Pirated from Bangalore Mirror

There’s something very ironic about ‘borrowing’ a ship’s name from The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and using it to run a restaurant with a pirate theme! Even more ironic when it’s located right next to an establishment called Empire! (map) But that’s exactly what The Black Pearl has done, and they have obviously invested a lot of effort into doing justice to the theme. Across three floors – the top floor akin to an upper deck with open sky above – there are décor elements that accentuate this – anchors, cannons, mannequins, chains and ropes, skeletons, swords. There is a tinge of tackiness too, like the huge bones that became the butt of many jokes, and it was a little funny to have pirate-costumed service staff valet parking and speaking in Hindi. But ambiance is only part of the tale – the service, and the food had a role to play too, and that’s where the seas got rough! In the end, keeping with the theme, looting did happen, in the form of a bill.

Except for some pirate lingo, there was hardly anything on the menu (though the one we got was quite different) that went with the theme. When we began ordering the starters, we realised it was pointless to navigate the Continental and Chinese sections since they weren’t available. That went for some of the more interesting (sounding) drinks as well! From the Indian menu, we asked for a Til aur Paneer ka Tikka, an Afghani Mutton Boti Kabab, Aatishi Murgh and a Pirate Special Macchi Tikka. The veg representation was superficially spicy, though the paneer itself seemed quite fresh. We were served what was claimed to be the chicken, but easily sensed that it wasn’t. For a while, we pondered the various possibilities, until we were told that it was just the mutton dish. A little too bland. The Aatishi Murgh made an effort to live up to its name in terms of spiciness, and was quite a favourite. The Macchi Tikka was mildly spicy and quite tasty. In addition to some standard fare, we had ordered a Masala Cola. That turned out to be a Hajmola cola in disguise, with an overdose of masala! Exactly the opposite happened with the Pomegranate ‘N’ Tamarind Martini – it had no trace of a tamarind flavour. In the meanwhile, the ship was under aural attack – a singer was methodically gunning down favourite numbers!

It took so long for the main course to arrive that we joked that it had to be brought from the mainland! The Dal Peshawari was watery and had none of the butter and cream that was promised! We unanimously agreed that the Navaratna Korma deserved a spot in the desserts section! The Malai Gosht turned out to be its near-cousin, the only consolation was that the meat was well cooked. The Murgh Matka suffered from a methi overdose, though the boneless chicken was tender. The Ulte Tawa ka Paratha was mentioned in the menu as a must-try, but was nothing special. Ditto for the Afghani Kulcha, which had a few dry fruits slivers tossed into it for the name’s sake! The excitement was delivered as Crispy Roomali Roti – another ‘must try, but deservedly so. It was huge and we thought this was the Family Naan we’d ordered! When we realised it wasn’t, we had a sinking feeling, soon justified when we saw the size of the actual Family Naan! Gigantic and they obviously had the Indian joint family in mind! Thankfully, it was quite good.

Meanwhile, penance was happening in the form of bottled water, which was being served for free! The singer, as though understanding his limitations, was now crooning ‘Please Forgive Me’

From about ten dessert options on the menu, only four were available, and that included ice cream! Considering the experience thus far, we decided to play safe and try just the Gulab Jamun. That was surprisingly not bad! By this time, the singer had reached ‘Take me home’, and we heartily agreed.

For about Rs.1800, you could share a cocktail, a non veg starter, a couple of main course dishes, rotis and a dessert. (Inclusive of taxes and service charge) But ‘Arrgo’ would be a pithy way to describe our predicament – six of us held hostage in a pirate-themed restaurant serving not-so-great food. Such is the restaurant scene in Koramangala that a new place needs to run a tight ship just to keep its head above the water. Shape up or ship out, as the saying goes, and it’s mercilessly enforced. There would be first visits courtesy the theme, and the place was full while we were there, but unless there’s a sea change in the service, food and pricing, The Black Pearl could soon be in Davy Jones’ Locker!

Black Pearl, Vikas Tech Park, 2nd & 3rd Floor, #105 1 A Cross Road, Koramangala Industrial Layout, Jyoti Niwas College Road, 5th Block, Koramangala, Ph: 080-64333111