No, I haven’t turned vegetarian or vegan (Not anytime soon at least)! Two reviews of vegetarian restaurants in a month, does raise its suspicions – but I assure you this was purely coincidental. A completely enraptured with bacon-and-all-things-that-crawl friend, suggested we head to Carrots for a weekday lunch. I had to wrap my head around two things a. Did he have a sinister plan in his head and b. was the name of the restaurant really Carrots?! The answer to both was a resounding yes!
The name board of the restaurant is a ‘blink and you miss it’ size – so use the 80ft road bus depot/ Legends of Rock as a landmark, if you don’t want to drive around in circles. I entered the restaurant and was greeted by cane furniture, some art on the walls and bamboo plants on every table. A specialty store (rack) selling vegan and organic goodies was strategically located next to the blackboard menu with the day’s specials. The evil friend arrived and I set about trying to dissect his motives in selecting a vegan restaurant. The answer was pedantic. Another friend had said it took
male reproductive body parts courage to open a restaurant serving ONLY vegan food. So of course evil one had to try it and I was just a pawn in his sinister scheme. P.S. He made me take half day off work for this!
Before we delve into what we ordered, let me give you my two cents about Vegan food. A vegan is also a vegetarian, but a vegetarian need not be a vegan. (Remember set theory in school?). So essentially, a person who abstains from use of animal products (dairy, eggs, honey etc.), especially in their diet, is a vegan. I won’t go into the reasons for why they do it. You always have Wiki to look things up.
Vegan food was new to us and we were ready to explore, so we ordered something from every section of the menu. (Aren’t we your guiding stars? :P)
Smoothies were going to be tricky. You either use milk, yoghurt or ice cream to make a smoothie. A vegan can’t have dairy – so what was it going to be made of? Necessity is the mother of invention and so, there was a choice of soy milk, almond milk or cashew milk. We went with soy milk. The Tropical smoothie tasted like any other smoothie but the spirulina one was all vegetal. However, evil one is a fan of spirulina, so he lapped it up.
The pear and cucumber salad also had tomatoes and watermelon. It was refreshing and colorful. However every time I ate the pear, I could not shake the ‘fridge taste’ out of my mouth. (Ahem… if you refrigerated a fruit for too long and it took on the smells of the fridge!). So this one was a not quite – just because of the pears!
Of course I ordered the hummus. It’s my choice of appetizer on any menu. This one they got full marks for. Creamy and delicious, it was served with multigrain bread. (More like Multigrain roti).
I read through the menu to order another appetizer and realized the names of dishes could be deceptive here – after all they were trying to reengineer foods with vegan substitutes! The Stuffed Zucchini however could have found its place in any restaurant because it essentially didn’t need any vegan substitutes. The tomato sauce that accompanied it would become a staple of most of the dishes we ordered the rest of the afternoon.
I opted for the Spaghetti Bolognese for main course. I needed something hearty and the faux Bolognese promised that. With mushrooms and tofu in the earlier mentioned ubiquitous tomato sauce – the pasta was tasty. I just wish the spaghetti was not cut into smaller pieces.
The evil one ordered a Garden Crepe. The crepe in question here was made out of bajra/ millet and was very similar, if not exactly like a Pesarettu (Andhra Breakfast Dish)! It came stuffed with a fresh salad and a smattering of hummus. The
persarttu crepe was also smeared with coconut chutney! Fusion-Confusion anyone? The evil one did not look pleased. I was ROFL by now! It was nice enough to eat, but I would hardly classify it as a main course and the evil one was obviously hungry. So he ordered another main course – the vegetable Paella.
A plate filled with millets surrounded by more salad arrived. We looked at it quizzically. After remembering the vegan naming syndrome, we convinced ourselves that this is what ‘their’ paella looks like. Just as we raised our forks to try the dish, the wait staff arrived and apologized for the mix up. Apparently what was in front of us, was a ‘Carrots Healthy plate’ and not the paella. Evil one heaved a sigh of relief – he did not want to eat more salad!
The Paella was made out of brown rice and millet cooked with roasted vegetables in the tomato sauce (the same one I tell ya!). Did I like it? Mmm…maybe If I didn’t have the Bolognese. It was all tasting similar to me now. So I let evil one finish this.
We could not leave without trying their desserts. This is especially challenging to make, because most desserts use eggs, butter and milk. A lot of vegans resort to just eating a fruit plate when they dine out. So I was excited to see what Carrots could offer.
We settled on the Chocolate Tofu Mousse. Just asking – Vegans obviously refrain from eating ‘milk’ chocolate right? (runs and hides). This one was made with tofu, almond milk and cocoa and tasted nice. Brilliant effort to make a dish taste the same with different ingredients. The consistency was however very different. It was grainy throughout. (I’m guessing due to the almond milk). Maybe they should rename it a ‘pudding’ and save people the mind games.
The Panacotta was an absolute fail. It looked good with the strawberry coulis but did not wiggle at all like a panacotta was supposed to. We had to literally go vertical with the spoon to cut through it! I know they can’t use gelatin (it has animal bones) to set it, but whatever else they used had turned this into a mini idli! We decided to ask the chef (and discreetly give him some feedback). He said they used agar-agar (a plant based setting agent) to set it. After trying to cut into it – he concluded that maybe they had been overzealous with the use of agar-agar. We have to give him credit for taking all the feedback we gave him with a smile! J
Our entire meal took us two hours to finish. Not because the service was slow, but because we just talked so much! Carrots is a place that encourages you to just relax and be casual, to lounge around, kick off your shoes and indulge in some healthy food. (Total Auroville vibe!)
I must commend them for venturing into an area where angels fear to tread. Let’s hope the angels get them more footfalls as well! A must visit for all the Vegans in Bangalore. You now have a place you can call your own. More power to you Carrots!
CARROTS – The healthy kitchen and store
607, Ground and First floor,
80ft rd, 6th Block,
Landmark: Opposite Legends of Rock
Cost: We paid Rs. 1500/- for all the above dishes.
Parking: on the Streets