Tag Archives: buffet

Pleasing my Palate in Pune

My foodie trails take me to several places and recently I found myself at Double Tree by Hilton, Pune, a hotel located in Pimpri-Chinchwad away from the hustle-bustle and yet, with all basic necessities a stone’s throw away.

The gourmand in me beamed with pleasure as a large, warm, chocolate chip cookie was handed over to me at the time of check-in. That is a Hilton tradition. The warm cookie was comforting after my journey and simply melt-in-my-mouth.

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3 Spices, the vibrant all-day dining place at the lobby level impressed me. It exudes an air of bonhomie and comfort. The cheerful and warm staff settled us in and we looked around the buffet spread for lunch. There was no run-of-the-mill stuff here. Food from around the world – Indian, Pan Asian, Global- something for every palate.  And attractively displayed. The bar at the entrance is well-stocked and the bartenders adeptly mix cocktails of your choice.

There was a live chaat counter too. Just perfect for this weather to perk up my taste buds.

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The roasted chicken with rosemary jus, the mangshor jhol or quintessential Bengali mutton curry with birasta pulao, struck me as outstanding. The bhakris, chicken in khada masala and stuffed okra that chef specially made for us to give us a taste of the local flavours took my taste buds by storm. The flavours were distinct and no where did spices overpower the ingredients.

The Pan Asian fare was equally well-made sans any additives and preservatives.

The a la carte menu here is exhaustive and boasts of everything from curry laksa and classic caesar salad to penne pasta genovese and chicken tikka pizza. The 6 seeti ka mutton and Kerala Pomfrt curry from the regional specialities are a must-try.

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The desserts were equally unusual. The beetroot halwa, Um ali- the Egyptian bread pudding, caught my fancy and both of them surpassed my expectations. The creamy texture of both desserts wowed my palate.

The varied fare at this buffet with unusual delicacies, certainly sets it apart from many others.

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Although for dinner, 3 Spices had an Awadhi food promotion, which looked immensely tempting, I decided to skip it as Miyuki, the small and cosy Japanese restaurant behind 3 Spices, beckoned me. Chef Nirmal’s work at the Teppanyaki griddle, mesmerised me as he treated us to an exotic meal complete with salads, sushi, sashimi, fried rice with chicken teriyaki and of course dessert. The flavours were simple and subtle, in keeping with Japanese cuisine and the ingredients fresh. The Sashimi particularly stood out for me in the entire meal.

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The service staff at all the F& B outlets is impeccable. Well-trained, courteous and most importantly well-informed.

My breakfast next morning was an enjoyable experience again. The live counters with eggs and waffles were fun to watch as chefs adroitly dished out waffles and eggs for diners a la minute. The ‘Kadak chai’ tapri or stall served piping hot masala tea, in keeping with the culture of Pune.

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Cereals, Pan Asian dishes, fruits, South Indian fare, bakery items. There truly was a lot to choose from. The array of fresh juices- mixed, watermelon, orange, carrot and ginger in glass bottles impressed me beyond words.

Chef Joy who is at the helm and his team of talented chefs ensure that the F&B offerings are unique and monotony never sets in for a long staying guest. They constantly endeavour to create new dining experiences for guests.  The attentive and affable waiting staff executes this to perfection and together, they contribute to a memorable dining experience for the guest.

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Tarta, the tiny and attractive bakery and patisserie in the lobby is hard-to-miss. Fresh breads, pastries and cakes galore, are on display and irresistible.

I have stayed at many hotels in India and abroad, but the F&B offerings here at Double Tree by Hilton Pune, Chinchwad are something I will long cherish and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coastal Delights

The sheer variety at Barbeque Nation always baffles me. But yes, it gives me an opportunity to try those many more dishes, so I am not complaining.

Sea food is my weakness so I decided to experience the ongoing Best of Coast Festival, that is on till March 13.

The menu was an exercise in choices. There was sea food galore, but I was amazed to see the unique dishes crafted for vegetarians too.

Mr. Joju, COO, Barbeque Nation Hospitality Ltd., told me, “Best of the Coast” is Barbeque Nation’s way of paying tribute to and celebrating regional culinary traditions. Western Maharashtra has unique Konkani cuisine, a culmination of centuries of cooking traditions. While we are incorporating some traditional Marathi food into our menu, we also want to offer our patrons the best of regional and global seafood cuisines and have bought in Malayali, Sri Lankan and Thai dishes. We hope to give our guests an unforgettable culinary experience.”

