I live at a point where going to Indiranagar or Koramangala or MG Road is the same distance. I know, lucky me! With so many food options scattered at my doorstep, I hardly travel beyond these areas for a quick bite. But after a point it becomes same old same old and this weekend we decided to travel to the beyond. Ok, that’s Kalyan Nagar near H.R.B.R. layout for you. We took the Bypanahalli route because the GPS on the co-resident’s phone said it was the shortest and fastest route, but we din’t know it would lead us to a defunct railway crossing! After a few more adventures, we reached Mangrove. It’s a new American cuisine restaurant that’s opened its doors, to entice the sudden population burst towards Manyata Tech Park and ORR. There is a big sign painted on the entrance wall so that you don’t miss the restaurant on the quite road. J
We expected to find the restaurant under a Mango tree, but realized that the young couple who run the place came up with the name when they were scuba diving in the Andamas (which you know is also famous for its Mangroves). The lady also runs a bakery called Oven Treats and after being in the business for 8 years thought the time was right to step it up. The restaurant/café/wine tavern offers all day dining from 11am to 11pm, but you still have to wait for a while longer to have your meal with some wine. (The license is on its way). The space is split into two areas – the ground floor being more casual and café like, while the top floor acts as the more formal dining space. (The co-resident fell in love with the wooden chairs, but unfortunately it’s not something we can buy here. The restaurant had them tailormade and shipped from Pune L)
Mangrove calls themselves a contemporary kitchen that captures the influences shaping Bangalore. The menu tries to focus on all American favorites – Steaks and Grills, Burgers, Tex-Mex, but also has some Pastas and Pizzas to please the crowd. There’s a small (tiny) standee on the table which had exactly three Indian dishes. The owner in a resigned manner admitted that the pressure from the office goers made him offer that, but he hopes to phase this out. (It apparently keeps the older members of large families happy as well, as they feel comfortable sticking to recognized fare while the rest of the family can indulge in new cuisine options.)
Since it was just two of us, we didn’t feel like usurping a table for six in the café area, so we walked up to the next floor. We were offered some garlic bread, breadsticks and a dip while we made our meal selection for the day. Both of us love our starters, so we were happy to see quite a few options. There are soups and salads as well (the Blue cheese one looked interesting), but we decided to stick to the fried stuff. (Weekends are for indulging!) The starters are named ‘Sharables’ here and we tried three. The Mushroom caps came stuffed with spinach and cheese and were crumb fried. Served with a homemade tomato dip and some peppers, this was quite nice. The veggies have some nice options here, however that was the only veggie dish we tried for the evening. We also just stuck to water and not some fizzy drinks or smoothies that the restaurant offered. (I wanted to save space for main course).
The owner informed us that he gets very good seafood from a trusty vendor. I love all things prawn, so we ordered the interesting sounding Coconut Prawns. We got six medium prawns coated with a breadcrumb, spice and coconut mixture fried golden yellow and served with a tangy white dip. I vouch for the freshness of the seafood. Absolutely spot on! However, since it was called Coconut Prawns, I expected it to have a more robust coconut flavor. And finally, the most loved starter of the day – the Hot Buffalo Wings. Grilled wings basted with a yummy BBQ sauce served with more hot sauce for dipping. This was a winner. We licked our fingers clean!
For main course we were hard pressed between the burgers or the steaks. The burgers had some very interesting combos and toppings (Avocado, Bacon, Cream Cheese etc etc) which you could then choose to have with a veg/ chicken/ beef patty. We decided to come back another day for that experiment and narrowed it down to the steaks. The co-resident ordered Spice rubbed Spare Ribs served with Polenta and I got the day’s special of Pork Chops. You can choose to get your steaks as sizzlers, but I’m not a fan of all that smoke and noise. (Besides, the humidity does nothing for blow dried hair!) The main course arrived in front of us. This is when we realized we had made a huge mistake. After stuffing ourselves with starters, we were left staring at huge portions! No matter, I can pack it in… I just needed to meditate for a few minutes 😛
The Pork chops were doused in a brown sauce with whole pods of grilled garlic. The meat was falling off the bone and I wondered if it was pressure cooked to achieve this result. (I call that cheating…) However the restaurant clarified that it was cooked in the oven and then finished off in the grill pan. I enjoyed the chops, but it was the accompaniment of mustard potatoes that stole the show. Baby potatoes soft on the inside and crisp on the outside coated with a cheesy mustard sauce. Heaven! Now that I think about it, maybe it was doused in butter as well. How else can you expect such yumminess?! They served some grilled veggies as well and that made it quite a filling meal. The co-resident’s Spice rubbed Spare Ribs also came in American sized portions. Along with the creamy polenta and the veggies he was stuffed like a turkey! (This is when I reminded myself that NORMAL people eat just one starter among themselves and then proceed to the Main Course).
Yes, we did dessert. We just had to. Din’t I tell you that the lady of the house had a bakery for eight years? They don’t really have a fixed dessert menu. That was good for us because we decided to walk down and have a look for ourselves. (Some exercise and a good way to check out the seating on the first floor – so comfortable). We settled on the Apple Cake with Ice Cream. The filling was yummy and cinnamonny and raisiny but was let down by the fact that the pastry had gone soft when heated in a microwave. Maybe next time they warm it up in the oven instead?
So what’s the final deal? The co-resident’s friends in the area will be happy to hear that they have a place to go to when they get the munchies at odd times J and I would definitely go back there for a meal, if I was in that part of town. Good food, great portions, pleasant service and the owners actually seem like they are passionate about providing a good dining experience to their patrons. That’s half the battle won if you ask me. The other half is not succumbing to peer pressure and turning it into a multi-cuisine restaurant to make your numbers. That, only time will tell. For now, it’s a good place to hang out and enjoy some good food and fun conversations.
9th Main, 1st Block,
H.R.B.R. Layout, Kalyan Nagar,
Bangalore – 560043
Ph: 080-25450306/ +91 9886028118
Parking: In the plot next to the restaurant
Price Point: Salads and Soups from Rs. 120-190/-, Starters Rs.160-245/-, Mains from Rs. 170-390/-, Desserts Rs.100-150/-. Service Charge of 7% included, but you can choose not to pay, if you are unhappy with the service. (It says so on the menu!)