My wife positively skipped through the lobby when we entered the Courtyard Marriot in Chennai. It has been a few years since she did an internship at the hotel and she was happy to be back, but this time as a guest.
For the last five years, Courtyard Marriott has been hidden behind the metro rail barricades. It’s so cut off that our Uber driver didn’t even know where the entrance to the hotel is any more because it’s been moved around so many times.
Thankfully, all that is due to change now. The metro work that has blighted Anna Salai for the better part of a decade is due to be completed and Marriott plans to celebrate that with a bang. The 230 rooms have been completely refurbished (the modern traveller wants four things from a hotel: fast free wifi, a comfy bed, a hot shower and solid breakfast. In that order) and the Sunday brunch has been relaunched.
The Marriott Brunch Ethos
Each hotel in Chennai brings its own ideas of what a Sunday brunch should be. The Manager of Paprika in the ground floor of the hotel explained to us that for Marriott, Sunday brunch means family with plenty to do for the kids. Having experienced the lunch this past Sunday, I’m very inclined to agree.
For the younger ones, a kids play area has been set up (in clear view of the restaurant so you can keep one eye on them) which is decked out with a mini-bouncy castle, loads of games and puzzles, and even a playstation. My wife had to pull me away by the elbow as she reminded me that we were there for the food, not to play FIFA against the 12 year old Messi-wannabe. Other activities include face painting and a mobile phone booth.
The best part? Kids under 12 eat for free!
When you’ve been to so many brunches at hotels around the world, there is a tendency for the food to start feeling a bit samey. Paprika is looking to change that with a focus on live counters for most of the cuisines that it offers. The restaurant perimeter is lined with quaint little carts that have been set up to resemble the food stalls you see around the city.
Fresh food is piled high and you just tell the chef on each station what you want.
If, like me, you have no idea what you are looking at on some of the counters, you just need to ask for the chef’s recommendation 🙂
It’s also a great opportunity to try a lot of things you wouldn’t normally from a street vendor. If you’ve been in Chennai for more than a day, you’ve hopefully already tried eating dosa. Maybe even a masala dosa. If you’re really getting into the swing of things, you might even have tried a ghee roast dosa (and if you haven’t, stop reading this, and go and try one).
Never in my ten years of living in Chennai have I tried a lamb kheema (minced lamb) dosa – well, I have now, and it was delicious!
Nor have I ever tried spiced cucumber and guava. The chef explained that it was a staple snack for school kids across India. A little spicy, but you’ve never tasted plain old cucumber like this before!
What I really liked about this brunch was that rather than putting out all the standard dishes in big pans atop induction stoves, so much is made to order. Even the pre-prepared items like the beef steak and fried egg are served up in small bite-sized portions – perfect for anyone who wants to try EVERYTHING that the buffet has to offer.
Oh, and the Marriott might be focusing on families for its Sunday brunch, but no brunch is complete without some mimosas, wine, beer and maybe even a cocktail or three. Whatever you want, just walk up to the bar and order from the friendly bartender 🍻
The Paprika Experience
Aside from all the food carts offering street food from various corners of India and the world, Paprika is taking different, month-long themes for its buffets. For November, the theme is back to school as children go back to school after Diwali break.
The restaurant has been cleverly decorated in various items that you’ll find in a school and small touches like the chalkboards on the table, activity based table mats and the staff in school uniforms (yes, waiting staff in shorts!) adds to the entertainment.
Attending Sunday Brunch at the Courtyard Marriott
Brunch is served every Sunday in the Paprika restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel. The theme for the brunch changes every four weeks so for the following four weeks in November 2017, the theme is Back to School. The buffet costs Rs 2,200 with alcohol and Rs 1,799 without. Kids under 12 eat for free, which is a fabulous deal for families!
COURTYARD MARRIOTT CHENNAI
564, Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600018