Authenticity is a tough art to master. There was one time when I went to a restaurant abroad that claimed to be Chinese, had interiors that was roughly Korean, displayed Japanese art and was called, hold your breath, Dalchini (Cinnamon in many Indian languages). The Confused Orient would have been a better name. A food critic once wrote about how any self respecting European chef would take the next flight out; livid with shock, on seeing what was passed off as Italian cuisine in the city.
You must sympathise with the purists for the raw deal they get. Or perhaps, you could take them to Painted Platters. Painted Platters is a dessert bar that was started in 2002 with outlets in Jayanagar 7th Block and Indiranagar. The name comes from the store’s unique dessert platters that are painted with a generous spray of chocolate paint. So when you indulgently polish off their sinful desserts, you do so literally. Painted Platters offers popular European desserts and original creations presented so artistically, that the same sensibilities fittingly pay obeisance to Picasso with an eponymous dessert.
Even a couple of years back, when Häagen-Dazs hadn’t made it to the Bangalore retail scene and Baskin and Robbins was the cutting edge in ice cream, it brought joy to the sweet tooth to see a menu card that bore classics such as Mississippi Mudpie and Crème Brulee, seen until then only in books and movies (Remember that scene in Amelie where she cracks a Crème Brulee?).
But then, the brain behind Painted Platters, Joe Manavalan, wouldn’t be pleased with that observation. I had only begun to make comparisons to Corner House when he corrected me: "Corner House makes ice cream. We make dessert." Touché! Customers walking into Painted Platters and seeing, to their surprise, that they can’t find ice cream is a situation he encounters all too often. "People hadn’t gone beyond regular chocolate, Black Forest and Mocca flavors, back in 2002.
"Now, the more esoteric Tiramisu and Mudpie feature among chocolate favorites," he points. Gulping down a Chocolate Concorde (with favorable amounts of gooey chocolate sauce) is a good lesson on how a cake and biscotti dessert can give ice cream a good run for its money.
When you order any dessert at Painted Platter, you’ll see why presentation is the priority. Manavalan’s ideas on food are nearly pedantic. Except for a handful of creations, he keeps off ‘fusion’ in dessert. Having worked with the Oberoi group for a number of years, his outlook is austere. Food after all is serious business. He particularly remembers his experiences with European chefs. Each of them were driven hopping mad by "short cut" wielding Indian chefs versed in that charmingly indigenous ‘chalta hai’ philosophy.
Comical pictures of frenzied chefs apart, it is difficult not to agree when he says "Food is about culture". I listened, fascinated, as he related how he sees the world in a slice of pastry. Specialising in Viennese, having learnt of various sauces from the French and the plate painting method taken from the Swiss, Manavalan serves the world on a platter.
Manavalan believes that innovation in style and presentation is nearly dead. "When I go to a restaurant and I’m served a tomato rose, it drives me mad," he says, not for a moment joking. He finds that the tricks most cuisiniers adopt are decades old and the desserts at the Painted Platter were created trying to ward off culinary ennui.
2nd Main, 7th Block, Jayanagar.
For home delivery of cakes, call 9900178888.
Staying on the topic of presentation, special mention must be made of the interiors of the Jayanagar café. If you are the nostalgic type, you will love reading a menu card that looks out from the inside of a hardcover novel. Also, ask for a dekko of the menu printed on CDs inside a Rolling Stones Forty Licks album. Creativity is such joy!
Painted Platters is not exactly your local sugar-high providing chocolate sickness inducing ice-cream shop. Hell, it isn’t even all about ice cream. But where else would you get to feast on an absolutely sinful (and dare I add, beautiful) Malakov Torte on a plate painted with chocolate?