Grilled-Pomfret-Fish

Well, I certainly began my gourmet odyssey with the best. A well-fried spicy and piquant grilled pomfret. Oh! It teased my taste buds mercilessly. Fresh and soft, the fish fillet simply melt in my mouth.

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The squid rings paled in comparison. However, the chili gherkin mayo served along side caught my fancy.

There were lots of chicken options and mutton too in the appetizers, but who wants anything else when the best of sea food is around?

The grilled prawns too were well-marinated and yes, fresh too, as was the basa.

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Sea Bass Ambul Thiyal – sour fish curry. Different fish cuts (Lemon Sole, Tilapia fish) in Maharashtrian Koliand Srilankan marinades could be sampled from the ‘live counters’, where the chefs adeptly fried the fish. I tried the Rawas and Tilapia. They were faultless.

Hawaiian Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato served with Garlic Bread, Aztec Poblano Paneer, Dry Patara and Raw Mango Papaya salad, were some of the interesting Vegetarian dishes on offer. Quite innovative I thought.

The main course offered kosha mangsho, biryani, Manglorean fish curry, Chicken Hydrabadi, shrimp rice and more for the carnivores. The Biryani was a treat, boasted of some subtle flavours. The Chicken preparation bowled me over completely. A unique masala, made the gravy stand out. The shrimp rice too was delicious but the Kosha Mangsho was anything, but authentic and had far too many bones, than there ought to have been. A tad disappointing.

 

Ada Pradhaman – Kerala style Payasam prepared with jaggery, rice ada and coconut milk was a decadent dessert which I enjoyed thoroughly. There were other options like kulfi, angoor gulab jamun and phirni, but I decided to skip those.

As always, the service was prompt and attentive and the place was buzzing. The soulful rendition of songs by the singer, enhanced the dining experience.

For sea food lovers, there can be no better place than Barbeque Nation to sample the best and freshest catch in myriad preparations and forms. And there’s something for every fish lover’s palate!

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Jeon Comes To Juhu

Juhu, one of the upmarket western suburbs of Mumbai beckoned me yet again. This time, another stretch, another hotel. Hotel Sea Princess where I was stepping in after a decade or more. Nothing had really taken me here the last few years. The food was nothing to boast about but thankfully this has changed with Jeon, the all day dining restaurant that has opened recently.

Lamb stew with creamy polenta

Multi cuisine dishes is what this place serves and an extensive buffet for dinner as well. The food menu has been designed by gourmand Dharmesh Karmokar and their all day specials include a list of global and Indian favourites – Balti Spiced Chicken, Bekti and Crab Cakes, Macadamia crusted lamb rack, Mushroom Ravioli, Pizzas and an elaborate Indian menu.

A Chicken and fennel soup is what I began my meal with. Comforting, flavourful and aromatic. It appeased my taste buds instantly.

Balti Chicken

 

Chef Brian Louis recommended Balti spiced chicken. Well presented, I however found the dish did not live upto its name and was a tad too bland. The chicken skewers were grilled to perfection but lacked the zesty flavours I was eagerly awaiting.  The garlic mayonnaise served along, did not help.

The Bekti and crab cakes made up for this one though. Soft and creamy, the crab cakes were melt in the mouth with the right amount of flavour and zing to it.

The Harissa crusted Basa  we ordered for our Mains, was a pleasant surprise. Crisp, well fried and the crust lent a unique flavour to the fish. Served with pok choy and hollandaise sauce, it was a dish I will not forget easily. But the portions, I thought could have been more generous, given the price.

The ravioli in mushroom sauce was equally delectable and the ravioli was generously filled. Obviously the Italian fare here is good.

We decided to settle for desserts from the buffet and opted for a fruit custard and gajar ka halwa. The gajar ka halwa was sweet, creamy and the way it should be, but alas! the fruit custard with tinned fruits was a disappointment. The fruits, completely marred the taste of the custard. Fresh fruits would have been a better and safer bet.

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Overall, Jeon with its lively ambience and chic decor, great service and good food has the potential to become a dining hotspot in Juhu, if a bit of tweaking is done.

Rating: 3/5

DIY Fun Pan Asian Meal : Mamagoto Andheri West

Buffets are always exciting because of the spread and variety but yes, sometimes, the food quality can be a bit of a concern. Was thus delighted to learn about the Anti Buffet luncheon at Mamagoto’s outlet in Andheri West, Mumbai.

