Back to glorious base camp- Strutting on native turf again, I was keen to expose my mind and other sensory surfaces to domestic enticements. Among other things,the prospect of dinner in a highly acclaimed restaurant tickled my curiosity on a Sunday night. After some intense soul-searching on what the heart really wanted,I and a couple of close family members zoomed in on Tattv, located on Lavelle Road, Bangalore ,the recipient of various awards prominent among which was "Best North Indian stand-alone restaurant in Bangalore" title conferred by the 2011 Times Food Guide awards.
Tattv ,the restaurant clarifies, is a philosophic term which connotes truth,reality, or fundamental principle. In pursuit of rapturous reality,we soon landed up there
Ambience - High standards made first impressions. While it is adequate for a honourable evening outside, it stops short of 5 star opulence. Gently rolling discreetly lighted beige arches form the ceiling. Patterned doors set with coloured glass squares let you in.Puzzlingly, ordinary floor tiles sadly make the case for some plush carpetting. A clear glass screen lets you see the chefs in the kitchen, but one side of this transparent partition was darkly misted over with fumes from the roasting station. Mirrors and carved glasswork grace one flank while the other has inviting alcoves with elegant chandeliers.The table-chair decor is nominally deluxe- the food will have to lead the rest of the way.
Menu - It has ample choices for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Aperitifs include Mango-’n’-ginger scented Lassi, and Shorbas like a broth of Murg & Gaajar! Veg starters offer creations like Bharwan Gucchi stuffed with ricotta and dried rose petals (Rs.625), Malai Broccoli, Stuffed Tandoori Mushrooms, Akhrot aur Kamal ki seekh(Rs.250) Scottish pink Salmon is accorded tandoori treatment,while marinated Red Snapper also stars. A range of electically characterized Gosht and Murg kebabs and curries are featured. Among the gravies, apart from the paneer lababdar,pasanda,Kofta makhan khazaana e lazzat variations,and sweet scented spice stuffed Baingan Bharthas, take your pick from rarities like Waterchestnut Bhindi Singhada and Baby Potato Dum Olav in a spicy red sauce with dry coxcomb flowers.
What we chose - Starters- Gaituni paneer tikka, Fried Amritsari macchi, and Chicken Chaanpaan. Texturally all 3 starters were excellently rendered. The paneer had a luxurious creamy softness ,so often absent in many restaurant’s versions. It was supposed to be flavoured with black kalamata olives and saffron -their presence was too stealthy for us too detect. Ditto for the royal cumin and paprika which were stifled by the smooth kebab’s spicy edge. The Macchi Amrithsari was prepared with Pasa- a fish with enjoyable docile flesh ,alas the coating for this was of the type used for onion pakodas- I usually go fida over the Manglorean and Kerala-style batter that enhances chomping and savouring the phenomenon of beautifully fried fish.
Warqi Paratha (Rs.145) was recommended by the staff as a fine appetizer- lightly toasted, this paratha gently treaded the line between sweet and savoury. We were neither impressed nor gutted.
The Main course epiphanized in the form of Kashmiri pine-nut and morel Gucchi Chilgoza Pulao. The kindest thing one can say about this dish was that it was subtle. Then again one has to admit that it was too subtle, like a Kashmiri maiden who is too demure for her own good. Morel mushrooms and the tiny pine-nuts were very shy in the expression of their expected exotic seductions, but at least the the quality of the cooked Basmati rice was good. I tried to dream in vain of the pillowy moistness and exquisite flavour blend that makes chaawal a thing of profound beauty.
Overnight cooked Daal makhni, as per the Times Food Guide ’11, was reported to be the best in town -a contention which I’d like to coolly contest. Tangy undertones, conferred by tamarind, precluded any direct evaluation of the depth of this dish’s delights.Several spoonfuls did not bring me any closer to enjoying what this recipe ought to have - a delicious creamy savouriness that helps somewhat in understanding why Punjabis are said to be "large-hearted" folks.
Before the sweets, some sour aspects- Service - It is the weakest part of the ehsaas here. As more patrons arrived, the 2 waiters proved to be inadequate.Although we were asked on a couple of occasions about the feedback regarding the dishes,service on the whole lacked in vigilance and also in polish. My glass of water took forever to be re-filled, and sometimes almost empty plates sat on the table untouched by anybody for long periods- maybe they expected us to lick the plates clean.
The first Dessert was presented with each component represented in a compact triple-decker disc.Making careful use of my spoon, I scooped out a small vertical slice and tasted it. From the top came a dulcet wave of Raabdi, rich roasted carrot halwa then swirled on the palate. To further qualitate the blend, I was about to take another nuanced slice, when the rest of the dessert was violently attacked and I was left staring at the mangled remains of the original tri-laminar offering. In our country, for some reason, communal harmony symbolized by any tricolour is met with little respect. I searched for the khaas malpua but it had probably become a martyr.
For the 2nd dessert, the waiter informed us that the upcoming dish had been planned and fine-tuned by the chef over a period of 2 months. Two pastry shells, made of chiroti rawa, encased molten chocolate enriched with nuts- these were parked over a reduction (compote) rich and ripe with the flavour of berries and grape. The sweet smooth creaminess of a dollop of vanilla ice-cream added refreshing contrast. It was an interesting kiss to end a rather disappointing affair.
Tariffs - Most guides wrongly indicate that a meal for two people averages Rs.800- a more realistic estimate is Rs. 1800 - inclusive of 24% tax. Starters revolve around Rs.320, each North Indian bread between Rs.50 to 100, and desserts at Rs.150
Value for Money - We did not find it here. The ingredient quality was good, service unremarkable, and the food did not wow the tongue,while the prices were excellent in ensuring the restaurant’s financial health.
If this restaurant wants to live up to its recent awards, it needs to showcase greater chutzpah and talent. At the current moment though, when we gazed through the prism of Tattv, we experienced only mirages of higher pleasure.
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