When Sarah and I received an invitation to check out the Novotel Sipcot’s Sunday Brunch, we were impressed with their marketing angle, as they labeled themselves “The Brunch Hotel!”
While we had stayed at Novotels in places like New York and Dubai, the Novotel Sipcot location in Namma Chennai had never made it onto our radar, especially our culinary radar. We can now consider that blank spot on the map kaleidoscopically painted in with a bright and artful display of “forgotten foods” ranging, as the Novotel décor illustrates, “From Paris to Chennai.”
We were welcomed by Rithwik, the Marketing Manager, and Satya, the Executive Sous Chef, who gave us a tour of the spacious, open dining area with its extensive layout of intriguing dishes, as well as an activity center for kids—not to mention an outdoor barbeque next to the adjoining pool—plus a murukku station where fresh butter murukku, one of our favorite south Indian snacks, was being fried and served in traditional paper bags.
Ah, and served up alongside a refreshing watermelon cooler! What better place to start?
Our appetites were strongly whetted as we were guided from the appetizer spread, including an array Kerala style pachadi’s, to the breakfast bar with its chocolate donuts and buttery croissants and a selection of cereals, to the alluring desserts—Sarah had to drag me past that well stocked station shimmering with glazes and icings and whipped creams—to the more serious part of the menu, starting with a laksa soup bar where you get to select your own ingredients, and finally through the scrumptious lineup of mains—veg and nonveg—including a Hyderabadi style biryani, and ending with handmade pizza as a finale. It all looked marvelous, so it was time to start tasting.
Of course, as we sampled the hot—really hot!—crispy murukku, fresh from the fryer, we remembered why we had fallen in love with Indian snacks when we first moved to Chennai. To wash down the murukku—after we polished off the watermelon cooler—we sampled a light, fresh Sauvignon Blanc, that served us well through our entire journey through the territories of the dishes.
(BTW, the Novotel has a lovely wine list as well as domestic and imported beers and mixed drinks to enhance the enjoyment of the afternoon for those who wish.)
Once we had crunched our way through the murukku and managed to not beg for more, Chef Satya delivered us a well-stocked plate of small bites from the grill: a satay of mahi-mahi, a masala fried baby red snapper, succulent prawns, slivers of marinated beef, and mango pickles, plus spicy grilled paneer along with dark, rich, kidney bean patties and veg patties.
The savory assortment of the grilled plate’s flavors—coupled with the diversity of textures—captured our attention and created a solid outline to fill in that blank spot on our culinary map. Sarah found the mahi-mahi satay a highlight of the plate, with its gentle consistency, and I treasured the baby red snapper for its toothier mouthfeel. Chef pointed out that the kitchen grinds and mixes their own special masala, so of course it was unique.
So, what’s next?
As a freshening break after the flavorful grills, what better than a cooling ragi smoothie with curd and onions, especially since we’d never had such a combination before?
Wow, tangy, savory, the snap and crunch of the onion, highlighting the lovely purple ragi—an especially nutritious variety of millet—and soothing our taste buds to prepare for the next round. What a great way for us to discover “forgotten foods?” But wait, Satya pointed out that the proper enjoyment of the ragi shake was to grab a bite of the hotly pickled mango, then take a drink.
Did I say hotly? How about flaming? What a great combination, even though our spice quotient nearly hit the top of the scale!
Next up, Sarah decided to try the sushi—veg and seafood both filled her two plates—while I dived right into another of the forgotten foods—at least for us—the laksa soup. Sarah enjoyed the sushi, but, once she sampled a spoonful of the laksa, she fell head over heels just as I did.
The laksa curry, a Malaysian specialty, combines coconut milk with a curry paste of garlic, chilies, chives, coriander, lemongrass, and other spices, for the base. Each diner can then select their own combination of ingredients to fill out the bowl.
I deferred to Satya for more guidance, and he delivered a curry graced with calamari and prawns, ladled over glass noodles, and topped with sautéed onions. Oh, my, that shape on the map started taking on more colors and creating a genuine destination for us!
While I was tempted to ask for a repeat of the laksa, I chose discretion over gustatory valor and agreed it was time for the mains.
