In 1992, when New York Restaurant Week founder Tim Zagat dreamt up the idea of specially curated meals for $20 at the city’s top ranked restaurants, I’m sure he never imagined he was starting a food revolution of sorts. Today, restaurant weeks are celebrated in cities around the world, and the New York one features around 300 restaurants. As you read this, Bangalore is in the midst of its own Restaurant Week, with hundreds of diners sampling lunches and dinners at Bangalore’s most high-end eateries.
The twice-a-year concept is aimed primarily at 25-40 year olds who might hesitate at choosing these restaurants, constrained by price or unsure about liking the food. Now at `900 plus tax, they are freer to experiment, with 20 select restaurants offering three-course prix fixe menus for a fraction of their usual prices. So first time diners (whom New Yorkers snippily refer to as ‘amateur eaters’) yearning for some of Karavalli’s signature Allapuzha Meen curry or Yauatcha’s Chiu Chow Dumplings can get some without breaking into a sweat.
The event is likely to pull even regular diners, such as myself, intrigued by new menu choices and encouraged by the pricing. Who doesn’t like a good bargain? Restaurant Week India director, Nachiket Shetye agrees. “Indians decide on their dining experiences based on price. We’ve taken price out of the equation by fixing it at Rs. 900. Bangalore has some amazing restaurants, which many might not access otherwise.”
Take, for instance, Alto Vino, the Italian restaurant at Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield, a popular RWI pick. Award winning chef Raheel Ahmed has compiled a three-course menu of several of their signature dishes like Polpettine, Pollo alla Cacciatora and Spigola. Almost half of his 70-cover restaurant is filled with RWI diners, he says, including young couples, office goers and even regulars. “We want people to try us often, and not just during birthday or anniversaries.”
How has Bangalore, cited as a city of discerning foodies, taken to this week of high-end bargain dining? According to Shetye, enthusiasm levels have grown since its inception four years ago, and this time 20 per cent extra seats have been added to ease the rush. With curated fine dining experiences on the rise, it is what Zagat called a ‘win-win situation’ for both diner and the restaurant. And it’s here in your town.
Say hello to Ruma Singh, a Bangalore-based lifestyle writer and wine blogger, and her column for us on observations, insights and what’s buzzing in the city.
-Ruma Singh (email@example.com)