Vivanta by Taj on MG Road has been the site of a few mediocre meals over the last 2-3 years, and I don’t generally have it on my top list of places to dine. However, all that changed recently, with the introduction of the new menu at Graze, under the capable and talented hands of Chef Gaurav Paul. Apart from his clear passion for food and cooking, and his use of fresh and unique combinations, that this was a man with vision and a talent for creating interesting and innovative flavors came through early on in our evening. The new Italian focus menu is not vast, but it is delightful! There is a fair amount of attention paid to vegetarian dishes, and of course, for meat eaters, the choices are more. We saw couples, families celebrating a birthday, travelers from foreign shores and business meetings occurring in the mellow surroundings, and with the fine collection of wines that are on offer, you can be assured of a lovely meal at Graze.
Chef got us started with what turned out to be, for both of us, the star dish of the evening. Seafood tempura, tempura fried assorted seafood, pommery basil aioli, lemon (INR 550) featured tiger prawns, calamari, John Dory and mussels and the tempura treatment made it lighter and crunchier than a regular batter coating. I would say this is a do not miss if you like seafood – you will crunch and munch your way to happiness, just like we did! Alongside this, to assuage my conscience (nah, in truth, because I love salads!) we ordered the Fig salad (INR 450), which had red wine and spices poached figs, mesclun, and fig jam. I found the spiced figs a tad overpowering, but it was a nice salad with generous shavings of Manchego cheese. Next up was chef’s version of mushroom soup (INR 350), cappuccino styled – served in a cup with truffle oil and milk foam and with all the delightful earthiness of mushroom intact. After quibbling over this (for the sake of sanity and stomach, we requested single servings of everything – sometimes, it can come to haunt one, such requests!) as we had the seafood platter, we listened with interest to Chef’s main course selections and settled on Duck confit risotto (INR 650) which was garnished with arugula leaves and a port reduction for moi, and for the fish loving companion, Panzerotti – salmon and lobster filled pasta, bisque and mascarpone sauce (INR 650). Salmon and lobster as a combination was a new one on me, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the two flavors married; who’d have thunk it! This was one course where each was happy with our own selection and decorum presided!
Dessert we could not decide on. I mean, Tiramisu, served with espresso ice cream, savoiardi and Chef’s ‘secret’ ingredient – no I won’t give it away, had to be tried, especially after Chef told us his was a different take on this must-have-on-the-menu Italian treat, but given my inability to endure the smell/taste of coffee, it was also something I would leave to my dinner companion to eat on his own! Deciding to indulge our collective sweet tooth to the hilt, we then proceeded to make our way through the assorted dessert platter Chef Gaurav presented us: citrus and almond semifreddo (my pick of the lot), banana and white chocolate mousse, pistachio dacquise, and pistachio ice cream (all desserts are INR 400 each). Chef experiments with different ice creams, so make sure to ask your server what’s on offer when you visit. We had a very charming time and I am planning on heading back soon with another friend who I know will love the food. If you happen to visit in the meantime, let us know what you thought! I for one, am very happy to have Chef Gaurav in town – the new Chef in town is bringing some fun and innovation to the food at Graze!