Once in a way, a dining experience makes an impression. If you are well-traveled and eat out more often than not, that kind of experience becomes especially elusive. That’s why I am happy to report that I recently discovered an experience of that sort – pretty much on my own doorstep. It’s called Naati Manae (naati = rustic/country-style; manae = house), serves only typical Karnataka cuisine, and (this was a surprise) as of now, only non-vegetarian dishes. K. Girish and B. Ravi Shankar, Koramangala-based friends and real estate developers, got so tired of having to schlep off to Cubbonpet or Malleswaram every time they needed a fix of honest-to-goodness local oota (meal) that they decided to go the DIY route. The result is an unpretentious little eatery that dishes out specialties like raagi mudde (raagi = finger millet; mudde = balls), donne biriyani (biriyani served in a cup made of dry leaves), naati koli saaru (naati koli = free range chicken; saaru = a thin, soupy curry), and more. Disclaimer: In a break with my standard policy, I have only dined at this restaurant ONCE. It was good enough to share.
Um, no. That’s not my address. It’s the name of a restaurant situated on (no prizes for guessing) 12th Main in (no prizes here either) Koramangala. And a very good one it is too.
Although the food at 12th Main is excellent, I want to focus for once on service – an area that many mid-range fine dining restaurants seem to neglect (two notable exceptions, off the top of my head: Caperberry and Via Milano). 12th Main has gotten service down to a T. Partly because I enjoyed the food immensely, but mostly because I simply couldn’t believe they’d gotten it so, so right, I visited 12th Main on several separate occasions. My conclusion: these guys know a little secret – service is an attitude, not a script.
I’ve been avoiding writing this post for a while. A long while. Why? Because I haven’t wanted to share “my” favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant with anyone. Which is stupid, really, when you consider that it’s usually full. On a weeknight. Clearly, people already know about it – and, like me, they keep coming back for more.
I still remember the first time I visited Via Milano; Chef Paolo came flying out of the kitchen with tears in his eyes, begging me not to desecrate my Frutti de Mare pizza with the fingernail-sized piece of Gorgonzola I’d asked for. I insisted, he deferred – and I’m sure some poor, unsuspecting cut of meat saw the wrong end of his cleaver that afternoon. I’m surprised he still serves me. Keep reading…