Staycation at ITC Gardenia

Friday, September 13, 2019Me! In words

ITC Gardenia and us go back a long way. Almost a decade! We tend to go there so often - to catch up with friends, to splurge at Edo, to celebrate occasions... their breakfasts were an addiction for us at one point. I have attended meetings, press conferences, award nights and more here. So much a part of life the hotel has been, that the staff, right from the very friendly Dinakaran who opens the car door as soon as you roll in, to the folks at Fabelle, the smiling staff at the restaurants, are all friends. 

But the one thing we have not done in all this time, is cross the threshold into the residential wing of the hotel. When the invitation to do so for a staycation came from Simonti, how could we resist? It was the last thing we needed to complete our experience of every kind of hospitality the brand has to offer. And so one weekend, it was off to the ITC Gardenia for us. 

The Gorgeous ITC Gardenia has been quite the addition to Bengaluru's skyline           Photo courtesy - ITC Gardenia

Stepping into the main lobby of the hotel completely cuts out the hustle and bustle of the city and transports you into a serene world of landscaping. Right ahead of you is the wind-cooled Atrium Lobby, with its vertical hanging gardens. This leads out to the Central Courtyard Garden, in the midst of which stands the multi-pillared Lotus Pavilion, inspired by Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace at Srirangapatna - its sloping roofs covered
with a lawn of fresh green grass aptly referred to as a Living Room with a Living Roof.

What I loved about the whole process of getting to our room is the fact that check-in formalities would be done in our suite! We just walked in and headed straight to one of the 16 suites that the hotel has. Each of these is named after a flower, more which you can learn of from the plaque placed at the entrance of the suite. Situated at the ends of every floor, it constitutes a tower of suites across the length of the building. Of course you also get to see those lovely long lit-up corridors, lined with embroidered artworks as well as sculptures, each of which have details of the artist and the heritage of the piece.

And here is a video walk-through of the lovely suite we stayed in
And if you are too lazy to look through a 7 minute video... here is a quick low-down on the suite

 We were welcomed with these goodies - even the picture of us is edible. The Okra crisps were addictive!

 Here is a panorama of the bedroom area - I absolutely loved the panels that can be pulled over the white curtains. Quite literally you can't tell the time of day when they are closed. 

 This is a panorama of the living room area, which also comes with a balcony of its own. 

 That's two mini-bars to a suite that you see here. One in the bedroom and the other in the
living room. 

And you are never too far away from a good cup of tea or coffee. Those mugs had my heart

The ITC Gardenia was conferred the highest rating for green buildings in the world - the LEED India Platinum Rating. This recognition makes it the world's largest platinum rated hotel and is yet another manifestation of ITC's leadership in Sustainability Practices.

And as with all things ITC, the joy is in the smaller details. I particularly appreciated the bag kept in the cupboard requesting you to donate clothes you may not want. How many times have we left clothes we no longer needed at a hotel, or simply discarded them. The remote control boxes are biodegradable, as are the covers for all toiletries. The little tab in the collage tells you of all the sustainability efforts that the hotel undertakes and it is commendable. 

Like I said, its all about the smaller details. A good night's sleep is definitely what the hotel wants to you to have - and so they offer you ear plugs and eye masks. Those two tiny bottles you see are pillow mists that encourage sleep. You also have a pillow menu to get a pillow that works perfectly for you. And if you are like me, you will sneak all the lovely magazines in the living room to your bedside to read yourself to sleep. 

And of course some time was spent at the pool. The hotel has a kiddie as well as adult pool and a splash pool as well. The kids had a blast going from one to another. Its also a place you can sit, read a book and sip on tea... just like I did. 

Now let's get to the food shall we? We had some great meals at ITC Gardenia. Let me take your through them. Some of these dishes have been curated especially for us. It definitely showcased the versatility of the chefs and gave us a lovely overview of the offerings in that restaurant. Considering that we have had many a meal here over the years, I did not feel that things were repetitive. Let's make a beginning with Edo.

We have been going to Edo for ages now. Its the kind of place you go to celebrate (like I did for my birthday this year). For our visit this time, Chef Amit was given a free hand to showcase to us what he would like. And it was quite a memorable meal.

We began, but of course, with some Sake. A few rounds of this and there was a warmth that settled in. Perfect for the beginning of our staycation and the first meal here. 

We started the meal with Spiced Edamame, a popular favourite. This was done with garlic tossed with
seven spice mix. 

On a lovely glass platter came the Tako Wasabi pouch (on the left) - beautiful little wonton pockets stuffed with wasabi marinated raw baby octopus, with air fried garlic and tobanjan drizzle. The octopus had an infusion of carrot and chilli pickle along with Japanese aromats. I certainly would have been happier with a few more pouches of this goodness... but there was a huge meal ahead of us. On the right, is the Nori Nachos - a small Spanish influence going here, with some Yellowfin tuna tartatre on a crispy nori base. A touch of colour with the crispy purple potato, some tender ginger shoot and salmon roe. This was a lovely course and I couldn't wait to see what was coming up next.

Next up was the White Asparagus Usuzukiri - Thinly sliced Peruvian white asparagus with jalapenos and Avocado tartare. This is a lovely play on textures with the crunch of the white asparagus, the smoothness of the avocado tartare, topped off with some ponzu drizzle. 

The Tempura was nice but I was happy going back to the main showcase. Prawn and Keesh, a freshwater fish, braised in soy and Japanese aromatics

The Assorted sushi and sashimi is a classic here at Edo. We had the Chutoro sashimi (Medium fatty tuna), Kanpachi Sashimi (Yellowtail), Dynamite uramaki (Sushi rolled with an assortment of fish with salmon on top) and the Ama ebi nigari (Fresh sweet prawns). There is no doubting the freshness here. Its been consistent in terms of freshness, presentation and flavours for years now.

