Travertino, The Oberoi, New Delhi
An Italian lunch in the middle of a working day? Perish the thought, you’d say—after all, getting back to the desk after a plateful of creamy pasta is not exactly an appealing option. Though the new Business Lunch at The Oberoi’s classic Italian restaurant, Travertino, didn’t weigh my colleague and me down after a full three-course meal, it did get me half a day off on account of a severe allergy attack (yup, my face swelled up like a balloon, itched like crazy, and it took two anti-allergy injections at a hospital to bring me back to normal). While prawns have never posed a problem before, I, for one, am not touching them ever again.
However, allergy attack notwithstanding, the dishes are absolutely delicious and not at all heavy. An advance reservation was not necessary in the afternoon, and we did not waste a single minute waiting to be seated. Within minutes of being presented the menu, we had the maître d’hôtel, Angelo De Lola, dancing attendance and wondering why we were taking so long to order: “Memorizing the menu…eh?” Nope, Angelo, we just wanted to make sure we got the most out of our lunch.
Try a leisurely lunch mid-week at Travertino
You can opt for a two-course or a three-course meal, and then combine that with any item from the set menu. If you want to stay light, choose an appetizer and a soup. Skipped breakfast and want a proper meal? Try pasta and a dish from the main course. We ordered grilled prawns with winter melon, chilli and pistachio nuts from the Gli Antipasti (appetizers); ravioli with ricotta and spinach with brown butter, raisins and pine nuts from the Primi Piatti (first course); chicken with polenta and mixed mushrooms from the Secondi Piatti (main course); and light vanilla mousse with caramelized apples and spiced cinnamon-flavoured bread from the Dolci e Formaggi (desserts and cheese). The prawn salad was light and refreshing, and the prawns grilled to perfection. The vegetarian ravioli, in a butter sauce, was delectable without being overpowering. The chicken, though recommended, was nothing special. But the vanilla mousse, which we chose over the traditional tiramisu, left a sweet flavour in our mouths, particularly the spiced cinnamon-flavoured bread. The taste lingered as we walked out of the hotel and rushed to the hospital.
What also sets this lunch menu apart is that most of the dishes are not replicated from the à la carte menu. The chef has not taken a short cut, selected a few popular dishes and grouped them as a “Business Lunch”. If you decide to visit the restaurant for lunch and dinner, you will not be eating the same stuff, which in our book is a plus.
Opt for this only if you have a leisurely lunch in mind. If you are aiming for an under-one-hour lunch deal, then this may not be the place to go. Between the appetizer and the main course, we had to wait for almost 30 minutes and remind the staff twice that we had to get back to work. And this was after we had ordered dishes that we were told would take less time.
The two-course set menu is priced at Rs1,250 (taxes included) and the three-course set menu at Rs1,650 (taxes included). Saturday and Sunday lunches are special at Travertino. On the weekend, you can opt for the two-course set menu (Rs2,100) or the three-course one (Rs2,400), served with free pour of Moët et Chandon, Brut.
Seema Chowdhry Sharma
Reliance Footprint, Bangalore
It’s the first shoe store where, as I walk up the stairs, the salesman comes running to open the door for me. That worries me. Am I their only customer? Is this one of those places where they shadow you? I’ve always wondered whether the practice of tracking a customer’s every move is the store’s idea of good service or whether they are worried that you’re going to flee with one shoe.
But I’m being unnecessarily paranoid—the man in the standard issue red tee leaves me to browse. Unlike grocery store Reliance Fresh (where you never know what/who your trolley might run over in the narrow aisles), Reliance Footprint offers a relaxed shopping experience.
Some background first. For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking for comfortable shoes to wear to work. My requirements: Medium heel (but not a kitten); shouldn’t cost Rs3,000 or more; shouldn’t look like physiotherapist-recommended footwear; should last me three months, at least. I had visited several shoe stores in Mumbai, but couldn’t find anything that fit. I did find a pretty pair at Aldo, but that was for Rs6,000.
Handbags from Jane Shilton and Hidesign (that look two seasons old) are displayed near the door. Further in, the picture gets brighter. The shoes are displayed according to brands—Class Apart, Raw Hide, Inc. 5, Catwalk, Azaleia. These are brands you usually encounter in your average shoe store but, somehow, they look prettier here.
There are also brands I haven’t heard of—Picadilly, Tosca, Monza. I ask a salesman about them, and he says they are in-house brands. So, now, Reliance makes shoes too. I try on several pairs; the salesman has to rush to the second floor every time I ask for a pair, but he’s happy to do that and even has answers to all my questions. I eventually buy three pairs. The brilliant, bright Rs99 floaters are a must buy.
On the first floor, the menswear selection has the usual suspects such as Reebok, Fila, Nike, Puma, Levis, Woodlands, Red Tape. I love the in-house Rs199 Frisbee slippers in red. There are also some surprises. Geox, Ecco, Mancini formals in the Rs2,000 range, Franco Leone Italian sandals for Rs1,295, Josef Seibel shoes in the Rs4,000 range.
They even have a children’s section on this floor. Pick from Monza kiddie sandals for under Rs200 to Sketchers, Lilliput and, of course, Disney.
Plus, there’s 10% off on many brands, and your Reliance Fresh card is valid here too. Reliance Footprint currently has stores in Bangalore and Hyderabad.