Restaurant Review: Amreli

Restaurant Review: Amreli

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Amreli is a Pan-Asian restaurant, housed in Hotel Diplomat, with a classic bistro-style ambience. Opened just a year back, Amreli has replaced the legendary Olive Beach restaurant which used to serve amazing Italian food. So Amreli definitely has huge expectations to live up to. The restaurant has been done up beautifully with paintings, mirrors and bright colours and it also has a nice outdoor seating area.

We started off our meal with Teriyaki Chicken Skewers, Chicken Satay and Basil Chicken Pot Stickers. The teriyaki skewers were marinated in a thick, spicy and flavourful sauce and were served with a delicious dip which perfectly complimented the skewers. The satay was also quite nice, and the chicken was soft and juicy, but the peanut dip didn’t have the right consistency or balance of flavours. The pot stickers had a tasty filling of minced chicken and herbs, which had subtle flavours, and was complimented very well with a sweet and spicy sauce.

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For main course, we tried the Chicken Tikka Masala and Kaali Dal. The dal was creamy and tasted quite nice, but could have done with a background note of ginger or some other flavour to amp up the taste. The chicken tikka masala was a brilliant dish- the chicken chunks were juicy and well cooked, and the gravy was deftly spiced and was rich without being full of cream. However, the tandoori roti was quite thick and as a result was slightly undercooked.

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For dessert, we had Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake which was simply divine! The cake was fudgy, rich and decadent and the warm chocolate sauce served with it was so good that we could have had bowls of it.

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Along with our meal, we also had Marden Blush, a mocktail made of apple and strawberry which was sweet, tangy and refreshing.

The service was very courteous, though it could have been better and more professional as the servers were not very well-versed with the menu.

Overall, the food is quite good, and the ambience is definitely the best thing Amreli has got going for itself. It’s a nice option for a summer brunch with family or even for a romantic dinner date.

 

Quick Facts

Location: Hotel Diplomat, 9, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri

Phone Number: 011 46050200

Restaurant Review: Threesixtyone Degrees, The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Restaurant Review: Threesixtyone Degrees, The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The Oberoi brand is known the world over for its immaculate hospitality, and we got a taste of it recently when we visited The Oberoi’s all-day dining restaurant, Threesixtyone Degrees, for its lavish and extravagant Sunday brunch.

The moment you enter the hotel, a sudden sense of tranquillity comes over and it seems like you’ve instantly come away from the chaos of the city. With a pool at the centre, buildings on either side and the restaurant straight ahead, the hotel has been beautifully constructed. The restaurant overlooks the pool, which acts as a scenic backdrop for a calm and serene meal.

From the time you walk in, Threesixtyone exudes opulence and grandeur, with scrumptious food laid out as far as the eye can see. Chef Manish, who came out to chat with us, was of the view that a Sunday brunch should be extravagant and decadent, where you can leave all your worries behind and just indulge. He also explained to us that every Sunday their brunch has a surprise theme, the present one being ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. So there was a live cooking station with delicacies from London and Paris, apart from a salad counter, indian chaat section, Indian and Oriental mains, Sushi and Teppanyaki stations, and last but certainly not the least- the dessert section. Besides these spreads, you could also order anything you like from the menu, as a part of the brunch, such as kebabs, pasta, etc, as in Chef’s words, “there should be nothing you can’t have on Sundays”. The brunch also includes a selection of 10 top quality Dom Pérignon champagnes served on the table, so they really known how to pamper you at The Oberoi.

Now, buffet spreads generally don’t have the best reputation, as quantity ends up overtaking quality, but Threesixtyone is the epitome of how to balance both flawlessly.

After being seated at our table, we were served a basket of delicious freshly baked assorted breads, along with a refreshing fruit-based cocktail made with English liquor Pimm’s, which instantly perked up our appetite for the grand meal ahead.

