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Some like it brunch

There was a time when we watched Ramayan on Sunday mornings, now we do Sunday brunches.. that linger sometimes late into Sunday evenings. Lalita Iyer on the brunch trend that set in 10 years ago.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2009 11:16 IST
Lalita Iyer

When Vijay Mallya does a Kingfisher Calendar launch, or Puma launches its swimwear, they do it with a Sunday Brunch. So does Pradeep Gidwani of Carlsberg, or Parvez Damania, when he launched the Soham Spa or Asif Adil who launched Baileys with a brunch. Some brunches are about banana shooters and live music. Others are about kids’ play pens, tattoo artists, foot spas, or khandvi and cous cous in conversation.

But it is still a new phenomenon, something that was imported by the global Indian on his many journeys abroad. Whatever it may be, everyone is doing Sunday brunches.

So when exactly did brunch become the new cool? Rahul Akerkar, who was one of the first to introduce the brunch concept in Mumbai, 10 years ago, at his restaurant Indigo, says, “The idea of brunch resonates with the affluent, global Indian, who enjoys good food served at a leisurely pace in ambient surroundings.

“Another reason why brunch has become so popular is that levels of disposable income have grown substantially over the years — more and more young consumers have greater spending power, and they want to experiment with the best of everything — be it food and wine, fashion, or other pursuits.”

As good as it gets
Sure, brunches today range from the simple and basic to over-the-top indulgence. For example, Vista at Taj Lands End has a Sunday brunch which allows you to go easy, or right over-the top. Their brunches range from Rs 1800 to Rs 4500 depending on how much indulgence you are seeking really.

Akerkar’s personal favourite for a great Sunday brunch is Tiffins at the Oberoi Tiffin at the Oberoi. “ I can’t wait till it opens again. They had a delicious Sunday brunch menu.”

Sure, with a live sushi and oyster bar (complete with oyster shots), varied flavours of Martinis such as Kiwi, Watermelon, Irish Bailey, Coffee, a Smoked Salmon and gravadlax station, the Tiffins Sunday brunch had a great fan following.

Akerkar’s recipe for a good brunch is very simple — great food cooked well with lots of variety, efficient service — people don’t like to be kept waiting for their Eggs Benedict!— and a steady supply of beverages of all kinds.

Going by popular opinion, he’s got it right. Take the example of Deepak Agarwal, advertising professional, die-hard Indigo brunch fan, who believes that brunches are the ultimate joy of decadence. “Unless you happen to be born in times when swigging from huge silver goblets of wine and hoisting legs of lamb dripping with gravy was the most natural thing to do on a Sunday,” says Agarwal.

“There’s nothing quite like telling the bartender at 11.30 am to hit you with a Margarita. Unless of course, he asks the dreaded question, ‘frozen or on the rocks?’ Or worse, ‘Kiwi or strawberry?’. To which, of course, ‘No, moron!’ would be the emphatic reply. ‘It’s tequila, triple sec, a dash of lime and a salt rimmed glass. Keep it simple!” His unanimous vote for best brunch host is the manager Greg at Indigo.

Keep it simple
Ashvin Mushran, actor, model, salsa instructor misses the open air luxury of a Salt Water Grill brunch, and its wicked watermelon caprioshka, but is quite at home with an Olive or an Indigo brunch, though, he says, “I wouldn’t do a JW Marriott, as it is too-in-the-face-five-star”. Another thing that perhaps works against the Marriott brunch, which, is that it is mind-boggingly elaborate. “I just don’t have the patience for 16 cuisines. And Indian food somehow doesn’t make it to the brunch muster,” says Mushran.

May be, like me, he doesn’t quite fancy the idea of khandvi and dhoklas hanging out with appams and babaghanosh. His current favourite is the Sunday brunch at Global Fusion, Link Square, Bandra, which is the whole tempura, sushi, teppanyaki experience.

Riyaz Amlani, the brain behind Mocha, Salt Water Grill, and Salt Water Café is suitably excited about his new venture Delitalia at Juhu, which has, amongst other things, an Italian home-style Sunday brunch, featuring a spread of authentic antipasti and salads followed by unlimited servings of wood-fired pizza, home-made pasta from live counters, endless fruity sangrias, beer and in-house cocktails. He sums up the brunch trend in one line. “Earlier, we used to lament Sundays. Now we celebrate them.”

He continues, “Nowadays, a Sunday brunch is a continuation of the Saturday partying, or sometimes even a substitute for it, ever since Saturday nights got too crowded for comfort. People just want to chill out, eat and drink in a leisurely manner, and usually want the brunch to linger (most brunches are on till 4 pm),” says Amlani. He thinks Bombay is culturally built for brunches, unlike Delhi, which though has its advantage of more outdoor spaces is handicapped by seasonal limitations when such spaces can be fully used.

In fact, taking the cue from people who didn’t want brunches to end, Salt Water Grill (now shut down, sadly) came up with a novel concept of Sunsets at SWG, where people usually came in after their debauched brunches at Indigo or the Taj or Tiffins and lingered over sunset and drinks.

Viraf Patel, group Executive Chef for the group which handles the above establishments has a formula for brunch which also includes post-party hangover cures, apart from, of course the complete experience of breakfast and lunch. “Variety is the magic word,” he says.