Finally, the inner lanes of Model Colony have launched a little restaurant that could count as a stand-alone of some repute — something between a JW Marriott and a neighbourhood café. Tien is definitely an unusual café.
It looks like a fine-dine, with a gorgeous tree-branch chandelier and a soothing waterfall. But, it’s a semi self-serve: you place an order (looking at a simple blackboard menu), pay at the counter and get served at your table. We were impressed by the fact that a small, new place seems to have managed to turn the game around.
With a tag line that says nourish your soul, we expected organic and healthy meals. They definitely have tried to be healthy: breakfast options (starts at 6.30 am) includes a long list of salads, a couple of soups, some sandwiches, tacos and sushi. But, it’s a bit empty if you are looking for a hot, soul meal.
Our first order, a simple Orange Juice (Rs 75). We haven’t had such a fresh orange juice at a restaurant in a long time. You could actually bite into the citrus zing of the segments in this glass of sunshine. A very promising start to our dinner and we were looking forward to our next order, a Melon and Feta Salad (Rs 140).
The salad didn’t arrive but the Chicken Taco (Rs 180) did, looking like a personal pizza or a masala papad. This whole-wheat taco was topped with a cold mixture of spiced chicken and cheese. It would perhaps have gone down easier if we knew it was going to be chilled. We expected curled up hot tacos and this one was nothing worth speaking about. We asked our server if Tien served its tacos cold and he seemed confused.
The salad was still missing. Instead, the Mushroom and Cheddar Sandwich (Rs 130) made an appearance. It sits open-faced on two wholesome multi-grain breads that add value to the rather average toppings.
Next, the Salmon Sushi (Rs 280) waltzed in on a long white platter with bright green wasabi and dark soy for mystique. After the mediocrity shown so far, we were sceptic. But the sushi shined bright. The maki was rolled to perfection, the Salmon-Rice-Nori and a high-quality Wasabi-Soy did a graceful ballet on our palate.
Finally, the salad bowl made a grand entrance. Sweet watermelon and muskmelon rounds drizzled with balsamic, salty feta and rocket, proved how simple ingredients can create exceptional flavours.
So, we had our salad for dessert and appetisers as mains but Tien is ideal for a quick, nourishing lunch of soup and salad. We shall be back for breakfast — their inspiring orange juice shall drive us in.