First published in Bangalore Mirror

“Cafe with a soul” is how The Teal Door Cafe describes itself, and it does live up to that on at least a couple of levels. The building it occupies is 25 years old and absolutely looks the part as it majestically stands out from the more standard ‘inhabitants’ of a small but busy road at one end of Indiranagar. This was Bow Barracks (for those who have been in Bangalore for a while). (map, you’ll have to make do with street parking) And while great food in itself is a good cause, the cafe does its bit for society too by employing underprivileged women. The highlight of the place, though, is its decor. Across four floors, there are alfresco as well as indoor seating options and several elements have been added to the wonderful red brick interiors to lend it an easygoing charm. The furniture for instance is far from constant – benches to sofas to bar stools to large cushions – but somehow they all seem to fit well together. The soft lighting gives the space an elegant yet cosy air, and if you start paying attention to the details, you’d notice that many of the things you see around are recycled. We sat on the first floor, enjoying the soft breeze from a large open window and it took the grill – made from the parts of an automobile – to remind us that we were here for a meal!

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The compact menu houses a bunch of interesting dishes, and it took a fair amount of debate and negotiations before we agreed on what we wanted to order. The Strawberry-Guava drink was the first to arrive. It did have both, and Sprite for the fizz, but despite that and the bright colours, was fairly insipid. The Koshimbir fared better – Kosambari with Sprite might seem a strange combination but it really wasn’t bad at all. “Glow” was another eclectic mix – musk melon, lemongrass, sweet lime and chia seeds, but though it was quite refreshing, it didn’t really allow anything beyond the musk melon to shine. The disappointment among the drinks was the “Black Bottom” shake. Expectations of a great sugar kick from such illustrious folks as dark chocolate, brownie, Snickers were dashed when we got a smoothly blended, mild and generic chocolate shake.

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Thankfully, the “Infected Shrooms” arrived soon after to bring some infectious enthusiasm to the proceedings. Served with garlic bread, the hot soup made from slowly caramelised mushroom, was thick, delicious and warmed our collective souls! More guilty pleasure followed in the form of Gulti Wings – fantastic Andhra style spicy, chicken wings with a coriander play. The Guntur Mutton Fry was the other top contender for the table favourite – spicy, well marinated and superbly cooked lamb. The Cocktail Pannyaramsrava filling was a bit of a surprise, but they were soft and fluffy enough to be very likeable. Nim ajji bajji’s fun wordplay caught our attention and we ordered the chicken version. The plating was interesting, and it was light, but unfortunately quite bland. The chutneys did help, but there was only so much they could do.

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Maggi Maggi Maggi! Yes, there were three versions, and it was a difficult choice to make. The Oyster Panda was the chosen one – Schezwan style with straw mushrooms and chilli wine sauce. Amazingly flavourful, and if they had cut back a little on the salt, this might have been our favourite dish! Pav Thai sounded too interesting to pass, and the minced chicken in a basil and coconut flavoured gravy made a splendid combo with the good old local pav. And when there’s Ghee Roast to be had, I’ve always maintained that it must be had, even if it meant we had to overlook the extremely interesting-sounding stew and crepes dosa! The Ghee Roast could have been marinated a tad better, but the masala was good enough to make a decent combination with the ever dependable Malabar Porotta.

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The Citrus Panna cotta wasn’t available, so we went with the staff suggestion of a cheesecake. This was standard fare, and though we were told it would be cold, it was actually warm! We then tried the Churros. This, we felt, played a bit in the extremes. The outside texture was a bit too crunchy and the insides were mildly undercooked. The dips played their part well though.

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A meal for two would roughly cost you Rs. 1200. It would be a stone-hearted soul that would not fall for the ambiance. The vibe is casual and relaxing, and the menu is interesting enough to make you want to try more things than your stomach can manage. A few of the dishes didn’t really hit the spot, but there were others that made up for it, and the experience was pleasant enough for us to overlook that. With all of this, and the kind of pricing it has, The Teal Door really does offer a deal you’ll adore.

 

The Teal Door Cafe, 618, 1st Main, 1st Stage, Near BDA Complex, Indiranagar, Ph: 9972291984