Sunday The Leela Way!

Sunday Brunch at Spectra, The Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon

I have enjoyed food at The Leela Kempinski umpteen times; at Spectra (way too often), the lovely Diya and the fabulous Zanotta but I had never had the Sunday Brunch there before. Having been intrigued by how hotels were going all out to woo parents on Sunday afternoons, I was told this was an experience not to be missed.

To begin with, the food at Spectra is always good, whether you try the buffet (Lunch and Dinner only on Wednesdays) or a la carte, I am yet to be disappointed. So I was truly looking forward to the experience (which I rarely do in a city like Gurgaon!). The food was a wee bit more extravagant I must say and I presume it was so because it was a Sunday (I went the very next Sunday as well with a dear friend and the lineup was actually a little different, so points for that too!). They have a lovely selection of counters – salads & cold cuts, grills (Indian and Continental), Asian, Indian and killer desserts.

Start with the salads; the tenderloin salad is lovely, the Greek one with feta is alive and fresh, and the seafood one has the freshest squid this side of town. You can also choose from a variety of seafood like crab claws, octopus (yep!), fresh, big prawns, scampi and oysters. This is a Sunday thing because as far as I remember other days the selection was limited to everything but oysters and octopus. This is also the counter where you can pick up a pretty platter of great sushi! After this I suggest you take a break and if you have opted for the sparkling wine brunch, then sip on a glassful and enjoy some conversation. Next stop is the Continental station where I love the Chilli Con Carne, the olive and pearl onion skewers and the Lamb Picatta (which I love making at home and you know how food always tastes better when someone else cooks).

There was a beautiful display of whole roast chickens which were served to our table, carved and ready to be devoured. Do not miss the grills, which is why I was glad I had just a few bites of everything by the time I reached here. Live grills are exciting and the dish turns out just right, mainly because it has been marinated very well and not charred to oblivion just to be cooked through. Loved the lamb chops here and enjoyed a very interesting sizzler of prawns and mushrooms, served sizzling to the table. This is when we decided to languish over a couple of mojito’s and take in some of the view. That is an advantage Spectra has over any other coffee shop in the city, it overlooks the only lush patch we have left.

Next station was Indian where the Biryani is always good and I am glad that day it was lamb considering I don’t believe chicken in rice is biryani, its a pulao. The curries were heavy but heavenly, much like how Awadhi food tends to be. The breads were straight out of the tandoor, so I just had to have a garlic naan because I can’t bear the injustice of not having freshly made Indian breads. The vegetarian selections at the Indian counter are very good too, so vegetarians take heed, there is plenty of choice at Spectra! Then, please find a way to make room for the Asian counter or you will regret you didn’t because they always have the Peking Duck, which by the way, I rarely have as a roll (though the ever attentive staff will see you eying it and come ahead to make rolls to send to your table!), here is how I do it – little jasmine rice, fried pork if there is, dark soy and wondrous slices of the Peking Duck, soul satisfying stuff! This counter usually has a vegetarian Thai curry, curried prawns, steamed fish in a soy gravy and a choice of rice and noodles.

Phew! Okay then, comes another break, some chit chat, a stroll to check on the kids, yes, you heard me right, there is a whole separate section for kids. With balloon art, tattoo artist and even board games, there are cartoons playing and comfy couches for moms and dads to hang out for a bit. So grab a break with the bacchas and then head back for dessert. Wonderful dessert selection, from Indian mithai to English bread and butter pudding but the best of the lot is the Mud cake, the coffee ice cream, the peach tart and the hot chocolate and walnut pudding. A part of me is a bit ashamed to admit that I had all this stuff and yet managed to make it to my car without having to be carried, but you know that’s what Sundays are about. Three hour brunches, good wines or great cocktails, friends, family and full on fun!

Quick footnote: If you are over the age of 35 and a lover of good music, you are going to get very nostalgic and have double the fun because the music at Spectra is almost designed to make you want to stay and eat more and definitely drink even more!

Parul Pratap Shirazi

Parul is a trained Chef, professional food stylist, cook, food blogger and social media strategist. She loves grapes in her salad.