Of Winter Evenings and Alfresco Dinners in The City of Joy

Though I was born in Kolkata I spent my childhood primarily in the North, hence I love long cold winters which many of my friends in the city don’t. Sadly Kolkata barely has really cold winters but the best way to enjoy the season in my opinion is to dine alfresco so I can combine my two loves great food and cold winter evenings.
At the onset of the winter season we were invited by ITC Sonar for the Winter Barbeque which goes on all through the winter months on the Eden Pavillion lawns by the Water Garden . It’s a spectacular setting, and one of the loveliest ways to spend a beautiful evening and indulge in some wonderful food in a beautiful ambiance. The spread includes Soups and Salads, Cold Cuts and Antipasti ,Biryani and what have you. However for me the main attraction is the Live Grill Section which has the delicious Peshawari Kebabs , Mediterranean Shawarma , Various proteins and some fantastic fresh Seafood. There was a lovely live music arrangement which only added to the relaxed mood of the evening. The Winter Lawn is a destination and your meal is an experience not to be missed so do put it down on your winter calendar of must do’s.

There were over a dozen varieties of Grills of the World and we were truly spoilt for choice. For the Vegetarians I loved the Paneer Ajwani Tikka , Rajma Ki Galouti and the Veg Seekh Kebab all of which were worth a second helping. The Non-Vegetarian section was equally outstanding Murgh Angaar , Gosht Shami, Tenderloin with Crusted Black Pepper , Prawn with Lemon Juice and Chilli Flakes Squid with Coriander and Lemon Juice. I don’t have to say much about the Indian selection because the Peshawari Kebabs are outstanding but what I loved about the other grills was the fact that the produce was so fresh that the ingredient was the hero. Loved the seafood and the tenderloin. Though I wish my sausages were Pork rather than Chicken because personally I am not partial to Chicken Sausages.
We were pretty stuffed but I wanted to try a bit of the Biryani which I did and once again it was perfect. We nibbled on dessert and relaxed and chatted till quite late because of the wonderful setting that made us feel we simply don’t want to go home. Many thanks to ITC for inviting us … it was one of my favorite meals of the season. Timings are 7-30pm onwards.

A few days back Novotel Kolkata Hotels & Residences called and invited us for their Weekend Grill by the Pool which they have on Friday and Saturday nights. Though I have attended a couple of functions in the Banquets I have never visited the restaurants. Everytime I was invited I had some prior engagement and could not make it so I am very glad I finally did. Their poolside was lovely and the Weather God’s were kind and it was a nice cool evening. A few other friends who are also fellow food bloggers were invited and so it turned into an evening filled with fun and conversation about you guessed it….Food !!!

There was a live counter with separate Grill selections and sections for Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarians which was a nice touch , a salad bar and an assortment of Breads, an Indian Section with Biryani , Kali Dal and Indian Breads , a live Noodle Counter as well as a Dessert Counter along with the Poolside Bar.
The kebabs were served to us on Charcoal Grills to keep them warm on our table and the delectable aroma of meats grilling on coal will get me every time. I loved the Chicken Tikka which used a Sriracha Marinade as well as the Juicy Fish Tikka made from Kolkata Bhekti that was served to us. The Chicken was my personal pick and I loved it. They were serving us Cocktails and the Musk Melon Mojito seemed to be the crowd favorite though I stuck to my Diet Cola as I rarely drink. There were Mushroom and Paneer variants for the vegetarians and the Paneer was melt in your mouth good. The Mushrooms were passable, I think because of the size variation the degree of cooking differed so it was a bit of a hit and miss. We were also served Grilled Chicken and Fish both of which were good as well as some sausages. Baby Corn and an assortment of mixed vegetables followed. The kebabs were however the winner for me.

We then made our way to sample the Indian main course which I felt needed a bit more variety. The Chicken Biryani was light and flavorful though I missed the presence of the Potato in it. The Kali Dal was a bit underwhelming it lacked punch. A non-veg and veg gravy option would certainly have been welcome and added much needed variety to this section. We also sampled the live Noodle Counter though our portion was a tad too salty for my palate.

Dessert was calling out and though we were rather full we purposefully made our way to the dessert counter. Both the Poached Pears and the Blondie with Chocolate Sauce were excellent and demanded a second helping to do them justice. The Crepes however were a bit of a letdown because they were undercooked. I like my crepes thin and golden with a sauce or syrup to complement them .The chocolate sauce served with them was very good though. Chef also made us sample a wonderful Chocolate Mousse that was heaven and I would gladly go back for it time and again.

The Grill by the Pool is on only on weekend’s 7-30pm onwards. Priced at Rs.750/= for Vegetarians and Rs.950/= for non-vegetarians (plus taxes as applicable) it’s a fantastic deal. Make plans with friends and drive out for a wonderful evening out at The Grill by the Pool before the summer sets in.

DISCLAIMER : I dined as a guest at both the above mentioned venues by invitation of The Management however the views expressed are entirely my own.
Picture Credits : Suneha Saha
Both venues are Wheelchair Friendly for guests with limited mobility.

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