Bengaluru's Grand Mercure Showcases Local Food and Culture

Bengaluru's Grand Mercure Showcases Local Food and Culture
The beautiful lobby of Grand Mercure, Gopalan Mall ,

The Hoysala-inspired hotel reflects Karnataka’s rich culture in its decor and food

Karan Kaushik
April 22 , 2021
15 Min Read

Last month, Bangalore surprised me with  its majestic spring glory. Within moments of leaving the airport, I was greeted by a spectacular bloom of cherry blossom trees. Also known as the pink trumpet tree, Tabibuea Rosea is a member of the jacaranda family and washes the streets and skies of Bangalore in pink every spring. Back in 2018, I stayed in Bangalore for six months, but never got the good fortune to witness these gorgeous trees in full bloom.

 
 
 
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I was pretty excited to come back to the city that I have always had a special fondness for. Canopied roads, great weather, nice infrastructure, chic cafes, classy pubs, a vibrant night life and a truly cosmopolitan fabric - what’s not to like, apart from those infamous traffic snarls, of course.

And the fondness quotient increased tenfold after my staycation at the newly opened Grand Mercure Bengaluru at Gopalan Mall.

Accor’s second Grand Mercure in the city, the hotel is strategically located close to the city center and shares proximity with major techparks and shopping hubs. I could hear melodious notes of Nadaswaram when our car entered the hotel. At the entrance, they served me panakam in a musk melon skin mug. The cool and refreshing drink coupled well with the sandalwood fragrance of the lobby and took some of my travel fatigue away.

Inside the grand Hoysala-inspired fort-like structure of the hotel, every corner seemed to be drenched in Karnataka’s rich culture. Imposing artefacts were strewn around as a tribute to the Hoysala Empire and blended nicely with the plush, contemporary ambience. 

I was particularly lured towards the Hoysala emblem - Sala fighting the tiger, and an intricately carved wooden statue of Lord Krishna and Radha.

 
 
 
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While I looked around, I couldn’t help but notice the lovely art gallery right behind the reception. I added it to my staycation itinerary and headed to my suite on the fifth floor. 

As I stepped out of the elevator, I was excited to see the gym with its high intensity workout zone. I hadn’t been inside a gym for more than a year. I thought maybe this staycation was the time to change that.

Stylish and chic with all mod cons, the suite had two rooms. The outer one had a kitchenette, a sofa set and a television, and a glass door that opened to the sit-out. The living room of the suite The main room was as luxurious as they come. I was a wee bit embarrassed to see a framed picture of myself with a welcome note. There were some candies, cakes and marshmallows by its side. This room had a television too and, more importantly, a nice office table. The best part were the sanitiser pouches and a comfy couch that looked promising as the place where I would be lazing around in the days to come.  

The large black-and-white framed pictures of heritage monuments of Karnataka that hung on the walls were a feature that could be seen across the hotel.The bedroom of the suite I washed up and after a bit of a rest, went down to the all-day dining restaurant La Utsav. Boasting large open kitchens and tastefully done interiors, the restaurant celebrates a range of cuisines including north Indian, Oriental, European and Italian, with a special focus on the local and lost flavours of Karnataka.

For lunch, I had a thali with myriad offerings from all parts of Karnataka. From the mist-clad Ghats of Malenad and the coffee plantations of Coorg to the coasts of Mangalore and the highway flavours of Mandya, the platter showcased an array of vibrant cuisines.

 
 
 
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For the meat lover that I am, there was Kodava Chicken Fry, Chicken Ghee Roast and their special Mysore “Hanumanthu” style Mutton Curry and Highway Mutton Pulao. There were of course generous servings of Karnataka sambhar and Thakkali Rasa.

The best part, though? My favourite pronthas - as crispy and flaky as could be. I also loved the Malnad Potato Fry and the savoury Avarakai Beans Paliya. Made with a typical homemade blend of south Indian spices, the dry sabzi was certainly the best form of beans that I have ever had.

And could such a wonderful platter ever be complete without some good ol' curd rice, which is an absolute must, when travelling to the southern part of the country. To pacify the sweet tooth, there were the famous pedas from Dharwad. For the uninformed, yes, Karnataka, too has a place that is famous for its pedas. Made from milk and coated with sugar, they get their unique taste due to their cooking technique.

