We come bearing good tidings, Bangaloreans. There’s a place that will make you believe you arrived there via time machine, looking out over red-tiled roofs and the lush pre-monsoon tree cover. It harks back to quieter, Paul Fernandes-style old Bangalore. It’s called Salvadores, and it salves Bangalore’s middling run of luck with restaurants this year.
Up on the fifth floor of Bangalore Central Mall, previously home to the iconic Victoria Hotel, this sprightly new establishment salutes the good ol' days. You may even recognise the head waiter, Nicholas Blake, from the staff at Victoria’s. He will obligingly walk you through a photo-gallery of the past, with a short history lesson and the skinny on some of the vintage furniture on display here.
But there's nothing cobwebby about this nostalgic recreation. The linen is a pristine, starched white. The tables are laid for a full-course meal, with more cutlery than we know what to do with. The only thing that's truly old school here is the warm hospitality (upgraded by great service), and the menu: steak, grills, pasta and pork chops.
The restaurant is named for Joseph Salvadore Victoria, the owner's father, a man of Sri Lankan origin. Salvadores also houses a Ceylon Tea House next door, but that’s the best luck you’re likely to have with drinks. The wine menu only serves Grover by the glass, and dear diner, we strongly recommend you not let this mar your evening, and give the alcohol a miss entirely. The food more than makes up for boring tipple.
Start with mushroom cappuccino, just the thing you want to (daintily) slurp away at when the weather is looking apocalyptic. Unctuous and creamy, it comes topped with a garlic foam that in theory sounds suspect, but gives the soup delicate depth and texture.
Smoked chicken and apple salad with honey-mustard dressing is light, refreshing, and conceals a surprise – artichoke hearts. Homely with a tinge of sophistication, this is the the sort of thing you’d expect Ina Garten to dish up should you visit on a weekday afternoon.
Be sure to spring for house special and eternal city favourite, the Steak Victoria. It’s high-quality meat, cooked medium-rare, and served with gravy on the side – in a gravy boat, of course. Some old lovin’ feeling is evident, too, in chicken fettuccini alfredo, old-school rich and satisfying. (The side of garlic bread reminds us that there is no self-love greater than some carb-on-carb action.)
The pleasant surprises only come to an abrupt halt with dessert. We’re served stale trifle pudding, with a curious bitter aftertaste, as if to remind us that in some cases, the past is best left undisturbed. Lesson learned, we will not be deterred from visiting again, especially to investigate the breakfast menu which features all the Victoria Hotel favourites – a full English (complete with bacon, sausage, eggs and brioche) and even idiappams on Sundays. Welcome home, queen.
Getting there: 5th Floor, Bangalore Central Mall, MG Road, call 080 49653492 for reservations. A meal for two costs approximately Rs. 3500.
Accessibility: Elevator access to the restaurant.
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