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Restaurant Review – The Market

On Christmas Eve, I dined at The Market in The Ritz-Carlton. So this review is a little overdue.

But the flavours of the meal I ate, still dance on my tongue. It was a memorable one, partially owing to my company of course. And memorable meals are the best ones, I believe.

The Market is a multi-cuisine restaurant. The menu is laid out buffet style, starting right from the entrance. So if you don’t like being greeted by your food, this could be a little off-putting. But the upside is that, the restaurant means serious variety.

There are three open kitchen islands around which the main course counters are set up. The navigation is not the most well constructed. The five different salads followed by the terrines, led me to the dessert. A petty qualm that was forgotten as soon as we laid eyes on that dessert counter.

My brother, who was my company that night, echoed the sentiments of Jaques Torres when he asked, “Want to eat dessert first?”

Even though we didn’t, I’ll start from the dessert. It was the eve of Christmas day after all.

Gingerbread cookies shaped like pine trees, snowmen and of course, gingerbread men. The green, white and red marzipan brought them to life, in both taste and aesthetics. The ginger element was just the right amount of vague.

Multiple rows of little dessert cups lined the rest of the counter that ended with a Christmas tree made of Rice Krispies. I resisted the temptation to break and gobble it like an obnoxious child. The passion fruit pudding and the dark chocolate apricot mousse came out as winners for us.

The plum pudding sat hidden in a warmer – rich, dark, moist and oh so festive. And speaking of festive, there was eggnog and pumpkin cappuccino, which I will save for later.

The Asian counter had a choice of four pre-marinated fishes that you can have brought to you in a steam basket. Maki rolls and tempura were next in line. We were served fish and chips, wrapped in conical brown paper with a ramekin of tartar sauce. It’s adorable how an internationally acclaimed five star hotel like The Ritz assures the authenticity of street food service.

I also tried the pork in black bean sauce with some steamed white rice. It tasted like chicken. That aside, the flavours in the sauce were pleasant.

We were served kababs, which simply put - melted. As for the other Indian dishes, I stayed away from them. But only because, having eaten at Riwaz earlier, I knew what to expect. That it is outstanding; I can assure any reader/diner.

The buffet rightfully included turkey, which was paired with a thick gravy, heavily seasoned mash, veggies, raspberry jelly, roasted potatoes and bacon wrapped cocktail sausages. Clearly, a meal by itself.

It might seem that the veggies would be treated like outcasts, owing to its more popular companions on the plate. But their fresh sweetness only put them in the spotlight. The roasted potatoes were preferred over their mashed alternative. The playful little cubes of raspberry jelly proved to be the perfect contrast for the salty, crispy turkey skin. We wished for more of those rubies. The sausage wraps were a treat.

In the centre of the dining hall are the breads, cold cuts and cheese. Against one of the pillars in the restaurant is the little cart manned by the restaurant’s lady bartender.

My brother and I refrained from alcohol that night, with the exception of the eggnog. So we were spoilt with mocktails of every kind, until there were more mocktails than food on our table. The apple-cranberry shots were a fun surprise. As instructed, we drank them in a single gulp only to be left slurping the glass noodles that were lying hidden.

The F&B manager also arranged for a show of the whiskey cocktail that they claim is a famous concoction. Made by tossing the flambéed liquor between two small steel buckets, the cocktail is scented with lavender oil among other things.

Food aside, The Market is regal without being imposing. Couch style seats are accompanied by tall, oversized lamps. Auburn lighting engulfs the restaurant. Look up and you will see what you want to believe are icicles of mercury chiselled to form smooth rectangles. Buffet on one side, the restaurant is flanked by full length windows that overlook the city on the other side.

The elegance of the restaurant extends beyond the ambiance and to the service, which is what The Ritz is renowned for. The live music was contributed by a duo that truly knew how to entertain.

We ended our meal with the eggnog. Each luscious sip was spiced with hints of cinnamon. The rum served its purpose when we had to brave the city’s chilly winds later. Sadly, the pumpkin cappuccino was removed from the counter before I got to it. Life is indeed, too short.