It is said that first love is always special -- and so is the first venture. So say Sagar Sharma and Ramneek Pantal, who have joined hands to launch Spellbound restaurant here.
Be it bringing kabuli channa together with paneer or giving an "aam chutney" twist to paneer tikka, Spellbound stands out for its interesting concoctions, while keeping health in mind.
Spellbound is the brainchild of Sharma, with his marketing background, and Pantal -- model, anchor and host.
"It is the first venture for both of us. We come from different streams. We have done the whole place ourselves. We did it because we wanted to make a place where we feel comfortable going to," Pantal told IANS.
Spread across 15,000 sq ft (11,500 sq ft floor and 3,500 sq ft terrace -- which will become operational from December 15), Spellbound opened its doors in Gardens Galleria in November.
And it looks chic. Be it the elegant water fountain at the entrance, the classy chandeliers to the elaborate art pieces on the walls, each item has a story to tell, and has been placed with only one aim -- to hold the customer spellbound.
Getting to the gastronomical story, the restaurant has a lot to offer to satiate one's foodie spirit.
With celebrity chef Izzat Hussain in charge of the kitchen, Spellbound offers delectable Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine. And what's unique about the Mughlai cuisine at the place? Well, it is prepared without using water, artificial colour or yoghurt.
The menu, with its balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, will not leave anyone disappointed.
One can start with paneer aam chutney tikka -- cubes of cottage cheese stuffed with mango chutney. The mix of tangy and sweet lies well on the tongue, and lingers long after one has finished with it.
Other options are: Shahi malai tikka, vegetable galauti kebab, tilli paneer and Izzati Shikhampuri shami kebab.
Murgh kalapasi (boneless chicken thigh marinated with a variety of black spices and cooked in a tandoor) should not be missed. It emerged as a clear winner with a melt-in-the-mouth quality. It was a tad spicy though.
For the main course, non-vegetarians can choose among murgh begam pasanda (chicken cooked in golden brown gravy infused with kasoori methi), mutton badami korma (sauteed boneless pieces of lamb slow-cooked in a rich almond gravy), malai boti kabab (lamb cooked in exotic ingredients) and fish qalia (fish marinated with turmeric and saffron).
Veggies can try the kabuli paneer (chickpeas with cottage cheese), and chukandar paneer (beetroot gravy with ginger garlic paste cooked with Indian cheese).
There is a fusion twist to the Spellbound story as well with an array of treats like pastas, pizzas, sliders and continental dishes.
To cap off the royal meal, there is nothing better than baadami halwa. But the dessert section has limited options.
Spellbound is clearly an earnest attempt. But considering the competition and concepts other outlets are introducing, it needs to add more zing to the menu and the place. At the moment, the food is good but nothing one has not already tried.
Where: Second floor, Gardens Galleria, Plot A2, Sector 38 A, Noida
Timings: 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Price: Rs 2,500 for two people plus taxes without alcohol.
(Sugandha Rawal was invited by Spellbound to review the restaurant. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)