Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Brunch @ Aqua, The Park, Kolkata

        It is difficult to resist the temptation of lounging by the pool al fresco, on a cool morning, curled up on a plush lounge bed (though I can hardly curl up), comforted by the soft warmth from the Winter sun. A steaming cup of rich, creamy coffee to sip on and the company of a close friend can only make it better. Add to this a delicious brunch and you have described a recent morning in my humble life. 

I was at a revamped Aqua,  the al fresco 24-hour, poolside bar and dining destination at The Park, Kolkata and the morning looked promising. Aqua was recently relaunched in a spanking new avatar as the city's
latest wine and dine hot spot. Stylishly done, the setting is stunning, especially in the evening - the pristine pool, the wooden decks, the dining deck above, the private cabanas with comfy couches and glass ceilings makes it the perfect destination for a night out with friends, a quiet drink after work or to grab some late night grub post party. But I had dropped in to sample their brunch and drenched in winter sunshine, the place has a different charm in the morning. With my friend S for company this was set to be a very good morning with the potential to wander into a lovely afternoon.

It is difficult to concentrate on conversation when distraction comes in the form of a bowl of luscious hummus and a platter of Grilled Kalaj to scoop up the hummus with - the first course of what turned out to be a fantastic meal.The Kalaj, a delightful Middle Eastern stuffed bread is nothing but pita stuffed with the deliciously salty Halloumi cheese, a semi-hard unripened brined cheese of Cypriot origin, and finely chopped fresh mint, and then grilled. The ones served to me were soft with a hint of crispy relief and generously stuffed, a worthy companion to the luscious, superbly creamy hummus I couldn't have enough of.  

The memories of the hummus was still lingering in my mouth when the next course arrived - a motley Greek salad oozing freshness, topped with generous dollops of creamy Feta. The vegetables looked fresh and crunchy and the cheese fresh and delightful. But what surprised me was the perfect poached egg nestled on the side. As I cut into the delicate poach the yolk gushed out and meandered into the salad. The crunchy peppers and cucumbers, the soft, salty feta and the luscious egg yolk - bliss. I was told that I could also opt for smoked salmon or roast chicken in my Greek Salad. Another time perhaps, for how I was happy, err eggstatic! 

At this point I felt pretty full. "But there is so much more" the chef protested. I insisted on a break. Break it was, only a basket of fresh artisan bread and a bowl of rosemary and garlic-infused, balsamic vinegar spiked extra-virgin olive oil  to dip the bread in was set on the table. Well, let's that it made for my kind of break, which however was cut short by a steaming cup of thyme-infused broth soup. I love soup in a cup, I like to sip on soup. Sip on soup...has a certain ring to it! And this cup also had cappelletti pasta (literally little cap pasta) stuffed with minced chicken, on a stick dunked in the hot broth bursting with flavours. I would definitey recommend this for a cold winter evening, especially after a day's hard work! 

The grilled fish platter that arrived with minutes of draining that cup of soup down my gullet was one with a difference. Fresh basa, pan seared served with baked potato wedges and sun dried tomato, a smidgen of red pepper coulis and lemon butter sauce, some asparagus and a sprig of watercress. Fancy eh. But the difference really was brought by the lemon butter sauce. Sounds pretty regular you say? Well, you see, this lemon butter sauce had the fabled Gondhoraj lime and that is what made the difference. The fish flaked perfectly, the potatoes had a nice crust and the sauce was delightfully aromatic, with just the right degree of acidity, umm...let;s just say deliciousness.  

My stomach had begun protesting vehemently, my mind protested harder still, but the heart wants what the heart wants. So I welcomed the gorgeous platter of gourmet sliders that arrived next. There were two different kinds of mini burgers - one spatchcock chicken with mayo and French mustard relish and the other asparagus and watercress gallets - between soft mini buns. I wolfed down the sliders in no time, dipping them in the sweetish red pepper coulis that came along.

There is no denying that the meal was exhausting! But then again who has ever resisted a Mississippi mud pie. And the one which the chef sent out was a 'deconstructed' version, served with candied orange rind, sugar coated rose petals and sprig of mint. The dessert was pretty as a picture and delicious too albeit the gooey chocolate mud pie was very rich. It was a relief that it came in a petite portion. That and the slight acidity from the orange. This meal couldn't have ended on a sweeter note. And I am going by soon. This time perhaps in the evening to see the pool all lit up! Or may be for their champagne breakfasts for which you must book in advance!

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