Fridays are long awaited and cherished but the dreaded Monday mornings appear in a flash. Alas, there’s not much we can do other than making the most out of our weekends. One of my favourite ways to unwind and rejuvenate myself for the upcoming week is to spend a Sunday afternoon brunching with friends. Hyderabad seems to be in love with Sunday brunches too. They’ve grown in both quantity and quality over the past few years. Now, you’re spoiled for choices with a multitude of options catering to different price segments and cuisines. The Park Hyderabad recently rejigged their Sunday brunch to make things a tad more interesting. I was invited to experience their brunch, and it became evident quite quickly that the Park was trying to play a delicate balancing act. But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s jump back to the basics first.
A perfect Sunday brunch for me is one that is cosy with a good selection of comfort food. While most Sunday brunches compete to present ginormous quantities of grub, all I need to be happy is a few delicious dishes. Stuffing myself to the brim is not quite my idea of an idyllic Sunday. At the same time, I love to have options to pick and chose from, and a few gastronomic surprises that tickle the taste buds are always welcome. The Park’s spread definitely falls into the category of the seemingly never-ending brunches. With over half a dozen live counters and food spread across the Verandah and the Aqua, it has more dishes than you can possibly hope to taste. However, there’s thought behind everything that has been put on the spread. The idea is to cater to everyone’s preferences and also to nudge diners to step out of their comfort zone and experiment a little.
The Park has one of the best restaurants dedicated to ‘Hyderabadi Khaana’; hence, it’s quite apt that the brunch also showcases a slice of Hyderabad. With Chef Mandaar moving out of The Park, Chef Thimma has assumed the responsibilities of Executive Chef. Hyderabadi is one of his strengths, and it was quite evident. The Mandi with Chicken Roast was sensational and the Haleem, although smoother than usual, was supremely enjoyable. The generous topping of barista and nuts with the latter is a welcome change from the stingy quantities you’d find at most places during Ramzan. Other inclusions from the streets of Hyderabad included Sheekh Kebab and Kaleji Masala.
Street food is in vogue and the rustic and vibrant flavours from the street are increasingly finding favour in premium properties. From Bhel and Papdi Chaat to Maggi and Dosa, there are live counters dishing out a plethora of comfort food freshly conjured to your liking. While Dosa is available with various toppings, I tried a bit of the simple Ghee Roast Dosa that was as good as what you’d get at any of the popular dosa joints in the city.
If you’re looking for something a tad more gourmet, you can make a beeline for the Sushi and Pasta live counters, or you can head inside Verandah to sample dishes from the extensive main course selection. The Sushi station is the only one that completely missed its mark – the Sushi rice was dry, fish was overcooked, and the rolling was clumsy. My favourite live station was the humble BBQ station with a selection of fish, prawn and chicken in a choice of sauces. There was also a Bao counter, but since I was trying to keep a tight leash on my carb intake I requested for the Prawns to be stir-fried in Shezwan sauce and served as a stand-alone dish.
By the time I headed inside Verandah for the main course I had barely any appetite left. And it was then I realized that there’s also a sizeable selection of different breads, cold cuts, and salads on offer. The Prawn Salad in Thread Noodle Cup was easily the most eye-catching one, but I enjoyed the selection of cold cuts that included Beef Carpaccio with a mustard dressing. There are multiple stations devoted to bread lovers including a Croissaints section and a Bruschetta and Mezze section.
The desserts station at Verandah is, once again, quite lavish. From Hot Jalebis to chilled Bengali sweets to Roulades and Marble Cheese Cakes – it’s a luscious and delightful spread for those with a sweet tooth. The star here is the Ice Cream and Sorbet live station that was dishing out Beer Ginger Sorbet prepared instantly with liquid nitrogen. If all of this seems little too heavy for you, you can just head to the detox counter and relish fresh fruits and an assortment of juices.
The Park’s second-floor terrace is quite picturesque; dotted with greenery and surrounded by the towering floors of the hotel on three sides and the lake on one side. Pair all of this food with pleasant live music and the charming outdoor setting overlooking Hussain Sagar and you’ve all the essential ingredients of the Sunday brunch. As I mentioned, at the beginning of this piece, The Park’s Sunday Brunch is a deft balancing act. The spread has the breadth to tempt the crowd, the popular flavours to thrill the Hyderabadi palate, and just enough surprises to impress. At just Rs. 1500 all-inclusive (without alcohol), the pricing is surprisingly competitive. If you wish to include alcohol, you’ll have to go up to Rs. 2000 (all-inclusive) with IMFL and Rs. 3000 (all-inclusive) with FML. The IMFL selection is rather lacklustre with Kingfisher Beer (Premium and Ultra), Blue Riband Gin, SDU Deva Wine, 100 Pipers Whisky, and Smirnoff Vodka on offer. Thankfully, upgrading to the FML package gets you Chivas Regal. All in all, The Park Sunday Brunch ticks most of the boxes and is one of the best brunches in the price segment.