The Rise of Experiential Dining

Funny, how sometimes work and hobbies end up going hand in hand. Just recently at work, I wrote about the rise of experiential dining and the trend of adding zing to the dining experience. And then last week, I attended a multi-course meal that two of our city’s passionate chefs, Kanishka Sharma (founder of The Tenth Muse culinary experience) and Pallavi Mehta, had put together based on their personal life experiences and with local ingredients and influences in every dish. Part of an on-going series (of a monthly sit down wine and dine, The Courtyard Food Project) at the lovely space on Double Road, The Courtyard, which serves as an al fresco restaurant and dining space for events such as supper club dinners and dining experiences as well as a community space with performances, on arrival I was greeted by a beautifully set table and a glass of Svami Tonic Water.

 

IMG_20190427_200828

These dinners bring together a diverse set of people, who share an interest in experiencing an intimate menu created especially around a theme. NAVU, which means ‘us’ in Kannada, was the name and context for our meal last week. This meant we heard Kanishka and Pallavi’s reasoning for creating a specific dish as well as felt local influences in the dishes, while their storytelling gave us a glimpse into their lives too. Kanishka talked about how a neighbor when she was growing up, would always ask if she drank tiger’s milk, since she was a fearless kid, and this translated into our appetizer course with coconut milk (Ice apple or Ceviche with coconut tigre de leche). And then there was Pallavi’s reminiscence of being the new member of a mainly Bengali staffed kitchen, and their reaction to her throwing out prawn heads rather than using them in her cooking, which led to her serving up the chutney made with prawn head.

 

We actually began the meal with a tangy Rasam and deconstructed Sabudana Vada. This was followed by the Tigre de leches appetizer and then a raw mango rice with mango salsa, topped by a fried papad. The next course was the prawn pickle and head chutney served on an amazing rice cracker that made me think of the rice apalam/papad I would eat as a kid in Chennai. This was one of my two favorite dishes of the night. And then came the other stellar dish, a beautifully cooked and seasoned pork chop served with sauteed local greens – this dish also incorporated 100% Karnataka single origin chocolate. Of course there were veg versions of both dishes, with veggies replacing the prawn and meat.

 

IMG_20190427_220202

And then it was time for dessert, which came in two rounds, the first being a jackfruit cremeux with fried cheese on top and black rice kheer topped with puffed black rice. I have never warmed to jackfruit, so left that one after a bite, but the gusto with which another diner accepted my offer of it, proved its appeal! And then out came a caramelized roselle flower and chocolate truffle made from Naviluna chocolate (formerly Earth Loaf – with their little factory space in Mysore). Our entire meal was accompanied by the always delightful wines from Big Banyan Wines. I loved all the local touches, from the chocolate to the wine, and it was a pleasure to spend an evening with a new set of folks. Just proved to me yet again, that a good meal is a great way to get people together, laughing, talking and relishing! Something that the team at The Courtyard and Kanishka have been doing successfully for some months – I met some folks who were on their third such dinners.

IMG_20190427_221947

Advertisement

A wedding feast fest at SodabottleOpenerWala

SodaBottleOpenerWala, hereafter to be called SBOW in this post, just completed three years as an entity, and two years in its Bangalore home on Lavelle Road. I always love hanging out there, with the quirky decor, diner style checkered table cloths, and Bollywood music playing, and of course, the toy train making its way sedately on its track overhead. Lagan nu Bhonu, Parsi Wedding Feast, a thali meal featuring the specialties and delicacies one would find at a Parsi wedding, are how they’ve chosen to commemorate the occasion. I managed to catch the festival at the tail end (the special Thalis are available until Saturday, February 25th, at both lunch and dinner) and my dining companion and I quite loved the non-veg Thali.

img_20170222_140409

 

 

Presented on a beautiful metal work thali, with two copper-colored katoris holding gravies, and the other items presented on the leaf atop the thali, this was a deceptively simple looking meal. I thought it would be easy to polish off, but rather ran out of steam around three-fourths of the way in. My friend on the other hand, did an excellent job of presenting a clean leaf! Our meal began with the Pallonji Raspberry Soda, made in-house, with a tangy raspberry crush and soda. Just what was needed after the ride to the restaurant in the burgeoning Bangalore summer! Apparently earlier iterations of this drink tended on the sweet side, but it was our lucky day, for this version was tart and I loved it.

img_20170222_215700

img_20170222_145545

And now for what we ate. The plated thali comes with two pickles, an aubergine one – Vegna nu Achar, which was more dip than pickle, and the sweeter, Chunda-like one, the Lagan nu Achar, as well as Kachumbar salad. Parsi fare has its share of fried foods, and this thali has Chutney Eeda na Pattice, which had boiled egg, potatoes and some greens, Macchi no Cutlet – double cooked Rawa fish minced and delicately spiced, and one of the favorite dishes of the meal for us, and also Saria Papad. The Masala ni Daar was quite rich and I contented myself with some bites along with the rotis, and spent the rest of the time on the delicious and my top dish of the day, Gos No Sas, a beautiful white mutton gravy dish, with egg white making for a thick gravy, and tender boneless mutton pieces. The Chicken Pulao was flavorful and a good way to close out the mains.

img_20170222_141850

img_20170222_215821

The proof of the pudding: a clean plate!

Dessert was two, and in mercifully small portions. There was a Strawberry Custer served in a stainless steel bowl that was reminiscent of something you would have loved as a kid, though the two adults in question quite enjoyed it too! The Plum Cake with Brandy Sauce, by contrast, was a very grown-up dessert, both in terms of presentation (served in a shot glass) and flavor (quite a kick in that Brandy Sauce!). We lapped up both in short order, and then ended our meal with Irani Chai, a strong milk tea that I always order when at SBOW. Now, if you get the chance over the next couple of days, do head over and enjoy the feast fit for a wedding!

img_20170222_144247

Details: SodaBottleOpenerWala, Lavelle Road; Lagan nu Bhonu Thali available for lunch and dinner; INR 650 plus taxes (non-veg) and INR 550 plus taxes (veg).