We have not yet reached peak vegan in India, or Bangalore though some of us are inching closer. There is, of course, the age-old Ayurveda mindset recommending that dairy is essential, holding back lacto-vegetarians like myself from taking that cheese-shunning next step towards ‘clean living’.
Currently, the two organic, vegan and millet-bowl meccas in Bangalore are Carrots and Green Path – Forgotten Food. I’ve been a regular and love them both in equal measure but it’s quite a drive so I can’t eat there as much as I would have liked to.
Forage, the relatively new good/clean/flavorful restaurant in the Indiranagar area of Bangalore, is more to the liking of my serious meat-eating pals but has great-tasting vegan options too. Located in a renovated old bungalow, has quite a few items on the menu in line with old-school veganism. It also doubles up as a juice bar and raw food studio, with an eco-friendly vibe , piping jazz music and well-stocked library. You wouldn’t want to miss the flower arrangements and assorted succulents at each table if you truly swear by plant-based.
The space is large, airy and has the feel of a laid-back utopian hangout, full of good-looking creative types sipping cold-pressed juices while they tap away on MacBook Pros, all tattoos and beards and flowing dresses and extra large silver nose pins, discussing short films and the benefits of avoiding refined sugar and grains and how they love Muji and minimalism. Wine is available if the juice isn’t quite celebratory enough for you.
For those of us not fully sold on the lifestyle Forage offers — that is, a fairly expensive, feel-good, stylish bohemian paradise — it’s an awfully easy target. But the truth is, Forage is far better at catering to the needs of people who actually want this kind of food, this kind of life, than many of the other vegan restaurants around town, some of which treat the vegan aspect as a vehicle for personal ambition rather than a heartfelt attempt to be inclusive of a growing segment of the dining population. Forage is a beautiful space; it provides a breezy, comfortable place to hang out and eat healthily and fairly well, and it offers full-time vegans dishes that are complex and surprising, dynamic and full of flavor.
It may not be the best vegan food in town, nor is it likely to convert those of us who go in with a skeptical eye. But it’s ambitious and utterly sincere, and when we do eventually reach peak vegan, people will blame and credit Forage in equal measure.
Our first time there was a pre-anniversary celebratory dinner. We tried a grain-free vegan Maki Roll from their Tapas menu which combines crunchy strips of zucchini, spicy chilli paste, miso and olives with “creamy tofu” which has a kind of light, pasty texture. The salads are all good; the rice paper rolls are so good that you won’t even notice the missing dip, the portions are generally tiny, won’t fill you up but be interesting to eat. The food is pleasurable, in general, and they’re compelling enough that you might not notice the prices later. There’s veggies, beef, pork, lamb, seafood but no chicken, wheat, processed food or refined sugar. Yeah! There are vegetarian, lactose-free and carbohydrate free options on the menu to accommodate pretty much every type of eater.
FORAGE | Four stars | 318 6th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore. | +91 80 48525250 | www.forage.co.in | Prices : $$$$ | firstname.lastname@example.org | Street parking