An Evening at Graze

There are many people who share my story; a life that is brimming with activities, travelling around, being busy behind the laptop all day, taking care of your home, taking care of your family and the list goes on. In between all this you find yourself craving for little time to relax, to sit back and enjoy the finer things in life and to be able to share this with someone you love. Like lot of other couples, Bart and I love to have an evening out every now and then. But we walked into Graze in Vivanta by Taj at M.G Road last night and we realized that we have been missing out on true dining experience all this while. All we have been doing is eating, not experiencing.

Graze has a very charming feel to it as you walk in. The warm colours of wood, the soft lights and the spectacular display of wine and fine scotches plead with you to sit down, unwind and enjoy an evening that is all about being pampered. You have a choice between cosy seating around the restaurant or of being the privileged audience to impressive live cooking at the interactive counter. We chose to sit here so that we could try and discover the secrets behind Graze’s amazing dishes.

And under the watchful eyes of the Restaurant Manager Ashvin Singh and the gifted chef Uday Nath our dining experience began. Rated amongst the Michelin star restaurants in the world, Graze is the only European restaurant in India. They promote real European cuisine and do not call themselves a Multi-cuisine restaurant. With a tagline that says, ‘The lighter side of European Cuisine’, we soon discovered why it was so.

When asked what people think of real European cuisine, it is astounding how many people have the idea that it is heavy; and without a question it cannot be argued that the ingredients going in are rich. Think of a creamy pasta sprinkled with parmesan or a rich truffle pastry dressed in its buttery glory; it isn’t an out of whack perception that you will find walking back to your vehicle difficult. But this is what Graze completely proves wrong. European food can be cooked in such a way that you feel light and sated after a multi-course meal. The quality of the ingredients served is so high, that they do not need to mask it with heavy sauces. Graze is one of the few restaurants I have eaten at where the sauce enhances the food and not drown it.

We were educated on the sous-vide technique of cooking by Chef Uday who talked about how the food is cooked in air-sealed plastic bags that are immersed in a water bath and cooked at low temperature for a long time. This ensures that each ingredient retains its fragrance and texture without shrinking and when served is juicy and a delight on the palate. Another tip I learnt yesterday is not too have too much going on in one plate. Two to three strong ingredients and all the necessary accompaniment to enhance flavour; this is where Graze differs from other restaurants. That they know how to create magic with the ingredients at hand. True artists in my opinion.

With the restaurant manager helping us pair our wine with food, I had an amazing glass of Chardonnay that was smooth without the acidic bite and Bart had a Pinot Gris which we were told would go well with our main courses.

Then the food magic began. Watching Chef Uday cook can give any self proclaimed cook a complex; stunningly artistic, maniacally clean and completely entertaining. He talked us through all the courses and explained what went in and what flavours to watch out for. Ashvin took us through how to pair the wine with the food; something we never experienced before where the chef and the wine expert tells you the right way to understand your meal. Two soups that were so creamy and frothy that I had to swoon and consider swapping Bart for the chef, the five spice poached figs with fresh greens and shaved Manchego cheese salad that was fresh, crisp with the best dressing that my palate has ever experienced, a main course of gnocchi that epitomized tender and was full of flavour, the sea bass imported from Chile that Bart claimed melted like butter in his mouth topped up with Crème Brulee Napoleon that had filo pastry floating like air on top of it and almonds stuffed into it. And to make it even better, we were presented with a second dessert of lemon tart with a Sabayon sauce. Tangy, crumbly and perfect.

We normally have evenings where in 45 minutes we eat our food and leave the restaurants. Restaurants these days seem to be waiting to get you off the table and bring the next guest in. But at Graze, they strive to create an experience where you take your time to savour the food, enjoy the wine and actually sit back and listen to the wonderful band live band that is there for your entertainment. Between your salad or appetizer and the main course, you are served a sorbet so that you get a break between the courses to take time and enjoy the company with you and around you. We sat there for two and a half hours; the longest we have sat at any restaurant. And it truly was an experience; from the food to the wine, presentation, ambience to the dedicated attention and care we were given. And all this done in an unobtrusive, friendly manner. One word to describe our evening- SPECTACULAR.

Think about the last time you have had such an evening experience. It isn’t too hard a task. Just make a reservation at Graze. And you can thank me for it later.

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