I always thought Road Trip in Domlur was a desi version of a biker bar: headbanger music, purple-tinged lighting, frothing beer overflowing from mugs and drying in sticky patches on various surfaces… you get the picture. I’d heard that 1000cc bikes were the primary form of décor, that spark plugs were being used as objets d’art, and that the food, was, well, incidental.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to hear from more than one person that Pankaj Ramesh (last seen at Herbs and Spice before ceding the reins to Manjit) has been running it as a bistro of sorts for over a year now. That being the case, I was sure that the food was definitely worth checking out.
Tuesday is a holiday…
The first thing I learnt about Road Trip was that Tuesday is a holiday. After having driven out to Domlur (from Koramangala: drive over the flyover, turn left, first right, and then swing an immediate left onto the service road) we found that it was closed, and headed out to Anupam’s Coast II Coast instead, an unplanned detour I didn’t regret.
Several weeks later, The Spouse and I finally arrived at Road Trip with our resident 13 year-old Vacuum Cleaner in tow.
First impressions: definitely not a biker bar, even though a couple of 1000cc bikes were in evidence, bearing mute and somewhat dusty testimony to the establishment’s earlier avatar. A quick glance takes in an abundance of light, a semi-open kitchen along one side, a bar on the other (liquor license soon, apparently), simple café-style tables at the front, and some slouchy lounge-style seating as well. The décor seems derived from the “sans frills” style, much loved by those who ascribe to the “it’s all about the food, not the ambience” school of thought.
We begin our journey
After a brief chat with Pankaj, we seat ourselves and begin our repast. Road Trip offers an à la carte menu as well as a daily special blackboard menu. Reluctantly, I agreed to try an Apple-Carrot juice. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds – in fact, it was quite nice… I can best describe it as bright orange apple juice with some texture (said color and texture being derived from the carrot).
For starters, we opted to try a Bruschetta, and – against advice – a plate of Sauteed Beef. Having placed that order, we nibbled on hot-from-the-oven mini croissant rolls (fabulous!) as we tried to settle on our entrées.
The Spouse felt positively torn – so much meat, so little time! On Pankaj’s recommendation, he eventually settled for the Grilled Pork Spare Ribs. I ordered a Tagliatelle with Lamb stewed in Tomato and Garlic, and Vacuum Cleaner ordered himself a Bacon Quiche.
I’m sorry to report that both our starters were a letdown. The bruschetta was generous, but disappointing: not enough olive oil, not enough parmesan (couldn’t taste either), and either the tomatoes were unripe (some pieces were actually green) or someone had been overgenerous with lemon juice, because it was mouth-puckeringly sour. I ordered this on another visit with identical results, so there’s definitely some work required there.
The beef also failed to impress. The meat was moist and tender, but otherwise pretty bland. I could only detect the
overriding taste of soya sauce, pepper, and fried onion. No depth, no subtlety, no flavor. In all fairness, we had been warned that this was strictly a “with drinks” order, added to the menu for post liquor-license beer drinkers.
The main course
My mood wasn’t improved by the fact that our entrées began to arrive at the table one by one, with a not-really acceptable lapse between deliveries. However, their quality more than made up for my displeasure.
The portions were large, each one enough for one-and-a-half people to share with ease. I know, these are plated dishes, and it doesn’t quite work that way, I’m just trying to give you an idea of how much is on the plate, man, gimme a break.
My Stewed Lamb was excellent. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth yet retained just enough texture to be recognized as lamb, and the garlicky flavor of the sauce was subtle rather than in-your-face. I’d have preferred my tagliatelle al dente, though – although it wasn’t cooked to death, it lacked “bite”. Despite my legendary appetite, I had trouble finishing the entire portion, and doggy-bagged half of it for dinner.
The quiche earned a thumbs up for its rich, flaky crust and fluffy, perfectly-textured bacon-and spinach filling. In a cursory nod towards Health, the quiche – an entire quarter of the pie – is served with a side of simple, mustard-dressed garden salad. Warning: this is an entire meal in itself, and unless you are aged 13-21, you will not be able to eat anything else. Don’t even try!
I’ve saved the best for last. There was nothing “spare” about the Grilled Pork Spare Ribs. They were grilled evenly throughout, and exuded a smoky flavor that’s usually achieved on an open-fire grill. The meat was falling off the bone, the fat was minimal – just enough to add gloss and succulence to the meat – and the marinade had penetrated evenly and thoroughly. The generous heaping of steamed veggies on the side are perfectly done, retaining crunch and nutritive value (if you care about that sort of stuff!) If you’re a red-meat person, this is for you: it’s superlative.
Throwing good sense to the winds, we each ordered a dessert: A chocolate roulade for me, a walnut meringue pie for The Spouse, and a chocolate mousse for the Vacuum Cleaner. All three were worth every calorie.
Would I eat at Road Trip again? Yes, absolutely. In fact, I already have. My take: certainly not fine dining, but doesn’t claim to be, nor does it charge as if it were. Great for an unpretentious chill out with friends, when you want good food, great desserts, and a quiet, unhurried meal.
3524/1 Service Road,
1st Main, HAL 2nd stage
Indiranagar, Bangalore 560 008
Phone: 080 4115 5848