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    T Nagar’s popular hotel gets a face lift, and Copper Point is reborn in a global desi avatar.

    GRTTT (17)

    IT’S AN idea they’ve been toying with for some time, but 24 feet of water (during last December’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. “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,” says Vikram Cotah, the COO, adding, “While we haven’t had an official launch yet, J.Hind and Bazaar, our all-day diner, are open.” Since I’m there to check out J.Hind—the new pan-Indian restaurant, an ‘updated’ version of the popular Copper Point—I ask him about the name, quirkily hyphenated with a handlebar moustache, a motif that crops up often across the 85-cover restaurant. “It means Jugalbandhi Hindustani, the well-travelled global local who is still Indian at heart,” smiles Cotah, who’s been with GRT 11 years. The décor echoes this—vibrant furniture, digitally printed with art created for them by designer Krsna  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 woman’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-bouche—a refreshing shot of tender coconut water with pomegranate caviar complemented by spheres of aam ras and saffron milk that burst satisfyingly on my tongue—followed by a vegetable-infused tender coconut soup with beetroot foam. “Since many of the techniques are new, we have a degustation (tasting) menu to help guests enjoy a cross-section of our chef’s signature dishes,” 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 with  nitrogen smoke billowing out churns out a ‘chaat science drama’—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 that’s served in hand-painted paper boats. “The chefs visited restaurants like Tresind in Dubai and Michelin-starred Gaggan in Bangkok to understand progressive Indian cuisine better,” 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

    Going glocal
    The Bazaar, which features international and local street food, has the feel of a market—thanks to handmade tiles (stamped with motifs photographed in Istanbul, Cairo and Dubai’s souks), lights housed in crates and walls panelled with gunny sacks. “We serve à la minute salads and cold-pressed fruit juices. But we are proud of our Super Bowls, where guests can choose their superfoods—like quinoa, salmon, kale—and our chefs will make it for them,” says Cotah. Future plans include the Sunday Sandhai, a brunch that will also host a farmers’ market. And did I mention that twice a day, the
    staff gather here for a flash mob!

    Artsy break
    Azulia, the Mediterranean restaurant, will be reborn as an art bistro next month, with an inaugural show by photographer Sharad Haksar. “We want to encourage art and theatre. So there will be a gallery—curated by Sujatha Narayanan and Devasena of Vanjula’s Art Atrium—and space to stage plays, standup, even host a private movie screening,” he says. The food will be casual world cuisine, like mezzes and wood-fired pizzas. “Our 125 wine labels will be available, too,” Cotah adds.

    Whistle podu
    The pub, which launches today, is called Steam & Whistle for a reason. “Steam is inspired by our Himalayan Kitchen—serving authentic food from Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, made by chefs from there—and Whistle is because the staff entertains people with their whistles,” he says, adding that the theme is 1920s prohibition era, with décor inspired by locomotives. They will also be launching their club, The Code, soon, where you can gain entry only if you know the day’s code—to be circulated via social media.

    On canvas
    GRT has also tied up with three local artists—Muralidharan Alagar, Manoharan Natarajan and G Raman—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 it’s out with everything old, the popular day room packages are still available.

    — Surya Praphulla Kumar

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