Novella, at Hablis hotel, offers more than a stunning nightscape. The menu is a showstopper too.
I t’s raining and I think, belatedly, that it’s the wrong night to check out Hablis’ rooftop restaurant, Novella, where the promise of a new menu had got me travelling halfway across the city without even an umbrella in hand. But when I reach the ‘terrace’, all niggling thoughts fade. Thunderous skies are counterpointed by views of sparkling city lights; the downpour splashes off the brightly-lit infinity pool; and as I sit at the cosy wooden table, I find a bit of the drama is reflected in the menu, too.
What had started out as a pan-Asian restaurant two years ago, has now transitioned into a space that focusses on healthy food, with a markedly European menu (with touches of its past, like the satay I spot). The fusion of flavours have been perfected by executive chef Sathya Raj R—who joined last year from the London Hilton, having previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants like Hibiscus—and sous chef Deepesh Chandran Attupurath.
East meets West
Having asked for tasting portions, my meal starts with a richly-flavoured wild mushroom soup, the poached egg tartare adding an interesting texture. Then it’s a smoked cheese salad with red pesto (quite competent) followed by the aforementioned chicken satay. I love how it comes with pickled vegetables that cut through the richness of the peanut sauce. Ahead of the mains, an orange sorbet is brought to the table, to cleanse the palate before I start on a 12-hour braised lamb with a broccoli purée, and a slow-poached salmon (the only imported item on the menu) with orange risotto and squid ink sauce. The former falls delightfully off the bone, while the latter is a tad too subtle and has me spooning up the risotto with more gusto while sipping on a crisp Two Oceans sauvignon blanc.
The 107-cover restaurant is filling up as I turn to the crowd-pleasers on the menu—pastas and burgers. But even here, ‘healthy’ is the key word—with homemade pasta, grilled patties and mayonnaise made with sous-vide eggs. Fluffy potato gnocchis bring in fusion, with shiitake and bok choy, which chef Attupurath points out balances the blandness with strong flavours. Surprisingly, it works. My favourite, however, is the mustard ice cream served with the burger, sweet and tangy. Despite the bite-sized portions, my tummy is groaning, but dessert calls. The Parmesan brûlée with praline ice cream is one for cheese lovers, while their take on the tiramisu, a coffee ice cream with mascarpone mousse, is the perfect ending. With great service—pleasant waiters with a good understanding of the menu—an incomparable view, and new restaurant hours (11 am to 11 pm), Novella will definitely lure me back.
Meal for two at Rs 2,500++.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar