What does it take to get seven ambassadors under one roof on an extremely warm Saturday morning? The answer is French food. Ambassadors from Chile, Georgia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Taiwan, Turkey and Czech Republic, besides French Ambassador Alexandre Zeigler himself, bonded over a brunch of macarons, croissants and quiches at Noida’s Max Towers last weekend to mark the launch of La Opera’s biggest cafe in NCR.
Even though this is their 16th outlet in Delhi, and 17th in the country (including one in Dehradun), this is their most spacious cafe with 52 covers and 1,500 sq ft space, offering all-day breakfast and coffee options at the lobby level of the newly built office complex. The menu includes quick bites such as Croque Monsieur (made with in-house bread and filled with béchamel sauce, ham and cheese), Vol au Vent, salads, granola, Onion and Tomato Tarts with goat cheese and of course, signature pastries and macarons. There is also an array of cold soups, cold pressed juices, freshly brewed coffee, teas and infusions.
But the highlight of the outlet is a selection of vegan desserts, which is a first for the eight-year-old French enterprise. Kazem Samandari, Founder of La Opera, says, “Healthier living and veganism are trends that we want to support through our vegan range. One of the specialities of French cuisine is its ability to adapt to trends while keeping its authenticity intact.”
On a lighter note, Samandari adds, the vegan menu — comprising a dozen varieties of pastries, besides soups, salads and beverages — was prompted by his own granddaughter who recently turned vegan. “Also, my friend, former Brazilian ambassador to India, Tovar da Silva Nunes, would ask me about vegan options when he visited La Opera,” he says. The extensive vegan menu combines a demand for eggless desserts in India and a worldwide trend towards veganism.
Samandari entrusted noted Paris-based chef Gilles Maisonneuve, who was called to India for 15 days, to create the menu without comprising on taste and presentation, and to train the in-house chefs.
Maisonneuve says, “The Samandari family was very clear about what they wanted and after a few trials and tastings, we started to get it right. For our vegan range, we are using margarine that is mainly made of refined vegetable oil and water instead of butter and water, and fruit juice instead of cream and milk.”
An extensive vegan menu will be launched in September, says Samandari, with a dozen or more pastries and equal number of savouries. He says, “All the vegan items will be introduced across all our outlets in due course, beginning September to coincide with Navratras.” There is also a plan to launch vegan macarons, if all goes well.
The menu is available in Noida, at French style Salon de Thé, which is fitted with Louis XVI-style furniture in wood and marble top tables, a la Paris. Another highlight of the cafe are seven brass figurative sculptures by South African artist Ruhan Janse Van Vuuren, installed by Max Towers.
Even though they had opened a small outlet at Noida’s DLF Mall of India, they have shut it down since they wanted to offer an experience, and not products. With the expansion of a vegan menu, the group plans a wider reach across Delhi and NCR as well, with six more outlets by the end of this year.
Address: Max Towers, Ground Floor, Sector 16-B, near DND flyover, Noida. Contact: 9650090943; Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm