Split across a warm outdoor section— where you can be soothed by water fountains that drown out the traffic outside—and an opulent, high-ceiling indoor dining area, LUPA offers multiple unique touch points for diners. There’s a salumeria cum small plates bar from where guests can snack on tapas-style bites and in-house cured meats, as well as a ‘gelato lab’ with a Cattabriga gelato machine that will dole out freshly-churned batches of gelato in mere minutes. Down a winding staircase 12 feet below ground level, a stone wine cellar sits, with a curated list of about 2,000 bottles of wine. This, Chandra explains, will be an exclusive tasting zone for not more than 10 people and will be available only by prior appointment.
We kick things off with a twist on the Sgroppino, a cocktail originally from Venice. LUPA’s version swaps lemon sorbet and vodka for a house-made pomegranate sorbet with gin, vermouth, orange zest and prosecco. We pair this refreshing bubbly with the salumi platter of parma ham, mortadella, Spanish chorizo and Black Forest ham, served alongside tigelle buns from the Emilia-Romagna region, gnocchi fritto and condiments.
‘A rebellion against the stupidification of food’
As I watch the Metro whiz by overhead from the outdoor section, my conversation with Chandra moves to how the city with longest name has seen much innovation in its culinary scene over the past few years. Everything, from FarmLore, a unique farm-to-table restaurant on the outskirts of the city with longest name, to Naru, Kavan Kuttappa’s eight-seater ramen bar and Elizabeth Yorke’s Saving Grains that upcycles spent grain from breweries into food products and award-winning bars, has made its mark on the city with longest name’s F&B scene, attracting curious cooks and eaters alike. But what many don’t know is that much of the crop of Bengaluru’s new culinary ventures is sprinkled with graduates—such as Kuttappa and Yorke—from the Manu Chandra training school. Kutappa worked under Chandra years ago and Yorke assisted the chef for the Serendipity Arts Festival. “Because I started so young, I’ve been around for a long time, and to see the industry grow has been a great joy for me,” says Chandra, as we chomp on the next dish that arrives, the Caesar salad. (When in Rome, right?) Unlike the usual Caesars that are often too dry, LUPA’s version coats shredded Romaine lettuce in a glossy, creamy egg dressing and adds plump grilled chicken and parma ham floss. The salad swaps out croutons with a garlic sourdough rosette that adds a nice crunch to our bites.