We started off with the salad counter which had a variety of salads ranging from prawns in red wine and shallot vinaigrette, to coronation chicken salad, prosciutto ham, squid, octopus and salad nicoise. There were also great options for vegetarians, such as carrot slaw, heirloom tomato with mozzarella, panzanella, couscous, quinoa, salt baked beetroot with orange and feta, and the likes. The salads were not just put together as an after-thought, as it is done at many places, but great care had gone into each of these. Chef Manish told us that he sources his ingredients from the best organic farmers and the superior quality of the raw product shone through in these salads. We especially loved the coronation chicken, prosciutto ham, salt baked beetroot with orange and feta, and heirloom tomato with mozzarella salads.

Most Indians cannot make do without some yummy chaats tantalizing our taste buds, and to cater to this, the restaurant had a whole spread of Indian chaats ranging from sprouts, fruit chaat, dahi bhalla, fried idlis, to chick peas, samosa chaat and onion fritters. The fried idlis had a nice tempering, but were a bit dry and hard, but the samosa chaat had the perfect melange of sweet, sour and tangy flavours. The chickpeas were cooked al dente, and were very nicely marinated, while the onion fritters were crisp and had a flavoursome batter tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds.

On request, we were also served some kebabs on the table- chicken tangadi, fish kebabs, dahi ke kebab and silbatte ke shaami. The chicken tangadi was delicately marinated and succulent, while the silbatte ke shaami, made of meat ground in the traditional way on a ‘silbatta’, had a beautiful thready texture and was deftly spiced. The fish kebabs were coated with white sesame seeds which made the outside really crunchy, while the fish inside was flaky and soft. However, the dahi kebab wasn’t too much to our liking, as it had a slightly sweetish taste, rather than the sour taste that these kebabs normally have.

Next, we were served assorted veg, cabbage, steamed chicken and pan fried dimsums. While in general the dimsums fillings lacked a bit of flavour, our favourite was the pan fried dimsum. Also, from the teppanyaki section, we tried the Fish in Teriyaki Sauce, Grilled Vegetables and Chicken in Peri Peri Sauce. All three dishes had distinct and pleasant flavours, though the chicken was a little dry.

Then, we moved on to the most interesting section- the one dedicated to the theme of the brunch- ‘A Tale of Two Cities’,  having some classic French and British dishes. The London section had Bubble & Squeak, a traditional English dish normally made with left-over vegetables; Rumbledethumps, a Scottish dish made with potatoes, onions and cabbage; Lancashire Hotpot, a meat stew covered with potato chips; and the old favourite Bangers and Mash. All these dishes were really authentic and tasty, with our favourites being the bangers and mash and the Lancashire hotpot, but what stole our hearts were the beautiful blueberry scones with fruit preserves. The scones were adequately sweet, and not only looked exquisite, but also had a light and crumbly texture. The Paris section also had some quintessential French classics- Poulet Basquaise, a braised chicken dish, which had a lovely flavour of peppers coming through; Hachis Parmentier, which had a minced meat base, topped with a mashed potato cake; delicate and painstakingly prepared Grilled Fish with Lobster Sauce; and Garbure, a french soup made with vegetables, which we found a little bland.

There was also an elaborate Indian and Oriental mains section, and the theme for the brunch had transcended to this section as well, with most of the Indian dishes being ones which have been widely appreciated and adopted by the British. The Indian dishes comprised Chicken Tikka Masala, Pork Vindaloo, Achari Gosht, Malabar Fish Curry, Chicken Biryani, Paneer Bhurji, Aloo Hara Pyaaz, Dal Tadka and Kunni Dal. The chicken tikka masala, the national dish of Britain, had juicy chicken and a mildly spiced curry, while the pork vindaloo had a strong, pungent taste. The fish curry was also really spectacular, with the fish literally breaking apart at the touch of a fork. The achari gosht was nice but could have had more of a pickle-y flavour. On the vegetarian side, we tried only the two dals. Dal tadka was fairly ordinary, but the kunni dal, which was a mix of maa ki dal and chana dal, was a revelation. It was so simple and humble, yet had stupendous flavours.

