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IN CONVERSATION WITH RESTAURATEUR RAMNEEK PANTAL

— EXPLOSIVE FASHION

She's young, intelligent and drop-dead beautiful. She's also a former supermodel- turned- restaurateur with the midas touch. Meet Ramneek Pantal. With entrepreneurial vision, the young lady behind the runaway success of 'Spellbound' followed her dream of someday opening her own restaurant and transforming the culinary map.

 

''I began modelling in 1997, and owing to extensive travel, eating in different restaurants and trying cuisines from all over the world, inspired me to open a restaurant. It was always there at the back of my mind to open my own restaurant someday, and marrying Rajat who is in the hospitality business, helped too because he is always there to support me.

 

When starting out on a new venture, I feel having a partner always helps to overcome challenges. Together with my partner, Sagar Sharma, once we finalised the venue, we got down to assembling the best team to run Spellbound — it is always a team effort. Our core focus is food — hardcore, authentic Awadhi cuisine on the second floor by master-chef Dr Izzat Husain and casual dining on the terrace. I firmly believe that no matter how fancy the decor, if the food is not good, one will never get repeat clientele!! And the one thing I have always noticed is, barring a few places, when you are promised authentic Indian cuisine, what you are served is chicken in tomato purée — everything tastes the same!! No innovation. Adding flavour in food needs to be stopped. The lesser the masala, the better the food is what I have learnt. And, I think the culinary team is now ready to experiment because the diner is bored of the regular butter chicken, dal makhani and is ready to try something new. So, yes, all dishes are prepared with a twist; some have been converted from non vegetarian to vegetarian like kathal and kaju biryani; the fact that the chef is a doctor too is a huge advantage; he keeps in mind the health quotient!! Also, no water or curd is used in cooking!! The food is cooked in its own juices with no artificial colour or flavour added.

 

What contributed to our success story? Location is undoubtedly important. Noida was my first choice as it is easier to run back home to my kids — jokes apart, Noida did not have a fine dining restaurant before Spellbound. For authentic Indian cuisine, diners had to drive over to Delhi… but not anymore. Also we are one of two terraced restaurants in the Noida malls. This gives us an edge over others! The layout of Spellbound is such that it serves all occasions. We have two private dining areas which is used for corporate conferences followed by lunch or dinner and private gatherings of app. forty people. The lower area seats 125 people and is perfect for Awadhi cuisine with the family while the terrace has160 seating and is perfect for the younger set who like to unwind after work with a drink and finger food or continental cuisine. We also have a live band that plays Sufi at the lower floor and in-house Dj for the terrace. So, come with your family and feel at home because that is the experience we give you. We have also had large groups of girls coming in to enjoy the music and food on the terrace; to give Noida a place where girls feel safe to walk in and have a good time was a big accomplishment for us! Besides, our personalised service to each table — combined with consistency in food — brings guests back. In fact I myself go over to all tables and ensure our guests are taken care of.

 

Looking forward, I am open to ideas that make the dining experience more convenient for guests. We encourage prior booking for the fine dine and walk-in for the terrace. We also have different packages for corporate parties and kitties. Be it any occasion, we are ready to serve with a smile. I am now working on our expansion plan to take Spellbound to every state… but as of now our next venture will be in Mumbai. After all, no one should be deprived of good food and service with a smile!!''
 

SPELLBOUND
Ramneek Pantal, proprietor, SpellBound
 
SPELLBOUND
Authentic Awadhi cuisine by master chef Dr Izzat Husain
 
14-JANUARY-2018
 
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