Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Pasta Bar Veneto

While in search of an alternative to the good old FSM, we happened to hear good reviews of  The Pasta Bar Veneto and decided to visit the place. After a very long time we decided on a dinner, inconsistent with our family practice of having a light supper. And am I glad that we did! As you step onto the terrace, the dim light and the cool breeze create a magic.
We selected a table and proceeded to order. The lighting was dim and even the presence of a lamp did nothing to enable our reading of the menu. Moreover, a noisy batch of people who had occupied a vintage position of the city view were reveling noisily and spoiling the quietness of the ambiance.
Reluctantly, we moved to the inside of the restaurant. Even the lighting inside didn't help us. Our mobile torches enabled us to read the menu and place our orders. Upon being asked, the waiter recommended the Verdure alla Griglia, a baked vegetable dish consisting of various vegetables and served in a paprika and tomato sauce, (Rs. 295)

Verdure alla Griglia
I don't claim to have a thorough knowledge of Italian food. But I should have had my antenna up seeing the paprika and tomato sauce in its description.
On returning home, I looked up 'Verdure alla Griglia'  and found that it was a dish basically made by grilling vegetables and sprinkle them with herbs like parsley and olive oil. And here, I was served with a dish dunked in tomato sauce. The grilled vegetables were all nice and crisp, the mashed potato in its midst, awesome, but when the sauce hit the palate, it was pure Indian flavors, making this an unsavory experience. Also be cautious of the very tough piece of cottage cheese served in this Italian dish.
Next order was my favorite, Caesar's salad (Rs.175)  The lettuce was crisp, all right but eating deep fried croutons was a  first time experience. The oily smell was a put-off. We had to ask for additional dressing (we were given olive oil, Parmesan cheese and honeyed mustard) to sharpen the taste..

Caesar's salad

Our order of Cheese Garlic Bread topped with mozzarella, four to a plate, was priced at Rs.135. They were well baked and tasty. But addition of some chilly flakes would have done magic.

Cheese Garlic Bread

I had called the manager ahead to reserve a table and ask for availability of vegetarian dishes. He ensured that good care would be taken of us. Despite this promise, I found a serious lack of attention from the waiter(s). No one spent time to explain the dishes, ask us for our preferences or customization. Each dish very quickly followed another and at one point of time we had three dishes on our table. We didn't know which ones to eat without the other going cold. The experience was like 'eat quickly and leave'. I couldn't but help comparing Peperoncino experience with this one. Every waiter there was so knowledgeable and so patient in explaining the menu! I realize now that perhaps a change in the tables had resulted in disinterested waiters.

The manager came at this point to ask if the meal was ok. I told him about my disappointment with the Indianized sauce in the grilled vegetables. He then asked me if I wanted a white or tomato sauce for my pasta, the next order that I was contemplating. I said I prefer a white sauce.

The waiter who had first served while we had sat outside, re-appeared now and apologized for not being able to attend to us and asked what we were looking for. I again told him that we were looking for an Italian experience and not 'spicy' Indian. While we were still talking, another waiter appeared with a 'white sauce' pasta without even our asking for it and again even before we could have our previous dish. But our waiter took care and sent away that dish and instead agreed with our selection of Pesto di Pomodoro as one being closest to an Italian experience (sun-dried tomatoes, pine nut pesto, garlic, tossed with cream and pasta, Rs. 295). It was great in taste and served with a side of a slice of bread. Once this waiter, Vijay, took over, it was all smooth-sailing from then on. He got some veggies added to the preparation, ordered another slice of the bread, and in general took care that we were satisfied with the dish.

Pesto di Pomodoro

Ended with mock-tail which was a complimentary offer, perhaps because of my complaint about the grilled vegetables.
The portion sizes were decent and hence I can call them value for money.
The big minus for me was the placement of the opposite chairs so close to the table that me and my co-diner found ourselves kicking each other under the table throughout the meal. We had to make a conscious effort to keep our feet very close to our body...something like sitting in the economy class of an aeroplane. The narrow table width and the continuous dumping of the dishes in front of us made it so crowded that we had to push all condiments and cutlery placed on table aside to make some space for our plates.
The total bill came to Rs.1145/- and because of absence of light, added to the feeling of 'hurry up and get going' attitude, we ended up paying a good  tip on top of service charges without checking the bill! Left with a feeling that not enough was done paying attention to the customer. Had so looked forward to a relaxed dining experience!
I might just go back as there is definitely a promise of tastes (despite the slightly high-priced dishes).

Even the bill was prepared without our indicating the end of our meal.