Restaurant Review: Sscence in Delhi
Global cuisine is the essence at the Sscence fine-diner at a south Delhi five-star hotel that is celebrating its first anniversary with a month-long...
New Delhi: Global cuisine is the essence at the Sscence fine-diner at a south Delhi five-star hotel that is celebrating its first anniversary with a month-long festival of Indian food.
What's more, the 140-cover eatery at the Suryaa Hotel in Friends Colony is perhaps the only one in the national capital where you can actually see what you are ordering - thanks to its tablet-based menu in 15 sections.
"We've presented images of the food as it will be served to the guests. We did not involve any professional photographers," Executive Chef Sanjay Bahl, the hotel's director for food and beverages, told IANS.
And what a pleasing sight it turned out to be as I let my imagination run wild, starting with a cold appetiser of a platter of meats from Britain, Germany and Spain, as also prunes from California.
This was followed by a chilled gazpacho - a classic Spanish soup of tomatoes, fresh cucumber and bell peppers.
One was really spoilt for the main course. Should it be lamb shank tagine (Moroccan lamb stew with couscous, samneh and ras-el-hanout), barbeque pork ribs (Brazilian-style pork ribs with Chablis poached apple and corn bread), New Zealand lamb chop or Norwegian pink salmon?
"We import all our meats and other condiments to ensure we get it just right," Bahl said, interrupting my reverie.
There is much also on offer for dessert and to name just two, my vote would go to either Varhlona chocolate mousse (50 percent Varhlona mousse and milk chocolate mousse served with Bailey's sorbet) or mint and chocolate opera (a combination of mint mousse, chocolate and almond slice).
Needless to say there's a variety of Indian fare to please the most discerning palate and a selection of this will be showcased during the Indian food festival running through all of February.
"We started with delectable Awadh cuisine from the first to the seventh and rounded it off with a masterclass by Chef Arif Qureshi, whose great grandfather is credited with fashioning Lucknow's world-famous Tunde kabab," Bahl said.
"This week (Feb 8-13), we are serving up Punjabi fare, followed by Shahjahanabad ki sair (Feb 15-21), on the conclusion of which there will be a cooking class by Nazish Jalali, who belongs to Rampur and knows all the intricacies of that city and old Delhi.
There will be a Kayasth Food Festival (Feb 22-27) while Feb 28 has been set aside for a talk by eminent food critic Anoothi Vishal.
In between, there will be a special celebration of these four cuisines on Feb 14, the first anniversary.
Sscence, in fact, is the reincarnation of two outlets - Le Cafe and 7 (serving seven Indian cuisines) on the hotel's lobby level.
"We wanted to take that experience to the next level and hence Ssence, which is both a coffee shop and a fine-diner," explained Bahl, who took some three months to craft the menu.
The other explanation could be found in the vase-shaped water dispenser on the table that had a full lemon inside.
"The water gradually absorbs the essence of the lemon and gives it just the right amount of tanginess," said Bahl, who joined New Delhi's Oberoi School of Hotel Management in 1987 and has previously been with the Oberoi in Mumbai, at New Delhi's Park and Radisson hotels, as also with a Dubai fine-diner, before moving to the Surya in 2013.
Sscence is open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
* The festival buffet would cost Rs.1,750 per person plus taxes (minus alcohol).
* Also on offer is a Sunday bubbly brunch with unlimited sparkling wines and select cocktails (Rs.2,800) and a Sunday (non-alcoholic) brunch (Rs.1,950).
* The menu suggested above would cost Rs.2,900/Rs.3,800 (lamb chop)/Rs.3,080 (salmon) plus taxes (without alcohol).