Do you know what’s common between travel and work? The answer is Food. Yes! Whether you are working from home or office, food is something you always look forward to. Be it your regular chai break, coffee or perhaps your lunch. Food is something that keeps you going. And when you are staying at a hotel, food is THE thing you always look forward to (at least I always look forward to those lavish buffet spreads)
Last week I along with my friends were invited for an exquisite staycation at Novotel HICC. While I had an amazing stay, the delicious food that we had simply elevated our experience. I not only worked (and had fun) but was also treated with delicious food. It was a foodies day out at Food Exchange Novotel HICC.
There was so much food that we had during our two-day staycation, I decided to share my experience of the Food Exchange in one dedicated blog post. We had breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner all at the Food Exchange. I was amazed at the variety of food on offer at one restaurant. I’d also like to mention that though the stay and the food were on the house, I’ll share my honest opinion here.
The Food Exchange Novotel HICC Review
Novotel HICC is a fantastic property right in the heart of the IT hub of Hyderabad. While it’s predominantly a business hotel, it’s a great place for a staycation along with your family. They have open areas with a lush green garden, a swimming pool, cycling area, basketball court and even video games.
Talking about food, Novotel HICC has a bar, a coffee shop and an all-day dining restaurant – Food Exchange. The pandemic has curtailed the operating hours, but you can find food here right from 6:30 until 12 midnight. Of course, the room service is operational 24×7.
Bright & Lively Ambience
Food Exchange is located on the ground floor of Novotel HICC and overlooks the pool on one side. Just like their restaurant at Novotel Airport. The restaurant is large and can accommodate quite a few people without being too crowded. The buffet area can feel congested during peak hours though. They also have a live counter at one end which dishes out dishes based on the time of the day.
While they have a buffet, they also offer a la carte items that you can order. Buffets are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also get a high tea if you are around that time. We had all of it – breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner, so I’ll break up my Food Exchange review into three parts.
Breakfast Buffet for the early birds
If you’re an early bird, you’re in for a surprise. The breakfast buffet at the Food Exchange starts at 6:30 AM! Yes, that’s early. And one of the best things about staycations at such properties is their breakfast buffet. They have the best of all worlds – fresh, exotic fruits, smoothies, beverages, continental and of course desi food. We had a similar spread with fruits, a variety of smoothies, cereals, continental dishes including baked beans and desi dishes like Poori Subzi, Dosa, Idli, Aloo Paratha.
The Aloo Paratha was pretty good sans the butter. The filling tasted perfect and had everything to help you kickstart your day. They also had cold coffee which wasn’t creamy and rich. Sometimes I do like such coffees and that was just perfect. The freshest fruits and bread made the whole breakfast pretty amazing. Overall, a lavish and delicious breakfast spread.
A la carte lunch – Variety to choose from
We all got busy with our work after breakfast. Some of busy doing photo shoots, while others like me were busy responding to emails and calls. We did take breaks in between to use the leg massager 😉 The lunch is served from 12 PM until 3:30 PM, however, we were late for that. Yes, I was late for lunch! Since we were here for a staycation, the hosts were kind enough to serve us items from the a la carte menu. Chef Satya Pandari was the man at the helm to dish out their best for the day.
We started with a Pineapple, Jalapeno & basil based cooler that was perfect for the weather. That was followed by a variety of starters. For vegetarians, we had Panner Ki Sholey, Subzi Malai Sheek, Subzi O ka Dahi Kebab. These were served with a spread of chutneys including Tomato, Smoked Apple, Pudina & Achari Mayo along with BBQ Sheermal. The Sheermal was pretty nicely done and tomato chutney was out of the world. As for starters, I loved Paneer ki Sholey and Subzi Malai Sheek.
This was followed by a vegetarian thin crust Pizza that was loaded with veggies without pineapple 😉 The crust was crispy yet soft and was not overloaded with cheese. I did like this. Moving to the main course, we had Bharawan Paneer Makhani, Aloo Gobi Adaraki, Dal Makhin and Subzi Matka Biryani. The Bharwan Paneer Makhani was sweet to my liking and the stuffing could have been more. Aloo Gobhi Adrakhi was pretty good and loaded with Ginger and Dal Makhni was nice. We had a round of Garlic Naan with these.
Finally, we ended the main course with Subzi Matka Biryani. I’ll admit I was surprised with the flavours. I didn’t expect it. The moment the matka was opened, the aroma filled the table as the long-grained rice and fried onions peeped out. One of the flavoursome Veg Biryani I’ve had in recent times.
