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ITC Sonar - An idyllic Hotel in picturesque locale: Submitted by: Krishnamrutam | Date Added: 14 Oct 2014
Listed in: Destinations / India - East India Synopsis

I usually stay I one of the Taj properties in Kolkata, whenever I visited this city. This time however I wanted a change and preferred ITC Soar, who?s Coffee Shop, I had visited once or twice. Hence when I landed at the airport I did not have much expectation. But when someone with ITC Uniform received me at the airport with my wife I was pleasantly surprised. The ride from the airport as usual during puja time was a nightmare and that dampened my spirit further. Hence when I landed at the porch of the hotel I was slightly listless, but there was one Clinton, who introduced me as my butler. An exclusive butler, no less. Not for us sir. But Clinton was modesty personified. He is not William Jefferson Clinton. Not even his namesake. Just Clinton. Yes sir, Clinton is my butler. As soon as we were escorted into the great lobby of the hotel, with its waterfalls on the sides, we were received by a retinue of beautiful girls in their traditional colorful Bengali ensemble with a plate of aarti and garland, in their hands. After the ceremonial welcome of aarti and garland, my wife grinning in vanity from ear to ear, Clinton led us alongside a waterfront and my wife stood riveted to the ground on the sight of thousands of yellow and silver golden fish popping out of the water, their slivery mouth fully open. Clinton produced a small bowl by magic from which to feed the fish. My wife spent a good five minutes feeding the fish and lo and behold there were thousands of fish in kaleidoscopic colors and not a grain fell into water but into their outstretched greedy mouths only. Clinton opened gates and shutters by flashing his magnetic card and a long walk and a thousand exclamations after we reached our junior suite ? the ITC One. It was erroneous to call it a junior suite. It was a small little world ? cozy, well ventilated, all sides glass including the bathroom and to get us out of shock Clinton showed the rain curtains. The furniture was not minimalistic like the Novotel, nor elaborate like Taj, but utilitarian. The inevitable king-size bed, a 40? plasma TV, a writing desk with laptop plugins for internet (For a fee of course). The pleasant surprise was they had set up our puja table with all the paraphernalia ? flowers, incense sticks, rice, turmeric powder, basil leaves and soon. My wife was pleased to set up her deities on the east facing table. My computer had to find some other place.
The butler was sticky ? he told us to fresh up so he could take us for the late lunch at the Coffee Shop. We had our fish curry rice and went about our business visiting my business associates. The butler stayed on with us like a shadow and showed us around when we returned. The first night dinner too we had at the Coffee Shop and one thing I had observed ? the impeccable hospitality of the staff. Everyone from the ever vigilant security staff to the house keeping staff were elaborately courteous and did not leave anything to ask for. The second day Clinton informed we should try the specialty restaurant Dumphukt, specializing in kebabs. And some moghlai specialties. You remember when you were on that exotic North Indian vacation and placed an order in that fancy restaurant with an ?Erm? I?d like that item number 6 on the menu, please?? And then prayed to the god of good times that the impossible-to-pronounce ?authentic? dish you ordered would at least be edible? There was Fatima, the cute little lady who had prepared the menu for us. Kakori kebab served with sheermal and mutton nihari. Of course it makes you laugh now ? because these days you can say kakori kebab faster than this creamy Afghan dessert melts in your mouth. Read on and you will believe what I got to say. Before that on to the food. Hyderabadi khameeri roti was really awesome. I have never tasted anything more heavenly than this combination. Mutton can be so soft ? I could never believe and my wife was really impressed. The preparations for these items took about seven hours in all, Fatima informed and the Chef (Shadab Khan) was really grateful we appreciated his love of labor and we too were really impressed. The dinner was superb and there was nothing more we could have asked for. Even the Coffee Shop food was excellent. Their mihi dana boondhi and Moroccan Egg Tangine saut?ed in Olive without sauce was marvelous. Chef Bidhu Bhushan Das a not only an excellent chef but also a real connoisseur of food. He also prepared our daily offerings to god without grudge or grimace.

