Old World Romance

When I have the onus of planning a special occasion, I pick a restaurant from a very limited and well-curated list & The Orient Express at the Taj Palace Diplomatic Enclave is a viable contender for the top spot on that list. 
Based on the same train that plays the protagonist in Agatha Christie’s 1934 bestseller, This European restaurant has been around for as long as I can remember. The child in me has always found the novel idea of sitting in a train-like set up in a hotel very intriguing and the adult in me goes back for the sheer technique the gastronomy showcases here.
Since I got married at the Taj Palace and my then fiancée’s birthday was a month before the D-day, Orient Express felt like a natural choice to bring his birthday in. The attention to the smallest details was more than impressive and the fact that every single dish presented to us was exquisite made it one of the most memorable evenings of my life. That’s what this restaurant does, it has the natural ability to add charm to any occasion and create a memory that can last you a lifetime. With personal touches like Monogrammed napkins every time you dine there to fulfilling special requests with a pleasing attitude (off the menu items like non-alcoholic champagne) to impeccable white glove service in style, this restaurant fulfils every point in a how to plan a romantic dinner date checklist.

We opted for a four-course meal and right from the beginning, I knew we were in for a treat with the delicate boulangerie selection (the baby croissants are my favourite) with an authentic chicken liver paté and a yoghurt dip that paled in comparison to the pâté. What followed was an amuse bouche and then our first course. For our entrées, my fiancé picked the crab meat salad with avocado and a citrus emulsionwhile I had the warm asparagus mille-feuille with a red onion compote and hollandaise. Both our dishes were subliminal, where the crab was probably the best we’ve had at a non-coastal place, the asparagus was juicy and not white and wilted like the asparagus you get at most places. When it came to the mains, he opted for the sea bass while I ordered for my eternal favourite – Lamb chops. The sea bass was nice and citrusy and had a surprising punch to it. Now, the technique a restaurant showcases in its cooking of a good cut of meat is a huge deciding factor when it comes to the success of a restaurant. When my dish came, I found the lamb too rare, now that’s just my preference because of my decidedly Indian palate. Once re-sent, the Lamb came out perfect and was well done, just how I like it.

The desserts were the only aspect of my meal that left me a tad underwhelmed. The warm chocolate pudding was essentially a chocolate fondant with a molten centre and even though the quality of chocolate was exceptional (I expect nothing less), the dessert was run of the mill. The real disappointment though, in spite of it being highly recommended by the server was the bitter chocolate mousse. The mousse wasn’t airy and delicate and didn’t really have much going for it. I would probably miss out on this one next time.
All in all, I can’t wait for another special occasion and another memorable evening at this restaurant. Indulging on their 80’s inspired candy floss idea of love and romance, right from the private booths in a train to the fresh red roses, the regal crockery and cutlery and the classic French techniques meted out to good quality produce. Please don’t undergo a facelift anytime soon; some classics need to remain just that – classics.


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