I’d visited La Palma a while back. And though I don’t usually post reviews of restaurants on my blog, I’d written this one as a demonstration for my students in a Food-Writing Workshop I’d conducted called ‘Brew A Tale’. That, along with La Palma being quite a respite in this arid culinary landscape – I thought I’d share my thoughts on the place with you all. Enjoy (the review, and the place thereafter) 🙂
My wife and I are always on the lookout for new eateries. In fact, I can stake this bold claim with a fair amount of confidence, that if there’s a café or a restaurant that’s just opened, we’d be among the first to try it? Why? Because we love food, and to be perfectly honest, we also feel sometimes that Jaipur is a tad lacking in the western food department. Naturally then, upon hearing of a new Italian place, we promptly made plans.
La Palma is situated just off Ahinsa Circle in a modest, old hotel called The Garden View Hotel. Despite having crossed this part of c scheme a million times, we hadn’t noticed this place until now, its that nondescript. No matter, good old google got us there perfectly. It was a doddle to reach. And though there didn’t seem to be a valet service, we were ushered by the hotel guard and made to park inside the hotel in a rather convenient spot. So it began well I’d say. We went up the few steps right at the outer facade of the hotel that lead directly into the restaurant. So one doesn’t have to enter the hotel as such, which I suppose is a good thing. Once up the steps, there are a few tastefully done plain outdoor tables and couches for those in the mood for al fresco dining. For me though, the real action was on the inside. How should I best describe the interior? Mediterranean, open, flushed with palm plants, just the right mix of opulence and spartan-space, not in the ilk of the scores of other ‘all white’ Grecian places these days; more upmarket, but with a real easy, sophisticated, airy, classy vibe. At one end of this beautifully appointed space is the bar. To one side, a most inviting wood-fired oven, whose tantalizing aroma permeates the entire restaurant, beckoning the taste buds. Just right. I loved it.
There was however one flaw in this seemingly magical potion that we were soon to discover – the service. Lazy, ill informed, uncooperative staff who first refused to lower the volume of the most misplaced, loud, intrusive and inappropriate lunch-time music, even though we had our 10 month old baby with us, for whom especially, it was clearly too loud. After much pleading and prodding, the volume went down by a shade.
Anyway, the menu then, made up. Some real surprises here, pleasant ones. Fairly authentic Italian fare, not normally to be found in many other places in this city at least. My mum and my wife had chilled beers that were presented promptly, thankfully, and I, an iced tea, that was natural, effervescent, and served in the most unusually and enticingly eccentric tall cut-glass tumbler. A classic Bruschetta for the table followed, which also, as was emerging by now, to point – fresh, fragrant, light, kind of like the first burst of streaming sunshine that foretells a lovely sunny winter day. We then tucked into our mains – a classic Margarita pizza that the ladies shared, of which, since I’m lactose intolerant and couldn’t partake, was absolutely divine. Freshness seemed to be the key again, and my wife informed me that the tomato sauce was particularly tasty, obviously not a bottled affair, and that the cheese was authentic and flavorful. I had a Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Pumpkin Puree, and what can I say, I absolutely loved it. The ravioli was hand rolled, just the right consistency. The stuffing was generous, the mushroom beautifully plump, and the pumpkin puree silky, adding just the right sweetness and flavor contrast to the rest of the dish. The entire dish was a melange of contrasts, kind of like a stark desert replete with the vibrant colors of the traditional turbans mixed in with the seductive dance of the Kalbelia – a treat for the senses. A real triumph.
We were absolutely stuffed by now and had some dessert packed – Tiramisu, the classic again, and I am happy to report that when we tucked into it later at home, it is the best I’ve had in Jaipur. The real ladyfinger or boudoir biscuits, the right amount of liquor and coffee, smooth, consistent, divine. I suppose while the place would be considered a touch pricey in Jaipur, our bill amount of INR 3100, I thought, was wonderful value for money for a delectable meal in pristine ambiance, including some alcohol. Yes, the service leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s lots else that makes up for it. Compared with similar offerings such as the Palladio duo, I’d much rather La Palma. It’s a hidden gem, a must visit, and I can only hope it stays, and stays authentic.