For those of you who walked by Oh! Calcutta, on St.Marks Road and wondered where it went – Café Mezzuna has taken the spot. The much loved Bengali restaurant has moved to the same building that houses Mainland China on Church Street. Café Mezzuna is the youngest brand of the Specialty Restaurants Ltd. The third in line, after Pune and Kolkata, Café Mezzuna brings Mediterranean Flavous and wholesome food at honest-to-goodness prices to Bangalore. The all-day dining restaurant also offers an extensive bar menu. When you get a pint of Kingfisher at INR 110 and a Long Island Ice Tea at INR 295, it’s time to get the party started.
As you descend the stairs to the basement café, you spot the exposed brick wall, painted white. This serves as a canvas for the many black frames that hang there and makes for an interesting entryway. There are two outdoor seating areas on either side of the entrance. The lawn might be fake grass, but they have a living wall with potted plants to compensate. Net-net it’s an inviting setting that perfectly complements Bangalore weather. The interiors are designed like someone’s cozy reading room with a bookcase lining one wall. The open kitchen, lime green seats and circular dining booths add to the casual atmosphere.
The polished wooden tables house bottles of homemade grain mustard and ketchup, which you can also buy from their deli. Both the food menu and the bar menu are extensive. The food menu has everything from nibbles, soups, salads, wraps, pizzas, burgers, pastas, risottos, mains, smoothies, teas and coffee. We literally tried a cross section of their menu and came away pleasantly surprised. With a casual atmosphere that encourages family dining and a comprehensive menu that has something for everyone while retaining the authenticity of the cuisine, the restaurant is a clear fit in the Speciality groups ideology. Going by the success of their other chains like Mainland China and Oh!Calcutta, from the quality of ingredients, to the presentation and the price, I think Café Mezzuna has what it takes to thrive in Bangalore.
A preview of the crazy amount of food we consumed in one afternoon! I think my teetotaler sister, was drunk on the food at the end of the extravagance. I also went a bit crazy with the photography – blame on the gorgeous light!
The day started off how it should, by breaking bread 🙂 A warm Foccacia Loaf with butter.
Delicate filo pastry encased chopped Spinach and creamy Feta in the Sambousek. This is very popular in Greece and Turkey and comes with a variety of fillings. Very similar to our samosa, but lighter. The dipping sauce for the sambousek was a creamy, cheesy concoction that was a tad too heavy for such a delicate starter. Lightening it up a bit would definitely complement this appetizer better.
The Oven Roasted Mushroom Flan was a bit of a disappointment. The filling was nice enough, but when you call something a flan and you get a tart – there is some regret. Also leaving the pastry shells in the oven a tad longer wouldn’t hurt. Buttery and crumbly, that’s how I want my tarts to be.
The Mezze Platter was a true delight. Four different kinds of dips served with some warm falafel and lavash crips. A garlic thoum, harissa, beetroot labneh, babaganoush and the popular hummus with a peas variation. This one is made for sharing over some hot tea (or cocktails) and will last a good half hour if you pace yourself. (We were rapacious and this lasted all of 10 mins amongst us!)
Amongst the non-vegetarian nibbles we tried the Harissa grilled Chicken skewers. This harissa had sharp hit in the beginning a smooth spice finish. The best part about this starter was the delicious pea and coriander puree that it came with. The velvety puree was the perfect contrast to the fiery harissa.
The Grilled Prawn skewers were super delicious smothered in a butter garlic sauce. Actually they came sitting pretty on a skewer, swimming in a goblet of that gorgeous pale yellow sauce. Simply loved this one.
For want of a break from the fried items, we tried two of their salads. The Chilled Watermelon Salad was everything I want on a hot day. Slices of red Watermelon and white Feta dressed with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, made more appetizing by the accompanying green rocket leaves and toasted pine nuts peanuts. A riot of colors and a wonderful play of textures and flavors. Kudos for the presentation as well.
The Smoked Chicken Salad will make a nice lunch by itself. The crisp lettuce and the tangy dressing make for a detour from regular chicken salads. I almost thought this had a desi undercurrent but couldn’t pinpoint the ingredient. Maybe it was the tamarind in the barbeque sauce dressing?
I personally prefer a nice slider over a massive burger any day. (Yes, gasp! People like me do exist!). So the Chicken and Cheese slider was welcome on the table. A mildly spiced Chicken patty sandwiched between a mini burger bun topped with cheese, bacon and lined with crisp lettuce. Three of these babies served with golden fries, make a great sharing plate.
The Falafel Wrap is for the veggies. Nicely done in a laffa (like a tortialla wrap) and served with a humongous portion of spicy fries.
The next dish was my favorite of the lot. A Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Ravioli. Remember that you need remove any calorie counting mechanism from your brain when you devour this. Plump raviolis of pureed sweet pumpkin, float in a decadent cheese sauce peppered with tangy sun dried tomatoes. The acerbic taste of Blue Cheese is a acquired taste for many, but for better or worse, its presence was hardly discernible in the dish. Blue Cheese lovers will be disappointed, but I see the rest of the world attack this dish with gusto.
I was skeptical of the Mediterranean Vegetable Tagine even before it arrived on that table. It came looking deceptively authentic in a lovely tagine. However, on opening it, I was disappointed to find just a medley of vegetables – primarily colored peppers. The gravy (instead of the stew) had faint similarities to a palak panner base. The Garlic Dill Pilaf was tasty, but more reminiscent of pulaos at a North Indian restaurant. On the whole, a maincourse that definitely did not belong in Café Mezzuna.
The Grilled Moroccan Lamp Chops needed to salvage the previous courses disaster and they did a fairly good job of it. Three large chops served on a bed of couscous and black olives, with butter sauteed vegetables. My only complaint is that they over sauced the chops and that is a shame, given how tasty a well grilled lamb chop can be.
What is a greater compliment than saying the Fish was perfectly done? The Pan Fried Fish with Lemon Parsley Butter Sauce, Sauteed veggies and a wedge of lemon. Satisfaction.
We should have avoided eating dessert after we had literally eaten our way through their menu. But who can resist a dessert tasting platter. A Vanilla Panacotta, Tiramisu, Chocolate fudge cake and Crème Brulee. I am not a fan of Panacotta, but this one was done just right. And the cake…boozy deliciousness.
And finally the Crème Brulee – the custard was just sweet and set right and the crust on top was hard and caramelized. A pretty sweet end to the day I must say!
Oh…we had tea. Of course, we had tea. Hot liquids aid in digestion, yes?
15/16, Ground Floor, House of Lords,
St. Marks Road, Bangalore – 560001
Ph : +91 80 22112896
Cost : INR 1500/++ for a large meal for two without alcohol