I walked past the massive bouquet endowed table and spotted the white flowers with hues of lilac instead of the usual yellow ones I see in pictures. A couple of stairs, a brief walk from there and past a few masked smiles, I see it. Written in black on an ornate plate, Orient Express.
The history enthusiast in us would know about the legendary train Orient Express and the two countries whose name has most commonly been associated with the rail route — Paris and Istanbul, also the original end points of what is considered to be one of the longest journeys across borders.
Although over the years the train changed its course several times and eventually stopped serving Istanbul in 1977, its legacy continued, just not on the international tracks anymore. Rather Orient Express — or its namesake to be correct — found a new home at the Taj Palace hotel in the capital city. I walked in to see a few familiar faces, some new ones and comfortable interiors absolutely resembling the inside of a luxury train, all under warm yellow lights. The eye for detail in terms of the decor here earns extra brownie points.
Creating the sepia toned near perfect aura for a warm, cosy winter meal the Orient Express completes 38 legendary years in 2021. That’s almost four decades of legacy, impeccable service and culinary prowess. And this evening we were there to experience it all firsthand.
For the hors d'oeuvres, we started with the signature Camembert cheese soufflé, paprika sauce which, to say the least, was liquid gold. Appealing to both the lovers and non-lovers of cheese, it’s simple presentation but rich taste stole the show. And a side of bubbly was just enough to get us started for the night.
Next in line was the green asparagus potage along with a small portion of truffle cappuccino, both perfect accompaniments on a cold winter night like this one. While at the Orient Express, time becomes a tad bit slower as each course is served at its own pace, giving the guests their own sweet time to devour each and everything.
For the mains, we chose the walnut and gorgonzola cappelletti, tomato cream sauce, rich not just in texture and flavour but also in presentation. The cappelletti — small pasta pockets — were fastidiously laid down in a creamy tomato sauce whose flavour hinted of walnuts and the veined blue Italian cheese. It took us a while to recover from the postprandial somnolence post this. As for the non vegetarians, our recommendation is their signature Butterflied Champagne prawns, butter garlic sauce. And for those who prefer to do away with the creamy sauce, the Gallette of artichoke, tomato coulis is the ideal choice.
To end it all, we opted for the warm chocolate pudding, and found ourselves in chocolate heaven. The warm centre filled with gooey chocolate required only a gentle touch for anyone to get lost into a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s safe to say we ended the night in the real world.