There used to be a joke that was doing the rounds in food meet ups. 'I want the largest buffet with lot of non veg options with alcohol, max budget Rs. 500.' A popular stand up comedian in Chennai used this left right and centre. Food forums were flooded with these requests. In the era of the 5 star brunches priced upward of Rs. 2000 nett/, the joke may actually not work anymore. OK, not 500 bucks, but at 1300 bucks, the large Sunday Brunch at Gateway Taj is really LARGE.
It starts right at the lobby. Yep, you enter the hotel and food stares at you. Besides the large dessert section, there is a live counter doling out French Toasts and Crepes and the likes. I couldn't resist and despite recommendations from that chef to try these for dessert, I insisted on having them straight away. The cinnamon kissed French toast was fab! Unlike most places, this is a nice thick, almost French baguette that is dipped and served!! Besides the fact that few places actually serve breakfast in their brunch and serve a glorified lunch, it was nice to see breakfast stuff!!!
The problem with these large brunches is that everything tends to be okayish. You can take a couple of mouthful of everything and by the time you taste everything, you would be full! This wasn't the case here. The food was of quality and taste that is definitely better than most brunches in the city (OK, technically this is out side city, New Chennai, sort of).......
While there is no way to jot down every dish, there were some super favourites. The Broccoli Almond soup was yum. The Madurai dosa, essentially chicken/egg or both paste on the kal dosas were yum. The starters - a little cannelloni was nice. This stuffed zucchini and the grilled sweet potatoes were excellent.
Then the Indianised version of Eggs Benedict and Scottish Eggs, both with fully cooked yolks. Now that I have started enjoying the runny eggs, I thought these weren't great, but the chef said that people complained about eggs 'not being cooked properly,' so they've decided to cook them up. Can't fault that.
A smart South Indian section with rice, a yum biriyani and lots of gravies with six types of papads and four types of raithas. Really thought out well for the local population.
Disappointments? Yes. The cheese counter wasn't great. All hard cheeses and no soft cheese. The Japanese counter was extremely limited with only vegetarian sushi. Really? C'mon. But the honey glazed chicken from the Oriental kitchen (the other restaurant that is part of the Sunday brunch) was fabulous. Breads were also disappointing with not-so-great croissants and others. But with so many good things at a killer price point, one can't really complain.
Desserts are the weak links in most places and here they've made sure it doesn't happen as they have the live pancakes, crepes and toasts, so that is a safe haven. Besides, there were at least three biscuit type ones that were lovely.
You can take a dip in the pool if you want to. For free. Spa at 20% off. Considering the drive, this is like a long weekend drive up, soak up, massage up, eat up and get driven back. There is a little table for kids with an elaborate spread of finger foods, breads, mini pizzas, mini burgers for the kids. I wasn't planning to take up the invite, but with a friend going and me not having to drive, I'm glad I went. Missed taking my swim shorts though and planning to take the family back soon.
P.S There is a live bar counter with a bar-tender who doles out cocktails and mocktails, the alcohol version is Rs. 1600 plus taxes.