When the phrase multi-cuisine starts to sound like the nails across a blackboard, perhaps it’s time to explore, or better, switch to, a newer phrase – Eurasian cuisine. Pepper Café does just that, and luckily for Bangalore, it does so with some verve and panache. Situated on St. John’s road, next to Lavanya theatre, this casual wine-and-dine joint (at the time of writing this, I was told that wine would be introduced shortly) certainly knows how to ensure the satisfaction of the guests.
We were a group of 5 carnivores, with no inhibitions when it came to food. We started our meal with some iced teas. Five people with good appetites meant that we ordered five starters. Again, at the time of writing this, there was only one soup on the menu (we skipped it), and so ended up ordering a plate of beetroot hummus, a plate of Italian chicken bites, fish risoles, Caesar’s salad, and the chef’s special salad.
I love a good hummus and I love beetroot, so a naturally sweet beet in the form of a hummus seemed to be quite a treat - and it was. Soft, creamy, sweet, with a hint of garlic along with olives in it not only made it good, but a first for me with the use of beetroot. The chicken bites were seasoned with herbs and came with a sip that seemed like a mixture of mayo and a 1000 island dressing. The chicken was cooked well and it retained its juices.
The fish risoles were crumb fried portions, and came served with a salad and tartar dip. Again, quite beautifully done in terms of taste and presentation.
On to the salads. I’m of the opinion that apart from fresh, crunchy ingredients, a good dressing makes for a good salad. And luckily both criteria were met in this case. What blew us away was, however, not the Caesar’s, but the chef’s special salad. Comprising of feta, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and jalapenos with a tangy dressing, not only was it refreshing, but it was a treat on that sunny afternoon. The Caesar's salad too was good, but there's nothing to write home about.
For the main course, we stuck to some old favourites and some fancy creations that are part of the menu. Grilled lamb chops with tabouleh and mint coulis, basa fillet with cajun spiced crab, Vietnamese lemon chicken, a beef steak with mashed potatoes and veggies, and an Aqua pizza - no points for guessing that it had seafood on it.
Once again, all the dishes ordered were spot on in terms of taste and presentation, and the only grouse we had was that we weren't asked how we wanted the steak - rare, medium, or well done. That aside, the lamb chops and the tabouleh were done nicely and complemented each other, while the beef steak was served well done (but once again with a stainless steel knife...wonder why people don't give proper high carbon knives) and tasted good too. The Aqua pizza came with a thin crust, and the seafood toppings were fresh, and it was baked nicely with a nice drizzle of olive oil on top to give it a nice glossy sheen.
The basa with cajun spiced crab on top of it was quite easily one of the tastiest fish dishes I've eaten. Fresh, well flavoured, and the cajun flavoured crab added a different taste and texture to the dish that was well accepted. Lastly, the Vietnamese lemon chicken seemed to have received the most accolades, but the chicken itself, in my opinion, didn't seem that special (it was good, not great), but the condiments that came along made for a good dish.
For desserts, it was a bit of chocolate overload. Apart from the brownie, which was quite superb in taste and texture, the other other two cakes (chocolate based) were merely blah.
Food: Very good
$$$: For a full meal with something to drink, starters, main course, and dessert, around Rs. 600 per head.
Service: Good, but dishes could take a while to arrive
Verdict: Certainly worth a visit
Extra info: Parking for cars may be an issue since St. John's road near Lavanya theatre is a little narrow. Two wheelers can park in any of the side streets.
Pepper Café, # 9, St. John’s Road, Near Lavanya Theatre, Bangalore. Phone: 4113 0000