Moving into the mains, we had this delicate looking dish - Buta enoki maki. Thinly sliced pork belly wrapped with Enoki mushrooms and served with some Japanese cucumber. This dish highlights how the cuisine takes something as robust as pork belly and blends it so delicately with the likes of an Enoki mushroom to give you a dish like this. Very flavourful. This dish comes from the Robatayaki.

The Gindara Misozuke - Miso Marinated Black Cod. Let me just say first up - that skin is one of the reasons you should live - to be able to eat something so beautifully done. Chef Amit has marinated the black cod in miso for 36 hours and then grilled it without oil. Each layer has a lining of the Miso marinade. What remains of this marinade is used as a gel in plating. A dish that you should ask for when you are here next.

The Yasai yaki udon with kohitsuji in burraku peppa sauce or the Stir fried vegetable noodles with black pepper flavored New Zealand lamb loin did not really work for me. There was a melange of flavours which did not come together well for me, but it could work for you.

The meal came to a close with the Nihon no cheesecake with bananaoffee cream. It comes with a Sour cherry and Mascarpone ice cream and Ichiko (strawberry) ice-cream. A brilliant way to end.

A solid siesta, some time at the pool and some lounging around later, it was time to head to Highland Nectar. This was one of the first whisky bars in the city way back then. I will never forget the whisky tasting experience we had there in 2010. We visited a few times in between, and on this evening, it would be the second in as many months! 

I love this counter top at Highland Nectar

These backlit backdrops are so pretty and give the place a sense of elegance, while bringing in a distinctly Indian aesthetic. 

The seating spread at Highland Nectar

      Always like a spike of spice in cocktails                                      The Magnificent Sour


Custom made for Sudhakar with a whisky  base       The Signature Green Revolution with flavours                                                                                       of paan incorporated

We ended our time here with a double shot of two whiskys recommended to us.
Surprise yourself when you are here. 

It was a night of indulgence and we followed this up with a curated meal at Ottimo

Our table for the evening

Who can say no to a platter of fresh bread

What's an Italian meal without some wine to keep us company? And so this bottle spent the evening
at our table. A good choice made for us as it partnered well with all the courses. Again, this meal was especially curated for us and has individually plated portions. 

I love a good salad and this quinoa salad with white asparagus shaving and truffle has all the right elements of texture and flavour. A nice way to set the base for the courses to come. 

With some dishes, you need to experience them to truly understand them. This is one - the Gin cured salmon with salmon roe, pickled radish, Dutch cucumber and 90 minutes’ yolk. All the elements come together really well and leave you feeling very happy. 

Cauliflower soup with 64% dark chocolate and truffle shavings - Who would have thunk! Chocolate and cauliflower are quite the happy marriage. This is a rather thick and heavy soup though and I would pace myself if I were you and moving into a few more dishes. The highlight of this dish is the fact that it is all earth-based - from the cauliflower, to the mushroom, winter truffle and chocolate. 

A pleasant dish, this one, though I personally feel charcoal anything needs to fade away from the dining scene. Black tortellini stuffed with papa pomodoro tossed in aglio olio and charcoal crisp

A very very nicely done medium on this. And one which had all plates swiped clean. No better testimony needed than that. Pan seared lamb loin with purple potato, Arugula purée, Vichy carrots and
Juniper berry jus

Tiramisu 2.0 - Coffee lovers and Tiramisu lovers, there should be no other dessert you look at. So so good! And this coming for a non-coffee drinker like me. 

And yes, we called it a day after this!
I slept surprisingly well for someone who takes a minimum of one night in any hotel room to be able to sleep well!. Such a refreshing difference. We ordered room service for the luxury of staying in, in PJs, with the TV on and not worrying about cooking up a brekkie. Heads up! when you order a plate of dosas, there are two to a plate! We ended up over-ordering and over-eating. 

And after some lounging around, headed off the #GrandSundayBrunch. This brunch is spread across Cubbon and Lotus Pavilion and include Edo as well. 

The Sunday Brunch is quite a massive affair spread across multiple restaurants. You could choose to be seated just about anywhere in the three restaurants. There is a lot of food and drink to be had as the pictures below will tell you. 

Cocktail and whisky choices at the brunch 

A small part of the Asian section

Chaats and salads - a lot of them

The little pleasures of life at the live counters - like this Litti Choka

Edo is part of the Sunday brunch and puts out a large spread of sushi, sashimi and salads as you can see from these two sets of images. 

The Salads at Edo

Do make sure to ask for the Shabu Shabu. If Chef Amit has it on hand, this is definitely one you want to try.

Then of course you have the Indian and international grills section that is placed close to the Lotus Pavilion

 You have platters like this Lamb Chops up here...

And the Grilled Pork Belly here that you can spend a good portion of your tummy space on.

 This is just one side of the dessert spread that you have to indulge in

We have to absolutely thank Deepak who was our butler and made sure that we had everything we needed! From ensuring the kids were well taken care of, to just being there - unobtrusively.

And Dinakaran, whom I have known for years now! He never fails to ask after the family, always smiles, makes sure I never have to go too far for my cab and truly wishes that I consider ITC Gardenia my home.

This staycation was a brilliant one. ITC always knows how to take hospitality to a level that is unparalleled. If you really want to get away from it all, yet be in the center of the city - there is no doubt which hotel you should be calling for a reservation. 

Location: ITC Gardenia Bengaluru, # 1, Residency Road
Reservations+91 80 2211 9898

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