Medici in Indiranagar


medici logoThe first time I visited Medici was a couple of years ago, when I was invited as a guest of the Bangalore Mirror review team. At that time, I thought it had a lot of promise, but for one reason or another (so many restaurants, so little time!), I never returned. I was recently invited, with a bunch of other people, to sample Medici’s new Franco-Italian menu, ostensibly so that they could receive feedback on it (in other words, I did not pay for this meal). Having attended the very low-key sit down dinner, I was intrigued (and impressed) enough to return, several times, on my own dime.

My first time back, my goal was to see whether the food was consistently as good as that served up at the PR-focused dinner. Serving dinner to a table full of journos, writers, and opinion-makers is a snap when you KNOW they’re there – I wanted to see whether quality would suffer if I dined as just another walk-in customer. Accordingly, our reservation was made in The Spouse’s name, and I wore a wig and sunglasses. (Just kidding! Wait staff did not recognize me from the dinner though – we were just another family out for a meal).

Where and What

Medici decorMedici is located in Indiranagar, on 100 Foot Road, above Maharaja Furniture.They offer limited basement parking and a valet service, so parking – that bane of Bangalore diners – is not a problem. The restaurant’s decor is classy and understated, in muted shades of brown and gold. A huge glass frontage offers you the chance to snigger at the miserable multitudes stuck in peak hour traffic as you tuck into your dinner.

Bottoms Up

Medici funky toffee

Funky toffee: think pina colada + chocolate

Giant Vacuum Cleaner and Mr. Small Mr. Not-So-Small-Any-Longer (they grow up so soon! sigh) each ordered a mocktail, and The Spouse and I ordered martinis. These were perfect – nice and dry, a rarity in Bangalore today given the profusion of “martinis” made, by default, with vodka and flavored syrup. GVC’s “Funky Toffee” mocktail was… interesting. A concoction of “chocolate syrup, butterscotch, pineapple juice and cream”, Funky Toffee turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. “It doesn’t taste BAD, but it just tastes WRONG,” opined GVC. “Pineapple and chocolate don’t GO together!” Having had a sip, I’d tend to agree. 

Le Menu S’il Vous Plait

The menu at Medici is one of the very few in this city that offers you the option to order most dishes in either an “appetizer” or an “entree” portion size. This pleased me immensely; as a food writer, I often end up ordering more than I can eat in order to sample a wide range of dishes, and I abhor wasting food.

We began our meal with an order of fish arancini (Rs.250) and one of carpaccio (Rs. 260), both typically Italian dishes.

Medici CarpaccioIn 1950, Giuseppe Cipriani, the owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, was presented with a challenge: the Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo, a regular customer, had been put on a strict diet – she could only consume raw meat. Cipriani lovingly shaved paper-thin slices of his finest beef sirloin, drizzled a crosshatch of mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce over it, and served it to the Contessa. He named it after Italian Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, whose works were being exhibited in Venice at that time, because the color of the raw beef reminded him of the bright red hues in the artist’s paintings. Given this, I ask four questions to benchmark carpaccio:

1. Is it sliced thinly enough?
2. Is it flavorful, as beef sirloin should be, indicating that a good cut of meat has been used?
3. Is there enough sauce to add flavor without drowning out the meat?
4. Is it served at room temperature (a personal preference, because I feel it better brings out the flavor and the texture)

At Medici, the answers were yes, a qualified yes, no, and yes. Why the ambiguity with regard to flavor? Because it’s a sad fact that the beef available in Bangalore simply isn’t as flavorful as “phoren” beef. Maybe it’s the feed, maybe it’s the breed – either way, the beef we get is inferior. So while I didn’t think the meat was as flavorful as it should be, that probably has less to do with the chef and more to do with the cow, because Chef (and owner) Rohan Malik informs me that Medici only uses tenderloin for its carpaccio.

