Restaurant Review: Tiqri- Taj Santacruz

‘Taj’, a name that screams royalty, symbol of undying love and passion. The taj group of hotels is a brand that signifies that exact definition of warmth, royalty and sophistication..Impeccable service, sophistication personified, warm vibes overall a great example of incredible, infallible  hospitality and etiquette is what defines the Taj Group of Hotels.Across the country it represents these parameters of  definition in the same consistency, class and with sheer elegance , they let you soak in a feel of warm comfort and welcomes you to a world of luxurious experience.

Ambiance and Decor -The Taj Santacruz is the newest of the Taj Hotels in Mumbai, explicitly positioned at the domestic Airport premises , which obviously attracts a huge lot of travelers apart from the residents of North Mumbai. So was I informed by the manger , that the target audience for this new Taj is primarily for the North Mumbai residents who can boast of the presence of  Taj close by and in close proximity rather then struggling it out travelling toward the south of Mumbai. Secondly, the Taj as I saw ,with all its parameters of representing the divine feeling of royalty and class with sheer opulence  is a tad different in pricing from the rest of the Taj outlets. A little low on the pricing both in room rates and at their coffee shop, Tiqri, it is a way I guess to attract a category of audience who perhaps would find a visit to Taj a far possibility even on occasions for the pricing quotient. Equitable and fair is my opinion.

Therefore  the new Taj appears to be right in its offering ,thereby attracting a newer set of customers , lending an opportunity for many to experience the infallible hospitality and royalty of Taj .

Food ,Pricing and Service – As with the slight difference in pricing,designing it a little lower comparatively to its other premises, it clearly shows in their food menu too. Tiqri, their coffee shop is the highlight as far as a dining experience is concerned. Tiqri, as a name suggests , is a glass wall art, which is deftly portrayed in the form of a beautiful wall decor on one of the walls inside the restaurant. That is how the name tiqri is derived so says the manager. Beautifully done up, it is designed in a way as to give an open air feel kind of a luxurious ambiance while being positioned on the 1st floor level .Opens up to a sprawling space with the staff leading you to find your place. You will feel like their most anticipated guest of the day as you soak in their hospitality and the warm vibes. They are quick to help you with your orders and for the buffet, all you need is a little beck and they are quick to respond to your queries. Widely spread out, it has a square shaped buffet counter with dishes spread out across all sides, while the seatings are architecturally designed around it for easy access. The soups with its accompaniments and papads have the privilege of owing separate counter spaces a little wide away.

And like I mentioned, the pricing for the buffet at this Taj is fairly differently priced ,at an affordable rate of Rs 1500(plus taxes) unlike the other Taj outlets. While that’s a great brand strategy to attract newer footfalls on a product level, I do feel that on a negative side, the first timers would be left with an experience that doesn’t  represent the wholesome feel and vibe , taste and experience of the Original Taj that’s hugely grand, elegance and class personified  in all terms including its wide spread of buffet. That is my opinion, being a frequent visitor to various Taj across the country, I found the buffet spread a little indifferent in terms of the variety and number of dishes offered.

The starters were definitely less so was the chat counter which primarily only had one dish ‘chana chat’.For a Taj this seemed inexplicable .While the main-course seemed in perfect taste and blend with a mix of Indian, Italian and oriental cuisines. The desserts were gorgeous with a melange of Indian sweets and a mix of pastries, mousse, tarts,bruelle, jelly and fresh fruits.

Starters -Grilled chicken with an oriental sauce, stir fried veggies in a tangy sauce, corn cheese balls. Well while the taste and texture were in perfect tandem to its authenticity of the recipe, yet the 3 starters for a buffet in a Taj is something maybe I cant fathom, and needs a strong reason for the management to convince a regular customer perhaps
The cous cous salad was one of the best in salads while the channa chat has a typical taste that was easy and simplistic
Mutton Rogan josh with Butter Naan- Was bursting with flavors with the soft moist tender mutton soaking in the sweet tangy gravy
Dal palak with peas Pulao – was as comforting as you would expect , so was the Rajma Chawal combo that I took
Slow roast lamb, fish in black beans sauce, fish in shrimp sauce with lemon were perfect in their oriental flavors . Perfect consistency it scored high on visual appeal  apart from its outstanding taste
The Italian dishes were a little unappealing with the cheese not in right tandem in consistency levels ,as it needs to create a certain texture when added for a perfect white sauce coating  for any Italian recipe. It seemed to dry out slightly.
In desserts that comprised a mix of both the Indian and the Western culinary delights ,the lanca was an absolute delight while the chom chom was a little away / far fetched from the authenticity of a Bengali chom chom
The mud cake, the dutch truffle, blueberry jelly, peach crumble were all unique and distinct in taste, a perceptible flavor dominating each dessert
Not to forget the fresh fruits which; by Taj standards were of the highest quality,therby showcasing/boasting of  fresh, juicy , sweet flavors
The myriad main-course dishes did make up for the lack of starters and the spread obviously signifies a value for money at Rs1500 even if it does not match up to the spreads at its original Taj . Although the buffet at other Taj is a much more lavish spread almost like a royal feast,this buffet seemed to be a little left behind.So for the regulars at taj,and the food aficionados this could be a little off the track .But maybe for the affordable pricing,it seems perfect. Although I would definitely recommend a better mix of starters to main-course  at this price. With 3 starters and a wide spread of main course dishes, it does not work out as a right mix. Maybe a shuffle of the dishes could lead to a better dining experience. A few more starters by striking off equal number of main-course dishes is fine if pricing needs to be intact at 1500. Its not always about the quantity but also about the variety and the well designed menu that calls for an applause and credibility. So yes, a change or rather a shuffle of dishes between starters and main-course is highly suggested .
And of course the hospitality of the well trained suave and smart  staff sure makes up for it. While I enquired about the elusive complimentary drink along with the buffet, they were quick to mention that a drink is not a part of the buffet, however in the next 10 mins,I had a beautiful lichee drink(spiced with ginger) on my table, offered to me complimentary from their side..Now that is what Taj  stands for,perfecting the finer nuances of customer service and hospitality by treating their guests with the utmost respect , love and warmth ensuring that they go back happy and pleased with a mesmerizing experience that which remains etched in the memory of the customer

Also you don’t go to a Taj just for food,you go for the nostalgia, the atmosphere and its overall experience and of course the crowd that all together exudes extravagance that is resplendence personified.

Summary :I remain ambivalent as regards my feelings at Tiqri while summing up an experience for its Buffet. Great hospitality, warm and friendly vibes,etiquette and elegance personified, luxurious taste in food and a whole some experience apart, the buffet at 1500, while a great brand objective aimed at targeting newer category of customers fell a little flat for me .I felt a wee short-changed, being a regular Taj visitor,being used to their otherwise lavish spread of buffets across the other outlets. But keeping in mind the pricing of  1500 plus tax, this is the best that you can experience worth the value( albeit the unappealing mix of the starters vs main-course) .And of course, the food apart, you will walk away with an experience that leaves with a nostalgic feeling if you are a first timer at a Taj outlet for the sheer  value of money that the buffet  demands.
Overall Parameters on a scale of 5:
Ambiance: 5
Food(Buffet) :3.9

Tiqri - Taj Santacruz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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