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Park Hyatta��s new brunch has a surprise factor. Plus, therea��s a shisha bar next door
HE Flying Elephanta��s seven tiered seating plan is best experienced during Sunday brunch. Two separate parties for adults and an activity session for kids are underway, other families and solo diners come trooping in, and yet there is some semblance of privacy. As for the long treks to the open kitchens dotting the restaurant, let the activity tracker on your phone or wrist do the math. Collect your reward at the Patisserie. Ours is a satisfying slice of dark chocolate tart.
Known for its festive spreads, The Flying Elephant has transformed its brunch into the Sunday Social. Besides the laidback feel, lovely Canadian crooner, Monia Lamarche, has a selection of easy numbers lined up, and the kitchens and counters have brand new street signs. On offer is everything from exhilaratingly spicy Thai curry to Eggs Benedict. There is the usual cold mezze, grilled lobster and sea bass, a shawarma station, biryani, kebabs and pizzas and solid offerings like tenderloin steak. Where they have attempted to mix up the brunch routine is with a Blind Bite section on the menu a�� where waiters make regular stops at the table with anything from a mushroom risotto, featuring plump Arborio rice, to a comforting Mee Goreng. A cheery chap offers tequila shots for the parched.
At the lower level, the maki roll continues to be a crowd favourite, with wontons in a clear garlic broth playing a supporting role. Couscous is served with a lightly flavoured stew, while the campagna salumi bar has wafer thin slices of prosciutto a�� the salty nuances complementing ripe melon. Dessert sees crisp churros, baked yoghurt and assorted tarts. It is a well planned spread, and we expect the wait staff to be more conversant with the menu in a week or so. Meanwhile, if you plan to linger after your meal, drop by the Shisha bar that opens at 4 pm on weekends. Classic and experimental flavours, like paan-rasna are served by the lily pond. Ita��s a leisured reprieve minus the usual velvet sofas and dark interiors. Sunday Social, 12 pm to 3 pm, is priced at `2095,A� `3095 (with alcohol) and `5,000 (with Champagne). Details: 71771234
Keshav Prakasha��s concierge service, The Vault, offering access to world whiskies and fine spirits, brings the experience to Chennai
WHEN you are served Ocho Blanco Tequila with Asian sea bass at dinner, you dona��t shoot, you savour. In a space that is seeing quite a few whisky ambassadors and repositories of fine wines and spirits, Keshav Prakasha��s The Vault is pushing the envelope with curated menus for taste savants in high places. This besides offering access to artisanal whiskies, rums, cognacs, gins and tequilas. And the good news? A year after they launched in Mumbai, the spirits concierge service is ready to explore the Chennai landscape.
A former ad-filmmaker from a family of spirit merchants in Bangalore, Prakash is presenting a dinner at Sheraton Parka��s On the Rocks tonight. It is reportedly sold out and he is not surprised. a�?I have met a discerning whisky audience here. And I have noticed a shift from brandy to cognac appreciation,a��a�� he says. Our whisky connoisseurs can be so dogged in their pursuit of rare spirits, he admits a�� one collector masterminded a business trip to hunt down a bottle of the hyper-rare Japanese Karuizawa single malt! In Mumbai, The Vault is not a retail outlet but presents 18 brands of artisanal spirit makers and dining experiences through a concierge. a�?a�?Ita��s the kosher way to do it,a��a�� agrees Prakash, 46. The founder of the underground whisky club, The Oak League, he is learning to navigate our laws regulating alcohol.
Unlocking the vault
You will find rival distilleries like Kilchoman in Islay and Edradour in Pitlochry showcasing their single malts here, together with cognacs like Delamain Premier Cru Grande Champagne, Sipsmitha��s London Dry Gin and the popular Chase marmalade vodka (Seville orange marmalade and peel steeped in potato vodka). All of them are worth the premium charged for concierge services.
For frequent travellers who trawl through duty free aisles looking for unusual bottles to get past our customsa�� two bottle allowance, services like The Vault are welcome. With the collection curated by whisky and spirits writers like Charles Mclean, Dave Broom and Tomas Estes, you are bound to find handcrafted and gold medal winning gems. Like El Dorado rum, often available only at speciality stores abroad. So the next time you are in Mumbai, make time for some gift-hunting, via The Vault. Or sign up for their dinners in Chennai.
