Ask for kebabs here
Le Royal Meridien has opened a new poolside barbecue lounge
Barbecued bonanza Kebabs by the poolside at Le Royal Meridien
Anything that's preceded by the word "poolside" has got to be exciting. Poolside party. Poolside cinema. Poolside bar. And now, a poolside kebab lounge. Le Royal Meridien on G.S.T Road, St. Thomas Mount, has launched its barbecue lounge, Ask, and since the pool is off-limits for swimming after 7 p.m. anyway, they've decided to bring on the hot coals and grill in the open.
Variety of kebabs
"It isn't as if we just brought the indoor kitchen outside," says Chef Shyam, "We've added on different kinds of kebabs. Not just the tandoori ones on the usual menu, but barbecue delicacies from around the world." And the choice of sauces, spices and meat/vegetable is all up to our palette. Since it has to be the most exotic one, we look excited about the Arabian kebabs. Someone else does a practised connoisseur nod to the Italian Balsa sauce (with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs) on his fish. And the vegetarian, always a loner in kebab environs, sighs that anything spicy will do.
We're seated at candle-lit tables, and several white-shirt-and-checked-apron men zip around us, placing some buttermilk here, and some mango chutney there. All in brand new mud pots, and cut-to-plate-size banana leaves. The lamb arrives first, with a distinct taste of lemon grass, screaming Thai. The food arrives surprisingly fast, brought by one smiling eager waiter after another, but really, they needn't have hurried so. When the mushroom and chicken turn up, the former is oily and humdrum, and the latter saucy and burnt. A little nervous after the first servings, we poke gingerly at our paneer tikka, which fortunately turns out to be redeemingly tender and well-garnished.
As entertainment, there is an in-house musician who sings Richard Marx and Elton John so sincerely that we have to go up to him and shake his hand. Every few minutes, we also look skywards at the aircraft swooping down to land at the nearby airport, and this quickly becomes a guess-what-airline game. By the time we look down at our plates again, there's some fish, pork ribs, and more chicken. First, the pork a little tough, but curried enough. The chicken, when doused in green coriander-chilli chutney seems good to go. But the grilled fish is subjected to some debate. What is this pungent taste, Chef? "The Italian sauce, ma'am. And maybe the lemon juice." Are you're sure it isn't undercooked? Appalled: "No, no, never." The sauce was changed, and the fish served again. With smaller pieces of fish in our mouths, we swallow quickly without chewing, and shove some rotis down our mouth.
The winner for the night, ladies and gentlemen, is the paneer. And the biriyani and dal makhani that come with any kebab ordered. If you're a vegetarian (Rs. 475 net), try anything, and you'll be ok. If you're a meat-eater (Rs. 575 net), go with the kebabs you've tried before. If you want to try the foreign flavours, make sure you order lots of desi buttermilk (so, so, delicious, and the perfect remedy for sore taste buds, we found out) and rotis as Plan B to your experiment.
Ask will be open on Friday and Saturday between 7 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. near the pool at Le Royal Meridien.
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