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Life over food at the Grand Hyatt... .

The Grand Hyatt in South Delhi gives you an opportunity to bring in your guests, call over the youngsters, put your feet up, relax over the week-end. And tuck into some delicious week-end offers, advises SUMITRA SENAPATY... .

Enjoy a kabab, relish a dessert at the all-impressive, all-inviting Grand Hyatt in South Delhi.

IT IS fitting that we start the week with a grand buffet at the Grand Hyatt in South Delhi because the food, wine, service and atmosphere all combine to make this the restaurant by which we judge all others. Chef-de-cuisine Pallav Singhal creates daily menus based on what's fresh and in season, preparing fresh local ingredients with signature flair. Where else will you find Smoked Salmon and Dal Makhani on the same menu? The atmosphere is elegant but not pretentious. White tablecloths, fresh flowers, music in the background all help make for a memorable dining experience.

Large enough to serve 200 diners at once, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week with an-all- you-can-drink promotion on Sunday, this mammoth 24-hour restaurant is under the amiable and efficient Chef Pallav. With many years of cuisine experience and with a genuine affection for his customers, this interactive chef has a unique concept to offer - `buffet a la carte'; simply put this means any dish on the buffet prepared to your taste and liking. The service and marketing idea behind the Grand Cafe buffet is a simple one: fresh, familiar foods, prepared daily, served in deluxe style, everything from soups to desserts, at reasonable prices.

In a buffet setting, the location becomes yours for the rest of the dining stay, whether you care to rush, linger a little, or take an hour or more to select and savour your choices. Since it opened less than two years ago, Grand Cafe buffet has been resoundingly popular and currently serves about 200 diners every Friday, with full house during the weekends. To maintain quality and efficiency, there is a staff of 61 employees, 23 of whom are in the immaculate, busy kitchen.

Everything from the two daily soups such as Cold Almond and Clam Chowder is prepared. Menus follow a weekly pattern, but with many changes per day. Aside from breakfast, all meals include soup of the day, cold cuts, variety of breads, sauces and dips, assorted vegetables and salads, curries and kababs, hot and cold desserts, ice cream and sundaes. The dinner buffet includes added items such as carved meats, chicken and dumplings, fried and baked fish, tandoori chicken tikka, sausage and sauerkraut, seafood quiche, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti/penne, taco shells with seasoned meat, all the trimmings, and so much more. There are two salad bars, with excellent fresh greens. The food containers, kept warm over hot water or chilled in cracked ice, are replaced frequently with just-prepared foods from the adjacent kitchen.

It's a generous, family-oriented restaurant, with a welcome for all guests. This is one of the first restaurants to present the now popular, elegant buffet style menu with a rotating large number of items daily. The eclectic offering covers several cuisines: Lebanese, Continental, vegetarian, and Italian as well as a large range of popular Indian dishes. All food is clearly identified at the counters. As you go back and forth to the six buffet counters, the service staff will keep you supplied with water and beverages.

On the day we visit, there are two soups to choose from -- Chicken Celery Broth and a tomato and lentil extract with a variety of breads and crackers to accompany. An assortment of cut fruits provided a refreshing appetiser. Make your own salad from among the greens, sliced onions, olives and croutons offered along with a selection of dressings. One dish popular with our group is the classic Roast Chicken with Mushroom Jus and Parsley Potatoes. We also enjoy the appetising, freshly-made Mezze Station. We start off with a helping of hummus, as they spell it, the chickpea and tahini, garlic and olive oil dip. Delicious hummus, very creamy, with lots of garlic and olive oil. It is served with warm, fresh, soft pita wedges -- wish we could find some that fresh, for home -- and a few slices of cucumber, garnished with a black olive. When we run out of pitas before we run out of dip, our server thoughtfully brings us a few more. Other Mezze appetisers available include the marinated baby eggplant, cous cous salad and Fatoush, the fresh vegetable salad with fried pita bread.

For entrees we chose kababs. Seafood for me, Red Snapper and Pomfret, the others settle for chicken and lamb. The seafood is threaded on the skewer alternating with pieces of pepper, onion and cherry tomato. It is very colourful and tasty, done to perfection. The lamb is delicious as well. Popular at the kabab station are Sarson Wali Machali and Bharwan Shimla Mirch. Obviously, this is a great place to bring your guests -- specially youngsters and teenagers. There is always a plethora of choices and the price is right. Should you come in for a Sunday lunch/brunch, you end up spending Rs 550 per head plus taxes - this includes the elaborate buffet lunch, unlimited draught beer and soft drinks and endless cups of tea and coffee. But unlike Cinderella, do keep a track on the offer timings -- 12 noon to 3.30 p.m.

The choices are plentiful without becoming a grotesque all-the-food- in-the-world-ready-for-you-to-eat affair. Dessert choices include chocolate-and-walnut brownie slices drizzled with chocolate glaze, a lemon cheesecake, strawberry tart, tiramisu and a fresh blueberry cake. You might like to check out Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, cakes and tarts that are now on sale at the Grand Cafe. All the desserts sparkled, specially the bright purple blueberry cake. The dainty dessert table could have been subjected to an ongoing raid, but we showed restraint and saved some of the goodies for guests arriving later. Though getting seconds is part of the fun of a buffet. When you surface from having dinner you'll want to stroll the extensive hotel grounds to watch the stars or listen for owls. Maybe another way of putting some weekend in your week!

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