Windamere (Observatory Hill, Darjeeling, West Bengal)


In a nutshell:

A century old Hotel in Darjeeling where staying is an experience in itself, all meals served inhouse – YUMM & memorable.

the dining hall
the dining hall

Address & other details:  Windamere

Meal for 2: part of stay package

Cuisine type :  vegetarian & nonvegetarian

Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.

Since food was part of stay package, we received no separate bill for the food.

I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.

Short description – in case u r in a hurry:

When we decided to go to darjeeling few months back, we thought of exploring options of staying in raj era properties to get a glimpse into the concept of ‘summer capital’.

View from the dining hall
View from the dining hall

After going thru options on the internet we chose Windamere. Booking was not smooth like in most 5 star properties. Online booking and paying process was pretty complicated.

Outside the dining hall
Outside the dining hall

The property is situated towards the top area of Darjeeling city, walking distance from Mall Road and just behind …

Interesting tit bit about the hotel
Interesting tit bit about the hotel

This building was built for British tea planters. Now it has been restored and run like a hotel. An European lady who has settled down in Darjeeling runs the show.

IMG_9471

So unlike other hotels it is not everything in one building. There are many buildings ( 1-2 floors) spread out over an area.

Another building
Another building

The reception was a nice small room that had old framed pictures. They also selling Darjeeling memorabilia.

The dining hall had one full side facing the mountains. There were two couple seats beside the window on that round wall.

Outside seating for two
Outside seating for two outside reception area

The rest of the dining area had very well maintained old wooden furniture. There was a fireplace. The ceiling was wooden and sloping.

 fire place that still works
fire place that still works

The curtains were floral and beautiful.

The curtains
The curtains

The service at the dining hall was formal – like In the Old days. Good was served by the course. All meals mentioned here were part of the stay package – breakfast, lunch, high tea, dinner.

IMG_9475

They do not do room service with old and sick guests as exception. They however serve bed tea.

IMG_9450

Watch out for a detailed review of the hotel in travel section of yummraj.com in a few weeks.

Menu card was given at every meal. It looked very retro and the items were written in type face.

All meals were followed by very refreshing freshly brewed Darjeeling tea or coffee from a particular plantation in southern India.

Tea served to us
Tea served to us

Food in general was quite good. I liked the Anglo Indian / British dishes better than the Indian dishes. The Indian dishes were a notch more subtle than their original version. At times we were confronted with ‘sub-optimal salt’ in some dishes. That was due to, I guess , to cater to taste of western guests who seemed to be 90% of the total guests.

Detailed description- in case u hv the time to njoy reading:

Lunch:

Lunch menu
Lunch menu

Spring pea soup – lentil base, green pea flavour of dal as well as pea. Lovely. Understated but very nice. Rate it 4.5/5.

Green
Spring pea soup

Baked Chicken rice with sautéed cabbage was a revelation. Big chunks of lovely juicy chicken boneless meat, baked with rice.

Baked Chicken rice
Baked Chicken rice

Flavours of chicken had spread out beautifully within the rice. Great dish , very well prepared. Rate it 4.75/5.

Baked Chicken rice with sautéed cabbage
Baked Chicken rice with sauteed cabbage

Yellow dal was very good as well. Flavours of Dal mingled well with flavour of spices. It was a bit thick. Rate it 4.5/5

Yellow dal
Yellow dal

Methi tomato pulao was good but did not have the greatness of the other dishes. Rate it 3/5.

Methi tomato pulao
Methi tomato pulao

Fish curry was made with boneless fish. It had a thick, spicy but not hot gravy. Rate it 4.25/5

Fish curry
Fish curry

Mix veg was very good. The veggies retained their crunchiness. Perfect to taste. Rate it 4.5/5.

Mix veg
Mix veg

Chutney was sweet n sour. Very good to taste. Rate it 4.25/5

Old raj steamed jam pudding with custard was another marvel. The base cake was baked in old style – a bit firm, not fluffy and bigger crumbs.

steamed jam pudding with custard - the full cake
steamed jam pudding with custard – the full cake

The molten fruit jam and custard was very nice to have with the cake. Super loved this and rate this 4.75/5.

st
steamed jam pudding with custard

We also tried Coffee from baba budan hills – awesome. Loved the flavour of the black coffee. Rate it 4.5/5

Coffee
Coffee

Second flush Tea from Castleton tea estate was served to us at different times of the day….. At the open terrace, during bed tea in the room, at the tea bar, during and after the meals….. Refreshing , full of flavours, very mild taste – just as it is, without sugar, without milk.

