ITC Grand Chola, The Leela Palace and The Westin have all opened in Chennai during the last six months. The food scene at the five star end therefore, is changing by the minute, which means that there are many more Sunday brunches to be had! This weekend we decided to try the buffet at Seasonal Tastes, at the recently opened Westin in Velachery.
The variety of food at Seasonal Tastes is stupendous! Live stations feature sushi, dimsum, gazpacho, noodles, pastas, roesti and cold stone ice cream. Salads, some cold cuts, a multi-cuisine main course buffet and an eclectic dessert buffet complete the spread on offer.
The staff are courteous and go out of their way to make your meal comfortable, which is appreciated considering that this, after all, is a buffet. We received a complimentary glass of fresh juice as a welcome drink and then made a beeline for the sushi – both nigiri (tuna and salmon) and maki. I don’t complain too much about sushi in buffets because it doesn’t make great commercial sense to include it in such a format, especially nigiri, and at Seasonal Tastes they’d included sashimi too! I just found the taste of the pickled ginger (gari) a bit odd but maybe it was just my mood due to Tendulkar’s dismissal earlier in the morning. From the salad and cold cut counter, the prune stuffed squid stole the show for me. The Gazpacho was fabulous and worked well as a cooling drink with a savory zing. There was a bit of a zing in the chicken hot pot soup as well, which was a nice blend of oriental flavors. I decided not to choose any of the add-on fruits and flavors on offer with the Gazpacho though my wife did try a portion with some orange and liked what she ate. Maybe, I am a traditionalist in such matters. The dimsum were disappointing. I don’t expect all dimsum to be crafted a la Din Tai Fung but poorly sealed casings that were falling apart definitely made these a miss amongst quite a few hits. The chicken tikka and mutton boti kabab were decent though here’s a suggestion that I have made many a times – restaurants in Chennai who want to make paneer tikka should consider making their own paneer.
In the mains section, I thought Seasonal Tastes extended themselves a little too far. They must ensure the presence of extraordinary wizards in the kitchen prior to being to pulling off a kori gassi (a chicken curry from the Mangalore area) and fish kalia (fish in thick onion gravy). The fish kalia was bit of a blend between a kalia and a shorshe fish (fish in mustard sauce); the dish did appear to be a confused one. Most of the other mains were passable per buffet standards. My roesti was slightly burnt and the bacon topping was completely burnt.
Cold stone ice cream is always a fun thing especially for the kids and it didn’t disappoint us in this instance either. The pecan pie was fabulous albeit a bit too sweet. Even the kamal ke phool which was a chhena sweet with malai topping in the shape of a lotus flower could have done with less sugar in the malai, but the chhena was perfect. The same was true of the guava crème caramel which was an interesting concept in terms of flavors but again, a mite too sweet. Um Ali was mildly sweet and along with the chocolate desserts – zuccotto and shot of chocolate with black pepper – demonstrated the variety and quality of the dessert spread, if only they were able to climb down a notch or two on the sweetness scale for a few of their creations. Fig and macadamia Napoleon with decadent crème patisserie sandwiched between crisp pastries stood out among all the other desserts, which says a lot!
At under INR 1500, this is a fabulous buffet spread, perhaps spread a little thin, which shows in some of the dishes.
Ed: Cover photo not from Seasonal Tastes, The Westin, Velachery, Chennai