Tuck into the Sunday brunch at Vivanta by Taj, Kovalam

‘Teri meri meri teri…’ Mary, a Briton who lives in the city, happily sings the lilting number from the Salman Khan-Kareena Kapoor-starrer Bodyguard, while a handful of guests at the restaurant watch her performance with amusement. Magician Enosh Tamang, meanwhile, entertains guests at another table; Vishnu, an artist, draws a caricature of a guest....The setting is perfect for a fun-filled Sunday brunch at Jasmine Bay restaurant at Vivanta by Taj, Kovalam.

The popular brunch has been revived after a gap. On the advice of Elangovan Shanmugam, executive chef, we begin with the well-stocked salad bar. “We have a dozen each of vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads. You can choose from a variety of salsas, dips, dressings, and accompaniments, which include sundried tomato, jalapeno pepper, black and green olives, capers, burnt wine onions…,” he says. The cold buffet is stocked with curd rice, curd vada, a pickle counter with the choicest pickles made of vegetables and meat, and a rainbow of chutneys in different flavours.

Watermelon juice is our choice from the juice/smoothie counter that also has butter milk, a mango-based mocktail and cold coffee. In the meantime, the hiss and sizzle from the busy live counters conjure up kebabs, pav bhaji, steamed corn, appams, sandwiches… that make our mouths water. The buffet spread has biriyanis, steamed rice, noodles, continental and oriental dishes, Kerala specials, and North Indian dishes.

Hot kebabs, both vegetable seekh kebab and paneer kebab, are filling and flavoursome. Those who want to sink their teeth into some meat make a beeline for chicken and fish kebabs. The spicy bhaji could have done with more butter but it goes well with the plump and soft pav (bun). Piping hot cheese poppers, meant especially for children, just melt in your mouth.

I give the soups, appams and breads such as multi-grain, vegetable foccaccia, grissini and lavash, a miss. Opting for the veggie spread, I start with the curried noodles that is perfect with the sauce. Vegetable biriyani is not exceptional. Steamed rice with dal is a comfort food that is hard to turn down. Adding variety to the vegetarian platter were aloo Simla mirch curry, mixed vegetable thoran, oven-baked aubergine lasagne and tossed vegetables.

Malabari chicken biriyani, prawn mango curry, dhania murgh and a beef dish complete the menu for non-vegetarians. “We keep changing the menu every week. Today we’ve the appam counter, next week there will be puttu. We might even try out the thattukada concept. So, every week there will be something new to look forward to,” says Elangovan.

Now, for the sweet finale - the desserts. Chocolate-based ones, continental treats, Indian sweets, payasams, ice creams with a dozen toppings, fresh fruit cuts… options are many. The chocolate fountain is too much to resist! After trying a jujubes topping with it, I go for a chocolate brownie and tiramisu. “We will soon have a live pancake counter, Mom’s pancake, where the pancake come topped with berries, nuts, Nutella (chocolate spread),” the chef says.

The brunch is ideal for families and couples looking for a Sunday outing.

It is from 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Rate: Rs. 1,400 and Rs. 1,900 (including unlimited select beverages). Ph: 6613000.