Lake View Cafe Buffet, Renaissance Hotel, Powai, Mumbai
If you equate buffets with a mind-boggling range of dishes, then the dinner spread at Lake View Café in Hotel Renaissance is just up your alley. They do take their buffets seriously, which is evident when a hot counter greets you the moment you walk into the restaurant. Here is where you can see your pasta cooked with the sauce and condiments of your choice, and even eat your fill of the Mumbai Tawa Masala – a dish where deep fried vegetables like lady fingers, aubergines and potatoes are tossed in an onion-based gravy, an ubiquitous fixture at most Indian wedding dinners.
One good thing about Lake View Café is that it is spread over a large area, so the many counters of food do not intrude upon each others space, nor do you end up overhearing your neighbor’s conversation, and vice versa, while seated at your table. The other good thing is that vegetarians will enjoy the fare because there are enough options for them out here.
Let’s start with the salad counter, which was impressive, more because of the variety on offer, than the uniqueness of the fare. Besides the usual greens in the vegetarian section, there were Pickled Silverskin Onions that were nice and tangy, just like they should be. The Marinated Zucchini and Tomatoes were alright, but the Fattoush, Baba Ghanoush and Poached Pear salad were a saving grace.
In the non-vegetarian salad section, the chicken sausages and rice was a dish kids would like, even though it was a cold dish. The ‘Baked Fish with Moong’ was disappointing. Luckily, the spicy Chorizo redeemed the salad counter single-handedly.
The next counter was, surprise, surprise, a chaat section. Since Lake View attracts many international guests who stay at Hotel Renaissance, this is a great way to acquaint them with Mumbai’s famous street food. Besides a choice of salty and sweet lassi as well as Shikanji, there was Dahi Vada (I would have liked more yoghurt) and Aloo Chaat in Green Chutney. There was also a variety of farsan, papad, keecha, etc, which are sure to find favour with the Gujarati crowd who are sometimes squeamish about vegetarian options in a buffet spread. Piping hot Batata Vadas, a staple to be savored during Mumbai’s monsoons, were served at our table.
The pea soup was salty, while the chicken broth lacked flavor. This dampened my enthusiasm and I gave up all thought of trying the two other soups available.
In the main course, the Basa in Lemon Garlic Sauce reminded me of my mother’s advice to steer clear of fish during the monsoon. The poor fish had been massacred till there was not a shred of its original identity intact and the sauce could not salvage it either. The Baked Potatoes were good but I wished they had been baked in their jackets to give the right earthy taste. The other options were Fish in Tomato and Coconut Gravy and Chicken Gravy, but I decided to move on to the other dishes that appeared more inviting. In the vegetarian section, the Paneer stuffed with Mozzarella in Tomato Sauce was a winner all the way. Even a die-hard omnivore like myself could not resist a third helping. The Dal Tadka and the Veg Dum Biryani were good and I could not find any fault even with the Paneer Palak or wholewheat Parathas and Garlic Naans. Perhaps a conspiracy to convert carnivores to vegetarians was afoot!
Luckily I had saved space for dessert and boy, was I glad that I did! With almost twenty options to choose from, it was temptation in its most intense form. From the Chocolate Mousse to Pannacotta, to the bite-sized mango, passionfruit and blueberry petit fours to the gooey brownie cake to the custard tart to the Badam Halwa to the Falooda, there was something for everyone, and then some more. The desserts at Lake View Café literally took the cake!
After a leisurely dinner one can happily saunter all over the hotel and even reflect on life’s mysterious, whilst staring at the Powai Lake. It is also a good way to work off the desserts that I am sure you will indulge in! At almost Rs 1200 a pop, Lake View Café is one of those places that you want to treat yourself to; perhaps a celebration, and I suggest you not resist when the time comes.