My one kvetch with food festivals, generally, is the rather short duration they’re around for. A week to ten days, and pouf, gone! I do understand that sometimes guest chefs are flown in, that the idea behind the festival is to liven things up at the eatery in question, and so on. But given the amount of thought, time and preparation that goes into creating a food festival, I still can’t help but wish that energy was not expended for so short a period. So, when the Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield announced a fest that would take place on a weekly basis (on Wednesday nights), but continue for a couple months or more, I said a small “yay” and trotted over on the very first week, which happened to be the last Wednesday of November. Part of the buffet spread at M Cafe, this festival is named Streat Kitchen, with the festivities conducted outdoors. The area is transformed into a mela, with wooden carts, colorful, hand painted kettles and tiffin carriers,chalk board signage and more cute decorations and a complete carnival atmosphere, and more than a hint of kitsch, by way of the specially designed place mats (featuring an auto rickshaw, Bollywood actors, etc.) and Bollywood music piping in. A variety of street food (hence Streat – get it?) from across India are on offer at each cart, from chaats to dosas to kebabs to biryanis. This is, of course, in addition to the regular buffet offerings set up indoors at the cafe (we desisted from anything other than the dessert section, past experience telling me that I would then never be able to try all the festival offerings).
The cart we seated ourselves next to (but of course!) was the drinks – apart from Indian mocktails, there were three specially crafted cocktails – one that was more milkshake than anything, a Bacardi spiked Nimbu Paani we liked and my favorite, vodka shots with rasgullah! Yup, instead of the sugar syrup, these babies (and large they were!) were served in vodka. I am always leery of mixing my flavors and am a definite un-fan of Indianized Western desserts and vice-versa, but this sure hit the spot and I went back for seconds. I love me my chaats, so I headed to those counters, but my dining companion was all about the meat offerings and dived into the kebabs and fish. A sound of shev poori done, we moved to Pav Bhaji and Kheema Pav – the former was blah but the latter was really good, with the crisp edged, buttery pav holding together kheema and onion and fixings. I also liked the ragda patties that came hot off the giant tawas the chefs were handling (in fact, loved that everything we ate and drank was getting prepared right in front of our noses/eyes). The skewers section had paneer which we declined and headed straight across to the very delectable (smelling and tasting) Gosht Gilawat tikkis served with Ulta tawa parathas. This was the highlight dish of the night – the parathas with the delicate hint of rose water and the meltingly soft and perfect kebabs – we feasted on these! There were also momos, chilli paneer and chilli chicken which we didn’t get around to trying – the kebabs kept us quite occupied, and having spied jalebis being made fresh, I knew to save space for desserts. Though actually, the best dessert of the night turned out to be something I had never eaten before: Gadbad – fruits, fresh and dried, ice cream, syrup – we started with a shared portion and went back for another. The food overall was nice, if not brilliant, the atmosphere really fun, and the weather so perfect to enjoy an outdoor meal. So, if you’re looking for something to do to chase away the mid-week blues or end hump day on a high note, head over to M Cafe and enjoy!