A truly fine meal is enjoyed not once but three times, -in anticipation, in consumption and in remembrance.
I have been a member of Delhi Gourmet Club (DGC) since inception but never participated in any of the earlier events. And it has its reasons. Coming from a middle class family, I am a firm believer on spending when it gives you best buck for your money. Spending anything upward of Rs5000+ for a meal for two has never been in the scheme of my things unless it is a very special day in my calendar. So going for a meal with bunch of strangers at a date and time decided by them was a difficult idea for me to digest. And then, the perception (right or wrong) I had built over time by looking at posts and pictures were that the Delhi Gourmet Club is a group of snobish people who have nothing better to do than to burn money or or network.
And then one day I received a Facebook message from my FB friend Rocky Mohan, Founder member of Delhi Gourmet Club to be his guest at the next event they are doing at La Riviera, Pullman Gurgaon. Having already missed his earlier invite at Dum Pukht, I could ill afford to turn down a person whom I highly respect, along with my pending plans to visit this French restaurant La Riviera.
Delhi Gourmet Club (DGC) has been started by Atul Sikand(food afficiando), Rocky Mohan (Executive Director of Mohan Meakin Brewery), and Sourish Bhattacharya (Executive Editor- Mail Today) with the prime objective of bringing best eating out places to foodies, with customised menus.
Going alone to the event where I hardly knew anyone barring Rocky and Atul, who I knew would be busy attending to other guests, I was a little apprehensive on getting company. But the reality was different. The people at the venue were much nicer and eager to interact without bothering to ask or share their business cards. As Rocky mentioned during the conversation, “I meet member’s atleast once a month, still I hardly know what many do in their personal lives. Here, we are keener in knowing that we are meeting a fellow foodie rather than his/her business title”.
We initially assembled at Citrique, the watering hole at Pullman. The welcome drink with mix of Bacardi, wine and apple juice, it was a good start. Beef cheeks deserves a special mention among other hors d’oeuvres which were available.
The decor at La Riviera is elegant and full size show Kitchen completely stands out. Someone mentioned that the Kitchen in itself costs over Rs2.5cr…And I had a hard look once again as if I could get some part of the huge amount just be looking. I met other guests on the table and much to my surprise I knew four out of the other six guests. What a small world.
The six course dinner begun with a soup – Champagne and Pommery mustard veloute (a velvety texture sauce which is also one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine) served along with poppy seed baguette; A fine presentation which tasted as good.
Second course was small and light Foie Gras Parfait topped with salted grape and served along with pickled girolles (kind of mushroom) and orange jelly. This was again a master’s choice. Salted grape went very well along with foie gras and girolles, however the orange flavour in the jelly was very subtle for me to notice. The olive sauce on which girolles were presented had become completely dry making it impossible to taste. As Chef Tanveer Kwatra highlighted, there were already too many elements on the plate, and sauce was mainly for presentation.
From the choice of scallop or poached snapper, I chose seared scallop and prawn served in pistachio puree. The sauce also has Noilly Prat, and the beautiful hostess explained that it is a type of vermouth and went out of her way to show me the bottle too. Scallops were beautifully seared and prawns were absolutely fresh, retaining their texture and bite. Pistachio in the sauce did well to complement the flavours of both Scallop as well as Prawns. I would have finished till the last bit if the pistachio puree was a little less for the overall quantity.
I have never been fond of Risotto, and can’t think of a non sea-food variant. Only time I have finished my plate of risotto was at Olive beach cooked by their Spanish Chef, Nuria Rodrigues. As anticipated, most of Porcini mushroom risotto was left untouched. However that’s my personal preference. Most other guests were seen enjoying the dish.
Now it was the time for most awaited dish of the evening; Walnut crust over best end of lamb served with root vegetables and smoked chorizo jus. This is one star dish which will make anyone go back again and again to La Riviera. I asked for medium rare lamb, and it came perfect. The lamb cut and preparation was unique. Lower portion of imported lamb meat was prepared in a steak style while sitting on top was a beautiful crust which tasted like Indian Kebab. This was an absolute delight and went great with creamy spinach lying underneath; however the fondant potatoes served along were over salted. A small miss which didn’t take away the glory this beautiful dish deserves.
Prepared by their Executive Sous Chef – Tanveer Kwatra , each course was getting better than the earlier and now it was the time for desserts. I was looking for something cold and something light after a heavy and flavourful meal. Something which could help me cherish the taste of all other dishes savoured so far. What came to us was a big serving of raspberry jelly topped with dark chocolate and a thin chocolate cover. Each glass was individually poured with hot ivory chocolate milk which dissolved the top thin layer of chocolate and mixed with the other ingredients. It was a wonderful sight but was too heavy and average to taste compared to the awesome meal we savoured.
Each guest was given house made chocolates and Rs1000 voucher to be used for future visit to La Riviera as a return gift. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and came back with unshackled perceptions, some excellent moments, great food, new friends and honest fun that everyone had at the event. I love my middle class attitude of getting best value for money but still look forward to be part of many more fun evenings with Delhi Gourmet Club.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 4.0 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 4000 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12-3.30pm (Lunch), 7.30pm-11.30pm (Dinner)
Address: La Riviera, Pullman Hotel, MG Road, Sector 26, Gurgaon | Phone: 0124-4992000