For desserts, we had a desi dessert platter with Anjeer Pista Rolls, Milk Mysore Pak, Kaju Gulkand Tart, Coconut Peda. Firstly, all these desserts were rich and had a good amount of ghee in them. Mysore Pak and Coconut Peda were pretty amazing and the Kaju Gulkand Tart was amazing. Quite satisfied with the a la carte.
A big shoutout to Chef Satya and his team for the wonderful meal. Also thanks to Raghav who attended our table and was patient enough as we clicked photos of the food.
Hyderabadi High Tea
We were just done with lunch and it was time for high tea – with a Hyderabad twist to it. We had requested the chef to keep things simple as we were all full with the amazing lunch. I’m glad the chef agreed to it. However, the Hyderabad High Tea that came in wasn’t a simple affair. We had Lukmi, Malai Rusk, Fine Biscuit, DilPasand, Osmania Biscuit, Irani Chai, and Mini Gulab Jamun With rabdi. The Irani Chai was spot on. I just had the Osmania Biscuit and the chai as I watched the sun setting down.
And that’s a surprise the team at Novotel gave – a customized #Coffee!— Atulmaharaj (@Atulmaharaj) July 30, 2021
This was my first time seeing this, how many of you knew about this?
Thanks a lot @Accor @All for this amazing surprise during our #Staycation #Socialmaharaj #FoodBlogger #Hyderabad #Novotel pic.twitter.com/nIvMVitQXQ
While we thought we were done, the team at Novotel had a small surprise planned for us. We were all served a cup of coffee which we all denied at the first go. Only to realize that it had our photos on it. Yes! Each one of us had our photos printed on the Coffee. The team explore our social media profiles for a photo and printed them on the coffee. Such a beautiful gesture! Have you ever seen anything like that?
Equally lavish Dinner Buffet
After such a heavy (and late) lunch, we all first went to our room and closed all the pending work items and attended all the work calls. We all then came down and took a long stroll to compensate for the lunch and prepare for dinner. One of our friends had a late-night work call and we decided to go for dinner after his call was done. 11:30 PM is when we entered Food Exchange for dinner. Yes, for a person like me who sleeps at 9 PM, I was all awake and ready for dinner at 11:30. We were told that the buffet would close in 5 minutes, but it was extended for another 30-40mins.
The spread again was no less. It had a variety of salads, Indian chat items, desserts, local delicacies like chutneys, podis, curd rice etc. The main course dishes had Lauki ka Dalcha, Sambhar, Dal Makhni, Paneer Noorani and Mixed Vegetable. Apart from this, there were noodles, stir-fried veggies, Mushrooms, Corn and cheese and Rice along with Biryani. Soups, bread and rotis were there too.
I frankly didn’t have much, you see how much I ate in the entire day right, I couldn’t eat much. So I decided to go in easy. Started with Pita bread and Hummus along with all the starters. I also had Dalcha, Dal Makhni, Paneer with a laccha Paratha. The Dalcha was pretty good, simple yet tasty, Dal Makhni could have been better.
We chatted and chatted until 12:30 am and decided to call it a day. But the chefs had other plans. In no time we had a Tres Leches coming our way. Drizzled with coconut, the spongy tres leches was too good. It was creamy, soft and flavoursome at the same time. A perfect way to end the meal.
Final Verdict Food Exchange will not disappoint
I’m sure you’ll agree to the title of this blog post – Impressive Experience at the Food Exchange Novotel HICC. You saw how much food we had. From breakfast to dinner, every meal was painstakingly planned to ensure we got to taste the best of everything. The food is pretty good with mostly hits and a few misses. All the dishes have a balanced taste, not too oily or spicy – just what you’d expect from a place like Food Exchange. The award-winning restaurant left no stone unturned to ensure we had a gala time. Everyone from the chefs, managers, attendants and servers were all ears to our needs. They were jolly and fun-loving people who elevated our dining experience.
So the next time you are planning a meal at the Food Exchange Novotel HICC, make it a point to talk to people there. I’m sure you’ll have a good experience. And in case you cannot visit the place, you can even order from their set menu items that are available for order on Swiggy and Zomato.
Quite a lengthy post right? Lots of food too. So what do you look forward to the most when you are staying at a hotel? Is it breakfast, lunch or dinner? And what’s that one dish that makes you drool? Let me know in the comments below, tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM me on Instagram or Get In Touch.