No, you cannot take any photograph of the buffet. My friend Raj was visibly taken aback. His reasoning that we are foodies and have taken food photographs at different restaurants cut no ice with Mr Chandra, the Manager of Sigree. He blamed it on company policy, though I pointed out to him that I had taken photos of the buffet at Oh! Calcutta (their sister concern) on 31st December last year.
Clearly, our food quest at Sigree had not started on a high note. The Manager agreed that we could only take photographs of our own food plates but this surprised us no end. But then Sigree is part of Specialty Restaurants, one of the largest restaurant chains of India having flagship brands like Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta, so they must be having their own set of rules.
The Begumpet restaurant is classily decorated. Seating is comfortable. We were initially surprised that we were the only people eating in the restaurant, but as time passed couple of more tables got occupied too.
My friend Raj and I decided on the lunch buffet on this Thursday afternoon. We were provided an elaborate menu with 6 starters, and 10 main courses. The soups and starters would be served on the table, whereas we can help ourselves to the other food.
We both ordered for slushes, mine was a pineapple and basil swirl. Unfortunately the taste of pineapple did not come though at all, and all it tasted was like some diluted fruit juice. My friend however liked the cucumber based drink he ordered. I took a sip too and it was quite nice.
The soup served was Gosht Basil. The creamish soup looked similar to an awesome mutton soup I had tasted recently at Karims in Delhi, so it raised my expectations. It was a good soup, but definitely not great.
The vegetarian starters came next. The Afghani Tikki tasted just like South Indian Masala Vada (seriously!) did not know this similarity between Kabul and Chennai cuisine. The Ajwaini Paneer Tikka was awesome soft pieces of paneer in a strong ajwain flavored marinade. I promptly asked for a second helping.
Among the non veg starters was the Mince Gilafi Seekh kabab soft and succulent. This was definitely the best dish for me that afternoon. The seekh kababs literally melted in the mouth. The Amritsari Machhi, one of the better known dishes of Sigree was decent. The Hari Mirch ka Chicken was a disappointment. Frankly the spices and marinade tasted fine, but the chicken pieces were fibrous and not well done. This is not expected in an established food chain like Sigree.
On to the main courses then. Of the main veg courses Dal Lasooni was fabulous. The Alu Bhindi tasted good too. The Palak Paneer was usual, nothing to right home about. I liked the vegetable pulao, went well with the Rye Tomatar ki Subzi a mustard and tomato based vegetarian preparation.
The star in the non-veg main courses was Gosht Aloo Curry. It typically tasted like the great mutton curry available in the Bengal-Bihar border area (though I do not know if the intention was to cook this dish). I remembered my days in Jamshedpur when I used to savour similar Mutton Curry with Poories. The curry looked awesome and tasted awesome not too thick, not too light with the right amount of spices.
The taste of Murgh Dopiaza was good. However the chicken in this was fibrous too. The Chicken Biryani was clearly a North Indian preparation however not a blockbuster.
Among the desserts loved the Gajar Ki Kheer and the Shahi Tukda. The Gulab Jamuns were decent too.
Service was prompt. Very few tables were occupied during lunch time and the waiters were always on hand.
Overall, compared to my earlier experiences in this restaurant this visit was a slight disappointment. I was looking forward to an excellent experience, so was my expectation too high?