I am very lucky to have a great team working for me that make my day-to-day life at work truly wonderful and enjoyable – not to mention the fact that the work they produce makes us all look good time and again! So when the time came to pick something special to do for the guys on my team to say thanks for all their hard work I thought…what better idea than treat them to a little decadent Sunday brunch fun. And what better spot then a Vivanta by Taj hotel. The service, reputation and quality at the Taj is guaranteed to make ME look good. And since my guys all enjoy Champagne, Latitude was the perfect brunch for my MarCom team to invade!
Now, first things first as always. DRINKS! There are only a couple of brunch spots in town that serve actual Champagne and – to my knowledge – Latitude is the only restaurant that pops the cork tableside and leaves the bottle in a bucket of ice right at the table. I know it might seem silly and that all the other brunches in town pour the sparkling wine or Champagne generously and it flows freely but there is something about having our own bottle(s) that feels just a bit more special than simply being poured a glass or brought a glass. The Piper was popped, the Piper was poured … and we toasted to the happy moment with broad smiles.
Latitude has been designed in a way that, although there is no outdoor seating, you have the feeling of space and almost being outdoors. There are floor to high-vaulted ceiling windows that span the entire restaurant. The décor is sort of minimalist chic and very modern.
Oddly, there was no music playing when we arrived, it was completely silent. I’m not sure if the singer was setting up and that is the reason or if music isn’t a part of brunch outside of the entertainment but that was a bit strange and it felt very un-brunchy given that music plays such a large role in all of the other hot spots in town. Eventually the entertainment began, which – surprisingly – was a white woman singing modern hits from Amy Winehouse to Maroon Five and Norah Jones. She had a lovely voice.
Arzooman Irani is the Executive Chef in charge of Latitude and he generously offered to give us a tour, share his vision for brunch and help us throughout our visit. The variety at Latitude is impressive and there are many stations setup that prepare food in the moment, including appam, quiches and a bruschetta station which I hadn’t seen until now. As usual there is a mix of Indian, continental and Mediterranean cuisine and the house specialties really varied.
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As always, I bee-lined it on over to the cheese, charcuteria and dips area. Sadly, the cheese selection was the weakest in town and because it was pre-cut and had been out for a bit already it was hardening around the edges a bit so I took a pass on the cheese. The hummus was tasty but the Babaganoush really stood out as something special. It had a slightly smoked flavour and was made with pomegranate seeds, which I hadn’t seen before. Definitely try that along with the freshly made pita bread.
After we all finished our first plate, Arun, Thiru and I all headed out to the BBQ station, which is set up in a lovely little courtyard. Turns out there are ways to grill meat that I had no clue about but made for a truly delicious surprise. Latitude grills their meat, fish and prawns on slabs of salmon-coloured salt. It sort of reminded me of the salt licks that my grandpa had for the cows on his farm…but smaller, rectangular and assuredly never licked by anyone or anything. But dang! It definitely made a bit difference in the taste of everything. We really enjoyed it all.
Another house specialty is their pates and they have a wide variety to choose from. I tried a few of them and my favourite was the chicken pate with olives and pistachio nuts, which was yummy. The fish pate was interesting but a bit too fishy for my taste, although to be frank I generally don’t like my fish to taste fishy so it could be a preference thing and not a statement on the actual quality.
We really liked the freshly made bruschetta station, which happily reminded me of tapas. The nice guy behind manning the station whips up everything in the moment, so we just had to pick and choose what we would like, with choices from tapenade to mixes like onion, cucumber, tuna, tomato and pesto. After the order is placed, the guy prepares the fresh bruschetta and delivers them tableside. We tried one of each and loved them all.
Now, there is always something that stands out as my favourite dish and when I tell you that it wasn’t just my favourite dish at brunch but the best thing I’ve eaten in AGES please believe me. Arzooman makes a mutton stew that is absolutely to die for. This delicious stew is simple and made with tender pieces of lamb and cooked with coconut milk, mustard seeds, curry leaves and oil. Normally I like dipping hunks of bread into stew but it was so good I didn’t want to disrupt the flavours. If you are non-veg, don’t miss out on trying it.
I was happy that Arun and Thiru were adventurous and game for trying almost anything. A few people in my life here don’t actually enjoy eating non-Indian food, which is hard for me to understand and I wasn’t sure what to expect with the guys. With that said, we all dug into the Indian food with gusto. The Indian Master Chef at the Taj specialises in cuisine from the north-west frontier. He has prepared a super assortment of Indian dishes and makes an incredible and tasty mutton biryani that was not overly spicy and not at all oily. The Tandoori chicken was tender and spicy as hell, just as it should be … although the tandoori lamb was a bit tough. They make a succulent Goa coastal style fish curry that we ate with freshly prepared appum that was medium spicy and excellent.
Another couple special treats were the oysters Rockefeller, they were quite yummy and it’s been ages since I’ve had any. They also make something called Galouti Mushroom, which was new for me and I really loved it. It is essentially button mushrooms minced with 35 different spices and then smoked. Do yourself a favour and try it!
Between the three of us we pretty much pigged out on the desserts. Our favourites were the vermicelli flan which uses coconut to bind it together and gives it a really unique taste. Coming from living in Spain the past 10 years I was pretty reluctant to try the flan but it was super. My guys and I also really liked the tapioca pudding, the date pudding and the razgula was particularly amazing. It was the first time I had eaten that and I am now coo coo for the stuff.
Last but not least I should mention that the kids are given VIP treatment at Latitude. The kid zone is well equipped, well looked over and fun…and set away from the restaurant itself in a large conference hall around the corner. There were tons of toys, a Disney film being played on a big screen and tasty kid-sized treats to fill their little bellies well.
I don’t normally tread over to Whitefield but the brunch at Latitude is definitely worth the trip.
Coo Coo for Cheese 5-star rating: 1*
What I liked best: They serve Champagne! The mutton stew is one of the best dishes I have eaten in AGES anywhere. Salt tablets are used to grill prawns, fish and chicken on and it’s divine. The presentation of the food for me is probably the nicest in town.
What I liked least: No outdoor seating. The selection of cheese. The pomfreit was a bit too oily and the tandoori paneer too dry.
Cost: Latitude is the only spot in town I know about with four unique all-inclusive packages to choose from:
- Champagne Brunch: food and all beverages plus unlimited Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne that is opened in the moment and placed in an ice bucket at the table for Rs. 1,970
- Bubbly Brunch: food and all beverages plus unlimited Sula Brut for Rs. 1,770
- Liquid Therapy Brunch: Food and all beverages (wine, beer, cocktails and spirits) for Rs. 1,570
- Vivanta Brunch: Food and all non-alcoholic beverages for Rs. 1,270
Opening times: 12:00 – 3:00pm
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(reviewer Angela Carson)