With little room left in our stomach, we walked towards our favourite section of any buffet- the dessert section. One look at the spread, and we felt we had landed in heaven! This was by far the most creative, ornate and delectable selection of desserts we have witnessed till date in any buffet, having an exhaustive selection of over 20 desserts. The dessert section also carried forward the same theme, with most of them being a beautiful marriage of French and British desserts. The spread included the likes of English Trifle Mousse with French Lemon Choux, which had a profiterole with a lemon cream filling atop a mousse which had all the elements of a traditional English trifle- vanilla custard, sponge and strawberry jelly, covered with a white chocolate glaze. Another great dessert was the Vanilla Lemon and Chocolate Entremet which had a crunchy shortbread base, topped with chocolate jam, lemon basil sugar and a vanilla mousse, with a vanilla cream filling, all covered with a dark chocolate glaze. Though it sounds like a mishmash of ingredients, and to be honest, we were a bit apprehensive as to how all these flavours would come together, but it turned out to be one of the best desserts we have ever had. The dexterity with which the layers had been ideated and constructed, each having a different texture and flavour, was pure genius. Another dessert which stole our hearts was the Raspberry Cremeux Tart which had a vanilla sable base and a raspberry cremeux filling, covered with crème chantilly and fresh berries. It was perfect for those who don’t like their desserts too sweet, as the raspberry provided a nice tart flavour. Another innovation was the Cruffin, a cross between croissant and muffin. Besides these, they also had Stick Toffee Pudding, Battenberg Cake, Eton Mess, English Berry Dome, Rainbow Victorian Sponge Cupcakes, Millionaire Shortbread, Hazelnut Bread and Butter Pudding and Banoffee Macarons, apart from some Indian mithai like Gulab Jamun, Moong Dal Halwa, Gulkand Rasmalai, Phirnee, among others. Our favourites from the dessert section were Vanilla Lemon and Chocolate Entremet, Raspberry Cremeux Tart and Millionaire Shortbread. We also tried some chocolate ice-cream which was prepared in-house, and it was creamy and rich.

Each dessert not only was a combination of French and English classics, but also had varied elements which all had different flavours and textures. But the mastery was in how all these elements came together beautifully to make for a composed, unique and delightful dessert! Hats off to the pastry chefs, as we believe they are some of the finest in the city.

The service was immaculate throughout our meal, with amazing attention to detail, as expected from any five-star establishment.

Our compliments to the chef and his team in the kitchen for an amazing meal, and to all the servers for superlative service! A lot of effort had gone into creating these dishes, and executing them all perfectly. Not many kitchens can make perfect kebabs, along with creating classic French dishes, and sublime desserts, so their versatility is unmatched. For any dessert-lover to miss the dessert spread at Threesixtyone would be a crime, the ambience of the restaurant is also gorgeous, and dining here is an experience to treasure. So overall, Threesixtyone Degrees is a must-visit, especially for their luxurious and majestic Sunday Brunch!

Quick Facts

Location: The Oberoi, 443, Phase 5,Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon

Phone Number: 0124 2451234

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Restaurant Review: Varq

Restaurant Review: Varq

Overall Rating: 3/5

Five-star establishments are not only supposed to have delicious food, great ambience and top-class service, they should also be consistent in all these aspects. And lack of consistency is what was most disappointing about Varq.

This was my second visit to Varq, and I had gone through Citibank’s Restaurant Week offer. Having enjoyed my first time here, I was looking forward to a great dining experience this time around as well, but that’s not what I got.

We were taken to our tables and handed over the special #RWIndia menu and we placed our orders from that menu. Then we were served an amuse-bouche of mini khandvi, which was quite nice. While waiting for our starters, we noticed that others around us were being served a welcome drink, which wasn’t served to us. And even after the starters were served to us, we still hadn’t received the welcome drink, so we enquired the server about the same. He said he had forgotten to serve it and then promptly got it for us, but that really isn’t acceptable especially when you’re dining at a place like this. Anyway, the welcome drink was a teekha tamarind mocktail, which is the signature drink of the restaurant. It was sweet and tangy, and quite tasty.

