Tomatina is a great attempt at promoting vegetarianism with a plethora of options for the vegetarian diner

Besides giving the audience a virtual tour of picturesque Spain, this year's Bollywood blockbuster Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, also introduced them to the unique tomato throwing festival in Bunol, Spain.

No sooner did the Paint it Red song go on air than the festival became an overnight rage with Bangalore wanting to have its own Tomatina festival, which, unfortunately, was called off at the eleventh hour.

The Herb Risotto E Ratatouille

But now, the city has a vegetarian multi-cuisine restaurant called Tomatina. The owners, practising Jains, wanted to name it after tomato, an ingredient widely used in Indian cuisine.

A multi-cuisine vegetarian restaurant is extremely welcome in a city like Bangalore where you either have the veg darshinis, or the usual north Indian fare at most vegetarian restaurants.
Italian, Oriental, Mexican and Indian cuisine under one roof should be great news for vegetarians in the city, except that it's in far flung HSR Layout.

Tomatina is looking at opening a branch in Jayanagar, a pocket where a  concept like this would be   well received. Mysore is also part of their expansion plans.

We had with us a staunch Jain who was ecstatic at the idea of dining at a restaurant that can serve every item in the Jain style on request.  "It's a relief to visit a restaurant that only caters to vegetarians. You can eat in peace" she smiled.

The relief was evident as she relished the Minestrone Soup (Rs 95) with penne and grated parmesan that came in huge quantity and delightfully refreshing with mild spices and miniscule cubes of zucchini, carrots and tomatoes.

Perhaps the ambience also had a lot to do with the content look on her face. There was a dominance of red, starting with the bouquets of red roses suspended from the wooden planks, to the upholstery and even the candles. Sit out if you want an intimate dinner, but the arrangement is not exactly al fresco.

The only thing lacking here is music - what we heard instead all evening was the mundane drone of a cricket commentator from a recorded match being played on their giant screen. Not cool!

Our first entree, the Cheese Jalapeno Pops (Rs 180) was unlike any jalapeno cheese pops we have had before. Here, they use whole jalapenos stuffed with cheese and herbs coated with a golden crust. It was quite a feeling biting into the robust jalapeno that lay beneath it.

And given that we visited them on the first day of their operations, the service was attentive. But what they absolutely must have are table napkins!

Next on our wish list were the Nachos (Rs 160). And even this had an interesting twist.  The salsa sauce did have tomatoes, but they were individual cubes and not in the puree form. The tomato, onion and coriander pieces were dipped in extra virgin olive oil lending a fabulous flavour to the salsa.

The Herb Risotto E Ratatouille(Rs 300) seemed like an interesting main course option, for it's not every day that you get risotto and ratatouille on the same plate.

Egglpant, onion, tomatoes and zucchini formed the ratatouille, while the risotto with parmesan grating was perfect.

The Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Rs 220) however was dismaying, to put it mildly. It was as dry as it was allowed to be, saltless and even a generous drizzle of olive oil couldn't lift it up. The parmesan cubes, served separately, also failed to add vigour to it. Moreover, it didn't come with the promised garlic breads.

The Fried Ice Cream and the Chocolate Ice Cream (Rs 110 each) were our dessert choices. And the former, (a rarity at stand alone restaurants) a deep fried version of the regular vanilla ice cream, led to much excitement even though none at the table was having it for the first time. The good old chocolate ice cream did what it does best - made us grin till our jaws hurt.

Tomatina is the sort of place that doesn't make even the stubbornest carnivore crib. Guess when there's a love story behind something, the intent is good, and it eventually becomes a success. Yeah yeah, we know you would make a dash for it just to dig out the love story. And that's a good enough reason. Here's a tip. Don't miss the first page of the menu card. That's where it all is.

WHERE  #2631, 4th floor, 27th main road, 1st  Sector, HSR Layout
CALL 24347416/7
FOR R 1400 for a meal for two
Tomatina didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.

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