Saturday is the new Sunday at Spectra, Leela Palace Chennai as Chef Rohit Tokhi adds a regional twist to the afternoon spread
The Leela Palace Chennai's new Executive Chef has a keen eye for detail. Last Saturday, as we walked into the all-day-dining restaurant, Spectra, the mesmerising view of the shoreline and flood of natural light was not the only visual delight. The eye catches the cheerful flame of the pizza oven, strategically placed fruit bowls, even as the all new racks of cheeses and butters along the bread section distract us. With numerous accolades to his name, including the Hotelier India Chef of the Year award in 2011, Chef Rohit Tokhi believes that presentation is as important as the food itself. And it is not a surprise that he is drawn to this restaurant, considering he was instrumental in launching the country’s first Spectra at the Leela Kempinski Gurgaon in 2009.
“We noticed an eclectic range of guests dining over the weekends. Saturdays saw many families, small groups and working lunches. So we added more regional counters and opened the buffet earlier,” explains chef Rohit, who has 19 years of experience in the industry. We find that at Spectra, Saturday is the new Sunday now — thanks to this brunch feel.
On Wednesdays, the focus is on global street food at the all-day-dining. Expect the quintessential chaat counter besides Mexican counters with live taco stations, while shawarma, sushi, sashimi and dimsums are among the other street style food options. Priced INR 2,250 ++
The Egg Roll counter is the Lucknowi chef’s favourite — a live station for stuffed omelettes — and digging into a chicken-stuffed version we agree with his choice. As we lather some paprika flavoured Chilli Butter on to a paneer stuffed foccacia slice, we realise the meandering buffet spread has more live stations now. From the salad counter, we pick a summery delight with juicy slices of orange, soft cheese and greens. We barely manage a bite before we head to the Puttu and Kadala counter, where the former is as fluffy as a cloud. Next we try the unique Ragi Pidi (think kozhukattai, made of ragi flour instead of rice). The accompanying Andhra chutney, true to its reputation, is dynamite! A sip of the refreshing elderflower ice tea eases the fire on our palate.
Saturday night fever
This is an irresistible deal for those who like to make merry late into the night. Offering unlimited beverages that include sparkling wines, Spectra’s After dark buffet includes comfort food like live paratha stations, pav bhaji and kheema kaleji counters. From 10 pm to 2 am, at INR 2,100 ++
The prettiest counter of the lot is the Thai food section, where crab claws are set decoratively even as we enjoy the interesting Fish Mango Salad from the new additions. The tangy salad with roasted peanuts is topped with crumb fried shredded fish, adding a delectable crunch. Quick to note favourites among the guests, chef has rehauled the Japanese counter that merely had rolls. Enter, the famous ramen broth — wholesome and stuffed with chicken, soba noodles and veggies,making it a fast moving main that otherwise features the likes of Takoyaki also. However, not as fast as the moist, golden Motichur Ladoos we discover. Leela’s offering of Indian mithais is quite the legend apparently — and on Saturdays along with the usual pastries, coffee brûlée and such, is the Kulfi counter with unique toppings like the nannari syrup to wind up the brunch on a sweet note.
Saturday buffet meal, INR 2,100 ++