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Despite the increasing interest in Japanese cuisine among food connoisseurs in India, there is no denying the stronghold that Chinese and Italian foods have among the masses.
After all, a good bowl of pasta is as hearty as it is sophisticated. And exploring this fondness for the cuisine is Le Meridien, Gurgaon’s latest Bella Cucina. With a name that translates to ‘beautiful kitchen’, the restaurant aims to provide for a true-blue Italian experience, complete with high ceiling and large windows, flamboyant coloured seating, walls adorned with vintage photos, and a beautiful kitchen right in the middle of it all with a gorgeous Molteni at the heart of it. A Molteni, for the uninitiated, is a legend in premium stoves, and adorns a place of envy in most renowned restaurants around the world. No two Moltenis are the same as they are specially crafted according to the chef’s needs.
This got us really excited and, as expected, our first treat was really good. A basket of freshly baked breads with olives was served with the most amazing Mushroom Cappuccino we have had till date. A combination of three types of mushrooms and a drizzle of shaved olives, it was a perfect melange of mushroom and cappuccino foam. We then moved on to salads and as recommended by Chef Amit Kumar, we opted for the Compressed Beetroot with Goat Cheese Snow and the Smoked Chicken with Avocado Mousse.
Now, we are hard core non-vegetarians but for the first time a vegetarian dish got us swooning. The jelly-like beetroot cubes and arugula was refreshing. The goat cheese ‘snow’ added a nice touch as it kept the dish light (we prefer it more than the chunks now). The non-vegetarian Smoked Chicken salad failed to impress.
But our disappointment did not last long as we soon tucked into their Garlic and Spinach Risotto and believe us, it is out of this world! It definitely finds a spot in our must-have list. The Braised Pork Belly that followed was good but the sauce lacked complexity and a hint of sweetness. In seafood, we tried the Prawn Ravioli and we are happy to say it was faultless, bringing a beaming smile to our face. We enjoyed the prawn bits inside the pasta, doused in bisque foam, with baby tomatoes on the side.
Since, we were at an Italian place, we couldn’t ignore the pizzas, so we went ahead with a Truffle Mushroom and Pepperoni. Full points to them for the wood-oven pizza – it was hot and just the perfect texture and thickness and since it’s an open kitchen, it was fun watching the chef preparing it from scratch. While the pepperoni was really good we couldn’t warm up to the vegetarian pizza as it lacked flavour. But one can’t complain much when it was an evening filled with good food and good wine. We paired our dishes with a Saint Clair Premium Pinot Noir and a Trapiche ‘Oak Cask’ Malbec.
And even though all that food was enough to last us a week, but no meal is complete without dessert. Our last order was the Classical Tiramisu. The flavour and the fluffy mousse was spot on but we didn’t enjoy the chocolate-espresso centre.