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For starters, we had:

Duet of Khurmani and Subz Ganderi Kebab: This dish had an Apricot and potato cake in yoghurt, raw mango chutney and stewed apricots along with a tangy gongura kebab on a sugarcane stick. The apricot cake was crunchy and the combination of the sweet and tangy yogurt matched it perfectly. The kebab was also very crispy and the gongura leaves added a very unique taste.

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Duet of Bhatti Murg and Ganderi kebab: Bhatti murh was the regular tandoori murg- it was good but nothing exceptional. The ganderi kebab (minced chicken on sugarcane stick served in a shot glass with a sweet and spicy mango chutney) was a little undercooked and the outer layer was not crisp at all, and didn’t even have a nice golden-brown colour.

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Ambedi Fish Tikka: The fish was soft and flaky, and was marinated in a subtle yogurt and raw mango marinade. Again a good dish, but nothing extraordinary.

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For mains we had:

Palak aur Wadi: Lentil dumplings in a mildly spiced spinach gravy. A really nice rendition of a humble home-style dish.

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Murg sirka pyaaz: Chicken tikka in a pickled onion and tomato gravy. The gravy was really tasty but the pickled flavour of the onions could be a bit more pronounced.

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Martabaan ka meat: Lamb chunks in a spicy gravy, served in a martbaan. A really tasty dish- perhaps the best one of the day.

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Along with these dishes, we were served steamed rice, aloo lal mirch and lal moth ki maharani dal. The dal was just average, and you get better dal at even small dhabas across the city. The aloo too had almost no flavour and it felt like there was no effort put into its preparation. Perhaps if the potatoes were sprinkled with a bit of amchoor or chaat masala, it would have given them at least some amount of flavour.

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We were also served a variety of breads- Jalapeno Naan, Methi Parantha and Olive Naan. The olive naan was my favourite of the lot. Again here, the servers took too long in getting us more breads, and we were almost done with our meals by the time the breads arrived.

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For dessert, we were served a trio of Jalebi, Khaas Malpua and Apple Kheer. The Jalebi was served on top of Kalakand and the jalebi itself was very thin and crisp. The kalakand was very soft and fresh, and adequately sweet. The malpua had a stuffing of carrots, but it was too sweet for my liking. The apple kheer was definitely my favourite of the three desserts as it was mildly sweet and the apples provided it a nice freshness.

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At the end of our meal, we were given a small packet of rose flavoured tea to take away with us, which was a nice gesture.

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However, most of the food was just average and the service was also lacking. They really need to put in more efforts to ensure their food provides something unique which makes visiting the place worthwhile and the food and service both need to be consistent.

Quick Facts

Location: The Taj Mahal Hotel, 1, Mansingh Road

Phone Number: 011 23026162 ; 011 66513151

Restaurant Review: The Potbelly, Chanakyapuri

Restaurant Review: The Potbelly, Chanakyapuri

Overall Rating: 3.25/5

Authentic Bihari food right here in Delhi! My first tryst with Bihari food was at the Bihari stall at The Street Food Festival organized by NASVI in December, and I instantly realized how delicious, diverse and fairly undiscovered the cuisine is. So I really appreciate the efforts of the people behind The Potbelly to bring to peoples’ attention, the unique and flavourful food of Bihar.

Potbelly set up its first outlet at Shahpur Jat Village and now they have opened up another outlet within the Bihar Niwas, which is the one I went to. The place has been done up in a simple, ethnic manner, sort of styled like a humble drawing room at someone’s house, and they also have some outdoor seating.

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For starters, we ordered Saboodana Basket, Poori Basket and Keema Goli.

The saboodana basket consisted of saboodana pakodas, served with a delicious parwal and tomato chokha (dip). The pakodas were chewy, crisp and nicely seasoned but the winner on this plate was the chokha. Never did I think parwal could taste this good, and they were so delicious that I could buy bottles of these chokhas.

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The poori basket had an assortment of buckwheat poories, poories stuffed with spiced sattu or roasted gram flour and spinach poories served with a potato-onion dish, boondi raita and two delicious chutneys. It was great to see such a nice variety of pooris and they all had a nice flavour, but the flavour of the spinach poori could be a bit more pronounced and all the pooris were a tad too oily. The potato dish was nice and the two chutneys served alongside were even better.

