A hotel like JW Marriott brings with it a lot of baggage — the baggage of expectations. So, when you visit their café, Café@JW, for a food festival — Starters of the World — you expect to be swept off your feet. Though the café doesn’t manage that, you don’t walk out disappointed either.
Welcome drinks such as the kamikaze are an interesting way to begin. The restaurant offers 20 starters every evening, while their festival offers 80 of them from around the world over a span of four days. Beginning with the dumplings is a good idea, be it the non-vegetarian rice dumplings or the veg variant. Worth a try amongst the Indian starters are the dahi papdi and dahi bhalla, which are served complete with hari chutney and lal mirch, with the add-on imli chutney served at your table. Amidst the European variants, you could try the grilled baby corn and the crisp sesame potatoes. An absolute must-try, however, is the spinach and cheese mushroom — crispy on the outside, succulent and juicy mushroom filled with spinach on the inside and of course, the crowning glory, a mild layer of cheese, thankfully not overpowering. The shammis, chicken and veg, are passable.
An item on the menu that you could do without would be the bruschetta, because of its minimal seasoning. What takes you by surprise, not pleasantly, is the crispy salt & pepper. To find a good plate of salt & pepper in the tricity is not a Herculean task, or so you thought. The coating of the vegetables seemed to have had an extra dose of corn flour on the night of our visit, as the table knife refused to cut through the broccoli on the plate. The Thai chef, however, defined that as crisp.
Let’s pretend that did not happen. If you walk up to the dessert section, do try the Singapore special Ais Kacang — shaved ice, fruits and a mish mash of sweet syrups such as maple, rose, chocolate etc. Though Indian desserts are also on offer, you’d rather fill up on the chocolate brownie and the cashew nut pie. The pie makes it all seem worth it. As ‘heavy’ as it may be, the warmth (read calories) of this dessert tends to invite the winters on your behalf. But then again, who’s counting!