Laguna's worked hard on its interiors. It had to - the food alone is unlikely to make you beat down its doors. Okay, that didn't come out quite the way we meant it - it's just that this is an exotic place serving Mediterranean cuisine, and not where you'd come for an actual
meal. True blue Hyderabadis gorge in North-Indian, South-Indian and Chinese eat-outs, burp vindicatedly, and then return to those very places.
Located in the exclusivity of the top floor of the Lumbini Jewel Mall
, Laguna is characterized by soft accent lighting and a sophisticated elegance that sets the mood for a classy courtship. A centrally located bar cum lounge cum smoking zone is separated by an semi-circular glass partition from the rest of the restaurant, which itself has a mixture of cabins with glass partitions - presumably for families / private gatherings - and regular tables.
The soothing yet swanky ambience is undoubtedly tasteful, and a floating candle on your table provides a romantic touch. A bottle of Evian, costing Rs. 200, is placed on your table. Don't ask them if it's complimentary - it'll embarrass them and you, for it isn't. Like everyone else (except Bohemia
, if it's still around), they ask you if you want regular or mineral water.
Laguna claims that this is the food that is eaten in the gaslight-cobblestone alleys of interior Europe. Well, those people certainly cannot afford it. As can't 99.99% of Hyderabad. Yes, Laguna is expensive - it's priced in the 5-star league, with a meal for two costing Rs. 1,200 on average (plus liquor, which comes from an elaborate menu of its own). And the diminutive portion sizes instantly lend themselves to an irrevocable Value For Money rating.
The cuisine borrows from North Africa, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, France and Spain, and, as noted, is labelled Mediterranean. There are pizzas and pastas for those who feel left out, but it's still easy to feel left out. Unless you are quite familiar with names like Laham Kibbeh Shawarma, Panzenela, Spanish Paella and Espatada.
You can make acquaintance, of course - that's what you are here for. The service is quite courteous, though, like in other Zafraan properties around town, the waiters speak heavily accented English. For the prices they charge, they can really hire better. If you're lucky, however, a captain will take your order.
The fairly elaborate menu with a healthy mix of veg and non-veg has about 20 appetizers, 6 soups, 6 salads, Lebanese kebab platters (a seafood platter costs Rs. 1,750), 6 items from the grill, 11 pastas and risottos, Spanish paelle (basically rice mixed with sauces and vegetables/chicken/seafood), 10 pizzas, 10 items on the main course, and 10 desserts. There are also 3 Digestiff Martinis (at Rs. 240) and 5 varieties of teas at Rs. 80 each.
The food appeals to those with a continentally inclined palate, and a predilection for items with ingredients like parsley, lentil, tomato, saffron, tzatziki and wasabi. Charcoal Roasted Mushrooms, Espatada (a Chicken Kebab), Prawns Sosaties, Feta Apple & Mixed Greens, Jumbo Prawns, Chicken Picatta, New Zealand Lamb Chops, Spaghetti & Porcini Alio Olio, Chocolate Fondant and Tia Maria Chitton Pie are some dishes recommended by the service.
The nutty chocolates served complimentary at the end are a welcome gesture. There's also complimentary bread with butter, which is a good idea if you did not know the price range before you entered.
If sampling Mediterranean cuisine is one of the 50 things you want to do before you die, Zafraan Laguna is worth a visit. If you want to visit again, now that would be interesting to know.