If you want to feel like royalty, there’s just one place in the country to make your dream come true, and that is at Suvarna Mahal, the old dining room when Rambagh Palace really was a palace. Old timers to the restaurant remember the late Rajmata dining there. Of course, the royal experience begins long before you actually enter the restaurant. It begins when you enter the gate of the hotel and make your way up the driveway, past the acres of manicured lawns, into the beautifully restored palace. At dusk, you will hear the cry of the peacocks that live in the garden – the most magical time at Rambagh.
Suvarna Mahal has an air of hushed opulence. There is gold wallpaper on the double-height walls, Renaissance style paintings on the ceiling and silver service. The restaurant has a sense of occasion to it, and fittingly, it has a champagne bar with over a dozen labels of champagne on offer, some by the glass.
The food is from four royal houses of India: Jaipur, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Punjab. In the case of the Jaipur menu, most of the dishes are from the royal family, whose palace Rambagh is. The excellence of the kitchen can be gauged from the fact that whether it is a kachori or a lal maas, the quality never falters. There are some real gems on the menu. The dried vegetable sangri has been combined with chana dal to make a delicious pan-fried tikki. Usually sangri and the bean that grows on the same tree ker, are combined in a gravy dish, so the tikki is something of a novelty. And the lal maas, a permanent fixture on any Rajasthani menu, is a masterful blend of blow-the-top-of-your-head spiciness with sophisticated undercurrents of flavour. While all the royal houses represented on the menu have been well represented, the Jaipur section is special, because of the context.
Good as the food is, it tends to be overshadowed by the surroundings and the service. It is old world and is a well-honed blend of professional and friendly and most people who visit Survarna Mahal remember the excellence of the service as much as any other detail.
If you’ve always wanted to live the life of a Maharaja, spend an evening at this restaurant.