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The next day we had an unforgettable session at the spa ? Kaya Kalp. So vast, so elaborate and so varietal. They have Swedish deep tissue massage, full body Thai massage, ayrurvedic massage and some other. We tried Swedish deep tissue massage and we were not disappointed. My masseur from Manipur had magic in his hands and after one hour we felt the whole body relaxed. We happened to meet GM Mr. Atul Bhalla at the portico one day while leaving for business and he was all kindness. Of course we did not have anything to ask for. We also used their elaborate business centre and the pool. The main thing that lingers in your memory is the ambience of the hotel. The whole premises are surrounded by lily-studded water bodies and greenery that is reminiscent of the Sunder bans. Overall we get to see a picturesque village atmosphere of the rural West Bengal, especially if you get to stay at the ITC One Suites. The elaborate flower arrangements and d?cor they had made for the Dussehra with a full flower idol of Sree Durga at the lobby entrance and further decorations on the foyers and corridors was breathtaking.

On the third night we tried another specialty restaurant ? Peshawari. Top-notch service, an exquisite ambiance and gastronomic paradise. Peshawri at the ITC sonar is one of the places to go for if you want the legendary dal Bukhara or the black dal. It is their signature item. Peshawari, the restaurant looks marvelous. It is chic, elegant, understated and very ?today?. From the door to the walls to the chairs and what they call a deck? each part of Peshawari spells Afghan Shore elegance, class and contemporary. I like the way they have played up natural elements, the way it is done. It?s plush without even once coming across as flashy. When you enter, you get the feeling that you have entered a place that is extraordinary. The experience is made more special because of the warm smile of Hrithik Kumar you are greeted with. That Calcuttans have been jet-setting more in recent times than ever before is old hat. But now the mountain too has begun to come to Mohammed. Super markets across the city have begun to stock the choicest of imported gourmet food and ingredients. So sayonara, substitutes. People not only know what they are eating and what goes into it, they actually see all these ingredients stocked up in a rack next to their organic honey and whole wheat breads.
The North - Western Frontier Cuisine they serve up is very good some of the finest in the city or elsewhere actually. The degree of cooking and the balance of spices in each dish are perfect. The Sikandari Rann and murghi makhani. From the moment it touched my mouth, my taste-buds started singing. The saltiness of the Sikandari Rann combined with the softness of the meat transported us to Afghan heaven for a while. I had heard that Afghan and Middle Eastern food is wholesome and good for health. Made with lots of ethnic spices and whole grains, you can taste the earth's goodness in every bite. As the Afghan people immigrated over the centuries, they brought these tasty recipes to east and west, to Europe, Latin America, the United States, and to various parts of the world. And now to India through the Peshawari, which solidified in the hands of Chef Navaneet. I will never know whether the item was a chicken or a meat, since it was very very soft, but I was told it was baby lamb meat. The only thing I could tell is that it definitely had the Afghan flavor. Pan-fried and served piping hot with sauce, taratour bi taheeni or whatever it was. The effect was delightful and idyllic. As if transported to a tranquil Afghan household served with love by the housewife. I had room service for the last night ? simple pongal and curd rice. The curd rice of the ITC Sonar is its signature style. The conditioning of the rice, the right quantity of the curd, it?s garnishing with fried mustard seeds and its slightly salty taste lingers in your mouth like the coffee they make over there.
The impeccable hospitality and service made me crave for a longer visit. The ambience and idyllic location of the ITC One Suites still preoccupied our minds like a zamin bari. My wife was totally unwilling to part with the aquatic companions she had in the waterfronts of the hotel. I wish we could have stayed a few more days. But the ITC Sonar creates an inveterate indulgence in your epicurean mind which you cannot come out of early unless you have strong will to stay away from the severe holes you get from the hefty credit card swipes.

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