Bingeing on Sunday brunch at The Hilton

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For some reason, every time we go to Vasco's, we're seated beside the dessert station. This time too, but now, there is a chalkboard offering pithy advice 😊

Every station has its specials

In fact, there are chalkboards beside all the stations highlighting the specials. In a way, the advice is good because it's a constant reminder to keep space for dessert. Which is an impossible task when you're at Vasco's, The Hilton Chennai, which has relaunched the biggest Sunday brunch in the city. Called the Bingeful Sunday Brunch, Vasco's promises to keep you "overfed and overwhelmed".

Appetisers - prawn tempura, tandoori chicken 

Pizza toppings

Salads

Mezze!

Sushi, sashimi & tapas. The sushi rice does dry out when it's been sitting around so do ask for fresh made ones 

And they are not joking! From appetisers to pizzas served at the table, the vast spread includes sushi, some tapas, mezze and pasta.

Braised pork belly

Breads on display


At the carving station, there's a hunk of braised pork belly. You could pair slices of that with a variety of breads in the shelf on the opposite side.

Teppanyaki counters on the deck. The prawns are always delicious!

Dim sums

Check out the Indian counter if it's biryani you're looking for. My favourite is the dim sum station with steaming hot dumplings and the awesomest sauces to dip them into. The Asian station is another personal favourite. This time, there was Mongolian noodles (yum), a Thai veg curry and this ultra delish whole fish with Thai herbs and it seemed to be everyone's favourite as well.

Roast fish with Thai herbs

Pasta and Western mains
Flaky pastry, tender meat, a nice rendition of Beef Wellington

Jazz up your cocktails



Thirsty? There's a selection of wines from Jacob's Creek and beers from Hoegaarden and Kingfisher.



I was asked to try a Bulldog! I did and it is mighty refreshing. And huuuuge!! Yup, a beer bottle inside a lime mint mojito.

Wine stomping 


It was for sure a lucky day because a wine stomping session was on the cards. Hop into the barrel and squish those grapes till they turn to mush. When you're done, wash your feet in the tub of water thoughtfully provided by the hotel. 

Desserts

Iced lollies

Cupcakes


My selection - baked yoghurt, coconut pannacotta; caramel mousse. All yummy! 
Live music by Ryan and the band 
Little ones have their own space. 



Hilton's Bingeful Sunday Brunch is from 12 noon to 4 pm. As promised, it does keep you stuffed and the spread is vast and delicious. The brunch is priced at 2195/++ per head.


New menu at The Flying Elephant

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The relevance of any restaurant depends on how often menu changes take place. The invite to review stated that 25 new dishes had been added to The Flying Elephant's menu, replacing some that had been taken off. Curated by TFE's Chef Jyotisankar and his team, the new one features fresh, locally sourced ingredients in cuisines ranging from Thai, Italian and Indonesian to Indian.

Salad and appetisers 

Insalata con rababaro e cuori palma, caprino, pistachio, salsa al miele

So that's how we were looking at a bowl of roasted rhubarb, heart of palm, goat's cheese and pistachio in a spiced honey vinaigrette dressing. Rhubarb is not a common vegetable in Chennai but I do know they are grown in the hills and available at select vegetable stores in the city. Sliced thin, it was crunchy and sweet, contrasting with the peppery rucola and the light tang of goat's cheese, a lovely combination of flavours.

Burrata al forno con salsa di pomodoro e olio di tartufo

A baked burrata that had been smothered in the ingredient of the season - strands of golden seviyan. Tomato sauce with truffle oil completed this delicious salad.

Polpettine di polpa di granchio con salsa agrodolce
Crabcakes are a seafood lover's delight; this trio had us asking for seconds

Gohu makanan laut

Gohu makanan laut is a Ternate-style seafood dish with raw tuna, prawn, crabmeat and finely chopped kaffir lime leaves. The dressing was made with coconut oil, lime juice and grapefruit; the dish could have passed off as an Asian twist on ceviche. Sliced almonds provided the crunch factor and it was an absolute standout.

Going Indian with Paneer E Hasan, each disk had a different stuffing 

Soup


Zuppa di mare alla provençal

Zuppa di mare alla provençal was everything that a seafood soup should be. Bursting with the flavours of a stock made with the shells of fish, crustaceans, herbs and tomatoes and thickened with tiny potato cubes, it was poured over shrimp, mussels, pink perch and saffron aioli. Just the soup to satisfy your soul.

Mains  

Ravioli di zucca e confit di cipolla, mascarpone fresco, salvia e noci

Thinner pasta to enclose the roasted pumpkin and onion ravioli might have been better; the flavour of the onion overpowered the delicate cheese filling.

Risotto alla primavera - beautiful colours but the stock was a let down

Ayam betutu - roast chicken topped with spinach.
The spinach had a tannic aftertaste while the chicken, paired with spicy sambal matah, cured all ills!
 
Dum nalli Hasan

Dessert

Salted caramel tart with honey crunch ice cream; mango and coconut verrine with basil mango salsa

Salted caramel AND chocolate in the same tart is a beautiful way to end a meal. The pastry that encloses the tart is thin, buttery and fabulous. The mango coconut verrine looked pretty though the dessert would have won more points if the mango was sweeter.   

The Flying Elephant is at Park Hyatt Chennai and is open from 7pm onwards.


