Monday, 9 December 2013

Hornbill Restaurant, Munnar, India (Alissa and Don Eat Asia Day 15, Day 16, Part 2 & Day 17, Part 2)

I've really struggled with writing this post. Compared to a single dish or a meal served in courses, I find buffets to be less focused gastronomic experiences. Where you can focus on a plate of cogent and complimentary components, a buffet plate is a bit of everything piled together. Even when entertaining at home, I prefer to serve things in courses for this very reason. Still, having eaten there for breakfast and dinner for several days in a row, here is a brief overview of the Hornbill Restaurant experience.

Two years ago when I was last in Munnar I sent Alissa a text message that I was looking over fields of tea, and that I wish she could see it, and I sent the message to her at Hornbill. So coming here held special significance for us. As it turned out, we decided to stay at Blackberry Resort - the hotel that Hornbill is located within. 

Its a lovely location - situated on a slope and covered in creeper, the restaurant has views of the tea plantations below.

The service for breakfast and dinner is buffet style, with the menu changing slightly day to day. On our first night it was mostly Southern Indian, but on the night I took pictures of the spread on offer it had a lot more Northern Indian items. Additionally Chinese food is popular in India, and they do a fairly decent Stir Fried Noodles. 

Food is successfully kept warm in bains-marie that are kept closed to retain the heat. I thought they did a very good job of keeping the quality level up in a buffet situation. 

Here was my plate of food (clockwise from top right) - Chicken Do Pyaza, Butter Paneer, crispy Chilli Potatoes and the Stir Fried Noodles with some Saffron Rice underneath.

Alissa had a similar plate, but had a Mattar Paneer instead of the Stir Fried Noodles.

Everything was tasty, but the meat lacked that northern tandoor flavour and instead had a more southern twist. The curry gravies themselves were very good, and the harder halloumi-like paneer in the south has a nice squeaky chewiness to them that we both really liked. 

One issue we had with Hornbill was that while the buffet obviously had a lot of choices, there was no roti available. It was only after we'd already mostly eaten a whole plate of food that the staff came out and asked if we'd wanted a parotta. So parottas are available but they don't mention it straight away, and there is no sign or explanation that it will be cooked up when ordered. Make sure you ask for the bread if that is how you prefer to eat your curry. 

For dessert they have Ras Malai and Ice Cream. The Ras Malai was good, but we really liked the Ice Cream. They were all store bought ice cream and nothing compared to good gelato, but the flavours were always interesting day to day - and I just love ice cream anyway.

Verdict: Very Good
Though not mindblowing, the food at Hornbill is good enough that I would dine there even if I was not staying at Blackberry, as I have done in the past. They do Southern Indian very well here and their 'Southernised' Northern food is very tasty if lacking in that delicious tandoor flavour. 

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