Neelam and I decided we needed to give ourselves a treat, spend some quality time together and generally unwind, so we headed back to Vista for the brunch last sunday. Had the foresight to make a reservation the previous day and specify a sea view table -- there is an elevated section on the side which not only boasts of the view but also has the live band and arguably better service.
We ordered Mojitos to start with, and while they were being manufactured we ambled up to the salads and cold cuts. The first impact was the awsome variety, the sheer number of items. Which was quickly followed by another shock (pleasant one, of course), the realization that each and every item is sheer exotica, be it the Prosciutto Wrapped Melon or the Roast Pepper Wrapped King Prawns or the Mixed Seafood Sushi. Or for that matter the half-dozen each variety of hams and cheeses, each from a different geography, ably supported by a whole bunch of salamis and other cold meats. Or the supremely fresh and chilled rock oysters, each with smooth full meat, served with 6 different types of seasonings -- a compelling reason, if one were needed, to have at least 6 oysters!
The Mojitos finally came, a bit slow but very well made, not too sweet, not too strong and not at all (as often happens in an unlimited alcohol buffet) watered down. By this time we were almost done with the salads, so we went down for the next round -- dimsums. Prawn, chicken, and veg -- all excellent. So good, in fact, that we quickly returned for a second helping, and I took advantage of the trip to grab another bunch of stuff from the cold stage, it was just too tempting!
Knowing from past experience that the grills take time, we ordered our choices before returning to the table. Neelam opted for lamb chops while I asked for the sausage (I have a serious weakness for sausages, ask Jharna!). And that's when we made another brilliant discovery -- nestled amidst the conti side main course dishes were the Bacon Wrapped King Prawns. As Ms. Shilpa Shetty would say, SUPERB!
Oh, and did I tell you, we had also asked for a pepperoni pizza, and it landed up incredibly thin-based and crispy and delicious, tho' perhaps just a wee bit oily for our taste, and of course much too large -- for the buffets they must cut down the size from 12 inches to 8, we had to waste most of it .
The grills arrived now, the lamb chops were divine, and the sausages were -- guess what -- flavoured with fresh mint ground in with the meat, the combination tasted like out of this world, full marks. We switched drinks now, Neelam wanted something sweeter so a strawberry daiquari arrived -- of course, with the true Taj touch of luxury, made entirely with fresh strawberries, pieces and crush. I went back to my Bacardi-Coke, nothing much you can do with that!
So these were the starters, and boy, with starters like these, who can even look at the main courses? But we soldiered on, and very glad we did, else we would have missed the Nalli Stew, which was just amazing, delicately spiced but still flavoursome, cooked to perfection with the meat falling off the bone. Heaven on Earth!
The main course dishes also reminded us that sometimes it rains even in paradise. The kadhi was too thick and not tangy enough, and the dahi vadas could have been a mite softer, and poor things must have been feeling lost without imli chutney on the side. And the rest of the food did not rise sufficently high to be able to tempt us to try after all that we had already eaten, even the Gosht Biryani which I usually love and seldom go.
And time now to talk abouut the sweet things. There were several -- not just to eat, but also to hear and see. The live music was what would is presently called "retro", but that is what we grew up with, and we were very happy to sing along with the crooner -- under our breaths, I assure you! I think this is the typical Taj coffee shop music thing, I remember Stella used to sing the same genre at the Machan in Delhi , and likewise the duo who played at Shamiana in Mumbai. Incidentally, I believe that our Landsend Lady (I could not get her name) is probably the best singer of the lot.
And the sweet things to see, particularly, were a couple of little kids, a boy maybe 18 months and his sister maybe 3 years old, so cute and well behaved and curious but silent. And plenty of other families and parties and groups, adding life to the place without getting loud or crowded. In other words, a wonderfully warm, family, sunday afternoon type of atmosphere.
Let me gloss over the desserts, since they were all spectacular,; let me mention just two that stood out head and shoulders over the rest. One was the Champagne Jelly, something that I never had before, and having had it now, I strongly feel that it must figure in everbody's bucket list (i.e., they must have it at least once before they kick the bucket). And the other is the rose chocolate, richly flavoured and shaped and coloured to resemble the petals of the flower.
So we had a great time, like I said at the beginning, everything came together beautifully, thank you Taj, and even the wee bit at the end, when we said Hi to Emanuel and Radhika at the adjacent table, and out of the blue they paid us a compliment that will warm our hearts for ever and ever.
PS: (Statutory Disclaimer) This review contains Neelam's and my personal views. Taj did not know that I write, and I myself paid for the meal (through my nose!) .