Exam times during college meant meeting up at Café Max on Lavelle road for a group study session. This ‘sich treffen’ or meet up, almost never resulted in any studying but always resulted in a good cup of coffee and fantastic apple strudel. The café has been a part of Max Mueller Bhavan/ The Goethe-Institut for as long as it has existed. When the institute shifted to CMH road in Indiranagar, the little café followed. Formerly run by a German resident who made the most delectable Wednesday Brunch spread, it has now passed hands to new management. I visited it for the first time since the change (over a year?) for a quick weekday lunch. Did it pass muster?
The Café is located on the terrace of the Goethe Institut. The building is as German as minimalist design goes – clean, cubist and functional. What lends it loads of character is the graffiti painted on the boundary wall and garage, and the beautiful Gulmohar trees flanking the structure. The wait for the lift ride to the café is worth it, to avoid the huffing and puffing that comes with a stair climbing exercise. If you arrive there in the afternoon like I did, be prepared to feel like you’ve been ushered into a sauna. The terrace café has a sheet roof and it results in a less that optimal temperature zone! However, the open sides, view of a plush tree canopy and the Bangalore breeze will ease the pain in 10-15 mins of settling down. The wicker tables and chairs have bright orange cushions mirroring the Gulmohar blooms outside making for a charming set up.
Given that most of the German language students congregate here for some chit-chat, the café retains it’s casual, airy, student vibe. The waiter quickly brings us a carafe of water with a mint sprig and the menu. Not everything on the menu is German food, but if you want your schnitzel or your bockwurst – you will definitely find it here. The café also has a section dedicated to breakfast specialties, so you can add this to your list of morning hangouts. Apart from food, you can enjoy a nice glass of wine, courtesy their new wine menu. They still don’t have a crisp Riesling listed, but a girl can dream.
A Ginger and Watermelon Slush was the perfect antidote to the heat that afternoon. The flavor combo might seem weird, but it works really well. The sharp ginger juice added the right amount of tartness to the sweet watermelon slush. Refreshing, without being cloyingly sweet.
When I see a Pear and Arugula Salad on a restaurant menu, it has to be had. This one was going to be shared, but nevertheless! Crisp Arugula leaves peppered with slices of pear and generous shavings of Parmesan were dressed in a light lemon dressing and tossed with walnuts. They serve it with a side of garlic bread and this could easily become a light lunch on those diet days.
Beef and Pork eaters will be very pleased to see that the maincourse selection has a whole page dedicated to these specialties including Schnitzels and Roulades. I was however in the mood for some chicken that day and opted for Tarragon Chicken. What arrived was roasted strips of chicken tossed in a tarragon-white wine-cream sauce, served with baby potatoes and broccoli. A complete balanced meal! My only gripe was that they had been over zealous with heating the cream sauce and it was on its way to splitting when it arrived at the table. It tasted good though, so I didn’t bother sending it back.
The husband chose to have Grilled Fish. After a lot of deliberation, he chose the Pangasius Filet ‘Dijon style’. Pangasius is nothing but Basa, though the menu lists both the names in two different entrees. When questioned, the waiter told us the Pangasius was imported while the Basa was local. Go figure. The grilled fish was served with a side of roasted peppers and baby potatoes. The Dijon mustard-white wine sauce was served separately and made a lovely addition to the grilled fish.
The desert display counter at Café Max is bang at the entrance and you have no choice but to steal a glance as you walk in. They have a fantastic selection of baked goodies that will leave you in a very difficult situation at the end of the meal. We finally chose the Chocolate Pecan Cake. I cannot do justice to how decadent it was. On a crisp and crumbly praline base, sat a fudge like cake coated with glossy ganache and finished with pecan bits. I want to go back there for a slice of this cake with a hot cup of coffee!
Café Max needs some applause as the new management has retained the hearty food and easy vibe of the café. The price point is very attractive and so is the fabulous selection of nibbles and baked treats. Pick up a book, a cup of latte and a slice of apple strudel and make a lovely evening of it.
716, Goethe Institute, Max Mueller Bhavan,
CMH Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore.
Ph : +91 80 41200469
Cost : INR 1300/++ for a meal for two without alcohol