In a nutshell:
A century old Hotel in Darjeeling where staying is an experience in itself, all meals served inhouse – YUMM & memorable.
Address & other details: Windamere
Meal for 2: part of stay package
Cuisine type : vegetarian & nonvegetarian
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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’.
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.
The property is situated towards the top area of Darjeeling city, walking distance from Mall Road and just behind …
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.
So unlike other hotels it is not everything in one building. There are many buildings ( 1-2 floors) spread out over an area.
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.
The rest of the dining area had very well maintained old wooden furniture. There was a fireplace. The ceiling was wooden and sloping.
The curtains were floral and beautiful.
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.
They do not do room service with old and sick guests as exception. They however serve bed tea.
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.
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:
Spring pea soup – lentil base, green pea flavour of dal as well as pea. Lovely. Understated but very nice. Rate it 4.5/5.
Baked Chicken rice with sautéed cabbage was a revelation. Big chunks of lovely juicy chicken boneless meat, baked with rice.
Flavours of chicken had spread out beautifully within the rice. Great dish , very well prepared. Rate it 4.75/5.
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
Methi tomato pulao was good but did not have the greatness of the other dishes. Rate it 3/5.
Fish curry was made with boneless fish. It had a thick, spicy but not hot gravy. Rate it 4.25/5
Mix veg was very good. The veggies retained their crunchiness. Perfect to taste. Rate it 4.5/5.
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.
The molten fruit jam and custard was very nice to have with the cake. Super loved this and rate this 4.75/5.
We also tried Coffee from baba budan hills – awesome. Loved the flavour of the black coffee. Rate it 4.5/5
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.
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.
Tomato sandwich was also very soft and was creamy inside. Very good to taste. Rate it 4/5
Inhouse made granola bar was very nice. It was sticky, chewy and very good to taste. Rate it 4.25/5
Vanilla cake was soft and moist, with a nice , almost crisp crust.
Salt n sweet taste was balanced. Rate it 4.25/5.
All this was served with with freshly brewed Darjeeling second flush. They also taught us the art of brewing Darjeeling tea.
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.
Spinach almond was excellent to taste. It was juicy, had robust flavours and was an absolute delight. Rate this 4.5/5
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.
Plain triangle paratha was nice to taste on its own. Slightly crisp outside and very soft within. Rate it 4.25/5
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
Varvati Bhurjee was excellent. Crisp beans stirfried. The beans retained their crunchiness. Rate it 4.25/5
Chhole Punjabi was good but not great. It was a bit tomatoeee. The chhole was soft and in right texture. Rate it 3/5.
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
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.
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 European was soft and very nice. It had melted cheese within. Rate it 4.25/5
Scrambled eggs was a revelation. Outstanding it was. Subtle yet very tasty. Soft, juicy and creamy. Rate it 4.5/5.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…..