UB City and its ilk may have vomited faux-European architecture everywhere in this charming city’s central business district, but much like the raptors in Jurassic Park, life finds a way. On a lazy Sunday in the area, ping-ponging from sprawling mansion to sports car showrooms - only looking, not touching - we spot a shy new blossom betwixt the stalwart trunks of Koshy’s and Airline’s.
In a little lane off Lavelle Road, the Blackboard Bakery is easy missed - find its mustard yellow grilled facade in the lane next to Rice Bowl - but it is so utterly charming, we almost hope you’ll ignore this review and let us have it as our secret. Just for a little bit.
Walking past over-manicured landscaping, this detour leads to pools of light filtering through a lush canopy of creepers and posies. The Blackboard Bakery is painfully pretty - like, Feed, not Stories pretty - with grey and white decor and gold accents. We perch on high chairs at a slick white table that is so ready for a flat lay. This is the place to read the new Rachel Cusk, pausing occasionally to lift your head and pretend you’re in a Bon Iver music video. For now, the live band floating in from the restaurant next door suffices.
There’s an extensive and imaginative menu that covers everything from a classic buttermilk fried chicken to harissa and mint lamb burgers. The cafe is a week old, so its juices and shakes aren’t in yet, but it claims early confidence in its breads and buns. But before the carbs, a spot of fishing.
A basil-grilled grouper arrives quickly with a standard side salad. It’s slathered in a fresh green muddle and is sharply spicy, but the mango salsa accompanying it gives us the little bursts of sweetness we need to polish off the plate. These are good beginnings, in counterpoint to two unremarkable coffees.
We’re here with the gym rat friend who usually makes every lunch time a little less fun, but he hits all his macros with a thyme roasted pork and chorizo burger, which gleams enticingly between two sunny buns when it arrives. We settle for a vegetarian but decadent (trust!) sun-dried tomato and basil sandwich stuffed with cream cheese and onion rings (told you). A flecked focaccia dream appears, housing globs of soft cream cheese perched on a layer of onion rings. The heady aroma of sundried tomato and basil pate wafts upwards. We pick at the dainty sweet paprika potatoes - actually sweet and smoky, for once - while we wait for the server to leave so that we can fall on this with the fervour it elicits.
Both of us bite in at the same time. The food noises have to be held back. All of Lavelle Road and its deli-bistro-café competition pales. No fig-and-brie sandwich, no boozy brunch, nothing in this neighbourhood has given us as much pleasure as these hearty, gorgeous meals. We eat until we can eat no more, and simply go along with the server’s recommendation of the millionaire shortbread and nutella brownie for dessert because it’s too difficult to make another decision.
The brownie is pleasingly fudgy but forgettable, but the millionaire shortbread stops us short(bread). Over the crumbly base, a salty caramel layer topped with a decadent helping of dark chocolate transports us into delights for the second time; Gym Rat Friend, who forebears to eat this at first, is disgusted. (Pushed to have a spoonful, even he grudgingly admits it’s a marvel). This one must be savoured slowly, we decide, ask the server to give parcel for leftovers. It’s a delightful present from old Bangalore, just when we needed it the most.
Getting there: 40/2 Lavelle Road, Shanthala Nagar.
Accessibility: One step up from the street into the cafe, and a few more to the inner section.
Sushmita Sundaram writes about funny people, odd things, and anything edible. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its meals.
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