There are three restaurants at the Leela in Kovalam, Kerala: The Terrace, The Club (restricted to those staying in the costlier Club rooms) and Tides, a more casual beach-side restaurant serving Asian (Chinese and Thai) food. I am combining the review of the Terrace and Club here, partly because the Club restaurant is not open to all, and partly because the menus are virtually interchangeable. As we discovered, at the Club they will cook you anything from the terrace menu, and indeed were sufficiently flexible that, with a day’s notice, they would cook practically any dish that you request, whether or not it is on the menu.
The Terrace is laid out around the main pool at the Leela, with a little area of loungers at one end that look directly out on to the Arabian Sea. There was a buffet on offer, but in our meals here we ordered from the a la carte menu. The Club dining room is smaller and has striking views from its terrace directly out from the cliff top over the Arabian Sea.
We ate many times at these two restaurants over a one week stay, so were able to try a wide range of dishes. These included a very good chick biryani, with moist chicken thigh meat and fragrant rice (14/20), and aloo gobi that retained the texture of the vegetables properly and had accurate spicing (14/20). Tandoor prawns were also palpably fresh and carefully cooked, having a hint of charcoal taste from the tandoor (14/20). Less successful dishes were a rather dry aloo tikki (12/20) and chicken tikka that was nicely cooked but suffered from moderate quality chicken (13/20).
The best dish was kingfish in a masala sauce, wrapped in a banana leaf. I had this dish several times and it was always superbly cooked, the fish of excellent quality and the sauce having that distinct taste that comes from fresh spices (16/20). Even better for me were the parathas (there were several variations on these), which had simply stunning texture. In the UK parathas tend to be either dried out and crumbly, or so packed with ghee that they are over-greasy. Here the parathas were as light as you could wish for without a hint of greasiness – simply the best parathas I have ever eaten (18/20).
RT @Caterertweets: Chris Eden of Driftwood to join Gidleigh Park as executive head chef https://t.co/HM3HU6Gs3R https://t.co/mmzRpdGp5I