Cal27 and sharing some food stories

Generally speaking, in any big hotel, five star or above I mean to say, the coffee shop is one of the most neglected food joints. Now, please don’t get me wrong here. The food is normally good, in fact excellent- service- generally top notch. But, when compared to their own specialty restaurants, the coffee shop tends to lose its identity. So, when we were invited for a sneak peek of the to-be-opened coffee shop, Cal27, in Taj Bengal, we expected another usual 24X7 coffee shop. But, it proved, for us, to be something else gastronomically.

9th of November was the inaugural party (and next day was the official opening) and for some reason, I was invited. It was slightly scary for me, because I mostly write on small joints and hidden gems of city and feel scared when invited to these big places. But, however, one fine evening, there I was, walking on the red carpet to the venue. It was built in place of Hub, the old coffee shop, a lovely place beside the pool. Cal27 is having 2 floors, where the first floor can be used for small get together and parties and one motion sensor lift was installed, with one liftman. Now, being Taj Bengal, the party had whos-who in town, literally, from cricket stars to industrialists and from socialites to industrialists, and even few bloggers- everybody was there. And, needless to say, it was a lovely evening.

As they say, a party is for enjoyment and not work and Taj Bengal management understood that. Hence, we were invited for a blogger’s meetup after a few days over lunch. Now, we were just picking up few items from the buffet (basically some lovely looking pork belly with pineapple), while the menu concept was shared with us, but not before the lovely Cal27 (the signature cocktail with sugarcane juice and white rum).

But, first things first. I am a price sensitive customer – Hami gorib admi achhi. But, the pricing is such that, once a while, its affordable if someone is looking for some premium service. So, here’s the buffet pricing, though I would suggest the a la carte dishes here. Read ahead for the reason …..

  • Breakfast Buffet: Rs. 850/-
  • Weekday Lunch Buffet: Rs. 1550/-
  • Weekday DInner Buffet: Rs. 1650/-
  • Saturday Lunch Buffet: Rs. 1750/- with unlimited beer
  • Sunday Brunch: Rs. 2150/- with sparkling wine
  • Sunday Brunch: Rs. 2950/- with champagne
  • For kids buffet lunch for weekend: Rs. 1200/-

(All prices without GST)

Now, surprisingly, this management team for this coffee shop has worked really really hard for the menu design. One dish, rather one best selling dish from each of the international Taj properties, were selected and put in the menu as a la carte items and needless to say, we were asked to sample them. But, statutory warning, portion sizes are really, really huge, so please take suggestion from your server while ordering.

First came the non-veg Bunny Chow. Now, there is a funny story for this dish. In a layman’s language, bunny chow is hollowed large sized bun with vegetable or chicken filling. The dish was historically created in Durban. Stories of the origin of bunny chow date as far back as the migrant Indian workers arrival in South Africa. Migrant workers from India who were brought to South Africa to work the sugarcane plantations carried their lunch, mostly curried vegetable inside a hollowed out loaf of bread. Meaty version came later. And the story goes like, the word “Bunny” came from “Baniya”. The dish is super non-spicy and kid-friendly. But, as I will keep on saying, its actually a huge bun, so order wisely. I’ve never had the privilege of f having it in its native land, but friends told me, the original version is served in a simple, humble bread loaf. But, a nice soft bun replaced it here, and I didn’t mind that.

While we were finishing the dish, our favorite came, with the perfect accompaniment of tarter sauce, butter and mashed peas- the British battered fry from St James Court, London. Here a beer batter was used and to prevent the fry from getting soggy, no salt was used in the batter and was supposed to be added separately (if needed). Now, 2 large pieces of Betki can’t go wrong and naturally it didn’t. And, this is going to be my go-to-dish when I come back next with family.

A portion of non-veg Lamprai (From Taj Samudra, Colombo) came next. Now, this was the first time I’ve tasted this dish. Lamprais, is one of the most popular dishes of Dutch Burgher cuisine. The origin of the word Lamprais remains unclear but it is thought to be the anglicized version of the original Dutch words – klomp (lump) rijst (rice). Basically, yellow rice with meat ball, curried meat, one boiled egg and yellow rice was wrapped inside a banana leaf and was steamed. And while opening, a nice intoxicating smell hit us and I fell in love with this immediately. The rice was a bit soggy and being a perfect street food from Sri Lanka, this was a full one-dish meal in itself. The quantity is sufficient to be divided by two adults.

We all are familiar with Nasi Goreng, the mixed meat cousin of Indonesian fried rice. But unlike other places, this dish here, was relatively milder in nature, yet not losing its taste. Straight from Vivanta By Taj, Rebak Island, Langkawi, this dish was basically a comfort food.

And finally, it was Fish exotica from Taj Exotica, Maldives. It was fish and prawn cooked with lemon grass, fresh turmeric and sambal. It is either I am not accustomed with the smell of sambal, or the taste of that Lamprai was still inside my head, this dish went okay with me. But as they say, it’s an acquired taste and something which everybody (except me) loved- bad me …..

The dessert was chocolate and chilly mousse-cake. Though I was full, but desserts are like your toddler- they always push in and makes space for itself inside you and you feel happy having it. Forget about the glamorous looks, taste was divine.

So, overall, I’d love to go again just for the sake of tasting the lovely buffet in Cal27, but these a la carte dishes are seriously reason enough to go …

Bon apetit !!!

Comments and critics welcome.

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