There are many reasons I will always love ITC Windsor, one of them is the white, bright and beautiful Raj Pavilion. Built to emulate the 100-year-old Glass House in Lalbagh, just walking into it lifts my spirits! The décor makes me feel like I am in a sophisticated English Tea Party and for once colonial hangovers are never more welcome! I was invited to try the new menus being launched across the ITC Pavilion’s in the country (#trendingatpavilion) and was truly chuffed that Raj Pavilion was my calling. In keeping with the ‘Responsible Luxury’ theme of the ITC properties, the new menu focuses on locally and responsibly sourced ingredients fashioned into delicious and stunning entrees, appetizers and desserts.
The meal was going to be a lengthy affair with many courses, so I’m glad that I had my favourite foodie crew to share the experience with. The Raj Pavilion acts as a giant lightbox and I got trigger happy with my camera. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed shooting them.
Amuse bouche of Pulled Lamb Cornetto’s were spicy, buttery and delicious and the presentation set the tone for the rest of the meal. Tomato and Feta Wanton Cups were also a great way to whet our appetites and we sipped on an Apple and Date Mocktail as we waited for the feast to begin.
A good Burrata is hard to find in Bangalore. And the really good one made by Father Michael’s Vallambrosa is even harder to find, as it is lapped up by all the 5 star hotels! Raj Pavilion was the culprit here, but I forgive them because of beauty that they sent out to our tables. Half a portion of a creamy Burrata encased in its shell served with Anise Poached Pears. The fragrant pears were dressed with celery pistou and the accompanying ruccola and fresh cranberries made this dish a winner all the way.
Another cheese appetizer that made heads turn was the Molten Brie with Pretzel Crusts. Now brie in itself is drool worthy, but the pretzel crust on this one was all kinds of beautiful. Served with sweet roasted beets and a wonderful green apple chutney flavoured with fennel, the final result is an explosion of flavours in your mouth. Another interesting element was the Sorrel leaves, that complemented the indulgent brie with their acidic tang.
When the Pavilion Shrimp Cocktail came plated beautifully to our table, none of us were in the least bit excited. But one bite and we realized this was not your run-of-the-mill version. A bold kokum-curry leaf mayo totally worked in the otherwise cloying sweet rendition that we are used to.
By now we realized that beautiful plating was de riguer in the new menu and it was no surprise that the soup courses were stunning. The earthy Mushroom and Barley Soup was beautifully executed with the moreish silky mushroom potage enhanced by a celery and leek puree. The Singapore Laksa however had everyone swooning with the aromatic, spiced coconut broth being a perfect foil to the fried tofu, chicken, shrimp, noodles and half boiled eggs. This is definitely a meal-in-one, unless you have a gargantuan appetite.
Of the four main courses that came to the table, the least flamboyant was probably my favourite. The Slow Cooked White Bean Fricassae was perfect for winter. Comfort food is a bowl of rich, creamy stew and this is exactly what was on offer. Muted and subtle flavours were enhanced by gourmet touches like a Leaf Spinach Celery confetti. The gorgeous crusty bread that was served with it was a handy accompaniment to mop up the stew.
A Lamb and Broad Bean Tagine (served in, but not cooked in a tagine) came pretty with stewed apricots and couscous. The kitchen however got a bit heavy handed with the cinnamon and this overpowered what could have been a classic dish. Perfectly cooked meat but unfortunately a couple of bites in and the distress of the spice overdose was clearly visible in our faces. Feedback was promptly shared and the kitchen team was keen on fixing it for future renditions of the same.
The next two main courses were an attempt to create hybrid version of dishes where east and west seamlessly blend. Did it work? Well, yes and no. Spaghetti and Meatballs have cult status and almost everyone is familiar with and craves the combination of chunky pasta sauce with subtly spiced meatballs, all served over some silky spaghetti tossed in good EVOO. While the Pavilion version had all of this they decided to ‘spice’ it up in the most literal way. A Makhni curry served as the backdrop for some wonderfully cooked gratin meatballs. While I could have forgiven this creative interpretation of a pasta sauce, the spaghetti tossed with red chilies and curry leaves took the expression a bit too far. The Apple and Peanut salad accompanying the entrée was tasty but again disconnected.
Local love went the Bisi Bele Bath route with our state’s favourite rice meal being served with a variety of accompaniments. While none of the fried crisps like tapioca, banana chips or boondi raised eyebrows, the mini bowl of Parmesan shavings was interesting to say the least. I’ll try everything…once. The Parmesan shavings actually worked with the Bisi Bele Bath – the nutty, salty cheese complementing the spicy, tangy rice preparation. It might not be a match made in heaven, but for a short fling no one is complaining.
The desserts stole the show, and how! Raj Pavilion’s pastry chef Alrich needs a standing ovation after the beauties he crafted for us. Each creation a stunning ode to taste, textures and a beautiful amalgamation of flavours. The presentation did completely justice to the wonders on the plate, starting with the White Chocolate Cheescake with spiced Forest Berry Compote. I mean, just look at this stunner! The silky cheesecake paired with the tangy berries is pure joy.
If dark and decadent is more your mantra, then the Pavilion Chocolate Fudge served with Jaggery Caramel Sauce is your refuge. The chewy chocolate sponge, the tart berries, the decadent fudge are all but a muse to the Jaggery Caramel Sauce. It’s good that they serve it separately in a little sauce boat, because I could not stop eating it!
The piece de la resistance was the Milk Chocolate Parfait with Darjeeling Tea Namelaka. Raspberry sorbet popsicle and hot chocolate fudge completed the holy trinity of sin! The Tea namelaka is encased in the milk chocolate layer which yields beautifully when the hot chocolate sauce is poured over it. And the candied berries and the tart Raspberry sorbet are an exquisite match to the rest of the elements on the plate. I made a quick pit stop this weekend just for this dessert and that should tell you how much I adored it!
The new menu is a refreshing take on all the future themes we will see playing out in the food industry – international flavours bought to life with locally and responsibly sourced ingredients, plated like a dream. What’s not to love?!
Signing off 2016 with this post … see you in the new year with new food adventures!
ITC Windsor, Bengaluru,
25 Windsor Square, Golf Course Road, Bangalore.
Phone : +91 80 22269898
Cost : 4000/++ for a meal for two with drinks
Valet Parking available.