The old-world Hyderabadi charms gives Ashiana Banquets adjoining the ancestral home of Zain Rahimtula a delightful vibe. The premises surrounded by greenery offers respite as an oasis would do in the middle of the corporate jungle.

Now the space gets a new addition – an open-air bistro style restaurant that takes in a dash of Hyderabadi charm, uses simple décor with cushioned wrought iron chairs and tables and garden umbrellas, and the area dotted with tamarind trees, old style juke box with turn table etc., each adding its share to make it a quaint French bistro.

Zain and wife Rama have been food enthusiasts, and Zain on his part is a trained chef with experience of working with European cuisine. They brought together professional expertise and experience of travels to put together European menu with a dash of nativity that comes from their Hyderabadi roots.
The restaurant started with limited menu, simple courses like its décor – entrée, main course and dessert. It’s a choice between Kale salad with chickpeas, toasted seeds, crumbled feta and Tahini-lemon dressing and Nicoise style composed salad with topping of either classic tuna, duck confit on Avocado. On the main course are the crispy duck breast with potato salad, pan roasted sea bass, braised lamb shanks and smashed lamb cheese burgers with potato wedges and thousand island sauce.

For the vegetarians is the fettuccine pasta with veggies and herb pesto and the black bean and feta burger. Then there are the pizzas with whole wheat base, pies and pasta bar for better choice. While the menu would satiate your hunger during the meal times, there are some teas and coffees for the other times.

The limited dessert menu has some not so usual French specials Tarte Tatin – caramelized apple tart with vanilla sauce, Profiteroles with Vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, and Mille Feuille with diplomat cream and fruits. Fresh farm produce and meat from the best sources internationally add the touch of jazz to this heavily European menu with a touch of Indian for example the tamarind sauce. One needs to peek onto the daily specials board – at times there is Jamaican Jerk Chicken that comes with the Imli Sarai ketchup made from home grown tamarind. There may also be the seasonal gooseberry tart.

Sarai translated means a traveller’s resting place – and Imli Serai nestled amidst a tamarind grove with its calming effect could not have a better name. The owners Zain and Rama are passionate travellers and are all set to expand the menu and keep adding more. Meanwhile Imli Serai offers a great getaway in the middle of the city offering a cosy alfresco ambience over your meal or tea. That said, there is also an indoor space for a rainy day.

Where: Imli Serai, Ashiana Banquets, Road No 1, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.
Call: 072078 42900.

BY Rajeshwari Kalyanam