The Big, Fat Okra Brunch
Okra, the all-day dining space at Marriott Hyderabad, epitomises one of those happy, energetic places for dining with family and friends especially on Sundays. With its cheerful, unrushed ambience, sunny and colorful interiors, with appealing, bright-hued cookware and props, live counters (and music!) set outdoors at the poolside, adding to the dining experience, no prizes for guessing that the Okra Sunday brunch has been hugely popular, besides being among the earliest of the genre in the city. And the exceptionally talented current executive chef Yogender Pal has been only raising the benchmark as far as the food & beverage status of the hotel is concerned.
Recently, (actually not quite so recently as its near to a month, but had been busy with other projects, including an Odia food festival) I was invited along with a few other bloggers to review their revamped (read larger and better, according to chef) Sunday brunch.
Says chef Yogender, “We have changed around 80 percent or so of the menu, so its in every sense a bigger and better spread. For example, we have introduced home-made cold cuts and terrines, made our pastries counter more contemporary like having mirror cakes, presenting a classic dessert in a modern plating like the Baba Au Rum. The salad counter is both customised and very internationally evolved, so we have dishes like Chicken and Olive Roulade in red pepper jelly, fish roulade with black green oives in fennel jelly, we have an eggs counter with classics like Eggs Benedict, the Western dishes are more in number like the Lemon & Thyme Roast chicken we have today or the Dark Chocolate and Balsamic Pork Ribs (the pork ribs are imported from Belgium), etc.”
As we enter Okra, the upbeat brunch mood is set right at the entrance where the cocktails counter is placed, with some very colorfully arrayed fruit-infused cocktails. There is food from every nook and corner of the world, placed at different corners of the restaurant, as well as outdoors at the poolside with live counters like eggs to order, corn on the cob, barbecue and fried meats and fish, jalebis and malpua, and a live music band too.
Indoors, I hit the Chaat Reloaded counter, where chef has tried out a bit of molecular gastronomy. So there is Golgappe with assorted caviar and what may they be? None than the green (pudina dhaniya)and red (imli) chutneys in jelly form and ditto with the dahi or yoghurt. A few of us are enthused, but Im afraid that surely doesnt include me, as I like my paani puri with my chutneys and dahi in a regular, liquid form, thank you!
I stroll outodoors, and get myself some Eggs Benedict made and they are super perfect, ditto with the (desi) corn on the cob rubbed with good old Indian spices like chaat masala, nimbu and rock salt. Also landing on our tables is some Dark Chocolate and Balsamic Pork Ribs (with the spare ribs imported from Belgium) which are perfectly cooked, with its slightly bitter dark chocolate sauce topping giving it both the look and edge.
For my drink, I choose a Spiced Cranberry Punch which is absolutely in the right spirit of things, fun and lively. The Espresso Martini was also as good as it gets, but did not quite take a shine to the Rasam Martini, goodness what next?
Some more eats: I pick up a Keema Dosa Roll, which is quite yum, with the dosa being crisp and the keema masala spicy and great as a filling. There is some Rawa Fried Fish which I get from the fry counter outdoors and I am quite done.
At Indyaki counter, I pick up some Macchi Nimbu Kaali Mirch (murrel tossed with pepper and lemon juice) which is just about ok and some Kappa (tapioca) Masala.
There are loads of more options like a humungous Indian counter with Ambala wala chicken pulao, Methi kaali masoor and keeme ka pulao, Jungle Maas etc but there is no appetite left so I pass it by. To my utter dismay, I realised I have not even looked at the salads counter so more out of curiosity, I get some home made cold cuts like Chicken and Olive Roulade in red pepper jelly as well as Fish Roulade with black and green olives in fennel jelly served at my table.
Have a tiny spoonful of both and they are as fresh as they come, I especially liked the side crusts of olives on both the chicken and fish roulades. This is how visually appetising they looked on my plate as well as on the salad counter:
Finally, its time for desserts and there is an abundant spread of both Indian and Western sweets, apart from the popular teppenyaki ice cream counter. But it is Baba Au Rum which holds all of our attention, the classic French yeast cake saturated in rum, presented here in a very contemporary fashion in a glass, topped with a dark chocolate lid, needless to say the whole package was drool-worthy!
The pricing for Sunday Brunch comes in three packages, the non-alcoholic (mocktails only) one costs Rs 1900 (AI), Rs 2850 (AI) for alchoholic packages and Rs 3500 for champagne\sparkling brunches.
(This review is based on an invite to a bloggers’ table by the Marriott Hyderabad).