Every time a new hotel opens in the city, it raises the bar for excellence. With the Westin Gurgaon, the bar has been raised sky-high. So far, the brand new hotel only has a coffee shop open, and if you always thought that the 24 hour coffee shop of a hotel is where the most boring cuisine gets served, think again. Not only is Seasonal Taste an unusual name for the whipping boy of a hotel but the concept of the buffet took my breath away. There is Asian food on offer, and though the buffet counter is a straightforward, linear one, the sheer depth of each Asian cuisine is remarkable.
Best of all is the Lebanese section. Easily the finest Lebanese food in the city today, the menu itself is bold and charts a new path. Hummus and labneh were on the buffet and a shawarma grill looked much the same as any other in the city. The proof of the pudding was in the eating, though. The hummus was light and appeared to have air whipped into it. There was a faint yet unmistakable flavour of lemon. The chef of the station, a Syrian national, asked if I would like to have a shawarma wrap and out of politeness more than anything, I said yes. One bite and I knew that the boundaries had been redefined. The pita bread was a cloud of softness. The toum, the mayonnaise of the Middle East, was perfect. White, creamy and with a bite of garlic, this dip, to my mind, is the mark of a good cook. Composed only of garlic and oil, the appearance (snowy white) is as important as the taste (strong garlic). The batons of chicken were tender and had a delicate flavour and the Middle Eastern pickled vegetables had obviously been prepared in-house with great care and were cut paper thin. It is obvious that there is serious talent in the Lebanese section of this kitchen.
There was a whole roast lamb with pulao in the Middle Eastern style also on the buffet, along with several desi offerings which I did not try. There was a superb cheese platter featuring two cheeses from England: Cheddar from the Cheddar Gorge and Stilton, a couple from the Netherlands and two from Italy: Parmesan and bocconcini. The cheese board is said to change daily and has been put together with uncommon flair.
The other strong section of Seasonal Taste is the Oriental section. They have chefs from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand, so that not only the quality but also the sheer range of the menu is not in question. This coffee shop is so confident about its buffet that the a la carte menu has been kept minimal. Expect unusual dimsum (I didn’t think that such labour intensive morsels should have been relegated to a buffet spread, but that is the only complaint I have about the entire setup). There is also a sushi section and a range of oriental choices: there was a mixed fried rice that looked as if it had been cooked by a Chinese chef: the rice was fluffy.
Best of all are the desserts. Ice Kacang, available on the streets of Singapore, in an upmarket avatar and Thai and Chinese desserts, halwas and Northern European classics.
Number 1, MG Road, Gurgaon
Open 24 hours; buffets for all three meals; a la carte throughout the day
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,400 (buffet for one adult Rs 1,200)