This much loved Pan Asian restaurant chain known for its fun, quirky Asian cuisine has done it once again. Mamagoto indulges you by enabling you to select what you want  to eat and how you want it.

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The Live wok station looked very inviting. I was ready to experiment. With an array of sauces and meat such as lamb, fish, shrimp, chicken to choose from, the chef in me was surfacing. I selected my combinations of veggies and meat in a black pepper sauce. Voila! my dish was ready. Crunchy, crispy and fresh veggies and meats enveloped my mouth. The burst of flavours left me speechless.

The welcome drink with water melon juice as the base was refreshing and apt for a hot afternoon.

Of course the other starters were equally delectable. The South East Asian grilled fish swept me off my feet. The flavours were so delicate, yet, pronounced. The momos were ordinary as were the spring rolls. Although I liked the fact that the spring rolls were not oily.The Hungry Soul broth with a generous dose of veggies and chicken was genuinely comforting and satiated us completely.

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The Asian salad station offered Som Tam, Glass Noodles, Asian summer Salad, Mix veg salad with peanut dressing (baby corn, chinese cabbage , pokchoi, green beans, long cut , cucumber cubes) and  one could tweak it as per one’s own preference.

In the mains, the stir fried pak choy with water chestnut, bowled us over. The crunchy water chestnut paired exceedingly well with the subtle pak choy. A real palate pleaser, this one!

By the time we reached the dessert part of our meal, we were actually quite full.  Caramel sponge cake, Chocolate mud cake, Banoffee pie and Coconut ice cream were on offer. A scoop of ice cream was all that we could manage.

“We believe in empowering our clients, giving them the luxury of choice and asking them to dictate what they want, when they want. The idea is to create a paradigm shift and give people an alternative to the mundane, old fashioned spreads.” I liked what Rahul Khanna & Kabir Suri, Directors, Azure Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, the promoters of Mamagoto told me. What a perfect approach.

Priced at an attractive rate of Rs 599 the ” Anti Buffet ” lunch is a steal and a great way of enjoying a delicious Pan Asian meal. Available from 12-3 pm from Wednesday to Sunday, make sure you don’t miss this one!

Rating: 3.5/5

The World on Your P(a)late @Pondichery Cafe!

My visit to Sofitel BKC was long overdue and there could be no better occasion to head there, than for the sumptuous Sunday brunch at Pondichery Café, the all day dining outlet at the Hotel. With over 120 gourmet delicacies, I had to brace myself to experiment and indulge. One look at the vast array of display counters and the buffet spread ranging from Continental, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean, I knew, it was going to be a memorable gastronomic journey.

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Mezze, Sushi, Teppanyaki, Terrines, Salads, Tandoor and a Consome counter. Whew! I did not know where to start from. Food apart, the pleasant demeanour of the affable chefs, smiling service staff, was a pleasure to see.

We decided to start with the detox juices and fruit shooters. Yummy. And yes we had embarked upon a healthy culinary journey. (Or so we thought!) The salads were equally inviting. Chaat, Grills, succulent Chicken Doner Kebabs, Dumba Biryani, Banana Dosa, Pan seared Foie gras parfait  as well as made-to-order pizza and calzones, beckoned us. There was something for every palate.

We savoured the delicacies at a leisurely pace. The teppanyaki sea food and chicken were particularly outstanding. I loved the way the asparagus and poached egg were presented. The salmon was grilled to perfection and paired well with the chicken. The stir fry veggies with noodles too were a palate pleaser.

The variety of the fare was unparalleled. I was really impressed with the global food section with some typical French delicacies. In keeping with their Indo-French fusion, the Indian dishes too were extraordinary, especially the Dumba biryani, which was innovatively served.

Although after the mouth-watering brunch, there is no scope to eat desserts, but not indulging in those, is a greater sin at Pondichery Café. The spread is one of its’ kind and the Pastry chef, gently coaxes you into trying everything.  Gâteaux de meringue de chocolate, Coriander de meringue bavarois, Linzer cake with homemade strawberry jam, Baileys cheese cake, Saffron crème brule, were some of the treats on offer.

It was one of the most amazing culinary experiences this year. Or shall I say the best so far? Relaxing amidst the dramatic Indo-European interiors, with great food, prompt service, courteous staff and a cheerful ambience, it was indeed a memorable Sunday. Now need to try the other Restaurants at Sofitel BKC too !