Market Table, a new bistro that looks to promote healthy eating
The culinary scene of Bengaluru sees new restaurants come and go almost as quick as the weather changes in the city. While some restaurants offer more of the same, there does come the occasional restaurant that does something different to pique ones curiosity. Market Table, is one such place. I was recently invited to try out what they had to offer.
Located opposite the Flying Squirrel in Koramangala, Market Table is a restaurant that goes unnoticed unless you're actively looking for it. Once inside, you're greeted by warm wooden interiors that are very reminiscent of some of the smaller farm-to-table cafes in the U.S. (I remember walking past a restaurant in the Village in NYC with the same name, but that was a lot more posh). The overall theme of the food at Market Table is to offer restaurant goers a genuinely healthy meal that isn't boring in terms of taste. I've generally had very average memories of places that want to go all healthy. While the restaurant claims to be as close to replicating the whole 'farm to fork' movement that's all the rage, I was going to let the food do all the talking.
First up were mini wheat chia rolls, with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Served with an assortment of salsa and dips, I genuinely liked the vegetarian option better. With vegetables wrapped in a spinach wheat roll, the flavours offered were a lot more vibrant than that of the chicken which seemed vanilla at best.
Next up was the roasted chicken with two varieties of sauce, traditional barbeque and a spicy sauce. While the sauce did justice to the first bite, the subsequent pieces of chicken were quite bland. While this is completely fine when it comes to healthy eating, I figured the average Indian consumer would be sending the chicken back claiming it's undercooked. Surprisingly, these seemed to be the case with even the subsequent chicken dish that came through. We did share our feedback on the same. While the meat was tender and cooked perfectly (unlike a vast majority of restaurants who overcook their chicken), not having the marinade penetrate the skin would be an area of concern.
While my hopes of finding a place that could put together a healthy, yet delicious meal were starting to fade, out came the Batata Harra. This dish consisted of spicy baby potatoes, tossed in garlic, onion, bell peppers and jalapenos. Perfectly cooked potatoes with a perfect blend of spices that hit all the right spots was just what the doctor ordered. Give me a bowl of those, with a cold lager (yes, that's unhealthy) and I'll have no complaints. What followed was a semi-gravy preparation of prawns that made us all go WOW! Tasting almost like a Khao Suey, these succulent fresh prawns were cooked perfectly. With a balanced hit of sweet and spice hitting the tongue, all I could think off was, “where’s my lager?"
While my favourite choice of lunch time beverage wasn't on the menu, we decided to try out some of the juices and smoothies. We went through a handful of them, covering simpler beverages like the Berry Punch (berries, banana, and apple juice with yogurt and date syrup) and a Banana Cream Pie Protein Shake (almond milk, banana, and yogurt). We even tried a more adventurous one called the Beta Hydrate that comprised of cucumber, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, carrots, celery, parsley, ginger and lemon. (Yes, I'm exhausted just putting the ingredients down). While the juices and smoothies themselves tasted great, what quickly came to light was that there didn’t seem to be any particular pairing with food that seems to have been thought out. And this is something many restaurants are guilty of doing where the choice of beverages doesn't match the food being served. This aspect becomes a little more crucial when it comes to a restaurant that promotes healthy eating. Also, some of the juices and smoothies seemed to have been mixed up. Feedback was provided; hopefully the new menu should reflect some of this thinking.
For our main course, we opted to go for the warm bowl option instead of the wrap. The protein we chose was served with quinoa, Arborio rice and this delicious salad that I would gladly have a bowl of, every day. The salad consisted of mixed lettuce, walnuts, jalapenos, olives, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini in a sort of mayo-sweet-onion dressing. We were served this bowl with a grilled Asian style chicken, a Cajun styled chicken and kafta marinated grilled spiced lamb. While both the chicken dishes still had the problem of being perceived as undercooked, the spiced lamb hit the ball out of the park. Perfectly marinated and grilled, the thin slices of lamb had the right amount of bite and flavouring that complemented the sweeter salad. Needless to say, we requested for a bowl of just the lamb.
Dessert was not as memorable as we hoped it would be given that the lamb preparation had us smiling at the end of the meal. The Vanilla Yogurt with Mixed Berries didn't quite satisfy the sweet tooth. Perhaps a baked version of the yogurt, or adding some home-made granola could have made the dish appealing.
Overall, while it's early days yet for Market Table, and they do need to focus on some of the finer touches, I genuinely believe that they've got a good thing going for them. I forward to going back in a few months to see if they've made progress (and I hope they would have). That being said, Market Table is a delightful little joint where you can take a book, order some healthy grub and wash it down with a smoothie while the world passes by. If you're the exercising type, they've got what looks like a delicious omelette wrap and some smoothies for your post workout meal. A meal for two, assuming a starter, two drinks and two main-courses followed by a dessert should set you back by about INR 1500.