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The keema golis were minced mutton balls, spiced to perfection and deep fried, served with mini khasta breads, which though nice, could have been more ‘khasta’ or crispier.

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For mains, we went with Dalpitti and Litti Mutton.

Dalpiiti is the Bihari take on the Gujrati Dal-Dhokli or to put it in even simpler terms, their take on dal and roti. It consists of whole wheat flattened dumplings in yellow lentils served with the Bihari take on potato fries, saboodana pakodas, the same delicious pickles/chutneys that we got with the poori basket, boondi raita and scrumptious parwal chokha. The dalpiiti was a nice dish and along with the accompaniments, this plate was a full meal, but it would have tasted much better if there was more dal, a bit more spicy, and lesser pitti or wheat dumplings.

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Litti is perhaps the staple food of the state, so we knew we had to try the Litti Mutton. Litti is made of whole wheat balls stuffed with spiced sattu and roasted on charcoal or in a tandoor (though the traditional way is roasting on upla or cowdung). Littis by their very nature are dry, so they are normally dipped in ghee to make them more palatable, but that wasn’t done here. Now I understand that many people are concerned about not consuming too much ghee, but I would suggest that they serve some warm ghee along with the littis so that if we want, we can dip our littis in that to make them less dry. However, the khade masale ka mutton served with the littis was absolute perfection! The mutton was perfectly cooked and the whole spices gave it a lovely flavour- one of the best mutton dishes I’ve had. The dish was served with a lovely aubergine chokha and mashed potatoes.

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For dessert, we went with Makhana Kheer, something I tried for the first time. It was mildly sweet and the makhanas had soaked in the milk and had become incredibly soft and spongy. A nice and different dessert.

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Along with our meal, we also had 2 drinks- Mirch Masala Lemonade and Sattu Cooler. The lemonade was really tangy, spicy and refreshing and I simply loved it. It provided a much required fresh note in a meal that was filled with heavy, fried food. The sattu cooler is, I believe, an acquired taste. It was chalky and powdery and I personally did not like it at all.

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The service was a bit slow, and could be a bit more courteous.

Overall, this is a good attempt at showcasing the cuisine of Bihar, though a few changes could make the food a lot better. The place can be visited for trying something different, and the must-haves are the khade masale ka mutton and the lovely chokhas.

Quick Facts

Location: Plot 15, Bihar Niwas, Behind Yashwant Place, Chanakyapuri (another outlet at Shahpur Jat Village)

Phone Number: 011 26112764 ; +91 9911865052

Review: Chocovault

Review: Chocovault

Overall Rating: 4/5

‘If chocolate is the answer, who cares what the question is’. And you will find all the answers at Chocovault, a newly opened chocolate café in Hauz Khas Village.

The entry to this place is in the shape of a vault door, and aptly so, as inside it holds the most treasured items- delicious desserts!

Still new, the café currently doesn’t boast of a large place for the liking of a big group, but the owner has plans to expand it soon. The interiors are really quirky but charming and the entire place reflects ‘decadence’. Anybody who loves desserts, and especially chocolate, would feel like a kid in a candy shop here as the cafe boasts of a huge variety of chocolate items on offer, and each of them unique in its own right. So the most difficult thing when you visit the café would be to choose the right dessert, as you would want to try everything available on the menu!

We ended up trying five desserts:

Lip-smacking: A creative presentation of red velvet cake- it was in the shape of luscious red lips, which when you bite into, reveals the most delicious moist red velvet cake, surrounded by tart cream-cheese frosting. This dessert looked amazing, but tasted even better than it looked.

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The Choco-Nuke: One of their signature items. This had a chocolate ball, on which hot chocolate sauce was poured, causing the chocolate ball to melt and reveal a really nice take on black forest- chocolate mousse, cherries and chocolate sponge. The chocolate sauce was rich while the mousse was light and airy, providing the perfect contrast in textures. Another point worth mentioning here is how perfectly the chocolate ball was moulded. It was clean and sharp, which takes great technique and skill to execute.

