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Though I've dined in a few cafes during my trips to Chandigarh and Panchkula, my most recent travels have afforded me an opportunity to explore some new dining experiences. I had visited Serenade Pavilion for luncheon but nothing had prepared me for its transformation in the evening — the all-day dining restaurant at Welcomhotel Bella Vista offers a panoramic view of Shivalik Hills and twinkling lights of Kasauli. You can sit at a table inside if the weather is hot as picture windows offer a breathtaking vista of the hills or reserve a table on the terrace from where you can admire hotel waterbodies and look out to the hills beyond. We had the pleasure of a table in a gazebo sited in a corner of the terrace… and dinner began with Executive Chef Manohar offering us chilled beer and took note of culinary preferences and prepped dishes! I feel it's these small gestures that makes the experience enjoyable.


Pretty soon the amiable, knowledgeable server brought us a procession of appetisers… which taunted our appetite with its fragrance as he walked up to our table! First up was the classic 'Murgh Malai Tikka' which went well with chilled beer as a balmy breeze blew through my hair. It was perfect! Up next, we relished 'Kadi Patte Wali Machli'; the chef had coated fish cubes in curry leaf marinade and roasted it in a tandoor. Trust me, I never ask for seconds and here I was salivating for more of it! The third was just as sumptuous — 'Maahi Zaltooni'. The olive and cumin-crusted tava fish was off-the-hook fresh and bursting with flavour. Well, the chef had mentioned seafood is his specialty — and here's proof! The sea-foodie in me was satiated! Until he served spiced jumbo prawns, all lean and no fat. It was finger lickin' yum!


Though we were stuffed, Chef refilled our beer mugs and insisted we couldn't leave without trying his signature entrée. Too contented to argue, we relented and 'Exotic Vegetables Sizzler' packed with broccoli, babycorn, zucchini, peppers, tofu tossed in garlic soya sauce was star of the meal!! We didn't have room for dessert but the selection was impressive and I promised the chef I'd be back soon for the gelato he recommends. I must mention here that the chef has a wealth of experience and growing number of guests prove it — it was packed on a weekday! And I loved his policy of sourching food locally in sync with Responsible Luxury. The service staff was attentive, constantly monitoring guests' tables and replenishing water. So whether you’re a resident of Chandigarh or visitor, driving up to the hills or in Panchkula… do stop here for a bite. Bon appétit! (11.5.2016)


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WelcomHotel Bella Vista, SM 8, City Centre, Sector 5, Panchkula

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