Claridges Suraj Kund has a singular distinction: it is the only five star deluxe hotel in and around Faridabad. Far from being smug about it, the hotel tries hard to walk the fine balance between keeping its standards high and catering to the local palate.
Oasis, the all-day dining area of the hotel is a vast space cleverly broken up so that you can’t see more than one section at a time. There is only a la carte at every meal, but on Saturdays and Sundays there’s a vast brunch buffet. Highly recommended for the sheer spread, for the competitive price (Rs 1600 with unlimited French champagne, Australian sparkling wine, Scotch whisky and Belgian beer) and for the quiet surroundings, half an hour’s drive from Greater Kailash.
On the menu, the best sections are the western, followed by the Indian. The latter is not the ubiquitous North Indian (read Punjabi) but a more refined Lucknavi variant, complete with authentically spiced Galauti Kebab (Rs 500). The only quibble I have is with the amount of chilli: the Lucknavi original is hardly a flamingly hot kebab: the extra chilli is meant to entice the local population!
The Chinese section is the least strong. In theory at least, the Chinese chef from Claridges, Aurangzeb Road, cooks for half the week in Suraj Kund and for the other half, he can be found at Jade. However, my luck would appear to be terrible: I’ve never encountered him in Oasis and as a result, the Chinese spread there doesn’t impress me.
The finest appetizer that you can possibly have is the Salad of Lobster and Avocado (Rs 750). It does appear a trifle expensive, but when you see the sheer quantity of lobster meat in the dish, and taste the irreproachable freshness, all is forgiven. The Mediterranean Seafood Soup (Rs 475) is generous with the mixed seafood. The soup that is poured at the table is part tomato and part red pepper paste. It is a full-bodied dish, but left me wondering whether I would have been better served ordering Morel Cappuccino instead (Rs 475).
The pizzas are the glory of Oasis. Once the restaurant stops agonizing over the local palate, they’ll get into their stride, and will come up with Quattro Formaggi (Rs 550) that will have automatically have blue cheese in the topping. Right now, what you get is a mixture of goat’s cheese, mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan. If you ask for blue cheese – which is what I did – it is given. Other toppings I noticed were Italian classics, but what impressed me is that the restaurant has the right balance of topping to crust. All too often, the topping takes over completely, relegating the crust to the position of a bland plate! The original pizza in Naples glorifies the crust rather than the topping.
Possibly the finest dish that I sampled for dinner was Dum ki Nalli (Rs 600), four lamb shanks, full of marrow, in a flavourful, sophisticated gravy. No single spice dominated, but it was a mélange of intense flavours.
In the next phase, Claridges Suraj Kund is likely to acquire its own Dhaba and its own expatriate Chinese chef. When that happens, the Indian menu of Oasis will lean even more towards Lucknow.
The Claridges, Shooting Range Road, Suraj Kund, Faridabad
Open 24 hours
Meal for two: Rs 3,000
Credit cards accepted; alcohol served
Brunch buffet Saturday & Sunday 11.45 am to 3.30 pm