It’s been a few days since we first dined at Brio Cafe, Mangalore; and in short, the experience was a blend of hits and misses. Situated right outside the Lighthouse Hill entrance of St. Aloysius Pre-University and Degree Colleges, one would imagine that this little cafe would be bustling with students bunking class and gorging on some scrumptious fast food. But one look at the prices on the menu, and it’s clear why the place is not filled with enthusiastic young chatter. But the exorbitant prices are not all that’s off about this place…
Here I share The Foodscape’s experience at Brio Cafe, Mangalore. Brace yourselves, it’s a long one. 😛
When we walked in to Brio Cafe, we quite liked what we saw. It is a chic cafe dressed in tones of cream, beige and chocolate, and a splash of colour here and there. While dining tables surrounded with high chairs provide for a comfortable dining experience, the cute sofa-coffee table seating arrangement that the cafe sports is great for a coffee and cake break.
The brick walls add a homey vibe to the experience, while neatly set tables topped with candles bring with them an air of warmth. The carefully picked wall decor is also pleasing to the eye; though I’m not quite sure if there’s any symbolism attached to the bicycle themed decor. Something we didn’t quite like were the paper menus; they were crumpled and worn, certainly not something that complements the ambience.
Chilled and laid back, it wasn’t hard for me to be at leisure here. Also, I must mention that the cafe plays some great music! 🙂
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Priced at Rs. 100, the Cheesy Garlic Bread was quite nice. It came with six pieces of soft bread topped with semi-melted mozzarella. It was well seasoned and looked great too. However, as the boyfriend put it, ‘It just wasn’t cheesy enough!’ It lacked that blast of cheese that we all love when we sink our teeth into some velvety cheesy goodness.
Baked Stuffed Potatoes
When browsing through the menu, the Baked Stuffed Potatoes caught my eye. I instantly pictured skin-on baked potatoes, filled with chicken or sausages topped with oodles of cheese. But when we asked the server about the stuffing, he didn’t know just what it was. He told us they were stuffed with cheese, carrots and vegetables. It would have been lovely if the server knew exactly what he was serving; it provides a reassurance of sorts to diners, that they’re in good hands. We went with the potatoes anyway.
When the stuffed potatoes arrived, they looked lip-smacking. Priced at Rs. 150 and tossed in a gravy oozing with earthy flavours of paprika, the potatoes were cooked until crunchy and stuffed with as assortment of veggies like carrots, peas and baby corn. The cheese was nowhere in sight. I found that the earthy flavours of the gravy overpowered the gorgeous potatoes, the stuffing didn’t do justice to the dish and the potatoes themselves were a little too hard for my liking. The goodness of that mushy bite that is characteristic of baked potatoes was missing. All in all, the brother, the boyfriend and I were not fans of this dish.
Then came our drinks, which I think was the best part of the meal. The boyfriend went with a Pomegranate Cooler, the brother with a Chocolate Milkshake and I with a Mojito. While the former was a wonderful dance of pomegranate and lemon on the taste buds, the milkshake was smooth creamy and chocolicious; and my mojito was refreshing! However, I didn’t quite understand just why the Mojito was priced at Rs. 110. That’s crazy expensive for a drink as simple as a mint and lime concoction! The Chocolate Milkshake was Rs. 120; pricey, but edging on worth it; and the pomegranate cooler was priced at Rs. 80, quite reasonable.
For main course, the brother decided to have the lamb burger. Priced at Rs. 170, it looked inviting when it arrived, with the bread being all soft and pillowy and a side of fries. But upon tasting it, we were disappointed. The flavours and textures of lamb are beautiful and cooking it is an art. To be able to work spices in, to complement the meat’s strong flavours is definitely difficult but when done right results in something magical. This was not the case with the burger. The lamb patty was cooked in bland spices, and was then coated in a batter and some semolina before it was deep fried (why burger patties are batter fried, I will never understand). All this just took away the beauty of the meat, leaving it drab and unappetizing.
Priced at Rs. 210 (way too expensive!), the Chicken Steak was dry, overcooked and edged towards boring. The chicken breast cooked in a mushroom and garlic sauce spiked with lots of paprika, didn’t play well on my taste buds one bit. I enjoyed the fries and the buttery sauteed vegetables much more that I did the chicken. A thumbs down from me.
The boyfriend went with the Grilled Prawns and my were they delicious! They had this smokey hot flavour coming through which worked spectacularly for the sweet meat of the prawns. And the best bit, the amazing seafood-ness of the prawn that all us seafood lovers crave, was only amplified by the marinade. And the dish was reasonably priced at Rs. 210 as well!
So, here’s the deal about the main course at Brio Cafe. All three dishes that we ordered tasted somewhat similar, if not the same. While the marinade worked splendidly for the prawns, it didn’t work for the chicken one bit. And, that both the prawns and the chicken were cooked in the same marinade was a huge disappointment.
The desserts at Brio Cafe, were the biggest letdown. The three of us are huge fans of dessert and what we had at the cafe was extremely unpalatable, to put it lightly. The Nutella Cheesecake was the most edible from the lot but was a huge disappointment in itself. The base layer of oreos was gluggy and lacked the crackle of the biscuit layer, the cheesecake layer lacked that wow factor and the Nutella topping was just not Nutella. It was a thin layer of simple chocolate that really took away the draw factor of delicious Nutella. To pass that off as Nutella is a crime in the dessert world!
The Fudge Brownie was hard, and crispy, lacked the gooeyness of a brownie, had a weird cookie layer at the bottom and the aftertaste was soapy and unsavoury. The Red Velvet cupcake was really bad. It was not red enough, not velvety enough and the frosting was crisp and hard (obviously made with shortening) and had an incredibly distasteful flavour to it. Probably the worst end to a meal I’ve ever had. Here’s hoping they really step up their dessert game!
All in all, we didn’t really enjoy our experience at Brio Cafe. We went in with high expectations and came out feeling really letdown. There were way too many negatives and just too few positives to counter them. There is room for some serious improvement and I only hope they work harder to please the evolved taste buds of foodies, both young and old. If I had to give my experience an overall rating, I would give it 2 stars out 5. Would I dine here again? Quite simply, no.