Monday, November 18, 2013

Looking Good and Stylish

The Le Meridien restaurant and bar has had a distinctive makeover

Photo: Executive chef JP Singh with a guest at the Spice Wall. Pic by K. Rajesh Kumar 

By Shevlin Sebastian

When one enters the newly-refurbished 'Latest Recipe' restaurant at the Le Meridien, Kochi, there are a few things that are eye-catching. The first is gleaming grey-coloured chandeliers, which hang from the ceiling, with steel balls around it in a long sheet. The second is three massive wooden pots, placed near a wooden pillar, which is filled with white onions. 

And the piece de resistance is a section called the Spice Wall, which has numerous bottles, as well as glass jars, in which all sorts of spices are stocked in see-through liquids. So, there are chillies, olives, dry ginger, cloves, cinnamon, pickled vegetables, and maize, among many others. “Kerala is the home of spices,” says executive chef JP Singh. “So this is our tribute.”

And at the restaurant, they are trying out new things. “So you can have a salmon pasta or quails with onions and mustard, and chicken dumplings with rasam,” says Singh. But it is not only exotic stuff they want to provide. “We want to give the customer whatever he wants, irrespective of the menu,” says Saji Joseph, general manager. “So, if a customer is missing home food and wants dal and rice, we will give it to him. In most hotels, they will only provide what is on the menu and we want to change that.” In fact, they are calling this request section as 'Ghar Ka Khana'. “And we provide fresh hotel-grown vegetables,” says Saji, as he points at the garden through a glass-paned window.

The motley group of celebrities who have been invited to partake of the salmon and the chocolates include fashion designer Shalini James, actress Cuckoo Pareshwaran, and businesswomen Jyoti Aswani and Parveen Hafeez. And they are in high spirits.

Meanwhile, the bar has been refurbished. It is now called 'Longitude 76', which is Kochi's position on the map. There is a black granite counter and fancy chairs. And there are international as well as an Indian selection of white and red wines. 

“The Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is a good way to start the evening,” says Chandan Thakur, Director – Food & Beverage. Other wines include Bird in Hand Merlot, Catena Malbec, Two Oceans Chadonnay, and a variety of single-malt whiskies like Macallan 18, Taliskar and Caol Ila from Scotland.

When the Caol Ila goes down the throat, you get a light and cool feeling, and a distinctive smoke comes out. 'Hoo-Ha' is the phrase that comes to mind, made famous by Al Pacino in 'Scent Of A Woman'.

And that's what the Le Meridien wants to be now: 'Hoo-Ha' or cool, light and smoky. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi) 

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