“How does food taste when you are high?” asks Charles Allan, pun unintended. As restaurant manager of Hotel Palace Heights, Abids in Hyderabad, he has seen foodies dine like royalty for the last 22 years.
Located in a crowded bazaar, the complex, inside a lane, houses offices, and the building itself doesn’t have an attractive exterior. Take the lift to reach the eighth floor, and the restaurant’s relaxed ambience invites you in.
Its aesthetically designed décor, complete with white jharokhas , royal paintings, ethnic wooden tables and chairs adds to the and the excitement of locating important monuments while enjoying a meal with family and friends.
A royal touch
MD Kameswari Reddy recollects the complex came up in 1984. “We had organised a lunch during the building’s inauguration. Friends and relatives loved eating in this hall while enjoying the cityscape. They suggested we start a restaurant here, as the diners can relish the food along with the spectacular view,” she recalls.
The interiors of the building were designed to exude a regal ambience.
“We would go often to Bengaluru where Prabhakar Reddy (one of the founders) was impressed by the restaurant Princess designed by architect Prakash Mankar of Mankar Associates. We contacted Prakash to design this for us,” she recalls, adding that at its height, Palace Heights was not just a new dine-in place, for most Hyderabadis, “came here for the experience; it was a taste of the good life.”
The menu is a mix of Chinese, Indian and Continental, and a generous dose of spirits too. Chef Balraj, who has been here for more than two decades, observes that the food binds families.
The menu, with its wide variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, is still popular with the regular clientèle. From their sizzlers and snacks (especially the mouth-watering Apollo fish) to chicken and mutton specialities... food enthusiasts have plenty to indulge in.
Allan points out that the restaurant holds nostalgic value for many guests. “We would have guests who came in between 3 pm and 5.30 pm, when the families would meet for matchmaking over coffee or tiffin. Also, young girls who came here as kids now come with their husbands and show the table where the family enjoyed the meal.”
The restaurant was also a favourite destination for film stars, politicians, bureaucrats and cricketers at that time.
Recalling actor Anil Kapoor’s visit, Allan shares, “When we asked him whether he wanted to eat veg or non-veg, he simply said, ‘I am a Punjabi.’ He relished the two sizzling platters and enjoyed every minute of his dining.”
The restaurant is packed on weekends. Earlier, Kameswari recounts, some guests would drop names to get a table soon. Most guests have their favourite tables too; the table that overlooks the Stadium and Birla Mandir is preferred by small families. The big groups have the Charminar view.
“Some foreigners ask us to show them the Salar Jung museum which they had visited in the morning,” smiles Allan, adding, some guests indulge in spotting landmarks from their windows while waiting for their food.
In this weekly column, we take a peek at the histories of some of the country’s most iconic restaurants