Curated three course dining experiences at a fraction of the a la carte rates across 10 exciting restaurants in Bangalore – now we’re talking! Taking off on the popular concept of Restaurant Week and Chef’s Table Week by its parent group, DineFest hopes to open up gourmet experiences to a wider audience. You won’t find the usual suspects here and that’s what makes it interesting. At INR 500++ per person, I hardly feel the need to elaborate on the deal!
Bangalore has been a hotbed of activity in the informal dining space. While fine-dining is an experience I can afford occasionally, casual dining restaurants are quietly giving everyone else a run for their money, with inventive menus and absolutely no compromise on quality. I see myself getting very comfortable in this intermediate space of gourmet experiences at pocket friendly prices!
I picked Café Cassia – Abhijit Saha’s quaint little café in Cinnamon, for my DineFest preview. The century-old whitewashed bungalow that houses Cinnamon has always taken my breath away. Café Cassia resides in the courtyard and seamlessly integrates into the tasteful space. Five minutes into entering the café, and you are transported into a dreamy and languorous frame of mind. Reminiscent of the picturesque colonial style hideaways in Pondicherry, the space is perfect for a laid-back lunch or soulful dinner. A quick look into a blissful afternoon…
Piquant Harissa Grilled Fish Skewers with a soothing garlic sauce. The silky harissa paste made every succulent bite exciting! Four skewers per person is a tad much for an appetizer, but people with healthy appetites will be mighty pleased.
The plated Hummus with Minced Lamb, Almonds and Pita was almost too pretty to eat. I mean – just look at that micro greens garnish! For anyone who has eaten a half decent hummus in their lives – you KNOW this was phenomenal.
The Tandoori Chicken, Avocado and Coleslaw Burger was an intriguing order. It almost prompted me to crack a “An Indian, a Mexican and an American walked into a Bar” joke! But the flavours work so well, that’s it’s made a fan of my husband. So much so, that he now believes he’s been eating burgers all these years without a key ingredient – Avocados.
There were eight more options for Main Course, but I really wanted a good quality Pasta Arrabiata. This one ticked all the right boxes with grilled vegetables, parmesan shavings and extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top. Perfetto.
Setting aside the blasphemously suggestion from the husband that we share a dessert (he was too full), I went ahead and ordered for the both of us. The Cherry Compote Tart with Orange Sauce lured me with its looks. Unfortunately the seduction didn’t pan out – maybe they meant ‘Tart’ Cherry compote 😛 Luckily I stole some ice cream from the husbands order and managed to salvage the situation.
The ‘not-hungry’ husband polished off the Chocolate Walnut Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream. Extremely generous portions not withstanding!
Café Cassia offered a superlative experience with respect to ambiance and food and at the DineFest prices, I feel like I stumbled into Aladdin’s Cave!
DineFest was piloted in Mumbai and Delhi in October last year and comes this February 19th – 28th to Bangalore. Reservations open exclusively on their website (www.dinefest.in) from the 15th of Feb. Two dinner slots (7 and 9 PM) at each of the participating restaurants guarantees office goers can catch a weekday dinner. To ensure you don’t chicken out, they have a nominal fee of INR 50 per diner when you make the reservation. They adjust the reservation amount against your final bill of INR 500++ pp., so relax. Vegetarians are treated as equal-opportunity diners here and will see no reason to complain 🙂 (I should know – I’ve been experimenting with a plant-based diet!). And finally, I’ve seen the list of participating restaurants and their menus and I must say – we’re all in for a treat!