cafe

Bloomsbury’s

Sometime back, we were super happy to see gastronomic progress happening in a building near the BMTC Depot in Whitefield. (map) Galito’s and Cold Stone Creamery were quick to start reperations, and we now regularly make up excuses to visit the latter! Bloomsbury’s looked very promising but had been holding out, until we began seeing lights inside around April. Side note – I think the same folks are behind all three, because it can’t be a coincidence that outside of Bangalore, all of them operate only in Kerala’s tourism hot spot – Lulu Mall. Though all three seem to be international franchises, I’m guessing that like most good things in life, these ones too have some Kerala connection. 😀

Bloomsbury’s proposition is a boutique cafe and artisan bakery, but let’s just say that from a menu perspective, you will have enough to choose from. In fact, that is quite a problem because you’ll find it difficult to preserve appetite for desserts. But we’ll come to that in a bit, because the decor is worth a shout out. Spread over two floors, the brick walls with chalkboard and illustrations, the cute teapot lights, the plant holder bulbs,  graffiti and the plush seating, all lend a lively yet cozy feel to the place. The staff do their best to make you comfortable too. For instance, when we asked to sit upstairs, we were told that it wasn’t open yet. Later, one of the other service staff let another party sit upstairs, followed by my cold glares. That last item was caught and they were nice enough to let us take a little tour upstairs, and move our food there if we wanted to. But we liked the area downstairs better.

collage 1 More

Leaping Windows Cafe

One about-to-rain Bangalore night, despite the comments that we shouldn’t go there only for the food, we took a leap of faith, and landed up at this cafe in Indiranagar. You’re bound to miss it if you don’t know exactly where it is, so check the map in the link. It’s a house converted into a cafe and the ground floor is devoted to the library/reading rooms. Up a winding staircase and we got to a balcony where we managed to get a table for two. There are other seating options inside as well. You’ll love the ambiance if you’re into comics. Bright, colourful murals and comfortable furniture. What works for the balcony is that it also offers non-comic entertainment, thanks to a bar across the road! From the menu, I asked for a Nutella Banana shake and D wanted a Peppermint Hot chocolate. (day’s special, said the board) The shake was more banana than Nutella, and despite me specifically asking for no ice cubes, I got them in abundance. The hot chocolate was much better!

collage More

Red Fork

For some strange reason, these days we’re more inclined to Sunday breakfast-outs than Saturday dine-outs. Though a beer brunch has been the standard, we decided to give that a break one weekend and try out Red Fork, for more healthy options – bacon and such. 😉

Red Fork is in the same premises as (the new) Daddy’s Deli – here’s a map to help you. Park in one of the many side lanes that spread out of 12th Main, and walk up. Helps build appetite! At noon, we just about managed to find a table from the indoor and outdoor options. The menu is on blackboard(s) and is usually a marginally different version of this. The ambiance is pleasant and peppy, and the owner (I’m guessing) is extremely helpful. The decor is functional, includes a lot of quotable quotes, and reminded me of an elegant home – especially the shelf units.

From the beverages menu, I asked for a Kahlua Coffee and D ordered an ‘Indian’ tea. The coffee came in a wine glass and drew suspicious glances from the tables nearby, especially when I added the sugar! :) D’s Indian tea had a cardamom flavour and was in a kullad. Pretty much two ends of the spectrum.

collage1

We oscillated between the ‘Big Breakfast’ and the Breakfast Pizza and finally, the latter won. The other dish we decided to check out was the  Eggs on Kheema. We had chosen the soft bread option for the ‘Pizza’,  which had bacon, a tomato based sauce and a poached egg! Quite tasty, though the soft bread obviously began getting soggy pretty fast. I loved the flavourful eggs on kheema – in terms of looks, this was closer to a pizza than the other dish. Since we had some additional space, even after considering desserts, we decided to try out the Mini Lamb burgers. Good choice, I thought, with excellent patties, cheese and a tinge of mustard. A good time to note that the Big Breakfast, which were being consumed all around was quite a looker – especially that mini frying pan, that seemed straight out of a kid’s kitchen set! For dessert, we asked for a chocolate mousse, and it was quite good, the quantity just right for two people who have hogged reasonably well!

collage2

The bill came to around Rs.1350, and that seems reasonable enough for the location and quality of food.

Red Fork, #59, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Ph: 41154372/5/6

Urban Solace

This review was first published in Bangalore Mirror, and the busy urban life routine ensured that I was delayed in posting it here. :)

If you don’t know the area well enough, you might end up circling Ulsoor lake a few times before you find solace. It’s between Foto Flash and Tamil Sangam. (map) Parking for 2 wheelers is easy, and the extra wheels can find space in one of the many small roads nearby.

Despite the space constraints, the ambiance had a vibrant café feel to it. The bookshelf (despite the business books that looked out of place), the music, the posters, and the art all played a part in lending uniqueness to the place’s character. The idea, apparently,  is to create a balance between the ambiance of a café and the dining experience of a regular restaurant. It has quite a ‘house converted to cafe’ feel too, since you can wander into at least a couple more rooms, with a few tables each. Poetry reading sessions are on every Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the menu, on paper, looks good enough to guarantee a good meal. Short eats include a selection of sandwiches and burgers. There are quite a few options in starters and soups, and just enough salads, main course dishes and desserts to take it beyond the standard café fare. They also serve an English breakfast on weekends. You can take a look at the menu below – somehow seemed to have missed the main course page!!

