Aptly named, the Secret GardenCafe (In fact, so secret is its location that it took me three attempts to actually find it) is in a by lane off Cunningham Road and located inside a massive old Bangalore house. The cafe is housed in the balcony of this bungalow. Needless to say, the decor is wonderful. Old style wooden furniture dominates this quaint little cafe and gorgeous wind chimes add to the atmosphere. The blackboard menu and open kitchen are a nice touch. The place is quite small though and can seat only around twenty people. A special mention to their loo which is super clean and oh! so pretty. Pretty yellow tiles and ancient wooden mirrors stand out in the bathroom and I love that so much attention has gone into every little detail.
The menu here is has a fair, though not extensive, selection. Apart from the regular continental fare, they also have some Mexican and Israeli dishes. The Chicken Diablo (Rs. 280) had lots and lots of meat (much to A's delight). It was served with some veggies. While the quantity was good and the meat tender, the sauce was a little disappointing. It was bland and a little salt less.
If you like spice, you may want to avoid this dish. Ghatotkatch ordered the Home Made Fettucine (Rs. 200): a lovely pasta with sundried tomatoes and herbs.
This was a dry pasta and like most dry pastas it was a little bland. Despite that, I quite liked the flavour of this dish. It was also refreshing to see a pasta dish not drowned in sauce. The Mezze Platter (Rs.180) was pretty good. Pita bread stuffed with a spicy, and slightly Indian, filling. It was served along with an eggplant sauce which was wonderful. Be wary though as this is an acquired taste and those who don't like brinjal may not appreciate it much. The hummus dip served with this was amongst the best I've had in Bangalore and complemented the pita bread perfectly. The minced lamb lasagna which contains tender lamb meat amidst sheets (and sheets) of cheese is also a hot favourite.
Quantities at the Secret Garden Cafe are filling, but not extravagant.
They have quite a few dessert selections too and being the sweet lovers that we are, we decided to try that too. The honey cake with Brazilian nut was boring. It tasted OK but definitely not something to order again. It could have been picked up from any of the gazillion bakeries dotting Bangalore's streets and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
The passionfruit cheesecake was the pick of the desserts. Though the combination sounds a bit suspect, it came together wonderfully. This is definitely receives my seal of approval.
All in all, Secret Garden Cafe is the ideal place to have a lazy lunch and soak in the atmosphere. It is also a great date place (especially if the weather Gods decide to smile on you). The service is good but not super prompt, but its not the sort of place where you want it to be either. The ladies who run the restaurant are charming and willing to indulge in conversation. The food is largely good but a few dishes may not meet the mark.
A word of warning: The place shuts really early (7:00ish, I think) and is closed on Sundays, so plan accordingly.