70s splendor @ 12th Main, Grand Mercure

It always gives me great pleasure to come across a new place to dine, and last night provided one such opportunity. I had never heard of the Grand Mercure Hotel (in Koramangala) before, and once I saw the place, I knew why. For one, it’s off the beaten path, not on the main road, and therefore not likely to draw attention to itself. Second, it caters mostly to in-house guests. A friend and I presented ourselves for the Classics of the 70’s Food Festival, that began last week and is on until this Sunday, the 24th of March. Held at their restaurant, 12th Main, this fest is à la carte, with a specially crafted menu of dishes that represent the 70s, that are not available on the regular menu, nor a part of the buffet. The gramophone record inspired, LP menu card put a smile on my face, making me think of my mom’s collection from the 60s – 70s.

BGM1I was quite blown away to find out that for just this 10 day festival, the chefs and powers that be have gone to the trouble of creating drinks, starters, mains and desserts. Imagine the planning, tasting, testing and such that went into this! With the exception of the drinks (I was unimpressed by the cocktails; my margarita was sub-par, and as my dining companion put it, all the drinks lacked the ‘wow’ factor), everything else was tops in my book! We started off with a Shrimp Cocktail, that was ceviche-like in it’s preparation, light, tasty and a lovely way to start a meal on a hot evening. We dithered over the mains, since there were a few different things (non-vegetarian selections – we’re both hardcore meat eaters and did not bother with the veg options, of which there were 3 – 4) that sounded interesting, and gratefully took up the offer of tasting portions.

First up, Veal Oscar, that was served with mashed potatoes and asparagus (mash was decent, asparagus was perfect). The veal medallions were nicely cooked –  it was a decent, unusual dish. Next up was the Duck a l’orange, which I was eagerly anticipating, being a big duck fan, and I wasn’t disappointed. The thickly cut slices of duck were beautifully glazed with crunchy skin – yum! The Poached fish Veronique was served with a delicate, creamy sauce and had grapes and pomegranate seeds, and we both just loved the taste, texture and presentation of this dish. Last up was the Pan Fried Rib Eye Steak, which was a little overcooked for our preference, and did not stand out. It crossed my mind, after we’d placed the order, that no one asked us how we wanted the steak, nor did we make our preferences known. Note to self: always make your preference for medium, still pink on the inside, known, to avoid such instances in the future.

The pleasant surprise of the evening were the desserts. We tried tasting portions of them all, greedy creatures that we are:  Baba au Rhum, Crepe suzette, Cherries Jubilee, Baked Alaska, Apple pie, Black forest gâteaux – all came, meekly awaited their turn and were messily devoured for their efforts.  One of my dining companions loved the Baked Alaska and the gâteaux – she ate every last morsel of both. Personally, the standouts for me were the Crepe Suzette (it had citrus rind in the center, was tart and just up my street) served with vanilla ice cream and the Cherries Jubilee. The gâteaux and Baba au rhum were both good, and the Apple pie was done well in a different way – it had a cake like covering rather than pie crust but clearly contained the requisite amount of cinnamon.

Our lovely surroundings added to the charm and relaxed feel of our meal. We sat outside, right next to a patch of calla lilies, and a little stream with Koi  rushing about on the other side. The lighting was not very conducive to pictures, but it was worth the sacrifice, for that ambiance. In fact, I would go so far as to say Grand Mercure is a hidden gem for those looking for a leisurely, laid back meal in the Koramangala area. I hope they get their drinks menu/ flavors in order soon. In the meantime, if you are looking for a nice meal and some not often found food choices, head there this weekend for the Classics of the 70’s food festival.

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in