Minus Eighteen Degrees
Reviewing and Reminiscing
Words and photos by Srijana Chandrashekhar
An unsympathetic Sun was beaming right above our heads, oblivious to our longing for one more day before summer officially settled in. Under these circumstances, three words provided some sense of respite: Minus Eighteen Degrees. Orange flavoured iced popsicles (Kala Khatta golas, for some of us), banana splits and ice-cream sandwiches come to mind. However, as I ran my eyes through a tastefully curated menu, and admittedly pointed at every other thing it had to offer with a stubborn childlike wishfulness, I discovered that this restaurant (formerly, and might I add wrongly perceived by me to be an ice-cream parlour) means serious business.
Neatly settled into its surroundings, although the restaurant is located just off the main road, I must acknowledge its provision of a quiet and comfortable setting. As we shifted our glances around the refined and not necessarily over-whelming white and blue décor, the craftily taken pictures of salads, sundaes and spaghetti lined on the walls, and a bunch of brunchin’ women, our attention focused on the desserts on display, and stayed there. I could feel the drool coming.
Once seated (and hydrated), we carefully scrutinized the menu, and by the time we were done I was ready to jump at almost anything in there. After much contemplation between several equally tempting options, we ordered a Fig and Goat Cheese Salad, a Mezze Platter and a glass of Watermelon Juice to start. While waiting for our food, we surveyed our surroundings once more and noticed how considerably crowded the restaurant was for a Tuesday afternoon.
Our Mezze Platter arrived only a few minutes later: a traditional three dip platter consisting of Hummus, a yogurt and cucumber based dip and Muhammara, and a whole lot of lavash.
Where the variety of the dish was limited to the two differently spiced lavash, the dips made up. The Hummus had an almost perfect consistency, the cucumber in the Tzatziki did not overpower the flavour, and the Muhammara provided a delicately balanced bitter-sweet taste.
When the salad arrived, our eyes almost popped out. Fresh greens dominated the landscape of this plate, while generously allowing the figs and goat cheese to do the rest. Some vinaigrette dressing and pine nuts later, it was unarguably a beautiful salad. After several large, immediate and delightful spoonfuls of the salad, we finally decided that the baby spinach, fig and goat cheese had come together flawlessly. We would be reminiscing the taste even at the end of our meal.
While the freshly made watermelon juice arrived, we placed our order for a Pesto Pasta and a Savoury Crepe, barely resisting the urge to dive into the all-day-breakfast menu (and by that I mean the waffles). The Spaghetti in Pesto sauce arrived less than ten minutes later, just as we drained the last of the juice, and made a good first impression.
While the flavour hit the right notes, we found the pasta as a whole to be slightly dry, owing to a pasty consistency of the sauce.
So we dug into the crepe, unsure of what to expect. The crepe was stuffed with a classic sundried tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese combination, and made for a wholesome dish, very homely in its appeal. Easy to eat, and enjoyable in taste, the crepe scored pretty high on our cards.
Ah, dessert. My favourite part.
After placing our order for macaroons, a cheesecake and a mousse-cake, we felt as cheery as the Sun outside. Our anticipation didn’t last long, and the macaroons were served: one each of Raspberry, Lemon and Mocha. The macaroons as a whole scored well on texture, but were not resonant in their individual flavours. While the mocha flavoured macaroon did relatively well, the lemon and raspberry didn’t quite remind us of summer the way we expected them to.
The New York style cheesecake served with strawberry compote, and the Belgian mousse cake came next. The cheesecake was spot-on: it looked divine, and tasted even better. We devoured every bite of the cake, the crust and the compote that were made just right.
The mousse-cake surprised us with several fun elements that are not obvious at first sight. We bit into the tempered chocolate served on top of the pastry with some drizzled crackled caramel that immediately appealed to our taste buds. The mousse had a pleasing consistency and a remarkable rum-chocolate flavour, surprising us with the occasional orange-rind, taking us back to that fuzzy December feeling. Top notch, we’d say.
As we made our way out of the classy-yet-cute space that seemed like a good cross between a cafe and a bistro, we had only one regret: that our meal had come to an end. Ah well, there’s always next time. Except we are going back with a bigger appetite and a broader smile, suitable weather conditions or not.