Last week, at simultaneous events held around the country, ITC Hotels introduced a revamped menu for its Pavilion group of restaurants. The ITC Pavilion restaurants are known for their around-the-clock offering of Indian and International fare, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. ‘Responsible Luxury’ has been the ethos of ITC Hotels for several years now, and the new menu takes another step forward towards championing sustainable practices. Dishes featuring fish use a traffic-light rating system of Red, Orange, and Green to encourage responsible consumer behaviour. Red indicates that the fish is from an over-exploited fishery and is under population threat, while green indicates that the fish isn’t threatened and can be consumed without guilt. Additionally, there are tags for dishes prepared with locally sourced or gluten-free or healthy ingredients.
I was invited to attend the biennial menu revamp at Deccan Pavilion, the elegant all-day diner at Hyderabad’s ITC Kakatiya. The breezy, crisp winter afternoon offered the perfect setting for an elaborate al fresco lunch by the pool. An extensive six-course meal, featuring several of the highlights from the new menu, had been planned for everyone in attendance.
First out of the gate was Singaporean Laksa – a fragrant chicken, shrimp, and fish soup with coconut milk and noodles. The Singaporean Laksa is slightly different from the Malaysian Laksa that can be more frequently spotted in the city. It’s slightly tangier and a tad denser. And, if you want to dial the acidity up to eleven, you are welcome to make ample use of the lemon wedge provided on your plate. A Laksa can be a meal on its own, but we were thankfully served smaller tasting portions. This refreshingly zesty and delightfully creamy soup proved to be just what we needed to whet our appetite.
Burrata with Anise-poached Pear was the next dish to arrive. This entree is marked as ‘BOP’ or Best of Pavilion, and it definitely lived up to the tag. Burrata is an Italian Cheese made from Mozzarella and Stracciatella. The former forms its solid outer shell, while the latter is responsible for the soft, creamy centre. Poached Pear is one of those classics that’s just impossible to not love. However, the Burrata undoubtedly elevated the dish by a few notches. This is a cheese that I have not previously encountered in the city. I learnt that ITC is sourcing the cheese from a monastery in Bangalore. The creamy Burrata with a hint of bitterness proved to be the perfect foil for the rich and sweet Poached Pear.
Our set menu had two burgers on offer – a healthy Green Burger with a baked rye patty and a Chicken Katsu burger with a deep-fried panko crusted Chicken cutlet. No prizes for guessing which burger I went for. The panko crust lent the Chicken Burger a satisfying crunch, while the cheese and horseradish and grain mustard relish offered a nice contrast to the deep-fried patty.
Lamb Rib and Broad Bean Tagine with Stewed Apricots was another dish that sported the ‘Best of Pavilion’ tag, and after the Burrata my expectations were quite high. Boy, this dish live up to them! The Lamb Ribs had been beautifully cooked – tender, juicy, and quite simply delightful. A little bit of googling told me that Tagine is a North African dish that derives its name from the conical earthen pot that they are traditionally cooked in. Although I’ve never experienced a Tagine before, the flavours felt very familiar. I’m not usually a big fan of couscous, but I didn’t mind the minted couscous here since it work quite well with the rich flavours of the gravy. The vegetarian option under Soul Foods section was Grilled Haloumi served with assorted vegetables and a tomato chutney. Haloumi is a hard, salty cheese from Cyprus with a unsually high melting point that allows it to be grilled. A grilled Halloumi paired with something that offsets its saltiness can be surprisingly addictive, and it was no different here. The Haloumi as well as well the grilled vegetables disappeared within moments.
Wrapping up the decadent meal were the duo of Creme Brule with Apricot Fig Biscotti and Chocolate Fudge with Jaggery Caramel Sauce. The Chocolate Fudge a sight to behold. Chef had expertly played with contrasting hues to create art on a plate.
Deccan Pavilion’s focus on sustainable practices is commendable. In ITC’s own words, the underlying philosophy is ‘Carefully Sourced and Mindfully Prepared’. The a la carte menu at Deccan Pavilion is a voluminous document that has something to offer for everyone. It features both interesting International treats like the Burrata and Poached Pear as well as local favourites like Dalcha and Bagara Khana. The pricing is in line with what you might expect from a property in a Luxary hotel; a meal for two will cost around Rs. 4000.