So, who can resist a perfectly seasoned tandoori quail? The coating showed us a masala base but with a hint of mustard for a sharper tang that lingered and grew warmer. Nice! We both had to admit it was the first quail we had eaten, and the meat was delicate and juicy, with a flavor that was slightly untamed, in the best sense of that word.
Another success for The Brunch Hotel as the colors on our map began to take on more depth and shading.
Meanwhile, Sarah made a solo scouting trip and discovered several tiny delights, including a miniature salad in a tomato cup—with a taste combination that seemed like it couldn’t possibly have fit in that small shape. Did we say bacon and peas and romaine and a dollop of dressing?
She also retrieved some additional forgotten crispy treats—like fried onion ring wafers—to keep us on our toes.
Next, Chef Satya kept it simple, with crispy fried fish on a banana leaf. While the masala coating was surprisingly crispy, the fish inside was unexpectedly creamy and melt in your mouth—a perfect combination. Sarah and I both—once again—agreed this simple dish was a highlight of the brunch.
As we began to realize there might be a limit to our capacity to indulge in more forgotten foods, Sarah decided to sample the wood-fired-oven pizza—crispy crust, just the right thickness, and the perfect char—in the smoked chicken and the veg offerings. Check!
I took the traditional route toward the biryani Hyderabadi style—cooked overnight—with a treasure trove of perfectly done, dark meat chicken, and spiced with a slightly sweet, well-rounded blend of flavors that intensified in heat as I ate. Our culinary map now had contours: mountains and rivers and plains! Should we now move on to dessert?
Ah, not yet! First, another break, with a pair of yeasty European style rolls, surrounded by a palette of creamy pachadi’s in a rainbow of auburn hues from bronze to copper to tangerine to bright orange, with tastes subtly varied from Brinjal to Sorzkkai to Kovakkai. New forgotten lands of flavor discovered for both Sarah and me!
So, at last, it was time to move on to the dessert display. So many choices, so much rich sweetness, ranging from traditional Indian desserts including laddu and gulab jamun and milk cake—soooo velvety smooth and not overly sweet—to continental temptations like an apple tart with almonds to an orange gateau to an inviting Sachertorte and a luscious chocolate Ganache.
Since we were paying homage to the map of the world, I did my best to indulge my French and Austrian taste buds as well as feeling at home here in Chennai with the milk cake and a laddu. Ahhhhhh.
All were delightful—and the ganache was among the deepest, darkest chocolates I’ve experienced. Kudos! Sarah kept it simple with a scoop of ice cream (her usual vanilla), a rich brownie, and a touch of fruit, so all was well with our expanded culinary globe, now more complete than ever, thanks to the Novotel Sipcot.
By the way, while the cuisine—and beverages—are outstanding and the dining value is even more so, the Novotel Sipcot is thoroughly welcoming to families with small children, as the pool, badminton, cricket, croquet, and other kid centered activities to keep the youngsters happy are all available—anyone doing brunch can use the pool and other facilities, adults included—so diners can take their time and savor the extensive offerings of gastronomic enchantments.
FYI, we didn’t come close to sampling everything . . . so we will definitely return!
About novotel sipcot’s sunday brunch
#THEBRUNCHOTEL Sunday Brunch buffet allows you to treat the whole family to some well-deserved time together. Add a touch of the extraordinary to your weekend as you experience.
No matter what you are in the mood for, our selection of chic, casual and curated brunches will keep you coming back for more! The looooongest buffet ripples its delectable effects right from Entrance Avenue to the live kitchen stations and to the Pool. Organic cold pressed juices at the lawns to Bartender special cocktails, fusion short eats at the restaurant to grills by the poolside…we have it all to make you binge like never before. This is a Gluttony heaven for all the foodies out there. The Brunch is laid back but upscale with a range of domestic and imported spirits and beer along with live music on every Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm.
- Non-Alcoholic Buffet rate: INR 1,250++
- Alcoholic Buffet Rate: 1,999++
- Kids: 650++ for Kids in between the age of 6-12 years (Below 6 years comp)
++ Tax is charged at 18%
- Outdoor activities and games for Kids and adults
- Xbox and Indoor Games
- Tattoo Artist
- Balloon Artist
- Live DIY Murukku