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
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.
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:
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.)
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.”
#1206, 2nd Floor,
Bangalore – 560038
Phone: 65705890 / 65705891