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Mangal Pandey for dinner aboard a vintage train
Jacinta Pilakkot in Bangalore | September 21, 2005 10:03 IST
Getting started off on a gastronomical ride with Tantia Tope, Mangal Pandey and Lord Canning for dinner aboard a vintage train, is turning out to be a novel experience for hundreds of city food connoisseurs, keen on 'tasting a slice of history'.
Modelled on the lines of the trains of the 1850s 'Sahib, Sind and Sultan', a city restaurant is attracting scores of food lovers, thanks to its imaginative concept of dishing out a unique experience of eating out of a vintage train.
"The train has been named after 'Sahib, Sind and Sultan' the three engines that hauled India's first train as it chugged out of Bori Bunder to Thane station with its 14 carriages and 400 passengers amidst the deafening roar of a 21 gun salute on April 16, 1853," says Babita Jayani, Vice President marketing of the BJN group of hotels.
Located bang in the middle of a bustling shopping mall, stepping into the vintage train-styled is an anachronistic experience in itself.
"We wanted people keen on getting off the fast track of a city life to a slow track of a laid back era, to experience the time difference when they step inside," says Jayani.
The restaurant resembling luxury coach of a train stationed at a platform waiting to chug off on a culinary odyssey, attempts to create the ambience of the much-written legendary train travel of the British Raj with its own whiff of romance and mystique while enjoying some 'barrakhana'.
The luxury coach-styled dining area is constructed over wooden sleepers, strewn with cobble stones, while the platform section dining space completes the old world charm with its tin sheds, supported by wrought iron pillars and brass plates with the platform numbers inscribed on them.
The pullman carriage styled coach, painted in rich blue with 'Vulcan Foundary' (the company that constructed the original locomotive in 1852) written boldly across it, beckons food connoisseurs to step in.
Once inside, the magic of history takes over.
The quaint wooden tables and chairs, the side panels done up in crimson upholstery with flecks of gold, the soft lights thrown off by English dainty lamps with gold trimmings, the flannelled ceilings and the gleaming sideboards with exquisite carvings and polish--all succeed in transporting a dinner to the vicegral splendour of the 1850's.
The 1850's look is complete as the English velvet hats and wicker baskets stare down at your face and the breeze from whirring blades of a fan set inside wrought iron grills lightly touches your face.
"Many of these things have been sourced from various collectors and some specially crafted by our master designers," informs Babita.
The steward along with the chef beckons you to have a pick from the menu that lists names of erstwhile British stalwarts. Diners could have a pick from `Lord Canning's Tandor Kane, Lord Mountbatten's Lobster Choice, Mugh Malai Chop a La Dalhousie to Campbell's favourite.
Not to be outdone by the British rulers, there is a liberal choice of gastronomical delights of the 1857. Diners could choose from `Jhansi Ki Rani Ki Farmaish' (a combination of semolina and flour chips), Tantia Tope Lah Jawab, or from Nana Sahib Ki Pasand (crispy cubes of potato).
One could also taste the fiery spirit of Mangal Pandey for dinner by opting for `Mangal Pandey Ki Pasand' (a dish of chickpeas in spicy sauce).
The steward dressed in khakhi apparel, his legs sunk into knee-length leather boots, and with a menu order sheet resembling a ticket chart, guides you as you place the order.
As one peeps out of the huge glass windows, while waiting for that royal spread, the view of the 1850 platform, is one that endearingly lingers on even post-lunch or dinner.
The strategically placed mirrors on either end of the restaurant cleverly creates an optical illusion of a never-ending platform. However it is the illusion of twinkling stars littered on a dim blackish blue sky, peeping out of a tin roof that lends a realistic feel of waiting on a platform on a wintry night of 1853.
The image of quintenssential coffee shop where the `red pugadies' and the `red suits' are huddled in separate groups, gives an inkling of the colonial rule. An image of an Indian clerk wearing the traditional turban from behind a glass counter inscribed "Ticket counter" and a map of undivided India hanging down the wall completes the old world look.
A railway announcement heralds the arrival of food, all served in silver plates for that feel of Indian royalty.
After chugging down the food track, the culinary odyssey is complete after being bid off in the traditional Indian hospitality with an invitation to come back again.