Thursday, February 13, 2014

Riwaz, Ritz Carlton, Residency Road, Bangalore : Restaurant Review

The Riwaz of offering recipes rooted in rich royal heritage.
The Riwaz of serving rustic and robust meals.
The Riwaz of Mughal cooking inspired techniques to retain wholesome flavours.
The Riwaz of using delicately marinated chunks of vegetables (and meat) and cooked on high temperature in traditional clay pots.
The Riwaz of a Master Chef passionately recreating a menu that offers a treat to all five senses with a varied range of exotic and long forgotten signature dishes.

We were treated to all this and more on invitation at RIWAZ, the North West Frontier restaurant housed within the famed Ritz Carlton, Residency Road Bangalore.

On the busy and bustling Residency road, the Ritz Carlton came across as another one of those 5 star hotels mushrooming in the city. However, on entering the property we were taken aback at the tasteful décor, attention to detail and ambiance of the hotel. We noticed that an intricate mesh/jaal work was included as part of the interiors across the hotel.  Every floor/restaurant houses a whiskey tasting table with the best of single malts and an enoteca (wine repository) that boasts of a fine wine collection.

The decor at the Riwaz in particular is clean and contemporary without frills. The imposing wine enoteca and the whisky tasting table are right at the entrance. A busting warm open kitchen in the middle of the dining area adds a cheer to the ambience. At the farthest end is a private dining area – an elegant space for exclusive dining.

We settled at a warm table close to the open kitchen and decided to let Chef Ramandeep choose the appropriate menu for us. As a prelude to my vegetarian three-course meal (my friend enjoyed the non-vegetarian meal) we sampled two exotic cocktails.  A whiskey based one with fresh pomegranate juice called Nectar and a coriander & Indian spice infused vodka cocktail called Sweet & Spicy. Both of these were tangy and not sweet – the way we like it.

The vegetarian appetizers comprised of Tehdar Paneer Tikka (layered cottage cheese marinated with mint and garlic), Bharwan Tandoori Aloo (Potato filled with raisins and green peas flavoured with caraway seeds) and Subz aur Gucchi di Galoti (Cardamom scented dumplings of seasonal vegetables and morel, pan seared) served with a dash of beetroot chutney and fried  vegetable crisps of lotus stem and lady’s finger.

While the paneer was a little too garlicky for my liking, the tandoori aloo was nice and crisp on the outside with soft stuffing and light spices. What I relished most was the galoti kebab. This is a super soft pan fried kebab with delicate aroma and flavours. The chef told us the story behind the galoti kebab - Legend says that the aging Nawab Wajid Ali Shah lost his teeth, but not his craving for meat. Galoti kebab was prepared by his “khansama” so it melts in his mouth. This kebab is the vegetarian version of the same, with the elegant usage of handpicked spices and herbs. Alternate bites of the kebab and the lotus crisps complimented the opposite textures – softness of the kebab with crispness of the fries.  

As part of the main course, the Chef dished out an elaborate spread - a variety of gravies and breads to begin with. Kandahari Bharwan Gucchi Subj (Seasonal vegetables with mushroom/morels), Bharwan Kofta (Cottage cheese dumplings cooked in tomato curry), Dal Makhani (Black lentils cooked with tomatoes, butter and cream) and Sarsong Ka Saag (mustard greens tempered with whole spices, tomato, onion and garlic). 

I must mention here that the Gucchi subzi was delicious – morels in a rich creamy gravy. The chef let us know that the morels were actually sourced from Kashmir. The Kofta was just about alright – could have been softer. Dal Makhani, which is my all-time favourite (and I set a pretty high-standard for this particular dish in terms of taste and texture) totally lived up to my expectations. We were told that this Dal Makhani is rated the best in Bangalore today. The winter speciality Sarson ka saag was served with the customary jaggery and dollops of desi ghee.

These gravies were served with a bread basket of Indian breads such as Peshawari kulcha, Afghani naan, Roogani naan, Khasta roti and Bhakarkhani naan.  Fluffy and soft leavened breads stuffed with dry fruits, whole wheat breads, crisp and flaky refined flour breads. These were either baked, grilled or tava cooked.

Just when we thought we were so done with the meal, the chef sent us another visually appealing and appetizing wonder - Biryanis!  For me, Subz Dum Biryani was served in a small copper pot with a crispy layer of dum covering that sealed the dish. The dum layer was baked with herbs and melon seeds. On breaking open the dum a beautiful fragrant aroma of mixed spices and basmati rice filled my senses. Easily one of the best biryanis I’ve had so far. The chef suggested we bite into the crispy layered dum in between the biryani bites! Full marks to the Chef for the delicious and fantastically presented biryani. 

As always, the best was saved for the last – a dessert platter of Paan Kulfi, Sandesh, and a Belgian Chocolate & Cardamom Pudding. A special dessert (that is not on the menu) was concocted for us – saffron ice cream on a bed of burfi , covered with sonpapdi and topped with beaten silver.

The Kulfi was my favourite – rich and creamy little pieces with paan topping. To sample the saffron ice cream, we had to break through a layer of sonpapdi . The ice cream was light and flaky (like all home-made ice creams) and not too sweet luckily, as the sonpapdi more than made up for the sweetness quotient. A superb and innovative sweet dish this! A crisp pastry mesh reminiscent of the jaali décor that runs through the hotel, aptly adorned the steaming hot chocolate pudding. The pudding by itself was pretty delicious, but when served with Indian sweets I feel it loses its individuality as a ‘chocolate dessert’.

Our visit to the Ritz Carlton was a truly enjoyable experience. A warm and hearty welcome by the staff, an extremely courteous hostess, a guided tour of the entire Ritz Carlton property and of course, a delectable plated spread of the North West frontier, personally supervised by the Chef.

Definitely a meal to remember.

In terms of cost it is an expensive dining affair. But then, this is the Ritz Carlton. The dining experience is worth the money for those very special occasions. 

Note: The Riwaz is open only for dinner 7pm on-wards.

Verdict : 4/5