On Invitation

Sunday Brunch at Novotel

Thursday, May 02, 2013Me! In words

One of the reasons I like Sunday brunch invitations is because there is always something for the children to do and that gives you time to really start the day late, eat and drink to your heart's content and know for sure that the children are having a good time too. Win-win for all. So when we were invited to Novotel, as part of the Chef at Large blogger's table for Sunday brunch, and told that a complementary use of the pool is also part of the package, it sounded like a good thing to do on Sunday. 

The Brunch at Novotel begins on the ground floor at The Square and then winds its way up to Blue Terrain for grills and the pool. You can begin any which way you like - I would suggest beginning at The Square. There are varied packages - alcoholic and non-alcoholic - and it was Sunday, so alcohol it was. A welcome drink of a Sangria made its way to us. A nice start, potent and great to sip on when we were browsing around the buffet. 

I spotted a kiddie buffet right opposite the main one, thoughtfully arranged at a lower level. Would have been better if it was manned by one person or at least monitored by one, because kids do have a tendency of coming back for something they like especially when you have potato wedges and smileys, white sauce pasta and mini burgers on the menu. My little one obviously headed for the wedges and smileys while the other children at the table did manage to polish the pasta and some apple juice. The good thing though was that this kiddie buffet did have some interesting options for kids. 

So here is how the sequence of the buffet went, the pictures and their captions below will give you a better idea. The buffet starts with a live salad counter - a variety of ingredients and dressings to choose from, with a  decent cheese platter next to it as well. Soon after this came the dessert counter which was quite expansive and did make me want to save tummy real estate for it. This was followed by a another starter/salad kind of counter that had - with sushis, thai salads, pasta salads, cold cuts etc. Behind this were an array of live stations beginning with the Asian wok, followed by a set of main course dishes from the Mediterranean, Italian and Indian kitchens. There was also a breads section and wood-fire pizza on offer, but we honestly did not notice it till we were well past being done for the day. 

Upstairs at the Blue Terrain is a grill section working on an selection of meats and vegetables with an assortment of rubs for you to customize your choices with. The bar puts together cocktails of your choice and the only cooling factor on a summery afternoon is the pool up here. So with this sequence in place, let me take you through what we had that day. 

The Sangria and Mojito, both of which were nice

A freshly baked bread platter that comes to the table - the Amul butter packs are kind of a put-off for me. I would have expected little bowls of butter customized with herbs/spices than a commercial pack.

The live salad counter for us to create our own salads - its strange though that raita was at this table considering the biryani was in  totally different corner and the curd rice too seemed a little lost between the 
dressings, ingredients and the cheese platter close by.

Post the dessert counter in between, this was the salad and cold cuts section. It also had vegetarian and "non-vegetable" sushi. The salads were pleasant and the sushi just about ok. It did feel like it had been there a while - perhaps a live counter of that would work well, especially since it is a fish based one in the "non-vegetable" case. The selection of cold cuts was good, though some extremely fatty. 

These fruits on wooden skewers were pretty handy and the children really took them.
Many of the adults did too. 

My plate of sushi - I especially loved the one right the back which had toasted garlic flakes added to the roll on top giving the sushi a completely different flavor. The wasabi was strong. The rolls were a bit dry and were not something I would go back for like I normally do with sushi. 

Sudhakar's salad creation. There was also hummus and mutabbal at the salad counters but since I did not see any means of getting pita bread (It definitely must have been there, but I did not see anyone in the vicinity to confirm that with and then it slipped my mind) I did not go with it. I swiped a taste of Sudhakar's plate and I liked what I ate, especially the prawns. 

The base ingredients at the Thai counter where you could ask for the standard thai currys in red, green and yellow. One of the signs said beef but when I requested for it I was told the sign was wrong and that it was actually lamb (?!). Ok, so I went in for that with steam rice and it was nice. 

There were a range of set dishes like this roast beef with pepper sauce and grilled vegetables. The roast beef  was sliced and placed on my plate with the sauce and the veggies. A neat job overall as you can see below. In terms of taste - the beef was well done, where I would have preferred the option of being asked how I want my meat. That being said, it was tender, not rubbery and tasted really nice. The veggies had been sitting on the heating slab a little too long in my opinion. 

Roast beef with pepper sauce and grilled vegetables

Moving along I saw the pasta counter, and totally missed the sign for risotto next to it till it was too late. I anyways opted for a pasta. When I asked for the non-vegetarian options I was told initially there were only vegetarian offerings. Seeing my confusion, one of the chefs came forward to ask me again what I wanted and gave me two options of chicken and bacon. Who says no to bacon - so a spaghetti, bacon, tomato sauce, broccoli pasta it was. Now I liked the sauce overall, but the bacon had been fried much earlier and not really with the sauce and so it was dry and pretty flat in the pasta. Sure it tasted like bacon, but none of its fat, or smoky taste found its way into the dish.  

From here, the kids could take it no longer and we took ourselves upstairs and put them in the kiddie pool. The grill has a selection of meats and veggies that can be grilled on the spot with the rubs of your choice. Beer was the predominant drink at the table with a few cocktails as well. We all ordered a couple of dishes that were brought to the table for all to dig in. Sudhakar and I asked a beef grill, a peri-peri chicken and a pork ribs. We were not asked what marinades we would like and left it up to those at the counter. 

We really liked the beef, it was medium rare, hot off the grill and on the table. The peri-peri chicken skewers totally lacked punch or maybe the peri peri was a really mild version and the pork ribs were good without being anything exceptional. The one taste I had of the grilled vegetables was nice. Right after the kids were done with the pool we all unanimously decided to head back downstairs for another go at the buffet. 

Medium rare beef 

Peri Peri Chicken skewers

Pork ribs

Grilled veggies

The finale was of course at the dessert counters which were really the highlight of the buffet. I started with the churros which were served with chocolate, vanilla or caramel sauce. I found them nice. Between Sudhakar and I we had the Picardi, which was a layered cake of sorts and really nice. The baked chocolate tart was heavy and the small portion was completely justified, especially if you want to try the other desserts. There was a baked blueberry dessert which was really good with a load of blueberry pulp in it. A mango based cake dessert and macaroon both which were great. 

I totally loved this dessert which was a deconstructed cheesecake of sorts. 

I have this thing about not always wanting to end a meal on something sweet and so post dessert headed back to try something from the Indian counter. The mutton biryani called out and I served myself a small portion and then hunted for the raita. The mirchi salan was great, the biryani honestly an average, but it did satiate the need for spice. 

Overall the buffet at Novotel scores on the Live counters, desserts and the pool for me. A lot of the live counters went unnoticed mainly because we didn't know the offerings there - I would have liked to try one of the pizzas or some of the breakfast specials. At the grills I would have liked to know about the rubs and marinades. Perhaps a little more well informed manpower at the counters will allow us to know exactly what's on offer, because now I do feel I may have missed out on some nice stuff. And a little attention to spelling - I mean "non-vegetable sushi" and "Tofee Pudding" doesn't really speak well for any restaurant. The pool and the body painting for the kids is a real highlight. Do make it a point to walk around the buffet a few times and really look into what's at offer before you start your meal. 

The Novotel Sunday buffet is on between 12 noon and 3:30 pm and is priced at Rs 1499 + and this includes the buffet at the Square, BBQ grills at Blue Terrain, unlimited soft drink and a complimentary use of the pool. One child below 10 years eats for free with every paying adult. 

Rs 1899 + taxes and this includes the buffet at the Square, BBQ grills at Blue Terrain, unlimited alcoholic beverages and a complimentary use of the pool. One child below 10 years eats for free with every paying adult. 

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