T Nagara��s popular hotel gets a face lift, and Copper Point is reborn in a global desi avatar.
ITa��S AN idea theya��ve been toying with for some time, but 24 feet of water (during last Decembera��s floods) finally sealed the deal. Grand by GRT Hotels shut down for exactly 90 days, to reopen as a boutique hotel last month, with two new restaurants, a Himalayan live kitchen and spruced up rooms with a local art element. a�?We are looking at the new-age business traveller who is attitudinally in his 30s. We also want to attract millennials, who want to stay in hotels that make a bold statement,a�? says Vikram Cotah, the COO, adding, a�?While we havena��t had an official launch yet, J.Hind and Bazaar, our all-day diner, are open.a�? Since Ia��m there to check out J.Hinda��the new pan-Indian restaurant, an a�?updateda�� version of the popular Copper Pointa��I ask him about the name, quirkily hyphenated with a handlebar moustache, a motif that crops up often across the 85-cover restaurant. a�?It means Jugalbandhi Hindustani, the well-travelled global local who is still Indian at heart,a�? smiles Cotah, whoa��s been with GRT 11 years. The dA�cor echoes thisa��vibrant furniture, digitally printed with art created for them by designer KrsnaA� Mehta (of India Circus), stand amid antique pillars sourced from old havelis. My favourite: hand-blown glass lights by Gautam Seth of Klove that resemble a womana��s earrings.
Fire and ice
As I peruse the menu on a handy tablet, I realise the stars of the show are modern cooking techniques like molecular gastronomy and sous-vide, which are quite popular in the city now. I begin with an amuse-bouchea��a refreshing shot of tender coconut water with pomegranate caviar complemented by spheres of aam ras and saffron milk that burst satisfyingly on my tonguea��followed by a vegetable-infused tender coconut soup with beetroot foam. a�?Since many of the techniques are new, we have a degustation (tasting) menu to help guests enjoy a cross-section of our chefa��s signature dishes,a�? explains Cotah, as chef Paramjit Singh Bomra, who moved here from their Temple Bay property, serves me a selection of starters. As I bite into curried chicken wings with a mango cheese sauce (flame-roasted at the table), a cart withA� nitrogen smoke billowing out churns out a a�?chaat science dramaa��a��puris with dahi spheres and a bhel served with nitrogen-frozen dhokla for crunch. While the latter is a tad too icy for my taste, the dahi puris are fun. Copper Point favourites find space on the table, too, but are served with a contemporary twist. I love the lamb biryani in a bottle that is smoked at the table and nethili fry thata��s served in hand-painted paper boats. a�?The chefs visited restaurants like Tresind in Dubai and Michelin-starred Gaggan in Bangkok to understand progressive Indian cuisine better,a�? shares Cotah, as I finish my dinner with a delicious shahi tukda that I crumble nitrogen-frozen rose petals over. I make a note to come back soon as the menu changes every couple of days.
Degustation menu at Rs 1,250 ++ (vegetarian) and Rs 1,450 ++ (non-vegetarian). Details: 28150500
The Bazaar, which features international and local street food, has the feel of a marketa��thanks to handmade tiles (stamped with motifs photographed in Istanbul, Cairo and Dubaia��s souks), lights housed in crates and walls panelled with gunny sacks. a�?We serve A� la minute salads and cold-pressed fruit juices. But we are proud of our Super Bowls, where guests can choose their superfoodsa��like quinoa, salmon, kalea��and our chefs will make it for them,a�? says Cotah. Future plans include the Sunday Sandhai, a brunch that will also host a farmersa�� market. And did I mention that twice a day, the
staff gather here for a flash mob!
Azulia, the Mediterranean restaurant, will be reborn as an art bistro next month, with an inaugural show by photographer Sharad Haksar. a�?We want to encourage art and theatre. So there will be a gallerya��curated by Sujatha Narayanan and Devasena of Vanjulaa��s Art Atriuma��and space to stage plays, standup, even host a private movie screening,a�? he says. The food will be casual world cuisine, like mezzes and wood-fired pizzas. a�?Our 125 wine labels will be available, too,a�? Cotah adds.
The pub, which launches today, is called Steam & Whistle for a reason. a�?Steam is inspired by our Himalayan Kitchena��serving authentic food from Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, made by chefs from therea��and Whistle is because the staff entertains people with their whistles,a�? he says, adding that the theme is 1920s prohibition era, with dA�cor inspired by locomotives. They will also be launching their club, The Code, soon, where you can gain entry only ifA�you know the daya��s codea��to beA�circulated via social media.
GRT has also tied up with three localA�artistsa��Muralidharan Alagar, Manoharan Natarajan and G Ramana��to do a series of paintings for the rooms. Each floor has a different theme, from workmen of Tamil Nadu, to street life and traditional games (like pallanguzhi). And for those who are wondering if ita��s out with everything old, the popular day room packages are still available.
a�� Surya Praphulla Kumar