There are restaurants you remember for the food served and then there are the places that leave you with a lasting impression, places that gift you a beautiful experience interwoven with food, the time that you spent there, the ambience and just about everything related to the place. You remember not just the food here, but how you were awestruck the whole time you were there, how fun the whole evening was, how this beautiful place stole your heart! Villa Maya, in Trivandrum, is one such place that bowls you over from the time you first step in! Located at Enchakkal, the restaurant is a revamped mansion that was once an ‘Ammaveedu’, one of the residences of the erstwhile Travancore Maharaja’s consorts.
Everything here speaks of perfection and class, right from the signage outside to the presentation of the food. Just about everything! There is a sense of royalty and the whole place exudes elegance – the architecture, wall paintings, the décor, and even the traditional inspired washroom that is highlighted by the unique ‘urli’ shaped washbasin!
As you enter the property, be ready to get enchanted by the greenery along with sound of water in the background from the small stream in the courtyard. You have the option to dine either in one of the small tent-like structures in the lawn or the dining area inside the palatial bungalow-turned-restaurant. Both provide a different dining experience although, personally, I prefer the outdoors for the openness and the fresh air.
The bar is set high even before you are given the menu, which boasts of a wide array of unique dishes that are a perfect marriage of local and international cuisine. Apart from a list of lipsmaking, droolworthy Kerala dishes, you can also find some exquisite North Indian, Mexican, Moroccan and Italian dishes on their menu.
The Tender Coconut Soup here is one of its kind. Served in a tender coconut shell, rather than a bowl, this soup plays magic on your palate with a burst of different flavours and leaves a slight hint of the tender coconut flavour in your mouth once you are done. The seafood rasam too is a must try, if you prefer to opt for a non-vegetarian soup. A perfect marriage of seafood and the Malayali’s favourite rasam, the flavours in this are outstanding. The slight acidity is cut by the right level of spice, and it is the perfect comfort food for a seafood lover.
There is a wide variety of main course items to choose from, ranging right from the Kerala inspired ‘Meen Pollichathu’ (fish marinated in a spicy masala wrapped in banana leaf and shallow fried) and ‘Njandu Roast’ (crab cooked in a spicy tomato gravy) to the Italian-inspired Lasagne and Turkish Kebabs. The vegetarians needn’t worry since the vegetarian options are equally good. The Trio Paneer being one of them, where the paneer is served three ways – Paneer Butter Masala, Palak Paneer, and Paneer Tikka. This along with Naan, is a winner! Do not miss their Syrian Catholic-inspired meals if you are here during lunchtime including the lipsmacking Beef Ularthiyathu and Kachiya Moru.
Make sure you leave space for dessert because they have some spectacular, out-of-the-world desserts to offer! The Jackfruit Tart, that combines the best of local produce and international flavour, is not to be missed. The perfectly sweet jackfruit preserve along with a dash of chocolate and whipped cream blends well with the flaky, crusty pastry at the bottom, making it one of the best desserts I’ve ever had! The Choco Lava Cake, with the hot, chocolatey molten “lava” in the middle, served along with vanilla ice cream, is yet another must try. The Red Velvet Cake and the Tiramisu too deserve a special mention.
The place is expensive for regular standards, but considering the service, food, and ambience they provide, it is a definite value-for-money restaurant. Here you are paying not just for the meal, rather, for an experience that will change your whole outlook towards food and dining out.
This place definitely lives up to the ‘Maya’ it creates!