This is a review of classic western Christmas dishes at spectra. 24th December 2021.
In a nutshell:
We got exactly what we wanted for Christmas Eve – to have some perfectly cooked western classics which are probably eaten during Christmas.
Address & other details: leela ambience gurgaon
Instagram : leela ambience gurgaon
Facebook: leela ambience gurgaon
Meal for 2: ₹6000 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
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.
YUMMRAJ rates all the food items & then gives 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
We have had fabulous Christmas brunch / Christmas Eve dinners ever since we moved to gurgaon a decade & half back & the tradition continued in our mumbai years as well. Some of the memorable ones are – classic western Christmas food at le bistro du park, olive, smoke house deli, Kerala Christmas food at Bombay canteen, roasted turkey at chidambara vilas etc.
we have had some rare bad experiences & the last time we went for a Christmas brunch in 2019, it happened to us at andaz. We have been in shock on this subject for last two years & did not want to have another bad experience. After all it’s our hard earned money that we are paying & our body which is eating the food.
So this time we went outside of our principle of being anonymous & connected with chef Ashish Bhasin, executive chef of leela ambience gurgaon, to ask about the Christmas Eve menu. Just to be sure it will not be disappointing.
We know chef Bhasin from our mumbai days – he used to organize the best hotel pop ups in town at the trident mumbai, with great home chefs from different parts of india.
He explained the menu & it seemed to fit what we wanted.
When we reached spectra that evening, we were shown around the buffet by chef Bhasin (we not used to this at all, as we always go anonymously ). That evening, everything was on offer in the buffet.
From appetisers to main course to desserts, I am guessing there were 300+ dishes, out of which we ate about 15-20 items & remained focussed on classic western Christmas food.
They had a visually stunning in-house baked bread section with different kinds of baked items. Happy Christmas, Santa 3D figures had been made from bread as well. We are not bread eaters in general – so we took a few small portions & had a few bites from this – nice.
Two interesting & good differences in this buffet than most others:
1. In many areas like the salad section, small portions were plated & kept in glass jars
2. There were quite a few items on the buffet, where one had to order a dish at the counter & the food was freshly finished & served on the table.
What we felt was a miss:
1. Counters with Items like roasted full turkey/ beef wellington were un-manned. That meant guests untrained in carving meats were ending up stabbing the dead turkey all over & making a mess of it / struggling to cut a piece of large meaty pieces like beef wellington / pork shoulder.
2. The knives kept for the guests to cut these were table knives, not surely not fit for carving meat. Very uncomfortable sawing meat with an average blunt table knife. Infact, I requested the guy on the grill counter to come out & help us with the turkey. He struggled for quite some time with that sad knife & finally managed to give us a badly cut piece.
There was live Christmas music on the floor. The restaurant was aptly decked Up for Christmas – subtle, tasteful & not even one visual element was over the top.
After a 3 hour wonderful dinner experience, we struggled to leave for almost 20 minutes, as none of the card machines at spectra (including wired machines) were accepting AMEX. Then someone asked me to walk with him to leela reception & there the second machine accepted AMEX. Of course I had other cards but why should I not use my AMEX in a 5 star, I thought. Anyway most small places do not accept AMEX.
We absolutely loved the food that we had, the multiple food conversations with chef Bhasin & his very talented colleagues. We had a really happy Christmas Eve dinner. Will fondly remember this meal for long.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
In most of the Christmas dishes there were miscellaneous roots sautéed or grilled. Some were common across few dishes. Some were unique to one dish.
Absolutely loved munching on them. The intense flavor of the vegetable, the retaining of texture & proper seasoning made them so enjoyable. Collectively I wud rate this 4.5/5
Organic barley with pan seared turkey salad – loved the barley in terms of texture & mouthfeel, how it would burst with every bite. Turkey was very good. Rate the dish 4/5.
Cold cuts platter that we created for ourselves was very good to start our evening with. Rate it 4.25/5
Asian country style pork belly with BBQ sauce – it took us a bit of effort to cut it (at the buffet) & take the meat on our plate. The fat to meat ratio was just right, everything else was perfect. Flavors of meat ruled. Super soft yet firm texture. Outstanding. Rate it 4.75/5
Beef wellington in red wine jus was the best baked beef dish I have had in India, in my memory of a decade. Perfectly baked outer crust that was crisp, had multiple layers & a solid meat piece in the middle. This was pure joy. I am salivating as I write this, few weeks later. Fabulous. Rockstar of a dish. Floored. Rate it 4.95/5
Roasted turkey, as I mentioned, had been stabbed all over by some people before me. With help from chef we managed to get a good piece that had a good balance of skin & meat. Lovely. Really enjoyed this balance. Rate it 4.75/5
Grilled tenderloin was made to order. We walked up to the counter & requested for it. After a short chat with chef, we decided on medium rare. Excellent I would say. Juicy, perfectly cooked & seasoned. Rate it 4.5/5
We also ordered a glass of Mulled wine.
It was about a decade back that we had got introduced to this concept of a hot temperature wine at a Christmas market in German consulate delhi. We have been making it every winter at home since then, for our guests.
The mulled wine at spectra was really enjoyable. I just took a sip as I was driving that evening. I have a strict self imposed NO DRINK BEFORE DRIVING policy. My partner enjoyed the rest of the glass.
Rate it 4.25/5
Desserts – the dessert section was visually stunning. The set up looked like a fort & everything from walls of the fort to the towers to the sentries, everything was made with edibles – baked. see a video walk of the same here : video
Red Wine poached peach frangipani torte was very interesting, the peach flavor was felt very well. Rate it 4/5
Dundee cake was excellent. Rate it 4.5/5
Pear poached in glahwein was another very good dessert. Rate it 4/5
Mince meat pie (dessert) had dry fruits in the center if a perfectly baked pie. Loved it. Rate it 4.5/5
Pumpkin pie was our favorite at the dessert section. Really nice filling it was. Rate it 4.75/5
Overall rating of food & beverages that we had at spectra on Christmas Eve dinner averages out to 4.4/5
Look forward to eating that wellington again sometime in future.