Who doesn’t love a restaurant that lets you dine under the sky? A hint of sunshine, gentle breeze, a sound of a fountain – it really brings on those vacay vibes. So does Pondicherry, for that matter, and its here that I found a lot of courtyard restaurants sprinkled around the popular White Town.
But a great outdoor restaurant is more than just patio furniture and umbrellas, right? The outstanding ones have a sense carefully created sense of personality and character. Restaurants like these are where guests come to savour the experience, and not just gobble up a meal.
The Courtyard, one of the restaurants at the Le Dupleix Hotel has charm. You’d be interested to know that, what now is a hotel, was once the residence of the Mayor of Pondicherry in the 18th century – Joseph Francois Dupleix. The original building has been expanded, renovated and modernized, leaving the timelessness intact and is now run by the Hidesign Group, who also own the Promenade Hotel a few minutes away. The Courtyard is the heart of the hotel and a huge mango tree as you enter is one of the highlights. All around, white archs lead away from the square, while tables and chairs are laid out in the hall as well as the corridor between the two. Heritage buildings like these leave me with a sense of awe. I wonder if Mr. Dupleix would have ever imagined there would be people sipping on wine in his courtyard, centuries ago.
I sat in the corridor area since there was better lighting and the staff were pretty attentive, probably more so because they had to walk past the area to go from the indoor dining area to the courtyard. Chef Sathish Rajasekaran, the Executive Chef at the Promenade also heads the kitchen here at the Courtyard, and after a spectacular meal at the former, I was set to be blown away!
The Courtyard at Le Dupleix has a menu featuring both, French and hearty South Indian mains. I’d already had European food that morning, as well as at BlueLine, a restaurant run by the same chef at the Promenade hotel, as mentioned above, so I decided to tuck into the South Indian food.
Rasam aux crevettes – Rasam and Prawns are rarely seen in the same sentence, let alone the same dish. But it worked marvelously in this luscious dish. Rasam is a watery, South Indian soup that’s prepared using tamarind juice, chilli, pepper, cumin and spices with bottle gourd or drumsticks added in. In this fusion dish, big, juicy, minimally spiced prawns and coconut milk added a whole new dimension to rasam, bordering it on the verge of South India and perhaps, the Orient. Loved how it teased my taste buds!
Poricha Kozhi and Tawa Pepper Lamb – I tried two other dishes from the Pondicherry Fusion Cuisine section of the menu – some sample portions of Poricha Kozhi (deep fried chicken marinated with Pondicherry spices), and Tawa Pepper Lamb. Neither of these were extraordinary, but I’d tip the scales in favour of the lamb because of its playful spice mix.
Chicken Chettinad – This was definitely one of the better dishes of the evening. It’s deliciously fragrant spicy curry, with yogurt mixed in for balance. The soft, succulent chicken was absolutely perfect, simmered in a medley of roasted spices and coconut. SO filling! Definite must-try with rice or naan!
Tiramisu – I picked the Tiramisu off the dessert menu but wasn’t very pleased with it. It was akin to eating pure cream. While a hint of coffee was present, the flavour of marscapone cheese lacked completely. I sorely missed the coffee dipped ladyfingers – few of those would be a great idea.
Overall, a few hits and misses here. If you’ve visited The Courtyard, Le Dupleix in Pondicherry, comment below and let me know what your experience was like.
P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own.