Brunch at the New Radisson Blu Atria

We all love Sunday brunch, don’t we? Sunday being, for many, the only day of rest in the week, the idea of waking late, then heading out to a long, leisurely, luscious brunch, has quite an appeal. I’ve always been a Sunday bruncher – it was something my mother instituted at home when I was growing up, and living in the U.S, Sunday brunch for Mother’s Day and the like was a given. Over the last couple of years, almost all the hotels in the city have started serving up Sunday brunches – some extravagant, some elegant, all enjoyable. One of the latest additions to the scene is at the Radisson Blue Atria Bengaluru. The old Atria Hotel has had a facelift and a brand makeover, and now under the Radisson Blu label, has launched a lovely Sunday brunch, which can be enjoyed poolside or indoors in the restaurant’s air conditioned comfort (which is what we opted for on a sweltering May afternoon). Oh, and a dip in the pool is part of the package, so make sure to carry your swimwear!

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The live grills counter and a bar counter were set up outside – it’s an IMFL beverage package at INR 1950 plus taxes, which means you can drink and eat to your heart’s content – now that’s a nice way to spend Sunday afternoon! There was a nice spread, with Indian, Asian, Continental, and Mediterranean offerings across the salads, appetizers, and mains. What we were impressed with was the range of salads, the live grill counter, and the meats. The Papdi Chaat and Pani Puri (I liked the way it was served to the table) went down well – we all being chaat people. There was also Pav counter with both veg and non-veg, and dim sum and tacos, as also a pasta station and kebab corner.

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I always pile my plate with the fancy salads at buffets, and this time was no exception. The Prawn salad with tomato salsa, Pesto rubbed fish  with orange segments, Seared tenderloin salad with wild mushroom, roasted shallots and Dijon mustard, and the Tuscan pork and bean salad were all nice flavor combinations and made a good chilled start to the meal on the hot day. There were the Middle Eastern dips of Baba Ghanoush and Hummus and Tabbouleh salad too – but we couldn’t find pita bread to go with it, and made do with the fresh breads from the bread counter which was quite nice. There were also Oysters served on the half shell, which were dressed with onions, lemon juice, and cilantro, and we went for a couple of rounds of these – fresh, beautiful, and definitely a treat!

From the live grills, we loved the prawns which were large and fresh and simply prepared with a spice rub, letting the shellfish speak for itself. The Olive and Pepper Lamb Chops were also a big hit – perfectly cooked and again, with balanced spicing that did not overwhelm the meat. There was also a Mustard Marinated Fish, and Pesto Chicken. The Barbecue Pork Belly from the carving station was another item we went back for seconds off – the jus, the pork belly with the soft fat and the crackling skin – so good! There was also a selection of fairly typical mains – paneer, fish and chicken curries, biryani, dal makhani and more for those wanting Indian food, and Thai green curry chicken, an Oriental fish prep, veggies, fried rice, and noodles for those wanting Asian.

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Such was the heat of the day that we stuck to beers and fresh juices, but were told they have some nice cocktails – next time! Dessert was not as vast as one sees in buffets, but everything was nicely put together, with around 8 pastries/puddings/mousses, and half a dozen Indian sweets including Kulfi, Sandesh, Ladoo, and Moong dal halwa. There was also ice cream and fresh fruits. I chose to end with the live banana fosters counter – there were various toppings and sauces to choose from and it was a good ending to the meal. Pancakes and waffles were also being made to order. I noticed a kids section with items more in tune to little appetites, like burgers, fries and smileys. All in all, a very pleasant experience at a good price point, and everyone’s sure to find stuff to their liking.

Vanille Salée at Mövenpick Hotel

What do you do when a promotion you run is a hit on one continent? You recreate it at your hotels on the other continents you have a presence in, of course! This is exactly what Mövenpick Hotel & Spa is doing, and since Bangalore is the sole property in India, that we get to experience their Vanille Salée festival is all the more special! The concept is simple – take vanilla, which is usually used to sweeten dishes and in desserts, and create half a dozen savory dishes. The festival, a month long, has an exclusive a la carte menu that is available at the Italian restaurant, Mezzaluna, until the 21st of March.

A soup, salad, appetizer (in the surprising form of sushi!) and three mains are on offer, and they are predominantly non-vegetarian fare, with only the soup and salad staying vegetarian. The idea of course, is to infuse vanilla into each dish without making them in the least bit sweet. Of the six dishes, I really liked five, and that’s the same number I felt had managed to capture the taste of vanilla in them as well. They tried to stick to using local produce and meats as much as possible, and to this end, certain variations from the original menu created by the Chef in Europe were necessary – the substitution of turkey for guinea fowl, for example.

And now, here’s a look at what we ate and what you can expect if you visit – and I do recommend you do, for this is a rather unique festival and not something one comes across all the time. The mains each run at INR 999, and the salad and sushi are INR 649, with the soup at INR 449 – and definitely a must-order. So a meal for two will be around INR 3200 plus taxes and alcohol. My thoughts on each of the dishes are in the captions, and as you can tell, each item was beautifully plated and presented.

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White Onions Veloute Soup – the vanilla bite was tangible and came across beautifully, with the onion jam and micro herbs adding taste and texture

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Goat cheese and fig salad – now if only every salad I ate looked so pretty! Edible flowers, whole hazelnuts, and vanilla in the dressing – very nice!

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Sushi?! Well, one could taste the vanilla in this sashimi of tuna and salmon – with the added bonus of a couple seared scallops.

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Pike fish fillet and endives – vanilla flavor on point, perfectly cooked fish – everything went well together.

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Turkey Breast Melba – this was the only dish that didn’t work for me – apart from not being able to discern the vanilla in this, it was rather dry and chewy and needed a good amount of sauce.

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Veal Tenderloin Jardiniere – definitely my dish of the night. Just look at that meat! It was perfection, juices flowing, and pink in the center. The vanilla was just a hint, but that didn’t matter, really!