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An affair to remember

Exotic, elegant, romantic - that's Alfresco for you


THE ONLY way out of Alfresco is the way one comes in. Indulging one's way out is another thing, if that's what you choose to make of it.

The place otherwise has every ingredient of a satisfying daydream many may have mused over: A pleasant companion, candle-lit dinner on green lawns with nothing above but for the starlit sky, a mild chill in the air and good wine to warm up to, alien sounds occasionally penetrating the orderly rhythm of a Calypso song and gentle fountains in the backdrop. Alfresco, the newly opened open-air restaurant at Taj Krishna is all this and more. It is like a breath of fresh air, a new romantic setting for an unhurried evening as opposed to the indifferent anonymity of pubs and restaurants deluging the city streets.

What makes the Alfresco experience so refreshing? It starts with the staff; they are not the kinds one usually comes across in luxury properties, like porcelain figurines waiting in respectful silence to carry out orders. At Alfresco, they are a ready-to-help ever-smiling lot, smartly dressed in black and white - they exude warmth and infuse life into the place.

If all this doesn't seem exciting, surely one cannot help succumbing to the sublime flavours of the place. Essentially, a `Grill and Barbecue' restaurant - Alfresco has an enormous menu. There are no fewer than 10 purely vegetarian entrees and, for meat lovers, dishes of chicken, lamb, pork and seafood abound - all offered in mild, medium or hot sauces.

A combination of some of the most exquisite outdoor cooking and exotic European gourmet food gives this place an identity of its own. Other than European, there is choicest American, Swiss, Mongolian and Middle-eastern grills and barbecue. "The menu lists out the most popular outdoor cuisine from around the world," says Taj Krishna executive chef, Pradeep Khosla.

In fact, a lot of foodstuff for the kitchen is directly imported from Italy, America and Switzerland.

If you are new to such food, there's a contemporary menu for those with a low tolerance for risk. "You can ask the chef to prepare a dish out of your preferred vegetables, meat, condiments and sauces on display, and the order will be obliged in a jiffy right in front of you," Khosla adds. But frankly, there's no need.

Dishes like Grilled Salmon Steak with Blackened Seasoning, Pork Spare Ribs with Barbecue Sauce, Potato patties on Baguette, Cheese Quenelles, Rosti with Mushroom Sauce, Cheese Fondue (and 18th century Swiss tradition of melting gruyere cheese served with dried baguette), Iranian seafood grill, Tangdi Peshwari or Gobi Zafrani could be as comfortable from an Indian kitchen as they will be from an Italian one.

These pre-plated grills are a meal in itself as they come with bread, butter, a bouquetiere of vegetables and a sauce of one's choice.

The wine list is as exhaustive as the menu and a befitting way to top off an inimitable night of elegance and romance. In the midst of such a passionate indulgence, a jig with your partner to the lovely serenades of the Calypso band will surely make the experience an affair to remember. But how much ever you postpone the arrival of the bill, it is inevitable: Only it leaves one with some food for thought - romance is an expensive affair.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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