Evening high tea:

Scone was dense, very mild and neutral to taste, the outer side had a texture that was midway between a biscuit and a cake. Better than the scones we had at Tea Center, Mumbai. Rate it 4/5.

Scone
Scone

Cucumber sandwich made from traditional white bread was very soft and creamy within. Taste of cucumber could b felt due to use of good neutral cream. Rate it 4/5.

Cucumber sandwich
Cucumber sandwich

Tomato sandwich was also very soft and was creamy inside. Very good to taste. Rate it 4/5

Tomato sandwich
Tomato sandwich

Inhouse made granola bar was very nice. It was sticky, chewy and very good to taste. Rate it 4.25/5

granola bar
granola bar

Vanilla cake was soft and moist, with a nice , almost crisp crust.

Vanilla cake
Vanilla cake

Salt n sweet taste was balanced. Rate it 4.25/5.

cake
Vanilla cake

All this was served with with freshly brewed Darjeeling second flush. They also taught us the art of brewing Darjeeling tea.

The Bar adjoining the room where tea was served
The Bar adjoining the room where tea was served

Dinner:

Dinner menu
Dinner menu
Candle-lit dining hall
Candle-lit dining hall

Fish concasse with new potatoes. The fish used was Mullet fish. It was a big steak of the fish cooked with herbs, served on a bed of tomato concasse. The fish was fresh, soft and juicy and very good to taste. Rate it 4.25/5.

Fish concasse with new potatoes
Fish concasse with new potatoes

Spinach almond was excellent to taste. It was juicy, had robust flavours and was an absolute delight. Rate this 4.5/5

spinach
spinach almond

Buttered squash (a local vegetable) was a very nice as well, considering the fact that there were no masalas. It was soft, juicy and Yumm. Rate it 4.5/5.

Buttered squash
Buttered squash

Plain triangle paratha was nice to taste on its own. Slightly crisp outside and very soft within. Rate it 4.25/5

Paratha
Paratha

Dal saboot masoor was very good to taste. It had been cooked with spices over a long time. However intensity of spices was low. Very good to taste and great flavours as well. Rate it 4/5

Dal saboot masoor
Dal saboot masoor

Varvati Bhurjee was excellent. Crisp beans stirfried. The beans retained their crunchiness. Rate it 4.25/5

Varbati bhurjee
Varbati bhurjee

Chhole Punjabi was good but not great. It was a bit tomatoeee. The chhole was soft and in right texture. Rate it 3/5.

Chhole Punjabi
Chhole Punjabi

Kadahi chicken was not like what we know as kadahi chicken in Delhi. This was a pale coloured thick gravy chicken curry. The chicken was soft and Yumm. Rate it 4.25/5

Kadahi chicken
Kadahi chicken

Chocolate crepe with cherry sauce was awesome. Thin crepes made with dark chocolate added to the batter. Cherry sauce I guess was made from canned cherries. The combination worked very well. Rate it 4.5/5.

ch
chocolate crepe with cherry sauce

Breakfast:

Breakfast menu
Breakfast menu

Omelet Indian was average, nothing to write home about. It was too understated to b termed as Indian omelet. Rate it 2.5/5.

Omelet Indian
Omelet Indian

Omelet European was soft and very nice. It had melted cheese within. Rate it 4.25/5

Omelet European
Omelet European

Scrambled eggs was a revelation. Outstanding it was. Subtle yet very tasty. Soft, juicy and creamy. Rate it 4.5/5.

Scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs

Orange Marmalade with orange peel was outstanding. Even as we were full, we ate some exra bread to accompany the great marmalade. Rate it 4.5/5

Marmalade on toast
Marmalade on toast

We were also served Banana, Porridge, muesli, cornflakes with hot milk cold milk etc.

Muffin was kind of crispy on the top & soft & intense inside. It was old style & enjoyable. rate it 4/5.

Muffin
Muffin

Raw papaya with skin and a dash of lemon was nice. Never added a dash of lemon to my papaya before. Learnt a new thing here & loved it.

Papaya with a wedge of lemon
Papaya with a wedge of lemon

We were served Excellent perfectly toasted bread, perfect crispness, perfect temperature, served on a metal stand.Bread was toasted and served in traditional style. Perfectly crisp but not burnt. Loved eating it with butter as well as marmalade. Rare experience these days.

Fresh toasted bread
Fresh toasted bread

Overall rating of food at Windamere averages out to 4.2/5

Not sure when I wud revisit but am sure that wud love to, when in Darjeeling…..

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