In addition to the chicken soups for the soul – Tom Yum and Cream of Chicken, that were actually spicy enough to affect the palate too, the Spanish soup, based on spinach puree, is also worth trying. Both the starters we tried were disappointing. The Stuffed Mushroom filling turned out to be a bad mushroom–potato combination and the Chicken Gujons were just bland.

The Veg A’la King, with mushrooms cooked in white sauce, and the Mexican Chicken with a thick brown tomato based sauce, were the best among the main course dishes. The biggest disaster was that many of the items on the menu were not available. That included the entire selection of mocktails, all the special coffees, and almost the entire dessert section. The one dessert that was available – Orange Choc cake didn’t find favour either.

On the cost front, for Rs.750, you could share a soup, a non veg starter, two main course dishes and a dessert. This seems just about fair enough considering the quality of the food.

Though the service staff was polite and prompt in terms of delivering the food to the table, placing the order itself was quite a tedious process. Add to this, inconsistent, and sometimes unclean cutlery, and a credit card machine that wasn’t working, and you would be tempted to call it a disservice.

You could consider dropping in if you’re around Ulsoor and need a quick bite, but the place really needs to do some soul searching. Urban Solace calls itself a ‘cafe for the soul’, and indeed, the poetry reading sessions and something about the ambiance does show potential in this regard, but sadly, amidst the soul proprietorship attempts, the food seems to have been forgotten. Many of the items in the menu were not available, and though we did manage to have a decent meal, we weren’t really sold on it.

Urban Solace, 32, Annaswamy Mudaliar Road, (between Foto Flash and Tamil Sangam) Bangalore – 42. Tel: 25553656

Cafe Pascucci

As Namma Metro construction turns MG Road into what seems like the aftermath of a Transformers All Spark brawl, and as pedestrians and motorists battle it out for control of the footpath, we decided to wake up and smell the coffee. Okay, there was a significant delay between the two, but Cafe Pascucci (part of an international chain) which opened shop right in the heart of the battlefield, between the HP petrol pump and Prasiddhi silks, (just before Brigade Road when coming from the Trinity Circle direction) was where we landed up on Saturday night. Parking? Don’t you get it? MG Road as you know it, is gone. So, try parking at Bangalore Central/Brigade Road and walk it up.

So we stepped off the chaos and entered this lively cafe, which was almost full at 7.45. But we managed to get a decent table. The music was loud enough to drown the memories of the world outside, though the tracks were a few years old. The ambience is absolutely great, well lit, with comfortable seating, a great place to hang about, and if you get one of the two seating options facing MG Road, you can have a great time watching the world go by.

For all you coffee lovers out there, there is a separate menu card only for that!! But before we get there, the food. Italian is the cuisine, and there’s a decent spread, if not elaborate. There are about half a dozen appetisers, ranging from Rs.45-65, both veg and non veg, with add on options of olives, cheese, chicken stuffing etc, for prices ranging from Rs. 15- 30. There are also an equal number of salads, but mostly veg, ranging from Rs 75-150.

For the main course, you can choose from pasta – penne/fusilli (Rs. 75), and then add your choice of sauce (Rs.25), add a couple of extras from a choice of 8 for Rs.25 (mushroom, broccoli etc)  and chicken/smoked chicken sausage for Rs. 35. If this doesnt work for you, you could try a Gnocchi di spinaci, risotto (with veg/chicken add ons) or spaghetti, all of which range from rs.125 – 150. There are also sandwiches – you can choose your bread (regular or multi grain) at Rs.55/60, spread and fillings which are priced from Rs.20-40. You could also try out Piadine (an Italian bread).

We chose to start with a Fresh herb crumbed chicken with cheese and paprika dip. The portion had six pieces, so quite good on the quantity front, but was a bit salty. The dip was just about good. For the main course, D ordered Spaghetti Meatballs, and I chose Fusilli with creamy sauce, mushrooms, parmesan and smoked chicken sausages. Both the dishes were very good, though the garlic bread they gave along with the dishes were too crusty. Though we had read in some reviews that the quantity was very less, we felt that, for the price, they were quite decent sized portions. We could be biased because they left enough space for dessert 😉 The only cause for complaint was that, in spite of specifically asking for the main course to be brought only after we finished the starter, all the 3 dishes were brought together. Thankfully, the main course stuff was really hot, so no real heartburn.

And now, a preview of coffee heaven. A dozen different kinds of espresso, a similar number of capuccinos, half that number of hot chocolate versions, and soft drink/juices- including a bottled coffee soda, five kinds of filter coffee, from different parts of the globe, 13 kinds of iced coffee, ten kinds of teas, a dozen different ice cream combinations almost all of them operating in exquisite combinations of chocolate, coffee, whipped cream, chocolate sauce etc. You get the idea!! No, actually you can’t. Not until you see those photos, which I thought was sadistic, because whatever you choose, you will always miss the others that reached the final round!! After excruciating elimination rounds, I settled for an African Nera – made of chocolate ice cream, coffe ice cream, espresso coffee, dark crema confuso coffee cream, chcolate sauce and cremino chocolate. D chose a Yogurt Cappuccino fruit, made of gold espresso, light yogurt mousse, and fruit. My loud slurps towards the end were a testament to my deep appreciation.

If you’re planning to go for lunch, they have a fixed menu combination – salad, pasta and dessert, at Rs.149 and 179 for veg and non veg respectively.

Our meal cost us just below Rs.600, absolutely good value for money. The coffee menu and I look forward to meeting each other again, several times. :)

Caffe Pascucci, United Mansions, 39, MG Road, Ph: 40912134