In an area governed by art, eateries from Kalaghoda should be nothing less than quaint habitats for creative souls. On the contrary, This one square kilometer patch of Kalaghoda features some of the most chirpy and versatile spaces. From rustic Ayub's to the grandeur facade of Cheval and from expats packed Nutcracker to this exhibition room like white brick wall and ebony wood snuggery named 'Kalaghoda Cafe'.

Its rectangular area carves out space for five tables squished closely together and another additional table at the mezzanine. Keeping up with the spirit of the neighborhood there is pretentious display of paintings on the exposed walls. Due to the space constraint, securing a table at lunchtime means a minimum half an hour waiting under the scorching sun while contemplating a plan to instead dine at the next door 'Mamagoto' or 'Trishna'.

The fare is compact, highly european yet features only a handful of red and white meat based dishes. We called for a KGC Special Sandwich, Waffle with Dark Chocolate Sauce, Mint Cucumber Cooler (from the summer menu) and a Cold Coffee. While the Cooler and Coffee arrived in quick succession, we were devoid of a basic glass of water until we asked for it. The Mint & Cucumber Cooler turned out to be more of a health-oriented juice and sans any lemon or honey. Our KGC Special Sandwich (with Chicken) arrived sooner with some well seasoned chicken, rocket lettuce and melted 'Padano' all squeezed between a tightly pressed Ciabata. No whatsoever complains on the sandwich; A perfect plate and well priced. The culmination of the meal was indeed a disappointment in the form a rather average tasting, not at all warm block of Waffle. The Dark Chocolate Sauce was lacklustre in flavour due to its dilute viscosity. While the plate appears appetizing enough when one pours chocolate sauce over the waffles, sadly it only remains nothing more than a moment of food pornography.

Left : KGC Special Sandwich & Right : Waffle with Dark Chocolate Sauce.

Left : KGC Special Sandwich & Right : Waffle with Dark Chocolate Sauce.

The damage to pocket for this summer lunching was 750 bucks, which is not a bad deal, but considering the unsatisfactory level of our stomach and palate, it could have been much elevated had more importance been levied to quick service and consistent quality of dishes. With the positive word of mouth about this place, it seems like a much elaborate visit needs to be considered next time around to verify if it's all buzz and no show.

Location : 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda,Fort


First thing first, Mediterranean cuisine is different from the Middle East / Lebanese cuisine. It's funny that people from this industry have nowadays started to sell Lebanese food as Greek food and vice-a-versa. So, many of us ignorant puppets will believe in the brand if it's marketed or labelled as 'Authentic'.

Coming from a family where my father worked in the middle east for all his life and me as kid grew up eating shawarma, falafel, khaboos, vinaigrette pickles, baklava and a lot more as a biannual staple for two months of each year, I can decipher a good Lebanese dish from a bad one just by its looks. I'm not the one to get fooled by fancy earth or hummus coming out of a piping bag. Just like me, I'm sure i speak for a lot many of us who have experienced the middle east and feel sorry it's apathetic rendering here in India.  

'Ithaka- Veg Lebanese Kitchen' - 'Ithaka' is a Greek island and 'Veg Lebanese Kitchen' of course means Lebanese ! As I said, it's all in the marketing. They even got the restaurant signage done in the pseudo arabic-english typography.

Ithaka sits right on top of 'Riso' - another fully vegetarian eatery, which is flanked by two more vegetarian eateries - Spiceklub & The Rolling Pin. The decor - White floral pattern furnished tall sofas and wooden ceiling planks sets quite a bright and somewhat 90s ambiance. For some reason, they forgot to remove that glass cabin at the extreme corner which looked like it belonged to the back office. Since it was a pre-launch, we were treated to a set menu that showcased the best of what they had to offer. Service began with a bunch of gradient colored mocktails bearing some fancy names and description. Lemon Grass soup and Mushroom Cappuccino were next. Lemon Grass Soup was merely a broth with cut sections of baby corn and carrot. The rustic earthen bowl and spoon presentation did not appeal to me and made quite an uncomfortable experience to go through the bottom of the soup. Bursting the bubble a little soon, but the Mushroom Cappuccino was clearly the hero of the night. Frothy-creamy-rich soup and a lot of warmth is what you get in that large cup. It's the one you would want to be sipping watching a rom-com movie snuggling up with your partner. Full marks to the chef for providing that mini romantic escapade. 

Appetizers were next. Batata Harra was presented in a long corn leaf jacket shaped dish. Again, Too cheeky and cliché kind of presentation which just overpowers the beauty of the natural ingredients. This baby potato appetizer is a rather uninspired fare. Too many garnishes and not so flavourful base for the potato makes it a forgettable one. Sesame Zucchini arrived next on a half crescent plate. Where is the zucchini was rather my question ? Wafer thin sliced zucchini base with a coat of sesame and veggie topping was a valiant effort to bring the heroics of a rather underrated vegetable. Turkish Kebabs (made of corn & fenugreek) came covered in an actual jacket of corn. Smooth and melt on the tongue types, though it left us wanting more of it. Portion size was rather minuscule. 

The Water Chestnut & Raw Mango Salad - This one left a fire in my entire palate, wind pipe, lungs and intestine. It is guaranteed to leave you with a blazing burp once done. I had earlier managed to secure one of the coconut mocktail by my side, hence got relief from the inferno soon after. Among the salad my vote would definitely go to the 'Mediterranean Mint Salad' which cooled off my palate in an instant with its luscious mint curd dressing which smeared the French beans and cucumber. 

Selection of Hummus (clockwise) - Turki, Harra & Traditional.

Selection of Hummus (clockwise) - Turki, Harra & Traditional.

Next up was the quintessential 'Hummus' with Pita. Three variations of Hummus were served - Traditional, Harra and Turki. Traditional was bit alkaline, less notes of Tahini and Garlic than I was expecting. No extra virgin olive oil and paprika garnish on top. The 'Harra' version was an interesting one with colours and flavours from pesto mixture. This one should definitely work among the masses. Hummus Turki felt a lot like 'Baba Ganoush' with abundance of kick from the blended black olives. 

My set meal had to end abruptly at this point since I was already an hour or more into this dinner and was overlapping my meeting with some carnivorous folks in the suburbs.

As I said in the middle of this post it's a valiant effort, but most of the time too dramatized in presentation and a lot illiberal in portions. Lebanese cuisine is all about generosity and simple plating, which is clearly missing at Ithaka. Hoping that honest feedback is accepted from these pre-launch dinner and the daily production drill which is under-way is much liberal if still cliché.