Celebrating dim sums at Stix

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Once again, Stix at Hyatt Regency Chennai is celebrating a dim sum festival. This time, they brought in the big guns, Sichuanese Sous Chef Zhang Yajun from the award winning China House at Grand Hyatt Mumbai. The chef speaks good English, is an avid traveller and has 18 years of culinary experience. He's been in India for the last 11 and considers himself half an Indian!!

Chef Zhang

Chef Zhang's dim sums are well crafted. There are 20 varieties on the menu every day, half of them vegetarian. The menu also includes a couple of varieties that restaurants in Chennai do not serve. We, of course, tried most of the non-veg ones and a couple of the veg dim sums for the purpose of this review.

We loved them all! 

Seafood, asparagus & coriander soup
My friend and I shared a bowl of seafood, asparagus and coriander soup. It was light, flavoursome and the asparagus slices added texture.

Crystal prawn with fish egg; steamed spinach prawns; lobster dumpling

Our dim sum feast started with the steamed ones. The covering for the crystal prawn and the lobster were translucent, though not as transparent as they usually are. Each opening of the lobster dumpling was topped with a tiny diced vegetable. The spinach prawn was delicious, as were the others.

Vegetarian delights - edamame dumpling; steamed tofu dumpling.  

Pan-fried radish cake

Radish cake is one of my favourites but this was not the hawker stall variety. The radish cubes in Chef Zhang's version were suitably chewy, chilli bits and garlic added oodles of flavour. What a very welcome surprise.

Pork pot sticker; fried black pepper chicken dumpling

The other snack we flipped for was the pork pot sticker with its crisp base and generous amount of filling. Deep fried black pepper chicken dumpling was a work of art. Two kinds of dough go into making this and the pleated edge was shaped into a fan. It held on to its shape during the frying process and surprisingly, was not at all greasy. The sesame seeds were a nice touch, both in presentation and taste.   

Alternate layers of pastry & filling in the pan-fried chicken pancake

Kung pao chicken bao

We were so glad to have ordered this beauty - Kung pao chicken bao. The buns looked like seashells and the filling was so absolutely delish. The sauce was dark and had the aroma and flavour of smoked chillies and the meat was very juicy. We couldn't stop licking our fingers when it had been devoured. What yumminess!!!

You've got to hurry because Chef Zhang will make his dim sums at Chennai only till June 10th and only for dinner. A basket of dim sum is priced between 475/++ and 575/++.
Stix will serve its regular menu too during the dim sum promotion.

Reach Stix at 91 44 6100 1608/ 91 9176633310 for reservations.

New menu at Cappuccino

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Crowne Plaza was positively buzzing that evening. The winning IPL team was back at its "home den" with crowds inside and outside the hotel craning their necks, hoping to get a glimpse of their favourite men in yellow. It was serendipity for me because I did get to see some of them while walking into Cappuccino, the 24-hour coffee shop.

Cappuccino has been around for decades and now, they have a new menu crafted around global cuisines and with plenty of fresh elements. Curated by Executive Chef Deva and Chef Kalidoss, diners can feast on quintessentially English favourites like Shepherd's Pie or Thai curries and even Indian kebabs in the relaxed setting of an upmarket cafe.

Arugula and goat's cheese salad

A plateful of arugula is my idea of a salad and what was put in front of me was fresh and summery. Dabs of goat's cheese, orange segments and candied walnuts with maple syrup dressing... yeah, I did dive into it.

Yummy Murgh Angara. The red chutney is amazing!

Crab cakes
 
The crab cake was delicious - lots of crab filling and a crisp panko-crumbed outside. Avocado aioli and a fresh salsa topped with crushed toasted coriander seeds added more crunch and an interesting well-rounded flavour.

Katong laksa; wild mushroom soup

Singapore's Katong Laksa? I almost fell off my chair in excitement but as it's said, there are many slips between cup and lip. The positive was that it was suitably coco-nutty with plenty of seafood. The wild mushroom soup, on the other hand, was creamy and full of finely diced mushrooms. A little more mushroom stock and a little less cream and it would have become the dish of the day for sure.   

Shrimp roll

The shrimp roll was batter fried shrimps and veggies rolled inside a tortilla. The prawns were nice but the tortilla wasn't. Even the salsa and sour cream did nothing for the roll.

Barbeque chicken pizza - thin base, everything else was meh

Maa ki dal & olive cheese bread

Olive and cheese naan and maa ki dal - now that's yummy combo. The dal was creamy and mellow, a perfect mix of spices and every ingredient that goes into the making of this dish.   

Braised rump of lamb

Braised rump of lamb, moistened with jus was unbelievably tender. The creamy garlic and potato mash was very light, a side of baby potatoes, zucchini, carrots and broccoli made for a winning combination and was definitely the star of the evening.

Hazelnut crĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e 

Chocolate cheesecake & fudge squares

We were stuffed but who can turn down not one but two plated desserts? To be fair, the desserts were ready but we were not, hence the crack of burnt sugar on the hazelnut crĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e was a little inaudible. It was rich and creamy and the flavour of the hazelnut paste lingered. The chocolate cheesecake, pretty as a picture, was equally divine. 

Cappuccino's new menu is a welcome one and needs only a little fine tuning. Grab a bite or have a full meal here between 12 noon and 12 midnight. A meal for 2 is about 1600/++

Cappuccino is at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park.
044 24994101.

Tender coconut water with honey&lime juice





 
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