ITC Windsor was probably one of the first 5-star hotels I bought a meal by myself in Bangalore. 15 years ago, with an almost fresher level salary and new in Bangalore. It was a delightful meal (so what if it was the lunch buffet) and Raj Pavilion will always hold a special place in my heart for that. And like my friends Swaps said Raj Pavilion at ITC Windsor acts like a giant lightbox making everything look better and the pictures gorgeous.
A little more than a month and a half ago I was invited to a meal at Raj Pavilion showcasing the new menu as a India wide menu revamp of ITC hotels. Just before Xmas, with slight chill in the air (this is Bangalore, it gets only slight chills. Don’t stare at me ok) it was a delightful afternoon where we ate too much food, clicked some pretty pictures, tweeted and instagramed away to glory and but ofcourse there was brilliant company with some of my favorite Bangalore bloggers on the table.
In line with the ‘Responsible Luxury’ tagline that ITC properties proudly boast of, the new menu focuses on locally and responsibly sourced ingredients and turning them into delicious and stunning menu. From 24X7 breakfast to Local Love to World Kitchen and Kitchens of India, the menu sections are very very interesting and what I loved the most that each item has a kiddie sized smaller option available. What’s not to love.
The meal started on a good note with amuse bouche of Pulled Lamb Cornetto’s. Buttery, flaky, crispy pastry with spicy lamb. What could go wrong. I swear the dish tasted better than it looked and one look at that picture will tell you that it is something indeed.
After the amuse bouche and a quick glass of juice, Chef started introducing us to the stars of the day i.e. the dishes from the new menu.
I love a good burrata and the one that Father Michael’s Vallambrosa makes is legendary, though hard to find. Half a portion of a creamy Burrata in its shell served with fragrant Anise Poached Pears. Served with celery pistou (Which BTW is a sauce/dip made from garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil. Somewhat similar to pesto but without the nuts and cheese) and fresh cranberries, this was a brilliant dish and set the tone of the afternoon.
As far as I am concerned, There can never be enough cheese and hence the Molten Brie with Pretzel Crusts was welcomed happily. And believe me when I say this that the Pretzel Crusts took the Brie to another level. The crunch and the flavor was all kind of awesome. It was served with a green apple & fennel chutney, which was so good that I wanted to that little bottle of it home and the tartness of the chutney worked fantastically with the rich cheese.
I love prawns in almost every form and even the famous but boring prawn cocktail. But ITC’s version of the classic – Pavilion Shrimp Cocktail is anything but boring. The kokum and curry leaf transform the standard dish and HOW. This probably was one of my favorite dishes from that day. It is the kind of dish that I don’t mind spending Friday evening with. I can clearly imagine myself with a jar of this, a crisp white wine, a book or Netflix along on what would be the perfect start to the weekend.
And with that we moved to the next course – Soups. Mushroom and Barley Soup was all that a warming winter should be. Smooth & silky mushroom potage flavored with celery and leek, it hit the correct notes that afternoon. But my heart that evening was sold to Singapore Laksa, aromatic & mildly spiced coconut broth with fried tofu, chicken, shrimp, noodles and half boiled eggs. A meal that I would be very happy with it and just look at how gorgeous the bowl looked like.
The choices of the main were varied from a Fricassae, Tagine, ITC version of Spaggheti with meatballs and local love Bise Bele Baath. The simplest looking and sounding one of them was probably the most comforting and flavor rich. A bowl of creamy Slow Cooked White Bean Fricassae Leaf Spinach Celery confetti and a crusty bread there wasn’t much to complain there.
A Lamb and Broad Bean Tagine, which I am not sure can be called Tagine since the dish was served in, but not cooked in a tagine. It looked very pretty with stewed apricots and couscous but somehow the flavours were too strong for me. Perfectly cooked meat which got kind of ruined by the spice overdose. I hope they do fix it future versions because it has potential of being a very comforting main.
The next dish on the table was kind of representing the trend in eating out these days. Blending the local and International flavours and dishes to create something more for the Indian palate. A little fusion, a little inspiration, which is always, like walking on the fine line. Now personally I have nothing against it, I feel if done well it can do wonders. But the thing is what is done well and where does one draw the line. The Spaghetti and Meatballs IMHO probably took it a little more farther than required. The makhani curry didn’t do much to the beautifully textured meatballs and probably even that would have worked if the spaghetti wasn’t tossed with red chilies and wait for it curry leaves.
As a part of the local love section of the menu, we were served the Pavilion Bisi Bele Bath. Now I am not a Bisi Bele Bath fan, though Swaps tells me that it is because I haven’t eaten a good one yet, so I really didn’t have much of an opinion or bias before I tasted this dish. But for me the way it was served worked. Bisi Bele Bath is normally eaten with lots of namkeen on top and we were served tapioca, banana chips, boondi and shavings of Parmesan with it. And the Parmesan shavings actually worked, the sharp & nutty cheese with a spicy & tangy rice was almost perfect. Go ahead and judge me if you want but I think I liked it better than the spicy namkeen it is usually served with.
If you think, it was a great meal till now. I have to tell you it became spectacular with desserts. Each dessert that we tasted shone and how. Raj Pavilion’s pastry chef Alrich but his heart into creation of these desserts and it shows. Each plate was stunning and a perfect symphony of taste, textures and flavours.
If you manage to your eyes off this White Chocolate Cheescake with spiced Forest Berry Compote and bite into it, you will be left wondering why did you waste time.
Milk Chocolate Parfait with Darjeeling Tea Namelaka, served with Raspberry sorbet popsicle and hot chocolate fudge was probably THE dessert of the evening for many. The Tea namelaka is encased in the milk chocolate layer which melts away when the hot chocolate sauce is poured over it. The tartness of the Raspberry sorbet & the crunch from candied berries is just perfect balance to the silkiness of chocolate and Namelaka.
For me the star dessert was decadent and sinful Pavilion Chocolate Fudge served with Jaggery Caramel Sauce. And not just because it had chocolate. Each component of this dessert was actually a piece of art in itself. The chewy chocolate sponge, the bits of microwave almond cake and the star of the show – the Jaggery Caramel Sauce. I could have had the whole bowl of the sauce itself. So so good. It is a good meal that ends in such a happy note.
ITC Windsor, Bengaluru,
25 Windsor Square, Golf Course Road, Bangalore.
Phone : +91 80 22269898
Cost : 4000/++ for a meal for two
Valet Parking available.