Thursday, July 4, 2013

a'la Liberty

I have been singing paeans of a'la Liberty since I first tasted their food, I think, some 3 years back. Three visits since then did nothing to assuage the greedy longing for the restaurant. And when the Foodies group suggested dining at this restaurant, with the very lucrative offer of a 40-item menu, for me it was a yes, yes and a yes all the way.
We met at a' la Liberty for dinner. The slight drizzle outside did nothing to dampen the high spirits. I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of the gluttonous evening. We were allotted a long private room and were welcomed with a red-pink drink, the Love Potion, which had Rose, Litchi, Orange, Mango and Soda. The taste was more sour than sweet. The strands of litchi and the sourness of orange were felt prominently. Just a hint of rose, perhaps but both the flavors of mango or the punch of soda weren't noticeable. Just a drink from a buffet spread. There was also the Jal Jeera but most of them chose to have that at the end of the dinner.
The rather tepid Hot and Sour soup didn't stand up to its nomenclature.

The REAL feast came in the shape of the entrees', an awesome offer of five delectable ones:
We started with the veg Shikampuri Kebab which was coin sized made of vegetables and cornflour combined and deep fried...quite soft and tasty. Next was the Yasi Yaki snack. It had slices of baby corn, capsicum and carrot pierced together, dipped in thin corn flour and deep fried...very crunchy and tasty, mildly flavored. The third and the king of starters were the Cheese croquettes which were basically deep fried, bread-crumbed potato roll. The best part was the taste of the cheese filling when you bit into it. Just superlative ! Giving this a close competition was the Cocktail Paneer soft, succulent, well quoted with spices, almost orgasmically delightful! This tasty  appetizers' trip ended with garlic bread, equally delightful, the bread soft, with the right amount of garlic, not a shred more or less. My sojourn would have stalled here but for the delightful spread of the main course waiting just outside the room.
The Chaat Counter had four items. I started with my favorite Pani Puri and Aloo Papdi chat. Pani Puris were stuffed with some chana kind of stuffing but the Aloo Papdi chat was quite decent in taste, rightly spiced. Didn't try the Dahi Wada or Dahi Puri.

Normally my meal consists of the soup, appetizers and the salads, tasting just bites from the main course. For a salad lover, the salads were a slight let-down. Gadu Gadu salad consisted of various blanched vegetables mixed with a cornflour sauce which was just ok. The Churmur salad was a lemon juice mixed chanachoor kind of thing, kept delightfully crunchy. The usual green salad consisting of various vegetables. I love and always look forward to the cream based salads. In this criteria we had the Litchi Walnut salad. Cream based salads should have some crunch to it but the litchi far overpowered the walnut counterpart and for me it was a disappointing taste. There was a Tapas bar consisting of the nachos excellently accompanied  with various dips, sauces, salsa, hummus...

The other continental items consisted of Cannelloni Di Spinaci, Pasta in Two Sauces, Szechwan Noodles, Clay Pot Fried Rice, Dumpling in Hong Kong Sauce. Among the continental, the dumplings made a distinct impression. It tasted like the wet Manchurian version of a Chinese meal but far superior in taste.
And the main course, as rightly expressed by the foodies' admin, was definitely not limited to Paneer Butter Masala and Mixed-veg curry. What we had instead, was a veritable feast of uncountable items!
The Indian main dishes were Khusrang Paneer, Palak Lasooni, Zafrani Kofta, Haandi Masala, Kadi Pakodi, Veg Biryani and Coconut Rice. Among these, the Zafrani Kofta was the best with its very soft and succulent koftas in a delectable gravy.

The desserts consisted of Coconut Malai Marvel, Apple Crumble, Blueberry Cheese Cake, Angoori Gulab Jamun, Chocolate Mud Cake, Butter Scotch Pastry, Cut Fruits, Ice-Creams. Though the tiny gulab jamoons were great, the hands down winner was the coconut Malai Marvel, a wonderful mix of thickly grated coconut, sugar and thick cream.

If I have to nitpick, I'd say: 
When it was drizzling, I would have appreciated if the door man  had helped the diners with the big umbrella that he was holding but of course he may not know that everyone who alights there is headed for the restaurant. Second, though I don't claim to be an expert in international cuisine, I thought that a couple of names were puzzling. For e.g: Isn't Yasi Yaki name of a noodle preparation, (instead of the snack served) ? Is Tapas bar what it claims to be? Is it not supposed to be carrying appetizers from Spanish cuisine rather than Mexican?

If you ignore these trivialities, I'd say a' la Liberty is simply one of the best vegetarian buffet spreads in town. I would rate it a good 4.5/5 experience. A complete value for money.