Friday, November 27, 2009

BM Review: Ambrosia

Last weekend I'd been to Ambrosia to review the place for Bangalore Mirror. The review, with some pictures taken, is below. I gave the place an equivalent of 2.5 out of primarily because they claim to be fine dining, but fell short in a few areas. However, purely in terms of taste, the food is good.

Greek mythology is very similar to Hindu mythology – many Gods, many tales. Ambrosia, sometimes called the food (or the drink) of the Gods, is often depicted as conferring ageless immortality, much like amrit, or nectar, in Hindu mythology. So when a restaurant calls itself Ambrosia, I naturally thought they’d be serving Greek or Mediterranean food.

To set the record straight, Ambrosia doesn’t serve Greek food alone, it serves food from all over the world – I guess since every civilisation has had its own armada of Gods, there would be several, and so Ambrosia tries to please people from every culinary walk of life. Ambar Mitra, the CEO and one of the 5 directors of the place said the idea was to enjoy myriad cuisines under one roof. The dishes on the menu have a flag next to them indicating the part of the world they’re from. One thing that straight away popped into our minds was: with such an extensive and diverse menu, what’s going to be their signature?

Gautam Krishnankutty and Padmakumar, co-owners of Café Thulp, have seen their fair share of culinary delights from around the globe. Gautam’s lived in California, and is a trained chef in Thai cuisine, and was the genius in the kitchen at Tai Tai, while Padmakumar (PK to near and dear) has been in Mexico for close to 16 years before coming back to Bangalore, where he met Gautam and started Thulp. I was thrilled to have them as guests, taking time off from work on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Crab-stuffed mushrooms

The pita bread in our mezze platter (Greece) could certainly have had more ‘body’ to it (seemed too thin), but the hummus (creamy with the right amount of garlic and olive oil), the tzatziki, and the baba ghanoush dips were as good as any I’ve had. The crab-stuffed mushrooms (fusion dish) were nice, but the salad that accompanied the dish actually offset the taste. The batter-fried squid rings (Spain) with the tartar sauce were good, although the batter did lend a peculiar taste to an otherwise wonderful squid. The Caesar’s salad (USA) was simple and nice, and although it said it had Romaine lettuce, it was quite clearly iceberg.

Hummus, Tzatziki, Baba Ghanoush

Caesar Salad

Calamari Rings

We were reminiscing the old days of Bangalore, and the menu here reminded Gautam of the old Peacock hotel on Residency road and Caesar’s on MG Road, especially with dishes like Chicken Diane. Our main course consisted of chicken enchiladas (Mexico), a flambé dish of beef with mustard sauce (France), and a xinxim (Brazil), which is a stew of chicken and prawns, with coconut and peanut sauce, served with rice. The staff was keen to push the flambé dishes forward, so I guessed this could be their signature dish (confirmed later by Ambar). The flambé is done by the chef next to your table. Gautam wanted his beef medium-rare, but one piece was well done, while the other was slightly medium. Also, beef and fish steaks are never served with sauce on them – the sauce should be served by the side as an accompaniment.

Chicken Enchiladas with refried beans and rice

Xinxim

Flambé

Making the beef with mustard sauce after the flambé

Beef with mustard sauce

PK’s enchiladas were served with refried beans and rice. The refried beans weren’t mashed enough and were hard as opposed to soft and creamy, and PK didn’t think the tortillas tasted right either (I’ll take the word of someone who’s lived 16 years in Mexico). However, a newbie to enchiladas would have loved the dish (like Gautam and I did), but going by authenticity alone, it lost a few points. My xinxim was surprisingly the best of the dishes. The chicken and prawns were cooked nicely, the stew well flavoured, and the coconut used was fresh, and all the flavours blended well in the mouth.

For desserts, we tried a tiramisu and a flambéed banana (flambé certainly is their thing). The tiramisu was bad – hard, to the point where you wonder if it’s Mascarpone cheese or cream that’s inside, or something else. In their defense, it’s not made in-house, but it’s still something to be worked out. The flambéed banana, on the other hand, was simply fabulous – in taste, preparation, and presentation. If one weren’t concerned too much about authenticity and just wanted good, tasty food, Ambrosia would certainly score. However, since I have to critique the place, I think I’ll have to say it comes up short in a few areas, primarily because they claim to be fine dining, but with some effort they can certainly get better.

Tiramisu

Drunken Banana - another flambé

Food: Good, but not fine dining as they claim
Service: Very good
$$$: slightly on the higher side (they claim fine dining, remember?)
verdict: If it's fine dining you're looking for, then this place falls short in a few areas. Taste wise, the food is good in general, barring a few things here and there.


Ambrosia, #52B, 100 Feet Road, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore. Phone: 40940101/102

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