Steeped with Flavors

Cooking is a labor of love. And the Grand Hotel, at M.G. Road in Cochin adheres to the adage completely.  People come in flocks and the wait is worth the great food.

Once you do get a seat, the laughter and banter from other tables is inescapable. But what one gravitates towards is the explosion of scents from the searing chicken sizzler and steaming mutton soup. The brown-parchment-like menu has wide ranging options – sure to leave you confused!

The walls are well adorned with images of the sea, Chinese nets, and coconut trees. Every table has a complimentary cane basket of crispy papadams fried in oil. The waiters are all prompt and ever ready to serve – their shoe heels always ready to click on the floor.

The fish fingers served here is a delightful appetizer. It is crispy yet fluffy and is taken to a whole new level with the subtle tanginess of tartar sauce. The naans are soaked in buttery goodness. Heavens await when you dip it into the bowl of fiery red chilly chicken curry. The rice is ghee-infused and the yolk when mixed, gives it a thick yellow sheen. The palak paneer is an earthy green color and you can cross off “HEALTHY” from your list (not really). The chilly garlic noodles wrapped around the fork needs an essay to describe how it kisses your cheeks and forces you to make room in your stomach.

The menu offers everything and caters to everyone’s palate. This restaurant not only gives you a memory but an experience. It sure does its name justice- GRAND!

Words by Rekha Joly
Photographs from Various Internet Sources

Kaffeehaus: Taste of Switzerland

A little away from the busy Annie Mascarene Square in Vazhuthacaud, Trivandrum is a Swiss surprise for all those who would like some comfort European food and a quiet time. The little café welcomes you with a ‘menu board’ – a rustic blackboard with the menu etched in chalk. Typical of vintage cafes, this menu board may confuse us for a minute because the names aren’t what we’re used to – they do have iced teas and cappuccinos, but our eyes wander to ‘Matterhorn’, Birchermusli’, ‘Rosti’, and ‘Fondue’. The friendly staffs are quick to our aid and guide us through each authentic Swiss dish, pausing even to share an anecdote or two.

Matterhorn is a classic warm brownie with ice cream glazed with a sour strawberry sauce. The brownie is not overtly sweet and is balanced by the slight tanginess of the sauce. An occasional bite of walnut works well to enhance the flavours. Rosti is of the breakfast fritter family – it’s a potato based savoury pancake, nicely seasoned and not-over cooked. The chocolate fondue is the highlight of Kaffeehaus, served on a tiny stove to keep it molten and warm, as it should be. Dip the cut fresh fruits into the chocolate and you’ll forget all else! There’s also grilled sandwiches served with chips and sauce for the less experimental palate.

The most appealing factor of Kaffeehouse is its simplicity and elegance, the apt location away from the traffic, and food that is served nowhere else in the city. Anyone looking for a get together with friends along with some good food, this place is a must try.

The walls of this cute little bistro are themed white and red, in homage to the Swiss flag. If you have a good time here, take a selfie and pin it on the wall!

Upper Crust: For an Elegant Palate

A quiet patisserie on a busy road, Upper Crust is the Supreme Group’s premium café in Trivandrum. The welcome board makes you smile – “When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave them wondering how you did it.” The interior of the café has many such quirky little quotes, neatly framed in brown wood. The bottle green drapes and dark oak-wood tables are well accentuated by the metal lamps subtly hanging overhead. The delicate glow of yellow bulbs makes evenings at Upper Crust perfect for couples. The team is all smiles as they welcome you into the cozy little space – an undisturbed time is guaranteed by the courteous staff.

The artisan café offers a wide variety of baked goods, some of which are exclusive. The French Travel with Dates and Walnut is a version of pound cake spiked with light spices. The Fudge Cake is light, yet rich and the delectable Chocolato is an impeccable combination of sponge cake, mascarpone, and French cream. Their breads are exquisite and of wide variety. Epi Loaf is a braided bread with a millet base and soft crust, whereas the focaccia has carefully chosen fillings to enhance butter dough base. They serve the breads warm, and a heavenly smell fills the air as you break the crust.

The restaurant also has on menu carefully picked main course that will make your visit truly memorable. Their pastas have a common base flavour of oregano, olive oil, black olives, and crushed pepper, but differ in sauce choice. Penne Arrabiata has a spicy tomato sauce flavoured with garlic, olive oil, smoked red chilli pepper, and imported parmesan cheese. Macaroni Alfred is tossed in white béchamel sauce with crushed white pepper, garlic, and two kinds of cheese. Along with Classic Grilled Chicken, Mediterranean Grill which has a pinkish marinade and Scandinavian Grill in green pesto rub are also hits.

The menu is select and the food is carefully curated to grant the visitors a delightful experience. The café is located on the Pattom-Kowdiar road and we at Cream Life give all five stars to this wonderful little place!

 

Culinary Panache: The Asian Kitchen by Tokyo Bay

 

Even a lazy breeze in Fort Kochi is laden with the scent of spices and the streets awaken with the lull of sea. The abandoned synagogues and vintage shops offer a truly unique experience to visitors. The hoard of restaurants and cafés brew the charm of the ancient port city. To add to the charm is The Asian Kitchen by Tokyo Bay, a fine dining restaurant offering South Asian specialties. Located in the premises of the legendary Cochin Club at Fort Kochi, its tranquil ambience is perfect for families and young couples. Hospitality venture of Baby Marine International, a sea food monarch in Kochi, the Asian Kitchen features delicacies from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mainland China, and of  course, Japan. K.C Ninan and his sons George Ninan and Alex Ninan were extremely focused and particular regarding the services before inviting their Japanese friends to start this fantastic restaurant.

The authentic array of dishes is exquisitely presented and the freshness of each ingredient is commendable. Sushi rolls, a new experience for the seafood loving Malayalis, are bright pink with thinly sliced tuna and filled with aromatic white rice. The platters are innovative and diverse in taste and presentation. The ambience needs special mention – a typical Kerala tharavadu model serving pan-Asian cuisine is truly remarkable.  

According to Roopa George, partner of The Asian kitchen, “Over the years, we have enjoyed great support, loyalty and continued patronage from our customers. And in turn, we are committed to continuously upgrading ourselves and providing great food, impeccable service and a memorable dining experience to all our guests.” Adding flavor to her words, the happy customers admit to their exceptionally brilliant hospitality and taste which makes the hours spent there memorable and splendid. To add, The Asian Kitchen is the first Japanese restaurant in Kerala.

 

 

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