Curated menu available at Park Sheraton and soon, Taj Coromandel and Madras Club. Details: vaultfinespirits.com
Curry leaf scones, shrimp rolls and bubbly a�� tea time gets an update at Taj Coromandel
Do we make the distinction between afternoon tea and high tea? While one is about dainty foods like scones with cream and is a social affair, the other is about more substantial fare like pot pies. What Taj Coromandel has been offering for a month now is a happy mix of the two. So you get your scones a�� curry leaf flavoured and borderline leaden a�� some sandwiches, a tortilla, shrimp rice paper rolls, cakes, biscotti and more. The venue is the lounge, and the spread looks forlorn, what with a lone waiter doing the rounds. Placing an order for a cuppa or a flute of bubbly (Moet Chandon Rose Imperial, if you prefer the Champagne experience) may take a while. With hotel guests checking in or wedding parties floating past, youa��re not going to sip on tea and serenity. That said, you get to choose from a sizeable list of 30 teas and coffees. There are single estate teas from Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiris and single origin coffees from Brazil, Honduras and Panama, besides staples like espresso. Unfortunately, one expects a premium or singular experience at the Taj Coromandel, even at teatime. So while the oat cookies are scrumptious, they ought to work atA� making this the best late afternoon spot in town. 3 pm to 6 pm. Coromandel High Tea at Rs 500 and Champagne High Tea at Rs 900. Details: 66002827
Lekha Washington urges you to get creative with cubes and talks about her lunar experiment
vJ Lekha Washingtona��s navel, hottest must see! Google the actor and youa��ll probably come across a link that says this or something similar. But our multi-tasker from Chennai is no longer perturbed. The product designer and artist says Ajji, the a�?odd product companya�� she founded in 2013, keeps her busy and too fulfilled to worry about the unsavoury side of the Indian movie industry. You could say few things unsettle Washington these daysa��when her installation for the opening day of the Kochi Biennale, a lunar experiment featuring helium balloons and light, was destroyed by foul weather the night before the star-studded launch, the actress shrugged away her extreme disappointment and vowed to do it all over again in Mumbai, on a much larger scale. In hindsight, she chuckles, it is fitting that she named the a�?monumental, mad art piecea�?, This Too Shall Pass.
Of moons and atoms
It would be unfair to club Washington with other Bollywood hopefuls or star wives who turn a�?interior designera�� overnight. After all, she has been creating furniture and light fittings with a strong visual identity for a while, and has in her corner everyone from French couturier Jean Francois Lesage to interior designer Pinakin Patel. When she began auctioning limited-edition chairs and her Moon Dot series to fund her Kochi Biennale experiment a few months ago, the Godrej company stepped in to help out. She shares that hers is a conscious move towards functional art (this being a more easily accepted term among clients than a�?furniturea��, she observes). Be it her Pink Sink over a decade ago to The Drop, which travelled to shows in New York, and Atom, launched last month, her art marries design. a�?Art shouldna��t be too profound but must have a a�?wowa�� effect,a�? she insists. Featuring a strong sticking mechanism, Atom sees fundamental building blocks used to create a piece of furniturea��anything from a couch to a fort! Her materials of choice are fabric and metal. a�?My ideas have to be simple, strong and clear. Everything else is ornamental,a�? says the designer. But what wea��ll see first is a weatherproof This Too Shall Pass, her take on the moona��s phases. a�?After all, I have always been fascinated by lunacy,a�? she concludes.
Ajji products are priced from `3,000 and are available in Mumbai, Delhi and via the Facebook page.
With the luxe jewellery brand getting its first address in the country, CEO Jean-Christophe Babin talks about shopping and unwinding wisely
Bulgari is back in India. While the 130-year-old Italian luxury brand (part of the LVMH conglomerate) was here three years ago, through a franchisee partner, the new business joint venture allows for a complete Bulgari brand experience. At the plush store in DLF Emporio in the capital, the oak parquet with Veneziana inserts, an impressive Murano chandelier, vintage advertising campaigns and celebrity endorsementsa��Elizabeth Taylor kissing Richard Burtona��form the setting for iconic jewels and watches, the most recognisable being the coiled Serpenti. CEO Jean-Christophe Babin refers to Bulgaria��s mastery over coloured gemstones and access to rare gems, a clear advantage during the wedding season. His earlier stint as head of TAG Heuer makes him an expert on luxury retail in India and the impact of Bollywood endorsements, and he is upbeat about Bulgaria��s future here. a�?We are inspired by art and architecture, with an unmistakable sense of volume and proportions. Most importantly, our jewels are incredibly wearable as a second skin,a�? says Babin.
Map the mall
Since India is the second highest consumer of gold in the world, it has the potential to become one of the largest markets for branded jewellery, Babin observes. a�?However, there are not enough luxury malls in India to allow luxury to expand as fast as it has done in China or Indonesia,a�? he says, admitting that expansion to 10 other cities in the next five years is dependent on real estate projects. a�?Luxury expands hand in hand with malls,a�? he says, pragmatically. The store in Delhi is expected to stock the entire bridal collection and the Spiga Design line, dedicated to Asia, where the ancient wheat motif is predominant. The store has its share of coveted timepieces, too, like the Octo collection with the bezel design inspired by Gerald Genta. There is an attention to detail that is seen across the board, with their perfumes and hospitality services. Babina��s personal favourite from the latter, happens to be the Bulgari Hotel in Bali. a�?What I value most is the amazing mix of tranquil location and traditional Balinese style with dramatic contemporary Italian design,a�? he concludes.
From Rs.2,00,000 for the watches and `10,00,000 for the jewellery. Details: 011 40538623