Food Critics For The Day : Shefali Deshpande & Srishti Oberoi (Behind The Lens)
Prima Facie Thoughts
Located in sector 29 of Gurgaon, true to its name, California Boulevard boasts the bright, shiny and larger than life atmosphere of Hollywood in the 60’s, adorned in colours of red, gold and black for most of its decor and a gorgeous, super star from afar worthy bike parked at the entrance.
Inside the interior, old school Hollywood meets present day cinema, with black gold and red yet again making for a striking and bold effect.
Imagine blonde bob cuts and red lipstick, men in black suits with cigars, Frank Sinatra playing as the credits of the movie rolls in, walking down the road in an episode of Mad Men? Welcome to California Boulevard then!
The floors are all paved with the famous celebrity stars from the legendary walk of fame. They have immortalised our favourite stars and here we feel truly closer to Richard gere, Marilyn Monroe and Johnny Depp.
True to its theme of all things Hollywood, the walls are lined with old school black and white photographs of classic movie moments that have ingrained themselves in the minds of pop culture throughout the world; Marilyn Monroe and her white dress flying being a permanent hit for decades to come, or Scarlett Johansson riding down sunset boulevard, fully equipped with movie style posters, they advertise themselves just like a movie would in a theatre and the walls also say to the us that we are, “welcome to the magic of Hollywood”, for here is where magic behind the screens and the magic behind the kitchen doors surely meets.
L.A feelings with a special Beverly Hills lounge, the American Dream of good old Hollywood meets culinary experience from all over the world, true cultural blend and with a wide variet of cuisines. The place is a satisfying cultural blend.
The restaurant is like a movie that celebrates an international cast, an actor from everywhere, a role for everyone and that is exactly what the menu offers, food from almost everywhere and something for everyone!
Talking about the food, we tried a variety of starters starting with Dilli ki Chaat, a very interesting take on the famous Delhi chaat.
The dish is fresh crispy. Spinach leaves are topped with bursts of flavours of tamarind and mint sauce. Fluffy , airy and didn’t fill up tbe stomach too much, leaving room for plenty more as a good starter should.
Sushi paneer being the next starter, was a vegetarian Indian take on the Japanese classic with gooey mushrooms and cheese inside the roll and crispy on the outside. A very filling and very interesting combination, slightly heavy for an appetiser but had intense, rich flavours.
Lahori fish tikka was what came next and it was amongst the favourite things we had. Flaky, well cooked, well marinated and nicely flavoured. not bland, not too spicy, just the right flavours, the right balance we all look for in our food.
The Peri Peri crispy chicken was spicy and definitely not for the faint hearted!
Another absolute favourite was the Chicken Satay, a classic in many Asian or pan Asian restaurants or menus, and here it was beautifully done with lime grass creeping up on you while the peanut sauce for the satay was absolutely wonderful, refreshing and addictive.
The Beer Batter fish came next. It was a mildly refreshing dish, with hints of fresh sea food and good old fried food. The tartar sauce served with this lightly flavoured fish jacket complimented it well, almost like soul food, filling and satisfying for even the most sea food wary person.
These were followed by the Bruschetta which was fresh and refreshing and cleansed the palate for all the food to follow.
Bon Appetit is incomplete without drinks!
The “Hollywood” shake turned out to be another one of our favourites. A milk based vanilla , saffron and almond flavoured shake that went down easily, a refreshing blend of good flavours that work together.
Even though the name suggests “Hollywood”, this is a classic fusion drink because the flavours are very earthy and Indian, with our elements likes saffron, almond and even turmeric, complimenting any dish you have and the sugary sickness is low while the flavours are high. A definite must have.
As the the wide range of starters came to pause, the mains followed our table through the kitchen door.
The Hakka noodles, a classic Indian Chinese dish, was one where the noodles were cooked to perfection and the noodles themselves were airy, light and the vegetables danced in good proportion and ratio to each other.
The Wild Mushroom and truffle oil Risotto, an Italian classic, and another one of our favourites from amongst the things we had, came together beautifully in the creamy richness of parmesan cheese, mushrooms, truffle oil and garlic sauce, while the rice itself was cooked to perfection. A must have for lovers of Italian flavours and food.
Followed these two with a third main with another classic Italian dish, the one and only Original Margarita pizza. While the crust was cooked to a thin perfection, the sauce itself was slightly sweeter than what we anticipated it to be, but the cheese made up for it. All three of these dishes were satisfying in terms of size and flavor and made us feel like taking a long content nap afterwards! Comfort food at its best.
Stealing our Heart, One Delicacy at a Time
Then came the deserts and we tried a wide variety of five deserts, each of which was presented beautifully, art on a plate, classic Hollywood, presentation being key. They were gorgeous and it almost felt like a crime to take them apart to eat!
We started with the passion fruit panacotta, which had the most beautiful consistency and it being a dish with zero artificial sugar, allowed the passion fruit to really come through for itself.
As a dessert, it was sweet just enough to feel good and sweet to make you feel guilty about your indulgence!
And as it allowed for only natural sugars to play with your palette, it was refreshing to have.
The Red velvet cake achieved the slightly salty, slightly sweet creaminess in its white cream while the layers were done perfectly, each layer coming through for itself with personality. It has got that creamy gooey red velvet feeling and yet the structure of the cake was strong and didn’t fall apart all the while being moist and soft. Being a tough combination to achieve the red velvet really did a good number for the deserts.
The tiramisu was an ooey-gooey coffee dish made very well and the TCB kulfi gazzak was an interesting in house specialty, another fusion dish where Indian flavours met the world, with kulfi inside layered chocolate domes, this one is a must try for something new and exciting.
And we finished off the deserts with a classic American one, the apple pie with meringue. The apple filling was gorgeous and cooked to a beautiful brown, while the crust was a little saltier than we expected it to be, the filling of the pie itself was a beautiful shade of apple sweet, heavier on more natural flavours of the fruit and the temperature of the dish itself rather than just artificial flavours. Another soul food classic that was done right!
To top it all off, the staff was extremely attentive, prompt, polite and extremely catering, from the floor managers to the chef himself, we had the pleasure of interacting with them all and they were all a delight. Also, true to its theme of Hollywood, an unpredictable, versatile industry with many flavours of films for one and all, the food was on the same lines.
California plays a wide variety of music from all walks of life, soft rock, rap, pop, trap anyone?
They have it all, and for some reason, following its theme of variety and versatility, the music keeps you on your toes in the background a little, not knowing what to expect next, but knowing it’ll work well with the mood of the restaurant. The music selection had us wondering constantly what song they were playing or singing along loudly to the ones we already knew.
Final Check list –
Ambience – 5/5
Food and drinks – 5/5
Staff – 5/5
We’re giving California a perfect scorecard, because this place deserves nothing less! Stir up an absolute delight this weekend, with culinary finery like you’ve never witnessed before. Luxury, Hollywood and Hospitality combine to give you this magnanimous beauty of a place!