Arancini are deep-fried balls of breadcrumb-coated cooked risotto. In Italy, arancini are usually (but not always) stuffed with mozzarella. When you bite or cut into them, the mozzarella oozes out deliciously. Like this:

Arancini

Arancini at a ristorante Da Pancrazio in bella Roma

Medici Arancini

#fail 1

Medici’s rendition of  fish arancini, although perfect in appearance, unfortunately fell flat in the flavor department. And the reason for this, I suspect, is twofold: one, the arborio rice has been cooked in water, instead of in a flavorful stock as risotto is supposed to be prepared; and two, they’ve chosen to use (oh no, not again!) basa. I like basa, but only in dishes where fish isn’t meant to be the star performer. Even if I’m wrong about the rice, the arancini was essentially flavorless, because basa takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in and imparts no flavor of its own,  #fail.

medici crab cake

#fail 2

At a subsequent meal, accompanied by willing niece Akshaya Pai, I unwittingly ordered another #fail: the crab cake (Rs.275). Essentially, this was a large aloo tikki with some chopped imitation crab (aka Jus Like Crab or crab sticks) in it. As an aloo tikki – it was good, and didn’t need the crab sticks. As a crab cake – well, like I said: #fail. (I must say, though, that the red pepper salsa/sauce it was served with was excellent.) Medici scallops[Whiny aside: Whyyyyyyyyyy does no one in Bangalore do a proper crab cake?] Luckily for Akshaya, she ordered the pan-seared scallops (Rs.350) – three perfectly seared little fellas, each topped with a citrusy salsa.

Entrées

Back to our first meal… by now, we had settled on our entrées. Service, by the way, was attentive and courteous – as always, though, the staff could do with a little more training (informing customers that a filet mignon is “soft” while a rib eye is “little hard” does not inspire confidence.)

Medici duck ravioli

A bit more filling please!

My duck ravioli (Rs. 350) was good – or so I’m told. I couldn’t really appreciate it because my recent sugar detox has resulted in my being super-sensitive to sweetness in food. To me, the fragrant pear jus seemed overly sweet. GVC, however, tasted it and pronounced it “perfectly balanced“, and I trust his sense of taste. While the ravioli was cooked right, we both wished that it had a little more stuffing in it.

Braised lamb shankThe Spouse had ordered a lamb shank (Rs.475) that the restaurant claims had been “braised for 8 hours”.  Given the falling-off-the-bone quality of the meat, it probably had been – there was enough “tooth” to the meat to know that it hadn’t been pressure-cooked. The rich, fragrant gravy and polenta served alongside evoked images of a cold day spent under a warm blanket – the quintessential comfort food.

Medici pizzaMr. Not-So-Small’s “Italian sausage” pizza (Rs. 375) was great – except for the sausage. A nice thin crust, just the right proportion of sauce to cheese, and a sparse but not invisible topping were let down by the fact that the so-called Italian sausage was made of… chicken. Yup. Sausage yes; Italian – emphatically no. To be fair, I will say that Medici, like many other restaurants, is trying to cater to the large number of people who don’t eat pork. In the interest of authenticity, however, it would be better to offer sweet Italian pork sausage as the default and chicken sausage as an option for those who want it. I know without doubt that real Italian sausage would have made it… well, pizza perfect.

GVC, having no such issues with consuming pork, ordered a pork scallopini (Rs. 450) that turned out to be the evening’s winning dish, characterized by subtle flavors and contrasting textures. A thin, crisp crust of seasoned breadcrumbs imprisoned the pork’s juices, so every mouthful was succulent and intense. Braised red cabbage added an interesting twist, lending a sharp note to the creamy mushroom sauce.

Dessert

Medici MascarponeFor dessert (which, being in the middle of my sugar detox, I could only taste by the spoonful), The Spouse ordered a Mascarpone sandwich topped with fresh figs (Rs. 175). The creamy cheese was layered between two generously-sized and not-too-sweet almond biscuits. The Spouse felt that had the biscuit been thinner, the overall effect would have been exquisite: crunchy, rich almond biscuit; creamy, mild cheese; and fresh, sweet fig in perfect harmony. As it was, he felt that the texture and flavor of the biscuit dominated and detracted from the whole.

Medici pannacottaMr. Not-So-Small decided to go with something off-menu (a kitchen experiment that the restaurant happened to be conducting that day) and accepted the offer of a tender coconut panna cotta. This was pretty good – the panna cotta was neither stiff with gelatin nor gloppy and unformed. It was subtle, understated and tasty – though I daresay there’s nothing Italian or French about tender coconut.

