Kunal Vijayakar explains how battered five-star hotels started delivering during lockdown

There was a time when food delivery or “ordering a parcel,” as it was commonly called, was only available at casual, mid-level, roadside, family-style, or eateries. in fast food chains, food carts. , fast food restaurants, dhabas, udipis and others. Even ordering take-out from a fancy restaurant was rare, if not considered downright extravagant and unwarranted. The argument often being, why pay these prices if you are going to eat the food at home? I would be more than happy to order a Makhanwala Chicken for take out at Balwas, a mid-level air-conditioned restaurant tucked down an alley of the New Marine lines, or at Sagar, an un-air-conditioned chilliya cafe in Nagpada, but I would think about two. times before ordering Makhanwala chicken at Gaylords or Gallops, two upscale gourmet restaurants with exquisite butter chicken.

This was around the time when I would pick up the phone and casually place an order from my Biryani neighborhood, my pav-bhaji neighborhood, or a local Chinese, not even imagining that I could order a package from a China Garden. , Mumbai’s most sought-after Chinese restaurant. . In fact, few of the more elegant restaurants would refuse to take delivery orders because they did not feel the need to hire delivery people, or did not feel the need to add this service to their over-subscribed restaurant or were simply to simple snobs. I was also refused a doggy bag of leftovers to take home to one of these restaurants, the excuse being that if I don’t store the food properly and it spoils it would destroy the reputation of the restaurant. In short, none of the big guys delivered. But online food aggregators and foreclosure changed all that. Today you can order from any meal you like, from any restaurant you like, you can even order from any city you like. Everything is available at your doorstep with just a few swipes on your phone. It had already started before the confinement.

But what the lockdown did was pretty much everyone on their knees, especially five-star hotels. As the pandemic hit hotels and hospitality businesses with rupees crores, they have also felt the pressure to find ways to support themselves. Sometimes good ideas come from bad times and that’s exactly what happened. Five-star hotels have pulled out all of their food and beverage listings and have started organizing and delivering their popular and sought-after menus to your home. All beautifully packaged and delivered. The first five star that sent me food was the St. Regis Mumbai. Under the name “Marriot Bonvoy Wheels” Executive Chef Paul Kini sent me a huge box of a specially designed East Indian menu. Of course, it was more special because Paul is East Indian and I could feel his heart in the food. Everything arrived nicely packaged delivered to my door by a waiter in livery, courteous and white-gloved. It was a feat. Under this delivery brand, Paul decided to explore the lost kitchens. Also this weekend, Paul prepared a menu of Pathare Prabhu dishes for delivery.

On the other hand, Taj Hotels has launched an app called Qmin. You can order their signature dishes at any Taj restaurant of your choice. The service extends to most of the cities where the Taj has hotels, from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata of course, but even, Nasik, Jamshedpur, Coimbatore, Bhubaneshwar, Pune and more. So if you miss Golden Dragon’s famous Lobster Butter Chilly Oyster or Prawn Har Gau, or Shamiana’s famous Kheema Ghotala, or Thai Pavillion’s Gaeng Kiew Wan Goong, it can be delivered, with white gloves on, to your residence.

Oberoi Delhi has a new menu and take out options. The menus are extensive and include sandwiches, sushi salads as well as freshly baked breads and sweets from their bakery.

And how could I forget about ITC. They too have an app and, in fact, were on Zomato long before the others, and have meal plans, fixed and a la carte meals of their signature brands. Biryani, Black Dal, and all kebab and curry dishes can be delivered to your home, under the Gourmet Couch brand. They even have a full Biryani and Pulao section, which includes Keema Pulao, Gosht Bohri Biryani, Metiabruz Biryani (Kolkata), and Serai Ki Biryani. Biryanis are often delivered piping hot in pretty ceramic bowls accompanied by raita, pachadi onions or ‘mirchi ka salaan’.

As times have changed, and I can say for the better. As they say, necessity is the mother of aggression or is it progression? … or something like that.

Kunal Vijayakar is a food writer based in Mumbai. He tweets @kunalvijayakar and can be followed on Instagram @kunalvijayakar. His YouTube channel is called Khaane Mein Kya Hai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.

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