A little bit of France - The Tres Magnifique at the Raj Pavilion, ITC Windsor
For those of you who've been following the blog, and not just all the delightful pictures on Instagram, I'd like to re-assure you that I've not gone rogue and become a 'social media influencer' type person. I still love good old-fashioned writing. I've just been on a break from writing for the last few months, mostly thanks to absolute fatigue from writing and reviewing restaurants. I've been spending my time travelling, sorting things out at the new job and most importantly re-evaluating where I want to go with this blog considering how these days it's more about fake numbers than about engaging content or even an understanding of it all. Anyway, I'm back now and what better place to get back into the writing groove than with the Raj Pavilion at ITC Windsor.
I'm going to be honest and admit that I still don't completely understand the world's fascination with French food. Even copious amounts of Chef's Table and MasterChef hasn't quite helped me understand the appeal. That being said, it was one of the primary drivers for me to accept an invitation from ITC Windsor to come over and sample the fare that will be part of their recently launched French food festival at the Raj Pavilion titled 'Tres Magnifique'. Given the reputation of the Raj Pavilion, expectations were high. Dinner began with the Vichyssoise, a creamy soup made from potatoes and leek. Traditionally served cold, the soup we were served went for a modern twist and was served hot. I'm not a very big fan of the Vichyssoise in general owing to my dislike of potatoes. But given the slight cold that's setting into Bengaluru, anything warm was good for me.
The next course comprised of a savoury souffle, served with a creamy paprika sauce, and a Vol-au-vent aux champignon. Maybe back-to-back creamy dishes was the problem, hence the souffle didn’t quite pique my interest. The Vol-au-vent aux champignons on the other hand was wonderfully done. A perfectly light pastry puff with delightfully cooked mushrooms whose earthy flavour was balanced out by the bitterness of the mesclun salad and the citrus from the orange vinaigrette. I'd have happily had another helping of the same.
The main course featured three dishes that we could choose from, each a classic of French cuisine. The first was the Sole meunière, a classic with two whole fillets of fish, served with a caper butter sauce. Personally, the flavour of capers is something that doesn’t quite go with everything. It didn't quite work in this dish for me. The second dish was the classic chicken dish of Coq au vin - perfectly cooked soft braised chicken served with fondant potatoes and a delightful red wine jus. It's always a hit or a miss when it comes to chicken in India where most places over cook and dry out the meat; that's where the class and skill of the Chefs at ITC Windsor makes them stand out. This dish would have been my favourite for the evening had it not been for the hearty and modern interpretation of the classic French dish, the Ratatouille de legumes. I remember the first time I had ratatouille when I was travelling abroad, and this dish would rank a close second. I'm overly critical when it comes to vegetarian dishes in general, but this dish was a clear winner for me.
Dessert was the classic Tarte Tatin Aux Pommes, a pretty looking plate that consisted of an apple tart with berry sauce, cocoa streusel, mascarpone cream and caramel sauce. Personally, I was hoping for a more delicate affair when it came to dessert because the previous course was quite filling. Each of the courses was accompanied by wine that complemented the dishes being served. (Wine remains a mystery to me... maybe, look at some beers from France?)
The Tres Magnifique menu will feature dishes as a part of the regular dinner buffet at the Raj Pavilion, priced at INR 1995++. The plates you see in the pictures were created only for the preview dinner. The festival is on till the 15th of December. I can't say that I'm convinced about all the hype of around French food, but I'll gladly go back just for that ratatouille!