 
 
 
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I ended the incredible meal with the one-of-its-kind and absolutely fantastic Frozen Filter Coffee Ice cream. Prepared from Chikmagluru Coffee and garnished with a shot of the same coffee decoction, the ice cream is the most superlative I have had in the recent past. I eat a lot of ice creams, so when I say it was the best, I really mean it.

In the evening, I hung out at the lobby bar 1026 AD, where the friendly Prashant Tiwari took me on a coffee journey of sorts. I was up for a coffee tasting session on his suggestion and tried a great selection of special coffees including Vietnamese, Turkish, Chemex and vacuum coffee. The hotel sources its coffee beans from the oldest organic estate in Yelligudige, Chikmagalur and filter coffee, or coffee in general, is a major part of its overall essence.

 
 
 
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Prashant also narrated the stories behind these coffees and showed the way each of them is prepared. 

My favourite of them all was the vacuum coffee, only because I was fascinated by its method of preparation. Also known as siphon coffee, vacuum coffee dates back to the 1800s. It needs a constant and direct heat source, creating a full immersion brew system that uses the heat source to create a vacuum in one chamber by forcing water up into another chamber. It was a smooth, full-bodied, and crisp cup.Vacuum Coffee being made at 1026 ADDinner was a special affair as I dined under the stars by the swimming pool in the sprawling and well-kept lawns of the hotel. The meal began with a serving of Thumpulu Peppermint Tea and Idli Ke Chaat which made for a nice amuse bouche. Then came Gajar Nariyal ke Aab, a nutritious and mildly spicy soup.

For appetisers, I chose Murgh Mathania Tikka with Mandarin Chutney and ordered a Mango Mint Sorbet to wash it down with. I was missing north Indian and ordered their popular Dal Baluch Fondue with baked kulcha segments. For dessert, I had Malai Kulfi with berry compote, which came garnished with a honey comb.

The next morning, I embarked on an interesting breakfast trail around the city, which was especially curated by the hotel staff. From fluffy Benne Masala Dosas at the iconic CTR to vadas and idlis at Brahmin’s and the legendary khara bun congress at VB Bakery, it was a sheer joy ride. The trail ended perfectly with hot holiges at Jayanagar’s Mane Holige.

 
 
 
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After returning, I spent some leisurely time at the executive lounge, which has been designed as a library with a great selection of reads. Bibliophiles would just love their book collection and the overall ambience of the lounge. If you are not into reading, you could play interesting games at The Fifth Central - their dedicated entertainment zone. They have foosball, chess, carom, chaupar and many other fun board games.

That day, I had an authentic Gowda meal for lunch. Hailing from Southern Karnataka, the Gowda community follows a hearty non-vegetarian diet. As the age-old tradition goes, the close relatives of the bride and groom are invited by the groom's family for a purely non-vegetarian meal served on the banana leaf, two to three days after the wedding ceremony. The tradition is fondly known in the community as 'Beegara Oota' which loosely translates to a meal with the in-laws. I had it all by myself though. Such is life.

A wholesome Gowda meal at La Utsav

The meal featured delectable Gowda dishes like mutton kal soup, donne biryani, mandya mutton sukka and ragi rotis. But the highlight of the meal were the military style chicken curry and traditional jaggery payasa.

Meals at La Utsav, without exception, are superlative, with most of their fresh organic produce coming from their own farms. Executive Chef Suvaranjan Banerjee, the man helming the kitchen, says that every dish, every cuisine has a story to tell. “We are extremely passionate about bringing those stories to life. Our team here has spent a lot of time talking to communities, understanding the lores behind cooking techniques and ingredients,” Banerjee says.

The gastronomical experiences are without a doubt the best part of one’s staycation at the hotel. For instance, I had an amazing continental brekafast in bed on the last day of my staycation. But that’s not all. There’s a lot more you could do with your loved ones here. Continental breakfast at Grand Mercure With a focus on sanitisation and hygiene, the hotel follows all necessary Covid protocols and promises a safe and stylish stay for all kinds of travellers.

The Information

Book your stay on www.all.accor.com

For reservations, call +91 80 6843 0000 or email to h8908-re@accor.com


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