Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Wine from a prestigious estate in the heart of Bordeaux and a three Michelin-starred chef come with very high expectations and of course, a very high price tag. I signed up for a dinner at the Leela Palace Hotel in Bengaluru recently and expected to be blown away that evening. I have to remind you all that Alain Passard owns and operates the restaurant Arpege in Paris which has three Michelin stars and is VEGETARIAN!

The reception at the Leela was regal and warm. We were offered Champagne and vegetarian Hors d'oeuvres at the Lobby bar where we had the opportunity to meet and greet the other guests for the evening. A little while later, we were led across the porch of Leela to the Banquet hall with rose petals strewn over us.

We were seated in predetermined tables and given some time to say hello to the other occupants of the table and get to know each other before we moved on to the five course dinner.

We were greeted by Mr.Sanjay Menon who is a successful wine importer and educator from Mumbai, followed by the CEO of Chateau Margaux. We were to taste 5 different wines from different years along with the five courses of our dinner.

White Arlequin in Himalayan honey and candied lemon
*Pavillon blanc 2009

Tomato and Blackberry "a la fourchette"
*Pavillon rouge 2004

Red roasted Onion in hibiscus sauce, red carrot Orange mousseline
*Chateau Margaux 1999

This dish was undoubtedly the star of the evening. It tasted amazingly good and went to show how a Michelin starred chef can turn a humble onion into a hero. No wonder I licked my plate clean! All you Onion-haters out there, you are missing out on something BIG!!!

Celerisotto with black Perigord Truffle
*Chateau Margaux 1989

Unlike what we expected from the name of the dish, this course did not have any rice in the risotto. It was a risotto made with finely chopped celeriac in a creamy sauce and shaved truffle on top. I have to admit that the flavour of the truffle was very mild and disappointing. A good drizzle of truffle oil would have done a much better job in adding flavour to the dish instead of the fresh truffle on top.

Avocado souffle with chocolate and pistachio
*Chateau Margaux 2003

The final and least impressive of the courses was the dessert. The organisers did mention that they were having trouble with getting the 70 odd souffles set on time to be served to the guests at the same time. But that does not justify serving a dessert that was not completely set. Also the flavour of the pistachio was over-powering and left me rather disappointed.

Overall, the food and wine at the dinner did not meet my expectations. But the evening on its own, was a wonderful experience. I had the privilege of sitting next to a famous and award-winning chef and also a talented writer was seated in our table along with some of my dear friends. Would I sign up for another evening like this? Yes, I would.