Though the looking glass ****
Hidden in the cramped darkness, the only way to spot Pali Village Cafe is to look for the glass facade with moving images. Every evening, a projector lights up the panes with a movie or a game. Make your way through the dingy entrance and you’ll find yourself in a surprisingly large ruined colonial bungalow. Lit by a few candles and flickering bulbs, the place feels like a discarded hand me down. Like it was pompously left behind by a wealthy heiress, and then was converted into something charmingly quirky by her enterprising black sheep of a cousin.
I was in the company of two beautiful young ladies, childhood friends who I had known since the days barbie themed parties. Our setting seemed fittingly elegant, in a way symbolizing the evolution from awkward protected little girls to passionate spirited individuals at the cusp of independent lives. Much time had passed since we last met, and there was so much to share. And shared it was over some goblets of sangria and some absolutely delectable food.
It look a while to order; everything on the menu was tempting. We selected about four dishes the share between us. The Chicken and Jalapeno risotto was packed with flavor. What came as a welcome change was that it wasn’t painfully cheesy, like most others locally available. The Asparagus and Leek Ravioli with a tomato based sauce had a lovely texture; the stuffing wasn’t overcooked and the chunks of pasta were coated with just the right amount of sauce.
Since I was in the mood for something light and refreshing, I ordered the Roast Duck salad. The dish fulfilled all my expectations. It was tangy & sweet, with fresh greens and a surprising burst of pickled beetroot, a perfect complement to my Melon Sangria. We also shared a Parmesan Gnochi, which was rich and thankfully a small portion. The cheese was creamy and the gnochi was soft, perhaps too soft. But since it was shared by a group and we had other sharper flavors at the table, it went down well.
Desert again bought up a debate, but we finally settled on a Vanilla Panna cotta and Meringue with Berries & Fresh cream. Both were perfect for the hot humid weather. The Panna cotta is perhaps the best I’ve ever had. I say this, because most have a uniform texture which after a few bites get boring. This one had that extra something; a sour acidic passion fruit jus which cut the sweet creaminess of the pudding. The other dessert was also good, but unfortunately in my eyes was out-shined by the panna cotta. I wish there was more of the meringue and less of the berries & cream. That would have added the necessary crunch, which the dish so sorely missed.
The evening left me feeling extremely happy. It’s evenings like these that are fondly cherished. The food lived up to the company, which is perhaps the best complement I can give Pali Village cafe.
Damages : The place is pretty expensive, and very evidently caters to the expat community. A meal with one drink cost us 1,500 each. I would revisit, but the costs would definitely make my think twice.