February 19, 2007

Arriving in Bangalore - Restaurant Reviews part 1

Sunny's

Sunny's restaurant is supposedly one of the best Italian places in Bangalore, and a foodie "destination" restaurant. It's definitely good, and one of the few places we've gone to more than once since arriving. It helps that it's on Vittal Mallya Road very close to the Google guest house.

Sunny's lets the flavors of the ingredients show through with simple but interesting preparations. I had roast lamb chops (prepared rare, as I asked, with no arguments or questions) which were served in what appeared to be a reduced balsamic glaze with sprigs of thyme and whole rosemary. Quite tasty. Debbie had penne in a gorgonzola cream sauce that was also very tasty, though I commented that while the penne was properly "al dente" the cooking water hadn't been quite hot enough - the pasta was a tiny bit gummy. We were brave and had this with a Ceasar Salad.

The second time we decided to try the pepperoni pizza. Since I make pizza myself I was interested to see what I would be up against. Sadly this was a disappointment. The crust had a soft bread-like crumb, not nearly chewy enough. It was relatively thick, but most disappointingly it had been baked on a perforated metal pan so that it couldn't brown properly or crisp up. The sauce was flavorful, and the mozarella was good but could not make up for the crust.

However we had ordered a fresh tomato, onion, mozarella appetizer that was dressed with a good balsamic and that was quite excellent.

We'll be back.


Spiga

Spiga is another restaurant on Vittal Mallya, a little further from the guest house. We tried to go there on the 14th, not remembering that it was Valentine's Day and it was mobbed. So we went to Sunny's instead. We tried again the next day and had no trouble.

Spiga has an interesting menu, a combination of Mexican (!), Italian, and some Indian. I'm not generally a fan of "multi-cuisine" restaurants or their cousins "fusion" restaurants. I'm also wary of any Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico, or a Mexican barrio, so we didn't try the Mexican dishes.

I had pasta (fusili) in a tomato/garlic/basil sauce, while Debbie had fish in spicy sauce. The food was uninspired, the pasta overcooked and the sauce had neither the brightness of fresh tomatoes, nor the deep caramelized sweetness of a long simmered sauce. The garlic had been burned, not browned, and I didn't find much basil flavor. A big disappointment. Debbie's fish was similarly uninspired.

This is supposed to be one of the best Italian places in the city! I'm very worried...

Cafe Coffee Day

We started our quest for excellent coffee at one branch of a well known chain of coffee places. Cafe Coffee Day has locations all over Bangalore, but we visited the one on Lavelle Road (at Vittal Mallya Road) I had a double espresso, while Debbie had a macchiato and a chocolate croissant.

Let's get one thing out of the way right off. This is no Blue Bottle Coffee or Tartine Bakery. On the other hand, the coffee was decent - for an automatic espresso machine. We had a little trouble at first ordering the macchiato "I'd like a macchiato." "Ok" [comes back] "You want a mochachino?" "No a macchiato." "We don't have that." "See up on the menu, Espresso, Double Espresso, Macchiato. The third one down." "Ok." I get the feeling that either they don't get many people ordering macchiati or my pronounciation was confusing. In any case we straightened it out.

The "chocolate croissant" was not a traditional pain au chocolate (and if anyone reading this knows where you can get a pain au chocolate in Bangalore please tell me and I will be eternally grateful) but instead it was more of a rolled sweet yeast dough filled with chocolate, and coated with chocolate at one end. We enjoyed it, but I had hoped for a flaky crispy chewy thing and this was not that. Ah well, it's good to have goals in life.

Despite all that we definitely enjoyed it, the coffee was drinkable, and I have no qualms about hanging out at other Cafe Coffee Days when I find them.
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