When it comes to culinary habits and trends,this is a city of favourites,where popular dishes always find their way into restaurant menus. Think on the lines of murg malai tikka or its paneer variant,or honey chicken,pasta in white sauce,butter chicken and paneer masala you get the drift. Experimentation in the restaurant kitchen is frowned upon unless ones putting together a timed food festival that will soon be replaced with,yes,the popular favourites.
So news of Virgin Courtyard coming up with a special vegetarian menu as an ode to World Vegetarian Day (October 1) in association with the People For Animals (PFA) got us salivating in anticipation. For one,the restaurant with a breezy Mediterranean feel is well-known for being authentic in its preparations and also the fact that Chef Hari has a penchant for innovation,given that he practises molecular gastronomy. Payal Sodhi of PFA Chandigarh says that it takes 11 kgs of foodgrains to produce one kg of meat,and all-vegetarian menus like these can go a long way in giving the vegetarian fare an equal chance.
So lugging a hungry belly,we arrived for an early lunch and eagerly reached for the special menu. Dont be fooled by the single page listing; each course presents a mini selection of Italian vegetarian dishes and you realise the chef has researched this well and hasnt just pulled the meats out of an existing dish.
For starters,it was a traditional soup presented with a platter of assorted ravioli with ricotta,which the chef has aptly called Ritual of Ricotta. This is a must try. We particularly liked the way the chef surprised us by dressing grapes in desiccated coconut,and the pesto served with homemade bread was well-done. Also,by the looks of the dishes,it was hard to tell the all-vegetarian ingredients. I want to shatter the misconception that vegetarian food cant be exciting and this was the perfect opportunity to show it, said the chef.
In the main course,you should happily settle for the Cannelloni. The creamy texture of the tomato and saffron sauce,and the marriage of the cylindrical pasta stuffed with vegetables is delightful. Though the dishes will fill you up,its advisable to save up space for dessert. The banana pizza aims at the child in all of us and isnt as gooey as it sounds. But for us,the Orange panacotta was the perfect ending to a meal where the meats were definitely not missed. Though the food promotion will be dished out on October 1,Chef Hari is looking to incorporate them in the forthcoming new menu of the restaurant.
Meal for two: Rs 1,500
Location: SCO 1A (Back Side),Sector 7,Chandigarh