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Mushroom Risotto At The Comfort Inn

The pedigree of the astonishingly good chef Carmel Raja

I suspect you may have heard the phrase “hidden gem” before, but this is precisely the sentiment it inspired in us at the Pavilion restaurant at the Comfort Inn Hotel.

Comfort Inn Insys is located on a busy street in Yeshwanthpur. It rocks the air of being a busy business hotel in a busy business district—the hotel caters to tourists and business and is great for folks on a work trip to the vast industrial areas of west Bangalore, or even, to visit the ISKCON temple.

Its restaurants cater to a throng of residents, attracted to the hotel’s restaurants, initially I thought because of the rather wondrous offers such as unlimited beer but it all changed for me at the hands of Chef Carmel Raja.

Before I get to the risotto (Italian digs deep with us Bangalore girls), I want to talk about the hotel.

And importantly, its style… a rather undefinable style and I call it “eclectic chic”. I couldn’t think of a better phrase to sum it up. I tried. Modern Renaissance Revival. Juxtaposed Elegance. I’m staying with eclectic chic.

Pick what you will, the hotel rocks an immediately international feel to it and I felt exactly as I do when checking in to any European hotel of a similar nature.

comfort inn insys

And the mention of international feel is a great segue into the meal we were about to have. 

Pavilion is the hotel’s multi-cuisine family style restaurant, that aims to serve up something for everyone. Designed by Executive Chef Carmel Raja, the menu has a mix of familiar favourites and exciting new options from global cuisines. There are Italian, Indian, Mexican and Chinese dishes—the menu is diverse.

We got started.

Wait, soup? In this weather? One brace of a frothy, roasted mushroom soup, and we were in. It struck a balance of flavours between the saltiness, the umami of the mushrooms and the creaminess of the butter, was just right.

And this is the point where our respect for Carmel Raja, who also joined us for lunch, took off.

Raja started his career in the late 90s. He comes from a small town near Pondicherry. His first apprenticeship was at the Taj West End.

He studied and trained for six months, and then got the opportunity to move abroad.

And over the years he has worked in fine dining Italian restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Canada. His pedigree and love for his craft is reflected in the dishes we had that day as well.

After the creamy soup, we moved to Mexico. The Cottage Cheese Empanadas again surprised us with its light and airy texture. The pockets of dough were stuffed with a lightly spiced cottage cheese filling, and served with a Chipotle mayo and sour cream, along with a very rustic house salad. 

And now, the Italian. And happily, this is Raja’s speciality.

Mushroom Risotto At The Comfort Inn
Chef Carmel Raja

Risotto Al Funghi. The dish had perfectly al dente arborio rice in a silky and cheesy sauce, and was topped with porcini mushrooms that gave it a burst of flavour. The risotto was authentic tasting in its texture and seasonings.

Raja also told us he tries to keep his dishes authentic, but also palatable to Indian diners, a difficult line to toe. “All it's missing is some shaved fresh truffle,” he joked.  

Next, to the Continent. Roasted and Stuffed Chicken Leg. Stuffed with a mushroom mousse, the chicken leg was roasted perfectly.

And because I cannot praise everything I ate enough, I mention the zucchini puree and pepper consommé it was served upon. Light green in colour, the sauce was subtle, delicate and deeply aromatic. 

To complete our afternoon of decadence, there was the Italian we all love on our aching palates—Tiramisu. (Tiramisu incidentally translates to “pick me up!” And we did. Italian…  what I can say.)

Made with layers of in-house sponge cake and an airy mascarpone cheese, all soaked in a deep coffee syrup.

It was not cloyingly sweet, it was not too rich, the dessert was just right.

And here’s our review. That afternoon in the stylish Comfort Inn in Yeshwanthpur, Carmel Raja ruled.

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