It is so rare that everything you try at a restaurant leaves you satisfied. When this happens, you immediately want to write about it, in case you forget any of the details!
Lunch at Azzuri Bay was one such experience. This restaurant, tucked into a corner of Gandhi Nagar and situated next to Crimson Chakra, invites you right in – with its green cover and serene statue of Buddha at the entrance. It is close enough to the noise of the main road, yet calm enough for you to feel at ease.
I started my meal with a vegetarian Tom Yum soup – spicy, but bursting with flavour. I had a sore throat, so I must admit it felt wonderful to be drinking this soup. Some others found the spice level to be a little above what they are usually comfortable with. Our other appetizers included a crispy-chilli-potato dish, it goes without saying that any such dish always disappears within minutes of its arrival on the table; and an Italian vegetarian platter. The platter was consistently good, and managed to surprise us with its different textures. There was falafel in pita bread (crispy falafel in soft pita bread), stuffed-baked mushrooms (gooey cheese inside and crispy cheese on the outside, some herbs thrown it too), three-cheese-chilly-roll (I would describe it as a cheesy spring roll) and mozzarella fritta (almost like tiny pieces of garlic bread with a mozzarella topping). The accompaniments were hummus, an arrabiatta dip and a yogurt based dip, all of which complemented the appetizers perfectly. Our main course was Thai chilly rice (with basil and another green vegetable whose flavour was dominant – I later discovered this to be kaffir lime leaves), and a Sambal curry to go with it (vegetables tossed in Sambal sauce, which was similar to the Tom Yum soup, but since we liked the soup as well as the combination of the curry and rice, we didn’t feel like nitpicking). For dessert, we tried the apple tart which came with a scoop of vanilla icecream, and the tiramisu (coffee lovers rejoice!). Dessert was sufficiently good. However, by the time we progressed to dessert, I had become tired of eating!
I believe Azzuri Bay was voted “most romantic”, though I would hesitate to call it that. It is bright and airy, with small and large tables, and seems to me to be the kind of place that would work well for groups, rather than a romantic meal. We were a group of twelve, comfortably seated right in the middle of the first floor dining space, and I must admit we would have made anyone’s meal the farthest thing from romantic, with all the noise we were making! There is also a terrace dining space, which could be pleasant if the heat wasn’t giving you too much trouble. The staff is courteous and efficient, and the kitchen sends out dishes quickly. The portions are definitely large (I didn’t expect them to be)! More than half our group were not vegetarians (but I am), I think they did enjoy most of what they ordered.
Azzuri Bay is expensive, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. (Though it always pains a little when the bill arrives.) The cuisine on offer is a confusing mix from around the world – pan Asian, Mediterranean/ Italian, South Indian. I find this somewhat odd, but it seems to be the norm. Maybe every restaurant is aiming to be the kind you could take your family to – and they would be happy with their South Indian thali, while you had your Burmese noodles.