First it was the emergence of the gourmet home chefs. As India went into a COVID-induced lockdown, we all discovered the Master Chef inside us. Those dinner dresses and dress shirts were swapped for aprons as home dining took centre stage. Then came cloud kitchens. Innovative restaurateurs, home cooks and hotels tweaked their delivery model and stretched their imagination. It wasn't just biryanis and pizzas that were doing the rounds on delivery bikes across India, Instagram hashtags kept up busy too. Suddenly our dining room became the new fine dining venue as tired home chefs also battled WFH and Zoom fatigue.
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Residents across India began to flip through delivery apps for culinary escapes that could rekindle memories of a culinary vacation in Vietnam or Italy. As India switched to unlock mode, many diners had played 'wait and watch'. Outdoor dining venues are trending and so are restaurants or hotels that offer the option to escape exposure to larger crowds. Most hotels have responded with reimagined buffets that have become live displays with food being served at the table. And then there's another trend that is on the rise. Suites are now the new private dining rooms in hotels across India, as hotels welcome smaller groups or families to their guest floors. It's a wonderful mix of privacy and high hygiene standards combined with special menus that are fuelling this trend across India.
Restaurants Offering Private Dining Options:
1. Andaz Delhi offers a host of private dining options at the hotel and Andaz Delhi Residences. You can book one of their residences where the AnnaMaya (the hotel's signature all-day restaurant) experience is recreated with a personal chef and butler. Inspired by sustainable sourcing, plant-based recipes and artisanal ingredients, the menu offers numerous nutritious options. Choose from a range of healthy salads, appetisers, soups, tandoor-baked delicacies, breads, local classics and European mains. You also have the option to curate your own dining experience. You can opt for a 'zero to limited contact' dining service and place your order through a QR code system.
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2. Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai is a preferred venue for special occasions. The Taj in Mumbai offers a unique concept of dinette dining. This private, fine-dining meal experience replicates a meal at one of their signature restaurants in an exclusive venue of your choice. The hotel has curated menus from dining venues such as Golden Dragon, Souk and Masala Kraft. You can dine at a suite or pick one of their banquet venues for a small group.
3. Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel: Some of the suites and rooms at the Renaissance offer sweeping views of the city's iconic race course. The hotel has introduced 'The Intimate Dining Experience', a gourmet meal with a view. You can book a room for three hours and savour a 5-course meal. You can opt from Asian, Indian and International menus and sample some of their signature dishes like the Watermelon Carpaccio, Char-Grilled Prawns and the fiery Chicken Chettinad.
4. ITC Grand Chola, Chennai: ITC hotels across India reopened post the lockdown with the WeAssure program with stringent protocols. The hotel's gazebo experience that is both differentiated and atmospheric is a popular dining experience. The hotel also offers a selection of exclusive chef's menus that range from a new-world experience to an authentic Italian selection to a classic Awadhi menu that are available as part of its Gazebo dining experience. You can also opt to dine at one of their suites and enjoy the same exclusive tasting menus.
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5. Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences: The hotel's pop up 'Apartment' offers a great private dining option in Kolkata. The hotel has implemented the Accor group's global AllSafe hygiene and sanitary protocols that also minimise contact. The four course meal has been digitised with QR code and UPI payment methods. A personal butler and chef will help you with your dinner requirements, including ordering from the menu. There is also a 'make your own cocktail bar' option to help you fix the perfect drink. Our favourite value-add is the pet stroll area with a pet special menu for your pooch.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.