Chocolate fondantOn another occasion, Akshaya found that the chocolate fondant (Rs. 175) struck the perfect balance: not too sweet, not too rich, but gooey and chocolatey and warm and good nevertheless. Wish it had been bigger, though!

Pièce de résistance

As always, I have saved the best for last. Across multiple visits to Medici, I  found their
steak to be par excellence. When you order it rare or medium rare, they know what that means. Simple seasoning allows the flavor and texture of the beef to shine through uninhibited, while the accompanying sauces are big on flavor (I highly recommend the filet mignon (Rs. 400) served with a blue cheese sauce that’s strong enough to knock your socks off.)

Medici steak

Perfection on a plate!

One weird thing I noticed is that sides are charged as extras. They are very good sides, very generously portioned, and very reasonably priced – but hey, charging an extra Rs. 50 for mashed potato to go with your steak? Not cool.

Overall, I think Medici is pretty good – I’d give it 7.5 on 10 for the fact that its breads, steak, scallops, lamb, and pizza crust were impeccable and its servers are well-informed. It could be brilliant if it stopped trying to cater to more uninformed palates with things like basa, chicken sausage, paneer steak (yup, true), and aloo tikkis trying to be crab cakes. Seems to me that Medici falls short of its potential wherever Chef Malik has tried to compromise in the name of “popular taste.” My advice: revamp the menu and aim for the highest common factor among your customers, not the lowest common denominator.

Should you go? Yes. As long as you know that authentic Italian and/or French food is about subtlety and not spice, you’ll like it. If you prefer loud flavors – stick to South East Asian cuisine. Don’t force good chefs to bastardize other cuisines by insisting that they are too “bland” and must be showered with “spice.”

Medici
#1206, 2nd Floor,
Mannan Arcade,
100ft Road
Indiranagar
Bangalore – 560038

Phone: 65705890 / 65705891

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9 thoughts on “Medici in Indiranagar

    • I think it is an underrated restaurant, but if people who recognize good food do not dine there, it will be *forced* to cater to the LCD diner’s tastes in order to stay afloat. This is one restaurant I would like to see being able to LIFT that LCD diner up by staying true to the cuisine. Let’s see…

      • Totally agree…BTW I so agree with Deepika’s views on your reviews…I am always comfortable with you reviewing our place because you are so honest without being brutal and there’s is always this positive streak that makes one WANT to improve on the negatives. Looking forward to having you over at Red Fork to review the cuisine….make it quick…I promise you NO SWEETS !!!

  1. As always loved your review. Like all your reviews, this one focuses on whats good, bad and the best part is you offer suggestions for improvement and I loved how you took into consideration that since you were on a detox, your judgement of the duck ravioli may not be bang on. It is so rare to come across just a non biased review here in Blore.Why cant I read more of ur reviews in the papers instead of half the dimwits that publish it these days.:) My only grouse (a tiny one), is I wish you would review more restaurants.

    I visited Medici 6-8 months (I think) and had their open seafood lasagna, blew my mind. As for authenticity, since I neither no Italian or French food well, I cannot comment, but it was subtle, meaty,creamy with some bit.

    • Hey Deepika

      Thanks for reading! Print publications generally don’t want me to write for them because a) I am completely honest, which doesn’t sit well with their advertisers; and b) I like to go into the little details, which doesn’t fit in their “word count” limit!

      Since I pay for my own meals, eating at a restaurant more than twice before I review it, and since this blog is not commercialized in any way (nor do I want it to be) – restaurant reviews depend on my being able to generate income from other sources. And if I am too busy doing that, I can’t do this! I am trying to stick to a once-in-six-week schedule though. I’ll try to write more often, promise!

  2. The review is great…but I have this grouse about all good Italian restaurants in India…why do they server Italian food in French portions (even Venetian portions are bigger)? 😛 Good to know that they make arancini…I haven’t found it on any menu here…it is one of the tastiest Italian snacks…

    • Hey earnes – Not at all! All comments must be approved before posting, and I don’t do that immediately – sometimes takes me a day or so to get it, especially if I’ve been travelling!

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