The mythological Paris raided Sparta to win the heart of the beautiful Helen in the ages past. Paris, the Greek chef specially flown in from Kalamata by the Greek Embassy, New Delhi, set out to win the hearts of the Indians through his equally attractive fare. On a cool and pleasant November evening, special guests were treated to a Hellenic meal at the newly opened Skydeck poolside lounge in Hotel Leela, Gurgaon.
The carefully crafted menu with appropriate wine pairings showcased the delicacies of the various regions of Greece with emphasis on the myriad uses of the Greek staple – Feta cheese. At a sit down dinner, soon after several delicious hot and cold pass arounds, the Greek sensory campaign began with Orektika, refreshing traditional Greek salad served on crispy bread with grilled scallops, washed down with chilled MasiLevarie Soave Classico, a dry and crispy white wine. The feathery white crumble topping the salad, at first glance appeared to be grated Parmesan cheese, but was, in fact, feta cheese explained Chef Paris slow and dry roasted until it reached that powdery form.
The entrees called Eisodos, was a duo of challenging choices of Homemade Pasta with Jumbo Prawn and Creamy Sea Bass emulsion or Spinach and Feta cheese Ravioli with roasted peppers and grilled halloumi cheese. The risotto like bed was actually thin homemade pasta finely chopped and emulsified in sea bass cream which artfully dodged our perception of it being rice risotto. The spinach and feta cheese ravioli held its own court with the vegetarians amongst us.
I chose the Tasmanian Roast Lamb Rack with Glazed Beetroots for KyrioPiato, my main course. It shone bright like the legendary Pharos, the huge rack of lamb done perfectly so, juicy and soft, the glazed beetroots sweetening the sauce drizzled on the plate and the lemon mashed potatoes playing a neat adagio in the background. It was a classic and paired very well with the medium-bodied, faintly spicy Chianti classic Banfi DOCG. The vegetarians were delighted with another classic, Moussaka.
After such a delightful meal, can desserts (Epidorpio) be any less inviting? The Yogurt Mousse and Baklava Carpaccio with honey walnuts and Kalamata olives intoxicatingly sweetened in Cabernet Sauvignon syrup, was made more enticing with a dash of berry coulis and a dollop of feta.
Throughout dinner, Chef Paris Kostopoulos moved enthusiastically from table to table explaining the intricacies of the dishes being served. Chatting with him later revealed that the menu for the evening was drawn from various regions of Greece and that he was hopeful that the local chefs trained by him personally at the Skydeck shall carry on the Greek legacy competently.
Ms. Aliki Koutsomitopoulou, first Counsellor and Deputy Chief of mission gracefully enquired after the guests while Mr. Andreas Karaiskakis, Minister Plenipotentiary for Economic and Commercial Affairs enthusiastically answered our queries regarding Greek Feta Cheese. He explained that Feta cheese could be made from milk of bovine (cow), caprine (goat) or ovine (sheep) origin. He explained that the culture used in the fermentation process need not necessarily be of animal origin (rennet) but could also be of organic microbes and therefore suitable to vegetarian sensitivities of our culture. So vegetarians, rejoice, go forth and feast on the creamy delight to your hearts’ content.
Skydeck promises to carry on from where Chef Paris had left. A populace keen to explore new cuisines other than the tried and tested Indo-Chinese, Thai, Italian etc. shall not be disappointed by this Greek coming bearing gifts of gastronomy.
Disclosure: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.