VLCC is not a company that you associate with food and beverage. However, Alive is not about either health food or diet food, or even organic food. Alive is about healthy eating. Thus, all the sauces that are based on roux (butter and flour: in other words, the basic white sauce) are made with wholewheat flour plus maida. You can, of course, just treat Alive as just another restaurant with pleasant surroundings and really competitive prices.
The restaurant is small and cheerful and the drinks are refreshing and tasty. I had a lemon iced tea and was actually served a freshly brewed weak tea with freshly squeezed lemon in it. By contrast, most other restaurants keep a bag of Nestea handy. Because this column is about taste, I did not bother to read the calorie values of each individual dish, or refer to the health-giving properties of the ingredients. Instead, I kept a track of the taste. No other Indian food is served, besides tandoori, though I would have liked to see Maharashtrian appetizers like a salad of subtly spiced guava and sprouted moong which is both fantastically healthy as well as consonant with our palate.
Sautéed Fish Orly (Rs 250) is the single best dish in the restaurant. They have chosen sole whose flavour develops on being grilled. The light lemon-flavoured tartare sauce that is served as an accompaniment goes marvelously with it. A close second is the Coco Corian Chicken (Rs 200). Tikkas from the leg are marinated with coriander leaves and a smidgeon of fresh coconut and put in the tandoor without the mandatory brushing with oil or the addition of powdered chana dal. The difference in taste is enormous. The chicken is actually juicy and succulent and takes the pants of the competition. The best part is that you can taste both the chicken and the herbs as well as enjoy the texture of the chicken. Basil Chicken Breast (Rs 250) that I had mistaken for a Thai dish turned out to be classical Italian. Not nouvelle, nor contemporary, it consisted of two escallopes of chicken in a flavourful fresh basil sauce.
Grilled Cottage Steaks (Rs 250) were surprisingly good. Flat disks of cottage cheese were pressed together like a sandwich with tiny spiced dice of cottage cheese between them. They floated in a flavourful gravy whose base was tomato.
However, the best part about Alive is its truly fabulous desserts. Chocolate Risotto (Rs 120) was a perfect timbale of Italian rice that had been cooked with diet chocolate sauce for a delicious, unusual treat. Fruit Tiramisu (Rs 100) is made with hung yogurt and kwark cheese for a tangy bite without the calories of the real thing. If you are not on a diet and want to indulge your tastebuds, don’t miss Sinfully Alive, the chocolate brownie that has a higher calorie count than anything else on the menu.
MGF Mega City Mall, SF 03-04, MG Road, Gurgaon
Phone: 0124 4375335
Open from 11am to 11pm
Average cost of a meal for two: Rs 600
Credit cards accepted; alcohol licence awaited.