Karavalli – The Gateway Hotel

Ask a Bangalore foodie to recommend great places to eat fish, and the name Karavalli is sure to come up. So here’s my outsider take on it.

Located behind (and is part of) Taj Gateway on Residency Road, this iconic restaurant sets the bar of expectations high from the moment you approach it at night. Soft ambient lighting and an old-world, no-frills outdoor setting greets you, along with smiling happy staff. You can sit inside or outside, and we chose the latter, even the air conditioned insides seemed classier and more comfortable.

The food is served on steel banana-leaf shaped plates covered with real banana leaves. Excellent idea, well appreciated!

Decor and Ambience: 4/5

The staff is friendly and well versed in the nuances of the dishes on offer, and the guy who took our order (Boopathi) really seemed passionate about the dishes and what we should order. So besides insisting we want 1 crab curry, 1 fish curry, 1 prawns dish and one vegetable with appams and rice, we left the choice to him. And his suggestions were perfect. Almost.

Service and Staff: 4/5

The taste of the food was different from what I’ve usually had from south India, so am assuming tastes are very different from the usual Mangalore, Kerala and Chettinad cuisines.

I imagine cauliflower isn’t a favourite in this part of the country – because the recommended Gobi Kempu Bezule was a disaster! Dry, chewy and over-fried, it was tasteless and inedible. I would recommend you avoid this dish completely.

The second recommended dish was Tiger Prawn Roast with appams. The prawns were large and the dish overall was delicious! The downside is that the appams were slow to arrive and that was a damper in what could have been a perfect prawn experience. I recommend you tell the staff to bring appams along with the dish, and 2-3 at a time, not in a slow sequence :-/

The Karavalli Crab Curry was 1 of 2 dishes in our main course. The mud crabs were succulent, delicious and well priced at 1400 per serving. But the staff should have warned us that the curry was sweetish, because for crab-lovers like me, the sweetness killed the flavour of the crab itself. Note: I personally prefer a contrasting spicy flavour that enhances the crab taste, instead of subduing it. So I won’t recommend this to those who love their crab hearty and stand out in taste.

The second main course dish we ordered was the Allapuza Meen Curry – aka local fish curry. This to me was the most delicious of the lot, and went great with appams and steamed rice! Note, highly recommended, but ask Chef Balachandran to make sure the pieces remain succulent, coz this river fish can get quite dry if not cooked for the right amount of time.

Speaking of Chef Balachandran – must point out he seems passionate about his food and his job, and went around the tables enquiring about what we felt – even though he seems extremely shy. At the end of our meal, when we told him we weren’t ordering dessert, he insisted and gave us complimentary and delicious – banana and caramel, homestyle ice-cream! I highly recommend you order this when you go there.

Food Quantity: 3/5
Food Taste: 4/5

In summary, ask more about the flavours of the dishes before you agree on recommendations. Overall, I’d give the restaurant 4 on 5

This review, originally appeared on Zomato.com, here.

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