Dear Memsahib……my invite read. That set my pulse racing. It was like being transported to the style and elegance of the colonial era. I expected The Sahib Room & Kipling’s Bar at Palladium Hotel to be intimidating with a stiff-upper lip atmosphere, but I was wrong. The restaurant and bar are well-designed and exude bon-vivant chic, but, with a warm and friendly vibe, which immediately puts you at ease.
Sipping my Elaichi Daab- an interesting mix of coconut, almond and cardamom, I soaked in the ambience of this tastefully done up Kipling’s Bar. I couldn’t help notice a seat reserved for the famed writer Rudyard Kipling, with his spectacles, pipe et al who is supposedly away on a break.
A while later we shifted to the Sahib Room for the rest of our meal. A superlative menu with Awadhi and North West frontier specialities greeted us. There was style and sophistication even in the manner in which the food was served. Phalon ka shorba- the spiced mandarin orange soup could not have been a better start to our gastronomic journey. A unique, mildly flavoured, refreshing soup. Easily one of the best I have ever tasted. Dhungari Kumbh- Coal smoked forest mushrooms rubbed with fresh cilantro & ginger which came next, took my palate by storm. Melt-in-the mouth mushrooms with a smoky flavor were a never-before experience for my tastebuds. The idea of incorporating Philadelphia cream cheese in the Brocolli Dak Bangla appealed to me immensely. The cheese complimented the tart mustard flavor. We savoured each morsel in a relaxed atmosphere with attentive, but unobtrusive staff.
Jaituni Pomfret was equally a delight with simple, rustic flavours. Nothing overpowering to mask the taste of the fish. And that is what good cooking is all about. There was no scope to go wrong with the Gongura Jhinga either. Succulent prawns, marinated to perfection. My tastebuds had experienced Nirvana already, but there was more to come.
The zafrani taftan and tandoori naan paired well with the Murg Awadhi korma, which was strongly reminiscent of my grandmother’s cooking. Flavourful and comforting with freshly ground spices. The gravy was lip-smacking. Purvanchal saag was an amalgamation of fresh greens, with a hint of spice, just enough to tantalise your appetite. What can I say about the Sasranga meat? This Kashmiri preparation of lamb, with spices was the piece de resistance that evening. Cooked to perfection, the meat cubes were soft and creamy, meshed in a puree of aromatic spices, flavorful, yet, gentle on the palate. So delicious and satisfying was this, that we decided to skip the biryani, something I would normally never miss. Thanks to the fresh and quality ingredients, we did not feel uneasy after our meal.
It was time for some guilty pleasure. The Kolkata meetha paan ice cream had strong paan flavours in a velvety texture, with the right amount of sweetness. In the same vein, was the paan rasogulla, but with different flavours, which lent themselves beautifully to the soft rasogulla. Angoori rabdi was rich and creamy in texture with a burst of sweetness in the mouth. An appropriate finale to a royal repast. Chef Paul Kinny and his team ensure you will go back for more.