It was like any other regular Saturday evening till the call came for the Gin tasting event followed by dinner at Andaz. For the uninitiated, Andaz is the luxury chain of boutique hotels by Hyatt. What makes them stand apart is their focus on locally inspired cuisine and a glimpse of the local culture.
We reached Andaz at the appointed time and went straight to their Juniper bar. The name ‘Juniper’ is derived from the Juniper berries which are used for the Gin production. This bar is completely different from your regular Lounge bars. It has a homely concept behind it. Instead of the bar stools and jazzy music you have a proper dining table with small knick knacks arranged on it and some books behind the bar just in case you would like to read while you sip your drink. Totally refreshing and a welcome change!
The Gin tasting which was an elaborate session with every gin being explained – the ingredients, the flavor and of course the taste. We had around 7 tasters of the Gin starting with a Rosemary Basil Gin followed by a tangy Mandarin infused one, Honey, Spice and Timur. The timur which is a Nepali ingredient was surely the shop stopper -royal in its own way, strong yet not sweet and just smooth enough for you to gulp it. After the tasting session we then proceeded to the cocktails. We had a Peppercorn cocktail, An elder flower, rose petals infused cocktail which was oh so smooth.
We followed it up with a bloody Mary kind of cocktail the difference being Gin here instead of Vodka and a Peach favoured cocktail closer to taste like champagne. Once loaded with the drinks we moved to the starters where we had the most amazing Paneer tikka which in every bite was fully marinated and so soft that we had to ask the reason behind it. Turned out that the paneer was made form Goat Milk and hence the difference. The Lamb was grilled to perfection and a little chewy just the way it should be and multiple servings were finished in a jiffy.
The Main course at their restaurant, Annamaya, was again different in theme and concept. It’s like a food hall wherein you can eat and shop with lovely aptly priced souvenirs on display. If one forgets to shop or has no time to shop then this is a perfect option for a well thought of gift. There is a lot of emphasis on space too with each table placed at a well maintained distance from the other so that you can you’re your conversations peacefully without the risk of being heard. There was no typical classical Indian music playing in the background giving a forced atmosphere. It was more like an informal set up and a lot of free space .
The meal started with continental style Lamb and potato mash again beautifully done and well presented and then came the Pork Belly which was juicy and no one could stop at one bite. The duck was delicious but the Pork took the cake here. There was butter chicken and Mutton Nihari too, but the kebabs are definitely better than the gravies. The vegetarian spread had Adraki Paneer which was again made from the finger licking Goat milk Paneer hence full marks here.
We had a pick and choose option of the desserts wherein we had a wide variety to choose at the dessert counter. The Meringues were on display and looked as colourful as soft they were on the palate. The dark chocolate cup was heavenly with a blob of icecream and fudge on top and the Gelatos went perfectly well with the nutty waffle cones. The red velvet cheese cake Gelato was heavenly to say the least. The lemon cheese cake was tangy and mild at the right level and although there were more desserts awaiting our taste buds our stomachs could take no more. We were pleasantly surprised with the pricing as a Masala chai was available at just INR 50 and a Gelato with waffle cone costed just Rs120.
Normally even if you go to a mall you end up spending more on desserts and this was surely different from a Fine dining experience in every way right form the seating to the food.
We returned with our stomachs full and a mind enriched with the whole experience of culture; fusion and taste. Way to go Andaz, thumbs up all the way!
– Kavita Arvind