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The Show Stopper: Another one of their signature items- this was a combination of chocolate, salted caramel and crunchy biscuit. This dessert was quite complex and had layers of different textures and flavours, starting with a light and subtle caramel mousse, followed by a crunchy biscuit layer and finished with a rich chocolate cake layer. The one thing that can be improved though is that the crunchy layer was a bit too thick, making it a bit hard to break apart with the spoon. This dessert is something you would expect to find in top Parisian bakeries and is definitely worth trying.

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Scandalous Mud Cake: This is not the usual mud-cake, rather, it’s been taken to the next level by layering chocolate cake with salted caramel to give a more balanced and well-rounded taste. The chocolate cake was rich and moist and the caramel provided the correct balance of sweet and salty flavours. A stellar dessert!

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Brownie Waffle Stick: We’ve all had waffles in their regular form, but Chocovault has put their twist on these as well, and converted them into waffle sticks. and they have 10 different flavours of waffle sticks on offer. We opted for the brownie flavour which had a crunchy waffle base, with chocolate sauce and flavoured cream topped with brownie bits. A must try for waffle lovers.

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Apart from these, we also tried 2 drinks:

Belgium Chocolate Elixir: The presentation of this drink was also quite different. The drink came in a kettle-shaped jar and when that was placed atop the glass, the drink poured into the glass. The chocolate shake was really smooth and creamy and had a rich chocolate flavour. One of the best chocolate shakes that we’ve had.

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Virgin Mojito: Well, clearly chocolate is their forte and its best if you stick to that. While there was nothing wrong with the mojito, it was just ordinary, and could have in fact done with a little less mint and a bit more lemon juice.

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Overall, it’s clear that a great amount of research and attention to detail has gone into crafting each of these items. Each dessert seems really innovative as well as pleasing to the palate. Another thing which comes across is that these desserts are made with top-quality ingredients- couverture chocolate, imported cream cheese, etc., and hence justifies the slightly higher pricing. The café has a vast menu and each dessert is not only eye-catching, but also has a unique appearance and is even more amazing to taste. The service is also warm and courteous.

All this makes Chocovault a must-visit for all dessert-lovers!

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Quick Facts

Location: 1-A, Ground Floor, Hauz Khas Village

Phone Number: 011 33106468

Chocolate Tasting and Appreciation Session by Art Chocolat

Chocolate Tasting and Appreciation Session by Art Chocolat

“Love makes the world go round, but chocolate makes the trip worthwhile”. I read this quote somewhere, and I couldn’t agree with it more! I am a die-hard chocoholic and I truly believe that chocolate is a beautiful creation- incredibly delicious and satisfying, scientifically proven to be good for us, and immensely versatile. You can have it bitter, sweet, extremely sweet; you can mix it with nuts, fruits, herbs, spices- the list is endless!

Select CITYWALK, New Delhi recently held a Chocolicious Festival, and one aspect of the festival was the Chocolate Appreciation and Tasting Session organized by Art Chocolat, and I was invited for the Critics Preview of the same.

When I walked into the room where this session was to be held, I saw in front of me the most beautifully enticing display I have ever witnessed- a table filled with a myriad of different shapes and flavours of chocolates. The full session, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay on for) had on the agenda the history of chocolate, information on how to make chocolates and identify the good ones and then the tasting, while the critics session involved just the tasting (which was the best part, of course)

Spice Mix Truffles: Dark chocolate mixed with five-spice mix. I love the combination of chocolate and spices, but this one was a bit too strong for my liking.

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Strawberry Cups: Chocolate ganache with strawberry- a beautiful combination of tart and sweet.

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Green Apple: A very innovative combination and was beautifully presented but the green apple flavour was a bit too mild.

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Caramel: White chocolate, cooked to achieve a light-brown caramel colour, filled with caramel- a really well made chocolate.

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Kesar: Saffron is a beautiful ingredient and it lifts the flavour of anything it is added to, but the proportion has to be just right. Here it was combined with white chocolate, and though the saffron flavour did come through, the chocolate was too sweet for my liking.

