review : a relaxed lunch at Amreli, Diplomat Hotel ; a wonderful Indian Bistro menu designed by Chef Sabyasachi Gorai

Hotel Diplomat is about 10 minutes drive from home and we got an an extended weekend when we were not traveling. We decided to hop to the newly launched Amreli, the Indian Bistro at the Hotel Diplomat whose concept and menu is designed by Chef Sabyasachi Gorai. I have been a fan of Saby's work, he infuses his passion for arts on his plate and the food transforms into an experience well cherished.

I have been to Hotel Diplomat a few times when it used to house the erstwhile Olive Beach, once the occasion was special when a few blogger friends met the celebrity Chef George Columbaris of Masterchef Australia fame, the other time we went for and early dinner with a few friends. The menu even then was by Chef Saby but very different from what it is at Amreli. The ambiance is still the same, wide open spaces for al fresco dining, lush green lawns, comfortable cane chairs and sofas and a wood fired oven turned into an art installation in one corner.

Saby took us to a tour of the kitchen, the pantry and the dining areas and I was amazed to see such efficient use of space. Indoor dining areas give very different vibes, upscale kitsch decor with unique wooden log stools for seating niches, walls lined with paintings of all genres, a quite bar in one corner and a smaller dining room with a library theme wall paper. Many conversation pieces to be found here, I enquired and got to know that the owner of this property is an avid collector. No wonder.

Our chilled beer was already finished and we started with the Diplomat Caesar salad with chicken and bacon and loads of grated Parmesan. Crisp mixed lettuce, batons of Zuchhini and all the cheese was really good. I would have liked the chicken in smaller bites but the taste was good. Jalapeno cheese naan turned out to be quite a big portion for starters but the taste was good, I was actually expecting miniature naans but these were super thin cracker like naans served with chutneys.

Char grilled mushrroms stuffed with jalapeno and cheddar was good too, served with a portion of slaw and green chutney. But the absolute winner was the Crispy Filo wrap naan. I was not ordering it thinking it will be too heavy on flaky pastry but the pastry was very thin and the filling was very flavourful and generous. Good value for the calories consumed. Loved it totally.

While we talked about the pretty ceramic ware and cutlery, the mains were served. We had chosen Sole meen moily, Chettinad chicken and Appams and patted our own back for making the right choice for the day. Meen moily was very creamy coconut curry with fish rightly cooked, spices mild, just the way we like it. Chettinad chicken was a bit more creamy and milder on spice quotient than expectation but tasted really good. Not authentic but tasting great, fine tuned for a wider acceptability I understand.  

The Appams were the cherry on the cake. So soft, spongy and melt in the mouth type, dusted with Milagipodi these appams would make you overeat but we had no scope for that.

I loved the colorful ceramic ware, innovative plating and attentive service. I had seen the Anda paratha being plated for some other guests in the kitchen, it was plated on a jute weaved manji ( a small cot like stool), Chef Saby's creativity is admirable.

Oh there were more cherries on the cake, actually the desserts of different types. Saby was testing an apple pie recipe that day and I liked the innovation in it, it has cashews and raisins along with apples, topped with ice cream and drizzled with caramel. Too rich an indulgence but tasting good. I tasted one bite of all of these. Chef Amit Naithani had sent a few more desserts to try.

I don't like New York cheesecake much but this one was made well. Even chocolate is not my favourite but Death by Chocolate was really well made. My favourite was the Creme brulee set in a miniature frying pan, the crust perfectly crackling and the custard so good, topped with a flame browned marshmallow.

We took another round of the kitchen after finishing our relaxed meal. Admired Saby's creative ideas a little more and made him pose against a rattan wood installation.

 He is the most charming person you would meet if you do. His idea of totally Indian Petit fours is amazing. An assortment of sesame brittle (til ki chikki), peanut brittle (mungphali chikki) miniature coconut laddoos (narkel nadu) and such things make interesting small bites.

 Such a diverse menu that includes Indian food suited for anall day dining bistro, some European dishes to cater to the foreign guests frequenting the diplomatic enclave and a few fusion elements to create interest. I found the food value for money too.

Thanking Saby for his time and his food that will take me back to Amreli frequently. That it is so close to home is a blessing.