the terrace of their parents’ house; the pizzas become a rage, the idea of a wood fired pizzeria is born; their friends get involved in the décor – painting all the chairs- and the rest, is a restaurant! Located on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar, after the CMH road junction when coming from Koramangala, and right next to TOIT, on the first floor. (map) Yes, valet parking is available, and two wheelers can encroach upon the wide pavement!
In addition to the Tom Sawyer-ish paint job above, the place also owes its name to a berry that has a second degree connection to the kind of cheesecakes it specialises in, and managed to fit in well as the fun, whimsy name the owners wanted.
The best tribute that one can give to any original work is to ensure that the character remains alive. And character is something Huckleberry has oodles of. From the tree that nonchalantly makes its way up through the restaurant, to the painted chairs, the funky graphics and the wooden fireplace, the place somehow manages to mix a lively, vibrant ambiance with a warm, laidback feel. Peppy music at just the right volume adds to this. Tom Petty seems to be a favourite. But that’s enough about the place, and on to the menu before you start yawning! The printed menu only has a few pages and focuses on pizzas, drinks and desserts, but they augment it with a weekly special menu on the blackboard.
When pizza’s on the mind, starters might seem a bit of a distraction, but a few things on the menu looked interesting. The Herbed Lemonade, in which basil, lemongrass and green apple vied for attention, had basil emerging as the clear winner and also did a good job of whetting the appetite. The Berry Happy was a mix of cranberry, strawberry, grape and lemon juice, but what it really did was to take us back a few years – to the time we consumed Poppins by the dozen! The only drink that disappointed was the Virgin Mojito. In case you’d like to experiment with wines, or wine based cocktails, there are a few options available too.
The Chicken Consommé soup came with its own dumpling but the mild chicken and caramelised onion flavours didn’t really impress. The Chicken and Prawn Bruschetta was a much better dish – crispy bread with the chicken version being helped by a creamy cheese presence and the prawns aided by herbs. The pick of the starters was the colourful Spicy Chicken Salad, which actually lived up to its name and didn’t take advantage of the ‘salad’ – the chicken wasn’t just a token presence.
The Smoked Turkey pizza was an automatic choice and Rithika (the co-owner, who helps out at the restaurant after her day job!) suggested that we add a jalapeno topping. It worked brilliantly with the cold cuts and the herbs and made it our favourite main course dish. The Meat Feast had a stellar cast including lamb and pepperoni but lost its pizzazz a bit with a slightly burnt thin crust and its disproportionately high contribution to the bill.
The Baked Pesto Chicken was the most photogenic of the dishes and the creamy pesto sauce was ample proof that it wasn’t just a pretty face. But the Pan Seared Sea Bass with Lemongrass and Coriander was unfortunately just that. Though the fish seemed fresh, it was also quite bland and the rest of the ingredients were just titular. The Chicken Tortellini was reasonably good, but could’ve been made better with a thicker, creamier sauce.
There is a significant chance that when I visit this place next, I’d start with the desserts. I’m usually quite racist when it comes to chocolate and prefer dark over white, but the White Chocolate Mousse (with lime) easily won the desserts crown. The Dark Chocolate Mousse tried valiantly, but though it kept its status as a reliable favourite, it was an unfair fight from the time we tasted the other. If you don’t mind a strong cinnamon flavour, the Huckleberry Special is something you might want to try. The Blueberry Cheesecake got the texture right, but I missed the tart flavour and the cheese presence was underwhelming.
A meal for two here would cost about about Rs.800, with which you could share a non alcoholic drink, a non veg starter, a non veg pizza and a dessert. You’ll get that bill in a folder that has an image of the first edition book cover of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. With a unique identity based on its food and ambiance, Huckleberry is probably a place that you’d like to visit more than once, for its homely charm and lively atmosphere. Mark Twain’s has said “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” So don’t be afraid to try out the pastas, pizzas, wine and desserts all at one go.
Huckleberry, No: 298, 100 feet Road, Indiranagar, Ph: 8040917416
PS: Huckleberry takes an off on Monday.