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Home truths on a plate

— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

Desmond's: classy without being intimidating

WHEN YOU step into Desmond's at Lavelle Road, it is homecoming. It can't be the décor by Siraj Mistry who combines delicate whorls of black on white wallpaper with dramatic black-white-red seating and frosted glass partitions that lend privacy to the 1,200 sq. ft. dining space including a no-smoking section. It can't be the graphic lettering on the doorway or the trendy menu cards.

It is only when Desmond Rice steps up to you beaming broadly that you recognise why. He was the restaurateur who lit up some of Bangalore's favourite dining spots over the last 30 years — Blue Fox, Prince's and, most recently Tycoon's. At his new restaurant, launched in February, a sea of smiling clients surrounds him, complimenting Desmond and his wife Dhanalakshmi, on the look, the fare, the companionable seating, with crystal on shelves, colourful plaques or stunning, abstracted photographs of vegetables on the walls.

New and improved

But this time Desmond is serving up a new, improved version of his last enterprise. He's added oriental fare to the Continental and Indian menus that won his last partnership foray awards for years. And since his loyal cooks date back over decades, the cooking is as impeccable as the tongue recalls.

We leave Desmond to pick selections for us from his wide-ranging menu. Over a tangy, fresh pineapple juice, we bite into our starters. The Korean chicken spring rolls are impeccable, juicy tender juliennes within, while the crisp wrapper yields at the first bite. The chicken salt and pepper sizzles with flavour, offset by sautéed spring onions, the meat done to a right bite, the top notes of pepper quite distinct. A plate of assorted kebabs follows. The malai kebab is melt-in-the-mouth perfect, the herb-fragrant hariyali kebab pleasant enough, though the chicken tikka is a tad dry.

For the main course, we try the chicken cannelloni, its rich tomato sauce an apt foil to the finely minced meat baked within a pasta casing. Perhaps an additional dash of oregano would have enhanced its zing. The crispy shredded lamb is special — its finely shredded meat cooked to a tongue-teasing robustness that only the Chinese seem to have mastered. The dish of broccoli with chicken was hearty too with the florets cooked to a teasing firmness.

Replete from all this good eating, we check out the dessert selection in a near stupor. Faced with a tiramisu, a chocolate mousse, a coffee-walnut cheesecake, and other exotic choco-mango confections, we try a cappuccino cream éclair. Its delight lingers long after we leave Desmond's. For, its coffee bouquet is aromatic and light, its heart of cream a total surprise, just as an éclair should be.

Since ours was but a random sampling from Desmond's spotless kitchen, we've promised ourselves we'd return for more. What did we miss out on? Well, a clear bean curd and vegetable soup or a talumein soup, sesame corn triangles or choi manto dimsums from the oriental section. Or a Japanese cube steak, prawn newburg or pizza caprese from the Continental array. Or the gosht rara or methi/pudina sabzi with cocktail kulchas and rotis.

Curd rice too

Just like the surprise that often crops up over a dinner at home, Desmond has one tucked one into his Indian menu — curd rice!

That finally is the homegrown touch that sets Desmond's apart from the paisa-a-dozen multi-cuisine restaurants in town. Its feel is classy without being intimidating, its service makes you feel at home, menu is but a ladle removed from amma's fare. It's an advantage very few new eateries start out with. Desmond's is at Ground floor, 41 Cristu Complex, Lavelle Road. You could call 51278000/01 to know more about this new place.

* * *

Ambience: Dramatic in black, white and red.

Service: Friendly, but unobtrusive

Wallet factor: About Rs. 800 for a meal for two, excluding drinks.

Specials: A Rs. 99 per-head-only weekday lunch of soup-salad-dessert or chicken-vegetables and roti.


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