Once Upon A Time might have been just another upmarket restaurant were it not for where it's located. Green Park
has a history of not being just a hotel - every pub-hopping teenager in town and his friend knows Escape
, and the midnight biryani at Tulips
is surprisingly patronized by even families (considering it starts at 11:30pm).
Once Upon A Time is a case of the trickle from the bigger successes turn into a steady flow - the address has helped, the floating crowds have helped. You're unlikely to name it among your top 5 favorite restaurants in town, but it does draw crowds. Add to that the fact that Tulips is a coffee shop while Once Upon A Time serves an actual full-fledged Indian menu - "Princely Cuisine of India" - and that makes only one real place for a proper meal at Green Park.
The fairly roomy restaurant can seat about 80, and with a red hue, does look rather royal. A smoking section helps, especially with the revellers from Escape who need to eat - and if their party's not over yet, they get liquor here too. And of course, the service is as professional as it gets in a 3-star hotel.
Once Upon A Time offers a menu spanning North-Indian, Hyderabadi, Andhra and Chinese cuisine, and close to 150 items on the muster also increases the chance that you'll find a full course that floats your boat.
Salads, soups and kebabs make up the intro for the Indian section. If the standard names in soups aren't your thing, you can opt for a Canja de Galina (chicken with rice and peppercorns). Soups cost Rs. 55 at the time that we write this in Feb 2008, putting the place actually on par with an Alex's Kitchen
. Kebab platters, Rs. 190 for non-veg and Rs. 140 for veg, are a good choice if you are in a group, and there are also intriguing names like Peshawari Seekh Kebab and Ajwaini Maha Tikka.
The Indian main course offers a dozen choices each in veg and non-veg, with names like Royyala Iguru, Karvepak Mamsam Vepudu and Veg Nublu Koora showing an interior Andhra expertise too. There are, of course, all the standard North-Indian items like Kadai Paneer and Kheema Kolhapuri for all the non-local crowds. Plus a roster of roti varieties. Rices include the biryanis the place has built up a reputation for, but also a Bisi Bele Bhaath.
The Chinese menu is pretty standard, with soups at Rs. 50, 10 starters each in veg and non-veg at Rs. 90 to Rs. 250 (when you hit seafood), and 20 main course items spanning chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian priced Rs. 95 to Rs. 225. A dozen dishes in noodles and rice cost Rs. 75 to Rs. 135. Yes, for the address and the quality of service, the prices are pretty generous.
A dozen desserts priced Rs. 55 - Rs. 75, with the popular local Khubani Ka Meetha and Double Ka Meetha getting pride of place, help you wind up gracefully. Friday and Saturday nights also see Green Park's midnight biryani being offered at Once Upon A Time as well, to accommodate the crowds.
For upmarket dining without serious bleeding, Once Upon A Time is a great choice. And if there are no cover charges and you've never done it before, peep into Escape once - the original pub of Hyderabad.