Last week saw me marvelling at how attractive and appetizing can mere vegetables be made to look and taste in the hands of a magician. The magic is even more awesome when the restaurant in question boasts of French cuisine. La Riviera at the Pullman’s, Gurgaon has introduced a new vegetarian menu and the omnivore that I am, I ventured looking askance at the degustation menu that Chef Tanveer Katra had prepared for Pawan and I.
With its subdued décor broken by vivid colours of a couple of paintings, customized table service and streaming music, the restaurant sets the mood for the unusual offerings that it had conjured to celebrate vegetarianism.
A regular looking Tomato Bruschetta was made unusual by an oak wood infused smoky flavour. , was a far cry from the mundane Caesars and Greeks that usually populate the vegetarian menu. Svelte asparagus shoots macerated with Pommery mustard, perfectly cooked and served with juicy slices of sweet grape fruit resting on a bed of creamy light yogurt, teased by sweet beetroot reduction was a masterpiece in looks and taste. Garnishing it with caramelized, buttery walnut and astringent rocket leaf only served to highlight the interplay of the dish’s texture, colour and flavours. A superb innovation.
The Goat Cheese Tortellini with Eggplant Caviar scattered with pine nuts resting on a bed of emulsified aubergine with oven baked, crisp browned potato slivers keeping peach coloured pumpkin mousse company, was classy and chic, both in presentation and flavours. Beguilingly passable as Foie Gras, the silk-smooth Porcini mushroom risotto, pannagrattato was evocative of the loamy, woody soil that one associates more with the Piedmont region than with Riviera. Superb.
Contrasting with the flamboyance of the earlier dishes, the Pan-fried Ricotta Gnocchi, with cauliflower puree and saffron vinaigrette served with pickled artichokes was understated and simple in its flavours. Spinach Pithivier with arrabiatta sauce was made delectable by pinenut crumble that garnished it. The Orzo pasta came with provencal flavours, the shiny, slippery rice-like barley pasta scattered with crushed roasted pine nuts, poached and skinned cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, gave each mouthful a taste of the Provence- piquant, juicy, fresh and light.
Our palate was suitably cleansed with a refreshing orange sorbet. The crispy, soft, freshly baked bread and the rosemary scented olive oil butter (with not a trace of butter) played no second fiddle to the symphony that was being orchestrated by Chef Tanveer Kwatra. The Chilean white and red served were appropriate.
As the meal was served degustation style, I am unable to comment on the portion size but concerns based on my earlier visit, was conveyed regarding the undersized portions. The perception that their prices were exorbitant was sought to be dispelled by the fact that the list price was inclusive of all taxes and service charge.
I would recommend to anybody who wants an original, tantalizing, gustatory vegetarian menu, to definitely try La Riviera. As long as La Riviera succeeds in not pulling at the purse strings, the menu is bound to tug at the heartstrings of the vegetarians.
(Disclosure: This review was done at the behest of the restaurant to sample its vegetarian menu)
Ratings (Out of 5):
Food: 4.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Vegetarian Meal for two: Rs. 3500 (incl. of taxes; without alcohol) | Credit cards: Accepted | Timings: 7pm – 11.30pm
Address: Pullman Hotel, MG Road, Sector 26, Delhi-Gurgaon border, Gurgaon | Tel: 0124-4992000