Variety meets authenticity in this buffet
YAWN, YAWN! It's time to walk up to the buffet table. If you're one of those who hate walking up and down a restaurant refilling your plate with more goodies, this one's not for you.
But, if you love food not the over-priced, over-decorated, spicy kind, but its more moderate, authentic version, try out the buffet at South East, the restaurant at Hotel Alankar Grande. Starting off with a mild lemon and corriander soup, you weave your way through a maze of salads before landing at the counters holding the hors d'oeuvres.
The Pasta salad (imagine macaroni with a sprinkling of cheese and herbs!) is great. So, is the kuchumber (mixed veggies) salad.
For starters, choose from the deliciously sinful potato and bhindi fry. Light on spice and oil, the potato juliennes are a must-have. The chewy ladies finger is a nice contrast to the soft potato. Tandoori cauliflower, grilled in the tandoor with masala, has a lemony flavour to it. The paneer shabnami in a rich cashew-based gravy goes well with the aromatic cashew pulao. The plain palak is just the way it should be, with the flavour of spinach seeping through.
The dal, both the North Indian and South Indian versions, do justice to their tag of being dependable dishes. They are excellent with the rice and the hot, flaky naans, kulchas, roomali rotis and rotis, served on order. But, remember to order your naans well in advance. Or, keep waiting while feasting on the finger lickin' gravies.
There is a dash of Oriental cuisine thrown in too. Choose from the staple noodles and fried rice (mercifully, both don't come dripping in oil and sauce). The flavour of every vegetable stands out in these dishes.
Those who insist on winding off an elaborate meal with rasam, poriyal and thayir sadham will not return disappointed. Mor milagai, pickle, raitha and vadagam complete the South Indian platter.
And, if diet-conscious you insist on resisting the look of all these dishes, settle for steamed chicken and steamed vegetable. Many start off with a visit to this counter, before succumbing and piling on all the calorie-rich stuff.
Non-vegetarians can choose from fish fry, chicken sulthana, chicken Mangolian and boiled eggs. If you're going as a group, call in advance, though. The 84-cover restaurant, with facilities for another 30 covers on the lawn, is usually choc-a-bloc during lunch and dinner. The menu, which features about 40 items, changes everyday. The chef dips into the reservoir of over 2,000 dishes to ensure not many dishes are repeated. He has enough reason to. Hotel officials say many diners are repeat customers. The buffet is priced at Rs. 175 plus taxes. Contact 2238888 for bookings.
Now that all the formalities have been done with, let's get to the most sinful part of the entire meal - the dessert section. The traditional pal payasam beckons along side hot badam milk (Tip: Try ladling both into the same cup. What you get is a slurp! slurp! dessert.) Also on offer are hot carrot halwa and a choice of ice-creams. If that's not enough to satiate your sweet tooth, tuck into the bowls of puddings and soufflés that they keep replenishing at regular intervals.
Round off with cups of tea or coffee that you make yourself. The advantage? Despite having tea/coffee in a star hotel, you feel you've drunk the better-tasting homemade variety.
SUBHA J RAO
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