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Bikramjit Ray

Executive Editor at BW Hotelier, he is a renowned name in F&B industry. In between being a producer, director, anchor and food critic he keeps living his life sitting at a table, waiting for my next meal.

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Capital Flavours Reign Supreme At Delhi Pavilion

The Sheraton in Saket was a very favourite haunt of mine, where I would join my friends after night duty to dig into the fantastic midnight Biriyani buffet it used to have. The food was always spot on, the only thing that was taking a hit was the look and feel of the restaurant—which is why ITC Hotels went in for a rethink and renovation of Baywatch to the brand new, much more muted and luxurious Delhi Pavilion at the Sheraton New Delhi Hotel in Saket.

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The restaurant, which seats 114, up from 108 thanks to a few tables near the food, is broken up into smaller personable spaces thanks to the intelligent use of screens. The buffet, continues to be the star of the show and for the pricing that they are offering it at (Rs 1,250 for lunch and Rs 1,500 for dinner), it’s a great deal. The result, I suspect, of the booming restaurant culture of the two malls right adjacent to the hotel. I can imagine, it’s a tough F&B market. The quality of the buffet is where the difference is really felt, with a large section of imported cheeses as well as speciality counters serving Delhi street food specialities as well.
 
What is really outstanding about the restaurant--because of its pedigree and the kind of research that ITC Hotels does to get authentic flavours on the table--is the Indian khana. At the helm of the restaurant, is Chef Vipul Gupta, a native of Chawri Bazaar who is excited to add flavours that he associates with the part of Delhi he grew up with.
 
One of the things you CAN do while visiting this restaurant, which is a great differentiator from most other all day dining restaurants, is get a personalised menu for your table. Gupta told me that he could curate more elaborate meals as well, though the menu mentioned earlier was a 3-course one and would cost Rs. 1250 per head. 
 
I began my meal with a creation of Gupta’s which is a version of dahi bhalla, I felt, called the Dahi Gujjia. A perfect beginning to a meal which filled me up very quickly, even though I was having tasting portions. Now ITC is very famous for its Indian Mughal, Hyderabad and Avadh inspired food, so it was no surprise that the Sheekh Mirza and Tandoori Chop were succulent, spicy and meaty all at the same time. What I really fell in love with though was the vegetarian Dal Dehlnavi, served with a small bread sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds. A riot of flavours and a surprise for me. The main courses were faultless, whether it was the Lal Quilla Haleem or the Dehli Nihari Khas, even the Chicken Ishtoo was a valiant effort, but what I loved most was the light, delicately flavoured, steaming hot Sarai Gosht Biriyani. Apparently you are supposed to have it with the garlic raita, but I preferred it on its own.
 
Gupta also told me that he was on the verge of introducing dishes from his home in old Delhi, like Bermi Puri with Alu ki Sabzi and Sitafal ki Sabzi are going to make an appearance on the menu soon. 
 
“It took us between five to six months to research this menu. Actually the research for Dehlnavi cuisine was already on for a couple of years, so for that we had a ready menu, which we added on to,” he told me.
 
One of the things which Gupta wants to add to the menu is a large sized alu ki tikka which will be served hot on the table. Hot chaats are a great favourite among Delhiites, he added.
 
In the beverage section of the restaurant, things are put together with a definite eye on the bottomline. Rishi Raj Singh told me that the restaurant had applied for a 24 hour license and that would be a great boost for business at the hotel, away from the malls that surround him. Pricing is definitely focussed on competing with the standalones around the hotel.
 
The restaurant’s dessert selection is very conventional. I guess, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it is a philosophy that can best describe the best sellers. The Banoffee Pie which I had hit the spot. On second thoughts, after eating so much before, it may have been wiser to not have it at all. 
Delhi Pavilion, Sheraton New Delhi Hotel, Saket, New Delhi. For Reservations: 011 4266 1122. Meal for two without alcohol: Rs 2500 to Rs 3000 plus taxes (for the buffet).
 


A Breakfast To Bring On The Festivities
If you are not Bengali and follow the Shraadh and Navratra norms of vegetarianism, now is the time to let go of it all with a great breakfast. You DO have to wake up a little early and finish before the sun reaches its zenith. But it’s breakfast after all. My favourite place to have breakfast, is a bit of a splurge, but still waaaay cheaper than brunch. It’s at threesixty° the all day dining restaurant at The Oberoi, New Delhi. I usually like going on a Sunday, which gives it a brunch like feel, and leaves the rest of the day to enjoy (breakfast is from 7 am till 10.30 am, seven days a week). For Rs 1520 after tax, you can dig into a substantial buffet with second and even thirds, certain speciality items on the menu are extra (like the Black forest ham and Guyere omelette), but otherwise you can have all the cold cuts there is on offer, not to mention heaps of bacon. Convinced you yet? There are plenty who have cottoned on already, which is why it’s a good idea to make a booking before you go, because 126 seats can fill up fast. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
threesixty°, The Oberoi, New Delhi. For Reservations: 011 2436 3030. Breakfast for two adults: Rs 3040 all inclusive. 
 
Bikramjit Ray is Executive Editor, BW Hotelier 
Email: [email protected]


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