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Kewda: A combination I have never tried before- this was a good interpretation of what an Indian-style chocolate would be like- it tasted so similar to our desi mithais, and was quite interesting.

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Tiramisu Cups: It had all the flavours of the classic Tiramisu- coffee, chocolate and cream, and tasted quite nice.

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Wasabi Spoons: Chocolate in the shape of a spoon- topped with wasabi-flavoured chocolate. It had a strong wasabi flavour, which personally I don’t like much, but for wasabi lovers, this is worth trying.

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Sichuan Pepper Cups: One of my favourites out of the whole tasting table, this chocolate had the right amount of spice- first you get the sweetness from the chocolate and then the spice hits you, just like it should be.

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Rose and Elaichi: White chocolate combined with rose petals and elaichi flavours. It again tasted a lot like Indian mithais and the flavours were nice, but had the size of the chocolate been smaller, it would have made for a more composed bite.

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Honey Tulsi: Tulsi with chocolate sounds weird but tasted quite nice- the honey and tulsi counterbalanced each other well.

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Green Tea Truffle: Who would have thought of combining green tea with chocolate? Since green tea has a subtle flavour, I thought it would be overpowered by the chocolate, but here you could taste the mild green tea. I don’t like the taste of green tea otherwise, but this is one form of green tea that I won’t mind having.

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Pan Chocolate: I’m sure most of us have had the famous Chocolate Pan at Prince Pan, so we know this combination does work. The chocolate had a filling of gulkand and betel leaves and was quite refreshing.

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Kiwi Chocolate: An interesting combination, and it was good, but not great.

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Blueberry Chocolate: The chocolates had a nice light blue colour and were filled with a blueberry crush. This again was delicious and was one of my favourites.

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Besides these lovely flavoured chocolates, there were also some chocolates which were more of a visual treat.

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My top favourites: Sichuan Pepper Cups, Pan Chocolate, Blueberry Chocolate

After attending the session, my take-away was that chocolate-making is an art and it requires a lot of skill, and we should definitely be more experimental with our chocolate flavours. It is great to see that we have people who are working with some much dedication in this field and I’m sure there is a lot more innovation that we can expect to see from them in the future!

Art Chocolat is a premier chocolate training academy based in New Delhi offering courses in chocolate making, chocolate packing / presentation, and chocolate bouquets.

To find out more about Art Chocolat, check out their website here or Facebook page here.

Restaurant Review: The California Boulevard, Rajouri Garden

Restaurant Review: The California Boulevard, Rajouri Garden

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Rajouri Garden has been one of the most trending and happening places to visit of late, and its sudden growth can be only compared to what happened with Hauz Khas Village a few years back.

With new restaurants opening up literally every week, what’s great is that these restaurants are offering new cuisines and new concepts which gives us huge variety to choose from.

And talking about variety, what can be better than having a choice of over 300 dishes across 30 countries under one roof. That is exactly what The California Boulevard is all about!

The restaurant spans across 2 floors and the décor is very retro- the theme ‘Old Hollywood’ being reflected in the seating, music and the whole feel of the place. Another thing we noticed the moment we walked in was how well-dressed the servers were, something you hardly get to see outside of 5-star establishments nowadays.

The moment we sat down, we were served with an assorted bread basket with a jar of garlic butter. The breads were all really soft and fresh, and the garlic butter was excellent- creamy and smooth, with the right amount of herbs and garlic.

We tasted:

