Thursday, April 3, 2014

World On Your Platter! Ssence at the Suryaa Hotel

(Published on the travel site 
When a newly launched restaurant is buzzing with people on a week night, you know it’s doing something right.  So when we saw world cuisine restaurant Ssence at the Suryaa Hotel being flocked by foodies of the city and tourists alike, we checked it out to know what is it that it’s doing right.

Here is the how and why of it. Ssence at the re-branded Suryaa Hotel in Delhi’s New Friends Colony spoils you for choice- with its offerings from round the world- there is Indian, Italian, American and few other specialities. 

It serves the no-brainers like the Chicken Burger, Kathi Roll, pasta in a choice of sauce, thin crust pizzas, Biryani and also the dishes for the discerning food lovers-Asparagus Champagne Risotto (Rs 945) , Lamb Shank Tagine (Rs 945) and the Vilayati Subz Masala (Rs 645).  
But the not-to-be-missed items on the menu are the quintessential Galouti Kebabs (Rs 995), the Country Corn Fed chicken Breast (Rs 1595) from the grills and Paella Mixta (Rs 1095).  Galoutis are done perfectly, corn fed chicken sumptuous and the taste of paella with sea-food will actually transport you to Spain! Vegetarians must try the Subz Galouti Kebab (Rs 945)- the Indian version of mock meat.     

While its ala-carte that’s a better choice at some restaurants, at Ssence even the buffet is elaborate and done with lot of detailing. The salads and cold cuts are displayed in refrigerated shelves, an Indian chef dishes out paapdi-chat at the live counter and there is  Teppanyaki ice-cream and must say the guy behind that counter is an expert. A must try! Ssence has made buffet lunch and dinners exciting. Chef Sanjay Bahl takes care not just of the kitchen and recipes, but has infused lot of energy in the restaurant. The result: There is never a dull moment at Ssence.  
With so many restaurants making a debut it seems India is witnessing the eating-out revolution. Most of them, be it home-grown or international, source freshest of ingredients and have hired best of chefs. Then what is it that makes you want to go back to a restaurant? It’s the impeccable service. Our table manager ensured that he pairs our wine perfectly with food and that the glass was never empty. And that’s what the service is all about for we Indians.      
With it’s luxurious yet lively ambience, Ssence is an experience! When you see your mushroom soup look exactly like a cup of Cappuccino, the tag line of the restaurant – A Culinary Showcase- actually resonates in your head. The hotel, Suryaa, has seen many restaurants come and go. We just hope this one stays! 
Lunch Buffet: Rs 1500
Dinner Buffet: Rs 1750
Chandon Sunday Brunch: Rs 2600
Avg Cost: Rs 3,000 for two people

A ROYAL HOLIDAY - Review of The Ranbanka Palace Jodhpur

It was 11’o clock in the night and I was still sitting in the restaurant, satiated with my dinner meal and enjoying the conversations with a friend, in the royal ambience. One of the waiters came in to say that we must try the jalebis whenever we are done. On this winter night when I walked up to the live-jalebi counter nineteen-year old Bhim Sen was eagerly waiting with a smile on his face even though it was well past his duty hours. I told him he could leave the counter and we can try the jalebis that were lying in the serving bowl but he insisted he would serve us freshly fried jalebisand only then he would call it a day. Such hospitality coming from a boy who was still a teenager is rare, at least for us who stay in the metro cities. The delectable and flavourful jalebis andmalpuas that he served are even more rare!  

That’s Jodhpur’s Ranbanka Palace for you..a heritage palace turned into a hotel where the staff walks that extra mile so that the guests get a taste of royalty at the palace hotel. The 70- room heritage hotel that started with 30 rooms is located ten minutes away from the Jodhpur airport. It offers magnificent view of the Umaid Bhawan Palace on one hand and blue city’s star attraction- Mehrangarh Fort- on the other.
Ranbanka Palace was built for Maharajadhiraj Ajit Singh, the younger brother of Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur. Now converted into a hotel, promoter Karanvijay Singh (popularly known in the polo circle as KV Singh) and his family stay in a wing of the palace property that also houses a small museum replete with artefacts from the bygone Rajput era, hunting trophies and luxe items. 
It’s not just the structure that makes this hotel such a delight. The hospitable staff and the way they serve all guests could easily give top hotels of the country a run for their money. And there is a reason why the service is impeccable at this heritage hotel. KV Singh’s  wife Shweta Rathore herself looks after the operations and pays attention to small details.  She tells us about the Jodhana style of service that the hotel follows.  The staff follows traditions of the blue city and they serve the guests the way the they would attend to the personal guests of the royal family. “So when my friends come here for polo match or the Sufi festival and stay at the haveli, the way my butler takes care of them, in a similar fashion the staff at Ranbanka looks after the checked-in guests,” she tells us.
Here is another reason why the stay at the Ranbanka Palace leaves an impression. The food! The sumptuous Rajasthani thali is something nobody should miss when they visit the has about eight type of local delicacies including the Rajasthani Laal Maas (mutton). Other must try items on the menu are mutton burrah that melts in your mouth and the very spicey Junglee Chicken, a speciality . But why I say the food is excellent at the hotel is because while you would expect the Indian fare to be good, they do continental and other cuisines with equal elan! Be it rustling up a Greek Salad or serving pasta or for that matter whipping up the chocolate mousse. If you have had enough of Indian spicy food, you can try the continental or Chinese safely. The staff will ensure that you try their best dishes.   
The promoter family also supports many local artisans who have become integral part of the Ranbanka culture. In the evening the place turns lively with guests enjoying local delicacies in the garden as folk dancers enthral them with their performance, while others are busy with thejootiwallahs and choodiwallahs who display their collection in the gardens. There are others who enjoy the barbeque snacks at the poolside or just opt for the lavish buffet spread...the options at the hotel galore! 
I have stayed at some newly built palace hotels across the country, while they are amazing they are after all just hotels not palaces in the real sense as they lack heritage. Ranbanka Palace still has blue blood flowing in its veins and that’s why it has a life! The best part is staying at this heritage property doesn't cost you a bomb.
Things To Know About Ranbanka Palace
-   Ranbanka Palace is located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It is classified as the ‘Classic Heritage Hotel’ by the Ministry of Tourism. 
- The average room rate is Rs 8000. It has rooms in three categories—deluxe, club rooms and suite.  
-          The hotel has a banquet hall and business centre services. It also organises lavish weddings and hosts polo matches.
-          It has restaurants, swimming pool, shopping arcade and a spa.  It also organises theme lunches, yoga classes and village safari.
-          The best time to visit Jodhpur is in winter season that is from October to February. But keep an eye on the off-season deals.
-          For reservations you can contact