About the same time that the coinage "paradigm shift" became increasingly popular in India at the turn of the last century, a similar change connoted by that term took place in my liking towards pan-roasted eggs. No longer content with omelettes, I developed a taste for fried eggs or "Bull’s Eye". I felt no need for any embellishments to it,not even salt and pepper. The tricky art of expertly cooking the yolk in the center (sitting quietly and expressing its dynamism only when sliced with a knife) began to represent a feat of nuanced cooking. This shift in preference also brought about a general renaissance in my overall culinary curiosity.
With such recollections floating around, I and a close pal, a year ago motored into the orbit of Bangalore’s Egg Factory, located on St.Mark’s Road. What I hadn’t factored in was my friend’s gustatory timidity- his idea of being an adventurous taster comprises ordering Idli in a Dosa joint. He played down both the range and number of my orders, gazed into the menu and then cooed "Oooh, Egg Chilli!!!" upon spotting that offering on the list,while I beat my forehead in exasperation- why order here of all places a dish that is available in most Dhabas from Davangere to Tumkur? This dish which was eventually ordered was good but not worth travelling halfway across the town for; we then tried Spanish omelette (a subtle counterpoint to the fiesta I was expecting) and Classic French toast with maple syrup (suited more for Continental kids than for Indian adults).
A year later ,I made a wiser trip to the same joint with a gutsier gang of cousins.
Ambience - Compact room. Black ceiling punctuated by spotlights .Brick-covered floor. Wooden tables and cushioned foldable metal chairs -all approximating a factory look or even a fashionable canteen of an upmarket college. Walls are chalked up in some places with goofy dictionary definitions. One is afforded a partial view of the chefs at work, while the wall near the entrance has an electric chain of broken eggshells illuminated from within.
Menu - The variety on offer is commendable. The menu makes an allowance for Veg etarians also by featuring corn & bell-pepper Biryani, and a selection of Pastas. As for the marquee product, the dish origins range from UK to US to Italy to Mexico to Bhaarath to rest of South-east Asia. If by chance a Hungarian wanders into this joint, he will find an omelette named after his country. Menu chapters’ titles include categories like Eggxotica, Eggxpectations & Eggxilarative snacks.
Huevous Rancheros (Ranch style Mexican dish served with tortillas), Fajitas, Fried egg Sambal (chilli-based sauce), Kuthu Paratha, Malabar Egg Roast, Royal Bengal curry, Eggs Florentine,a variety of Pastas, Keshto and multi-national omelettes including a range of Frittatas (thick-layered multi-ingredient versions) among other options.
What we chose - Penne Alfredo - Eggs beaten (in a nice way) into the mix with a creamy sauce, performed the tango with a cilantro pesto’s herbal twinkle of contrast. The Penne Pasta possessed an agreeable texture; this was served with two toasted breads- and we accorded our approval by steadily polishing the whole thing off.
Menage a trois- While not amounting to a riotous orgy, it had its share of caresses nonetheless. The 3 pepper sauce seemed a transplant from a paneer butter masala .But the omelette envelopes- in the shape of calzones having pockets of brunoised capsicum mushrooms and carrots- were pillowy soft affairs that lifted the dish.
Drinks break- Cucumber Cooler performed its eponymous task with neat fizz, while Chorophyll fix (listed as basil+mint+etc+soda) refreshingly undercut the richness of the food.
Focusing "egg"-ain on the food - Huevos a la Mexicana- Fried eggs were spread over soft corn tortillas and accessorized with the pleasing flavours of a mild tomato salsa, cheddar cheese sauce and a dab of coleslaw. Well seasoned, this dish strummed on different tastes and textures to create a gently jaunty tongue-catching rhythm.
Akoori- Scrambled eggs were curried with onion tomato spices and herbs to form a slick delectably balanced concoction. This Parsi dish ,served in liberal quantity here, was especially enjoyable when consumed with buttered toast.
Anda paapdi chaat- On special request from connoisseurs, the chef agreed to do this dish 23 minutes before its scheduled 3-30 pm availability- crunchy discs of fried wheat-flour had been topped with a smoothly delicious blend of egg-potato-cilantro. This was sprinkled with vibrant red drops of tomato sauce. In a series of flashes,this superb chaat was munched into complete disappearance.
Service - Mediocre. A mid-meal or end-lunch table may end up resembling a royally messy chicken-coop yet Egg Factory waiters take it in their supremely tolerant stride and clean it only when the mood strikes. But they will help you to make choices from the menu.
Desserts - Mango Cheesecake- Though this did not have the expected ripe full roof of mango coulis, it was nevertheless a decent rendition.
Choco Sin- A compact cylinder of cream,mousse and biscuit, this yielded a gratifying hit of rich chocolate intensifying in soft mouthfuls- it came across as the quintessential chocolate dessert.
Tariffs and Value for Money - Average cost of a dish may be pegged at Rs.90 here- the snacks have a lower price while Italian dishes go upto Rs.130. For a selection of 7 dishes (which on an overall basis, favourably reflected on the kitchen’s ability to make ideas hatch into good results) and 3 competently concocted drinks, the bill inclusive of VAT was Rs.952- we felt that this was a true VFM joint.
With an efficiently executed niche concept, this restaurant offsets the risk of putting all its eggs in one basket by juggling them with a variety of tasty tricks. This Factory’s products rise a cut above the assembly-line offerings.
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