  1. Palak Patta Chaat: The chaat was very nice- the palak leaves were crunchy and the balance of the chutneys on top was just right.
  2. Paneer Sushi- This was a very interesting take on sushi. It had paneer, stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, rolled and fried. A very creative dish!
  3. Char Grilled Chicken: Who would have thought to put fondue with chicken? The dish had chicken thighs, nicely marinated with a subtle garlic flavour, topped with creamy methi fondue. The chicken was juicy and the cheesy fondue just elevated the dish to a whole new level.
  4. Vegetable Bruschetta: Crispy bread, topped with fresh and exotic ingredients like artichoke, bell peppers, rocket leaves and feta cheese. There were generous quantities of veggies and the combination of these flavours worked really well together.
  5. Quesadilla: One of the best quesadillas we’ve had in Delhi. The kidney beans in the stuffing were well cooked and the tortilla was really crispy. This was served with fresh tomato salsa and light and fluffy sour cream, which perfectly complimented the quesadilla.
  6. Mix Vegetables and Chives Dumpling: A nice, subtle-flavoured dumpling, which went great with the spicy sauces they served it with.
  7. Crystal Chicken Dim Sum: The chicken was really juicy and moist, with a nice freshness coming in from the coriander. Also, the different shapes of the dumplings were done well, and that really takes some skill.
  8. Ganderi Kebab: The kebabs constitute minced chicken, wrapped around sugarcane sticks, served with a tangy-sweet dip. I have had these kebabs at Varq at The Taj Mahal Hotel, and these ones weren’t too far behind from those.
  9. Tangy Button Mushrooms: The mushrooms were tossed in a spicy Schezwan sauce, topped with crispy fried noodles. A decent dish.
  10. Thai Wok Fried Chicken: This dish had chicken chunks, tossed in soy, garlic, basil and red chilli. The chicken was soft and well-cooked and the sauce had a great balance of flavours, and was not too spicy.
  11. Kakori Kebab: Smooth, melt-in-the-mouth minced mutton, delicately flavoured with whole spices, with a lovely background note of saffron.
  12. Peri Peri Crispy Chicken: Boneless pieces of chicken in a peri peri marinade, served with chipotle mayo dip. The problem with this dish was that the chicken wasn’t spicy enough for our liking, and even the mayo dip didn’t have much spicy chipotle flavour to it.
  13. California Veggie and Peri Peri Chicken Half-and-half Pizza: They have a wood-fired oven in their premises, which is actually located at the corner of the first floor, and it has glass sides, so you can actually see the pizzas being made live in front of you. The pizza had a crispy thin crust and was loaded with toppings. The veg pizza was topped with sundried tomatoes, corn, capsicum, broccoli and mushrooms and really packed a lot of flavour. The chicken pizza was also generously topped with chicken chunks marinated in peri peri spices, but gain, the peri peri wasn’t as spicy as it should be.
  14. Murg Sirka Pyaaz: Moving away from the traditional butter chicken, we tried the murg sirka pyaaz, which had a thick gravy, laced with small pieces of pickled onions, which provided a nice tangy flavour. A really good dish. The tandoori roti was thin and crisp.

After tasting all these dishes, we were understandably too full to have anything else. Except of course, dessert, which always manages to make space for itself in our tummies. For dessert we tried:

  1. Chocolate Bomb: This was simply a visual treat! We were presented with a large chocolate ball over which the server gently poured hot caramel sauce. As he kept pouring the hot sauce on the cold chocolate ball, the chocolate started melting, and in the most beautiful way, opened up almost in the shape of a flower, to reveal a chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice-cream inside it. Not only was this dish a wonder to look at, but when we tasted a bite of all those flavours together- vanilla ice-cream, fudgy brownie, caramel sauce and chocolate- it just tasted divine! A must-have dessert!
  2. TCB Kulfi Gazzak: This is a speciality of the restaurant. When it was served to us, we saw two chocolate spheres on the plate, which were then blow-torched by the server. This gave the chocolate a nice sheen and a bitter-sweet note, and slightly softened the treasure inside- the kulfi. So then we cracked open the chocolate spheres to reveal the kesar-pista kulfi, which was topped with some gazzak for the crunch element. All these flavours- bitter chocolate, sweet kulfi and crunchy gazzak just complimented each other very well to make for a great dessert.

Overall, the restaurant offers a huge range of dishes, from traditional to innovative, and almost all of them taste spectacular. The ambience of the place is classy and suits the theme perfectly. The service was excellent- the servers are knowledgeable about the menu, as also extremely courteous.

All of this makes California Boulevard a must-visit!

Quick Facts

Location: J 2/5, 1st & 2nd Floor, B.K. Dutt Market, Rajouri Garden (Another branch at Sector 29, Gurgaon)

Phone Number: 011 33106411

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