The invitation from Marriott promised ‘an out of the box experience’, and the moment I walked into the beautiful private dining area of the Altitude Lounge Bar, which had been reserved for the blogger’s table, I had an inkling that I was going to experience something memorable. The six-course menu, laid out on an immaculately arranged table, definitely lived up to the brief. The dishes listed under each course were intriguing and exciting.
After everyone had settled in, we were served Chocolate Macaroons topped with a Chicken Liver Pâté. This light, crispy, sweet, and savoury hors d’oeuvre set the tone for the rest of the meal. The maiden course featured a Clear Mushroom Tea with Mushroom Ketchup Dumpling. While Mushroom Cappuccino is a rich and creamy soup, the Mushroom Tea is a clear mushroom broth. In order to make it more hearty, Chef had tossed in a dumpling stuffed with mushrooms that had been sauteed in butter and steeped overnight in mushroom stalk. A little bit of HP Sauce and cumin provided some contrast to this otherwise mushroom dominated dish. The appetiser was a Crispy Chicken Leg served on a Shrimp Bacon Rice in a Soya Broth. The chicken had been prepared using the classical French style of cooking known as Confit – the poultry is slow cooked in fat and finished off in high heat to brown the skin. This created a perfectly cooked, juicy and flavourful chicken with a delightfully crispy skin. Rice in an appetiser is unusual, but no one was complaining as the overall ensemble was lovely. The next course featured a visually arresting Squid Ink and Quail Ravioli topped with pistachio and served in a Berry Jus. The black colour imparted by Squid Ink is not a familiar sight for most of us, yet you are likely to fall in love with it once you try it. Besides lending the pasta a striking appearance, the squid ink also lends a mild, fishy taste. The sauce was prepared from demi-glace and berries (cherries and raspberries). I loved the ravioli, but the sauce was a tad too sharp.
After a palate cleanser of lemon popsicle, we moved onto the mains. There were four options including Atlantic Salmon and Fricassee of Chicken. However, the moment I read the menu, I knew what my pick was going to be. It was the Eight Hour Braised Pork Belly with a Jaggery Tamarind Glaze. The pork was beautifully cooked and the sweet and sour glaze was perfectly calibrated. This dish is every pork lover’s dream come true. I also tried a bit of the surf and turf featuring Atlantic Salmon and Pulled Lamb Galette. The Salmon was slightly overcooked, yet the quality of the fish was so good that it still managed to charm.
The dessert was listed on the menu as ‘The Earth’. Since it was conceptualised by Marriott’s super talented pastry Chef Ratheesh Unni Nair I was expecting it to be brilliant, but the dish defied my expectations. The Eart is quite simply art on a plate. It’s served in a circular box made out of tempered-chocolate and decorated tastefully with edible flowers. The dish includes a multitude of components including Citrus Vanilla Mousseline, Sour Cherry Compote, Chocolate Soil, Oysters, and Corals. Although I was hesitant to destroy something so beautiful, tasting this dessert was a whole lot of fun as every scoop offered something new. In order to add another sensory dimension to the dish, Chef Nair had locked the chocolate in a box sprayed with Eternity perfume. The chocolates absorbed this scent and lent the dish a wonderful, earthy aroma. We finished our meal with a little bit of fun – Chocolate Bombs. The dish sounds rather innocuous, but this is not your typical molten chocolate dessert. Instead, we were served glittering chocolate balls loaded with a shot of Cointreau. The jolt of liqueur was just what I needed after a couple of glasses of wine and six courses of food.
The ‘Inspire Me Chef’ menu crafted by Executive Chef Yogender Pal will be available for dinners at Okra every Saturday. While the menu will change every two weeks, Chef Pal intends to showcase inspired creations that build upon classical cooking techniques and incorporate innovative flavours. If you enjoy experimenting with your food and look forward to new experiences, this is a meal you’ll love. All the dishes will be available a la carte, and meal for two will cost around five thousand rupees.