Supper with a heady twist
NINETEEN TWELVE: a cool place to wine and dine
NINETEEN TWELVE, the new bar-cum-supper club, has so much going for it. It's perfect location on St. Mark's Road. It's innovative ideation from Joe Manavalan, the hotelier-entrepreneur who set up the popular Painted Platters dessert place on CMH Road. It's daily menu changes. It's superbly stocked bar, redolent of French and German wines, rare liquors, and a heady selection of cocktails including Pina Coladas, Daiquiris, and Singapore Slings. Or draft beer in the classic phanta or goli-soda bottles of dark green!
What defines the space? Its ambience takes its cue from the building's original foundation stone, laid in 1912. Originally Blighty's Tea Room, this totally today 155-cover place, first woos the eye with black-and-white photographic icons of yesteryear like Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, and Audrey Hepburn, once the valet parking staff have whisked your wheels out of sight. The large Living Room with its stark Kerala ceiling tiles, its copper-lined lounge seat, its sweeping mahogany bar that faces the mirror-lined kitchen door reflecting a corny poster is warm and inviting, with a 1912 Picasso print in a corner, while Simon and Garfunkel, Sinatra, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other retro music sets the mood. In the corner is a recessed dance floor, if you're in the mood to kick up your heels.
A grand flight of steps that catches you off guard with sprawling motifs of Salvador Dali's `Melting Clocks' sweeps you to the mezzanine Card Room, with its cushion-strewn sofas and low-rise tables, the perfect setting for a gathering of like minds. Back on terra-firma amidst the ottomans and earth hued-décor, a glass door festooned with signatures of history-makers such as Michelangelo, Hitler, Einstein, and Elizabeth I, leads through to a tree-shaded Spanish-style courtyard, where the service boasts of starched white serviettes, wine in cut-glass goblets and impeccable silverware.
What of the food? The starters, priced between Rs. 75 to Rs. Rs. 150, range from steamed ginger and onion chicken/ pork momos to stir-fried chicken with green peppercorn, grilled Indonesian chicken satay with a peanut dip to prawn teriyaki. We tried the fritters, instead. The tamarind chicken nuggets were succulent, tangy, and lightly spiced on the tongue. The crumb-fried prawns were crisp on the outside, tender and juicy within, an irresistible invitation to gluttony. The appetizer menu was excellent.
But the service took unnecessarily long to respond to our main course requests, which proved disappointing. The Tenderloin fillet steak with green peppercorn sauce (Rs. 200), done medium-rare, was tough and unyielding, with little reprieve from the scent of green pepper. The lack of a steak knife didn't help. The kitchen had already run out of our second choice, Panfried Bekthi with a lemony butter sauce (Rs. 175), so we settled for pomfret as a substitute. But it wasn't as fresh or as easy to flake as we, seafood lovers to the core, would have wished. And the French fries that accompanied both dishes were leathery, with neither salad nor vegetables on the side.
Perhaps we should have chosen Nineteen Twelve's oven-roasted chicken with red wine, the house speciality. Or the other menu choice for the night, Roesti with pepper and mushroom ragout. But that occurred to us only as an afterthought.
We skipped the Mississippi Mudpie, Painted Platters' delicious signature dessert, and opted for a Champagne and Berry Mousse (Rs. 125) to round off our meal. It was light-textured and smooth, a connoisseur's delight, with just the right berry-rich crunch.
Nineteen Twelve could be a perfect evening's getaway for the discerning, allowing for easy conversation and camaraderie if only it would smooth over its initial hiccups.
Nineteen Eleven is on St. Mark's Road. You can call them on 2997290/91.
* * *
Ambience: Easy to unwind in
Service: Friendly, but sluggish
Wallet factor: Over a grand for an evening out for two
Specials: An amazing bar, brilliant starters
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