Experience an elevated Southern culinary mosaic at ITC Royal Bengal's Avartana
Avartana refers to the Sanskrit word Avartan that literally translates into the full cycle of Taal or beats
Have you wondered what it would feel like if rhythm, mysticism and magic were woven into an all-encompassing culinary experience? ITC Royal Bengal’s latest addition Avartana is here in Kolkata after a successful stint at ITC Grand Chola, Chennai to offer you an elevated Southern palate that weaves into it all the above mentioned words. Avartana refers to the Sanskrit word Avartan that literally translates into the full cycle of Taal or beats. Much similar to its tagline “Southern Culinary Mosaics”, the restaurant offers a modernist interpretation of authentic Indian cuisine in the form of a magical yet alternate representation of food from different states in the South.
Located right next to Ottimo, the bistro transports you to the luxurious coastline dotting the southern peninsula from the moment you step in. The décor brings together bits and pieces visually representative of each of the states down South, keeping up with its idea of a mosaic. The auspicious and multi-purpose banana leaf typically symbolic of the cultural imagery that connects the Southern mosaic can be seen as a recurrent theme within the bistro.
To begin with, the otherwise minimalistic logo of Avartana in itself features a plush green banana leaf carefully guarding the third letter of its name. A lush carpet in hues of grey replicating ripples on sea waters, adorns a statement centrepiece on top of it right in ahead of the entrance. Intricate figurines with numerous musical instruments sit atop a levelled platform similar to a cluster of lotus flowers. A look around will reveal whitewashed walls carved with the impressions of a banana leaf, studded with linear, ambient wall art signifying banana stems. Apart from being ambient lit in sober amber hues, the interior also features a few signature and humongous light shades that replicate coconut shells.
The dining experience extends to the crockery used as well, as each of them are well thought out in rustic earthenware carved out of granite stone slabs inspired from the ancient stone carvings of Mahabalipuram. The delicate plates are crafted and sourced from Pondicherry, and complemented with bamboo holders in earthen shades and ornate steel cutlery and contemporary glassware.
Moving on to gastronomic delights, the food palate boasts of local spices, delicate broths, infused oils, fresh coconut and aromatic curry leaves stirring magic to offer a suitable taste note for people coming from any part of the world. The gustatory adventure is a sweet medley of convention breaking recipes with hints of tradition woven into multiple aspects of the dishes. An alluring selection of mocktails and cocktails infused with Indian spices and inspired from age-old recipes passed down through generations can be agreeably paired with the carefully handcrafted menu.
The culinary delights are offered in five types of set menu namely Maya (7 courses), Bela (9 courses), Jiia (11 courses), Anika (13 courses) and Tara (13 courses). Each of them come replete with equally palate pleasing vegetarian and non- vegetarian options, served in a visually appealing manner.
We settled for an elaborate thirteen course non-vegetarian’s dream that kicked off with some good ol’ Rasam infused with coriander leaves and cherry tomatoes, served in a martini glass. Juicy Stir Fried Chicken served with dollops of buttermilk mousse and curry lead tempura set the mood for the culinary journey ahead. It gave us a fair idea of what was to follow, given its globalised name replete with Southern spices. For vegetarians, there’s Cauliflower Crunch with pomegranate pearls and mint, made out of dehydrated cauliflowers.
Pan Seared Lobster in spring onion emulsion and Shrimp and Coriander Dumpling in Chili coriander jam were easy on the palate and we term it as a comfortable indulgence. The latter of the two comes wrapped in translucent, verdant rice flower sheet and made us consider ordering a second portion of the same.
What followed next was an adventure in its true sense that kicked off with Lamb Brain Fritter in cracked black pepper & butter emulsion. This bite sized wonder arrived with a portion of the very familiar rava dosa, smeared in beetroot powder for some additional crunch. Don’t worry if you are feeling too heavy already, as the course comes with palate cleansers such as the Orange and Ginger Sorbet to prep you up for an equally exciting pieces de resistance.
Steamed Seabass in fermented gongura emulsion & butter rice, or Asparagus and Coconut Stew with turmeric & coconut and Idiyappam are doses of tasteful carbohydrates followed by a good portion of protein such as the self- explanatory Char Grilled Pork Belly with steamed tapioca, Ooty chilli and chayo. We can’t deny that each of the dishes were visual treats in itself, but the last four of them immersed us in the experience.
Uthukuli Chicken served with little bundles of Malabar Parotta & Butter Toffee wrapped in beetroot sheet left us craving for more. We vouch for the melt in mouth goodness of the bite sized Malabar Parottas that start off with a crunch in its first bite followed by a buttery softness at its core. Lamb Rice with Okra Yogurt too resonates the banana leaf theme prevalent within the bistro, as it comes wrapped in fresh circular pieces of the same that help store the steam of the sticky rice within.
For a sweet conclusion, Raw Mango Pudding with a Ghee Candle that smears the dessert with aromatic goodness once lit is a perfect choice and needs to be consumed with hand crunched portions of papadam. The Citrus Coconut and Coffee Ice Cream left us baffled due to its true-to-life imagery that replicates a slice of coconut pulp in its shell.
For the ones looking for a more private experience, there are two private dining sections that can accommodate up to ten guests with a choice of a bespoke meal making it an enhanced experience of sophistication. The chandelier at one of the PDRs is a beautiful rendition of the cove of a house boat from the backwaters of Kerala.
Price for two: Rs. 4500 onwards