We don’t usually do this but…
We’ve had some fabulous food in 2012, and only a few really average ones, unbalanced, stodgy…
But lucky us! Our food has always been freshly cooked…until today!
Our worst meal for 2012 was coincidentally our last – today’s lunch at Marigold.
Our lunch, Tikka Chicken and Lamb Kekab respectively, priced at $15 each, were so tough they were almost inedible, tiny is size, the advertised side salad a mere garnish. Yes, that’s a TEASPOON beside the meat in the photograph. We would hazard a guess that the meat had been cooked the previous day and reheated (or overheated judging by the toughness of the chicken).
And so, dear reader, why didn’t we send them back immediately? If we had done so, we were told, the chef would have made us another dish. Yes, perhaps we should have taken one bite and sent the rest back.
But we had waited half an hour already for our food and were on a limited schedule.If it took 30 minutes to reheat two entrees, how long would it take to make a meal?
Furthermore, must we complain to get good food? Shouldn’t we expect good food the first time, especially from a renowned restaurateur? Or did they think that we were tourists? What do you think?
Our anticipation of dining at Marigold brings mixed emotions and loads of questions. The fondest memories of its namesake film ‘The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel’ flood our minds – exotic, chaotic and emotion-filled; the excitement of a new start in a far-flung land. We’re enticed, too, by the knowledge that Marigold is a venture involving Pushpinder Oberoi, one of the city’s most successful Indian restaurateurs.
On the other hand, we have mixed feelings about fusion cuisine, a claim Marigold makes about its ‘Exotic Euro Indian Fusion’ menu – a place where ‘East meets West’.
Fusion is a bold experiment which is difficult to pull off. Good ‘fusion’ cuisine combines ingredients and cooking techniques from different cultures, concentrating on flavour, texture and presentation to create a seamless and fresh dish. Rather than a haphazard throwing together of different flavours, it requires a lot of dish testing and careful execution to avoid falling into the ‘confusion cuisine’ trap.
So, we wonder how the chefs at Marigold will meld French and European techniques with the strong flavours of Indian spices. Which European ingredients will combine well with exotic spices, and foremost, how will the presentation of dishes be exciting and fresh to the eye, plated to entice and persuade.
Marigold’s setting is tastefully beautiful. Strung between the Broadbeach Mall and Oasis Arcade, one wall of the restaurant is a long well-lit bar, the other a long wall papered with decorated mosaic arches, formally clad tables in between and alfresco dining extending into the mall. Doe-eyed women greet us on the centre columns and the elegant Raj, our waiter, makes us feel welcome. He’s very happy to answer our questions about the menu.
Marigold celebrates the cuisines of two different Indian regions: North India (Mughlai) and Goa. Both cuisines are fusion by nature, the North having been invaded by Persia and the Moghuls; Goa being a Portuguese colony for 450 years (until 1961). Goan cuisine has also been influenced by the flavours of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique cuisine. Each of these regional cuisines is best cooked by chefs of the region, so it’s no surprise that there is both a North Indian and a Goan chef in Marigold’s kitchen.
We’re thankful that the menu is divided by section into Fusion, Goan and Mughlai dishes, clearly identifying the dish’s origin. While some dishes sound decidedly out of place in a fine Indian restaurant (Sunday roast, Beer battered fish with thick cut fries, or even Eye fillet with spicy vindaloo sauce, for example), other fusion dishes carry a subtlety which is far more intriguing (Caramelised chilli and ginger crusted salmon bathed in whisky béchamel; Drunken bugs steamed in beer and wine served with curry dips). But it’s a place for the intrepid, and we’re missing the commitment needed for such a fusion adventure. Somehow we back out of our original goal, instead choosing Goan specialties, regional cuisine not readily available on the Gold Coast.
The Chicken Xacuti is packed with flavour, without being too hot – cubes of chicken in a fragrant roasted coconut and spice sauce; the Lamb Shank Cafreal even more so. Two generous slow-cooked shanks are smothered in a coriander and mint-based gravy, bursting with the flavour of fresh herbs! The Garlic Naan falls apart, and we balance the punch of our food with a glass of Royal Mumbai Premium Lager, available on tap.
There are many more choices from the bar, wines and cocktails included, and you can also BYO wine for $4 per person. Another welcome fusion element is the decent coffee, Di Bella; a coffee and cake selection available all day for $7.50.
We fit in a serve of Alébélé for dessert, Goan Coconut and treacle-stuffed crêpes topped with vanilla ice cream drizzled with Malibu. They remind us of the more subtle pandan desserts found elsewhere in Asia, the ice cream and Malibu do fit; in fact they’re an absolute hit!
Marigold was a delicious dining experience, interesting and packed with flavour. We’d love to go back in a group and try the lunch or pre-6pm specials, which range between $10 and $14.50 per person, so that we could experience even more dishes. Having gained more faith in Marigold’s chefs, maybe next time we’ll be more adventurous and delve further into fusion with no reservations!
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