Variety

The Flying Elephant - review

Elizabeth Mathew March 20 | Updated on March 18, 2013

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Heading down to the Park Hyatt back in November 2012 when they had just opened, I remember being shown around the property by the General Manager and the hotel’s architect, Geroge Wong. Eager to show off the new property, I was taken to every part of the hotel but when we stood outside the lotus pond and looked across at the ‘wing’ of the as-yet unopened restaurant – everyone was suddenly silent, as though they had been sworn to secrecy. Other than a name – The Flying Elephant – not a single detail was given out, not even a possible opening date.

When there’s secrecy there’s bound to be speculation and I’m guessing this is exactly what Park Hyatt wanted for their signature restaurant. Well, the secrecy paid off and the opening of the Flying Elephant was a much-anticipated event with performers, drag queens and a sexy saxophonist, all living up to the hype. Since it’s opening a fortnight ago, the buzz doesn’t seem to have died down one bit. For a hotel that promised luxury that’s more felt than seen and preferred to stick to word of mouth for publicity, the restaurant definitely seems like the rebellious, adventurous son of a stoic, reserved father.

Elephant in the room

The restaurant has a definite vibe to it that’s fun and young, but the ‘fine-dining’ tag does seem to haunt it. The end result is that the place is hard to slot under one label, and it seems to work just fine so far. While there are sections with books and relaxed lounge seating, the bar is definitely a more upbeat and lively area. One level has a wall in bright orange covered with mirror work in an ethnic Indian pattern, the other end has plain glass covering the entire wall, overlooking the pond outside. An old fashioned elevator that moves exactly at the same speed as its predecessors from many decades ago, takes you to the cosy private dining area at the top.

The Flying Elephant’s concept seems to be inspired by another extremely popular restaurant from a Hyatt property – the Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. Located in the mezzanine floor of the hotel and serving from nine different kitchens, including  a yakitori grill, sushi-sashimi bar, a western grill, steam basket, the patisserie and more. The restaurant is a trend-setter in the concept of one location and multiple cuisines.

Similarly, calling itself avant-garde and promising a ‘multi-sensory’ experience, The Flying Elephant is definitely the first of its kind in terms of a theatrical dining experience – I mean, where else would you find the waiters, manager and attendants all breaking into the Gangnam Style every few hours?

A Pachyderm’s diet

Five interactive live kitchens, spanning five levels, each serving a different kind of cuisine is the USP of the restaurant, which combines what other hotels would have as speciality restaurants, into one large space. The menu is a combination of Turkish, Indian, Western and South-East Asian styles of cooking and the eclectic mix works.

We started off our meal with a cocktail speciality of the house called Happily Ever After. I wasn’t sold on the name, but the drink won me over as the mix of vodka and chardonnay with lime juice and crushed grapes. We were off to a refreshing start.

The menu seems like a melange of everything under the sun, so we pick out a mix of dishes to taste and Chef Megha promises to send us some of the house’s specialties as well. Expectations were high after all we’d heard, and it was with a mix of wariness and anticipation that we started off the salad with six different kinds of lettuce and grilled asparagus garnished with truffle oil. Next up was chicken satay with peanut and chilly sauce, chewy calamari and bacon – which make a rather unique combination for a salad, and lightly-spiced Teppan-fried tiger prawns. So far, the food seemed to live up to our expectations and managed to leave our palates satisfied.

The pork back ribs raise the bar, with perfectly cooked meat that falls off the bone and a tangy barbecue sauce, but what really bowls us over is the lamb rendang curry served with buttered rice. Both the Adana lamb kebab and the Chilean sea bass that follow don’t impress – the kebabs were surprisingly bland and the fish was missing some much need tang. We tried dousing the kebab is the chilly paste that accompanied it, but it was sadly, beyond any spicy redemption. Looks like the lamb curry was definitely a tough act to follow.

The ultimate test, for dessert at any restaurant, is the tiramisu. Get this one right, and right there is the gold star for the pastry chef. So obviously, we asked for the tiramisu and the hostess convinced us we needed to try the crème caramel as well. While the tiramisu came with great preamble – about how they don’t use Kahlua like other restaurants but use real Espresso, it sadly wasn’t worth the wait. The crème caramel was passable but it didn’t have the light, airy, melt-in-the-mouth texture that the dish really needed.

Post-dinner, trying to dissuade the insistent hostess from bringing us coffee, its hard not to wonder what it is that Over-the-top and eclectic seem to sit side by side with old world charm and warm wood in a luxurious mix that seems to be cut from a cloth all of its own – and The Flying Elephant seems to pull it off.

What: The Flying Elephant

Where: Park Hyatt, Velachery

How much: Rs 3,500 for two; without alcohol

elizabeth. mathew@thehindu. co. in

Published on March 18, 2013

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