If you have ever wished to lunch in a place with your friends and have a comfortable time, some good food, lovely ambience and great service, Azzuri Bay is the place to go, says Sandhya Ramachandran.
In the heart of Gandhinagar, Azzuri Bay stays true to its name and boasts of a wonderful view of the azure waters of the Bay of Bengal from its rooftop dining area. Enter and the rest of the place is equally impressive. A simple interior space with wooden furniture, clear pools of water and statues of Buddha help you leave the chaos of the world behind and ready you for the feast to come.
After a quick look around, we almost wished we had stopped by for dinner, if only to see how breath taking this place is at night. We began lunch with an orange popsicle, looking as if it landed on our plates straight out of the school-side ice cream carts, wrapped in a transparent polythene cover – an odd choice perhaps, but we were glad for its sharp citrusy flavour.
A Thai ice tea (Rs 150) refreshed us with its crisp lemon grass flavour while the San Fransisco ice tea (Rs 150) had us sold on the exciting mix of lime, fresh mint and black berries with tea. The Pan-Asian combination tasting vegetarian and non-vegetarian platters (Rs 525 each) arrived next. Special mention needs to be made of the vegetables served on sugarcane skewers. An innovative skewer made out of a strip of sugarcane held up a minced vegetable and herb lollipop, that was spicy on the outside and mildly sweet closer to the cane. While we thought the vegetarian satay had too much turmeric for our taste, the spicy vegetable Thai rolls with the sweet-chilli dip proved to be the perfect foil for it.
What had us asking for more, however, were the salt and pepper prawns – a winning combination of fiery prawns cooked with plenty of piquant spices and finished with a spritz of lime.
To some, starters are a meal by itself and to others, it is the shubh aarambh or welcome to a meal. Since we readily agree with either stand, we greedily gobbled up the Mediterranean combo tasting platters (Rs 525 each). The stir-fried prawns and the quirkily named ‘Almost Shawarma’ on the platter was flavourful and had great texture.
However, the falafel was disappointing. Overloaded with too many bold Indian spices, it tasted like something that was more Indian than Egyptian to us.
The Three Cheese Chilli rolls with cheddar, mozzarella and cottage cheese fillings was also disappointing with cottage cheese that had gone sour. While the Vegetable Crostini was a tasty eat, the winner from Mediterranean was definitely the Stuffed Baked Mushrooms. Soft button mushrooms topped with cheese and herbed crumbs and baked together, we wish it came with a ‘like’ option, which we could click over and over again.
After our relay of tasting platters reached a close, we picked the Bocconcini and Melon Salad (Rs 375) – Bocconcini with strawberries, musk melon and water melon tossed with mixed greens, virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and garnished with almonds and roasted walnuts. We were sure, this was one dish could have been used to appease even the angriest God.
With such an impressive start to our meal, the main course didn’t exactly blow us away. The Veiled Spinach, artichoke, ricotta torte (Rs 375) was a dish with a few vegetables, ricotta cheese, herbs and olive oil mixed with pepper and chilly sauce and baked in a pie shell – sadly it was more lack lustre than the name makes it out to be.
The Chicken lasagna (Rs 400), though was a meal by itself. Thanks to the generous serving size, we happily tucked in to the beautifully seasoned chicken baked just the right balance of cheese.
The Mississippi Mud Pie (Rs 180) was delectable with its slab of coffee ice cream bound with walls of chocolate brownie. The Tiramisu (Rs 180) was soft, moist and decadent. In fact, we’d even say it’s a top contender for being one of the best Tiramisu’s in town.
On the whole, Azzuri Bay definitely is a good place to eat, topped with courteous service and a wonderful ambience. Head there when you have plenty of time on hand and can lounge over lunch and lengthy conversation on a sunny afternoon.
Must try: Salt and pepper prawns, Stuffed Baked Mushrooms, Bocconcini and Melon Salad
Meal for two: Rs 2000 plus taxes