At Kent Baywatch Serviced Apartments, my daily breakfast was at B at Bay Restaurant by Chef Ramu Butler, a member of Slow Cooking, USA. Tamil Nadu born Chef Ramu Butler used to be the Corporate Chef and F&B Manager with the Ramada Cochin and is the Vice President of Kerala SICA (South Indian Culinary Association) chapter and member of IFCA and World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). He has won the Smart Chef National award, as well as one for Culinary Excellence at the IFCA International Chefs Conference 2015 at Chennai. Chef Ramu Butler has travelled widely and has worked in a few countries. Besides being a popular chef and a TV celebrity Chef Ramu does charity work and community service in a small way and has won the hearts of many.
B at Bay is a beautiful, contemporary restaurant owned by Chef Ramu Butler. One can see all the details have been put in with lots of passion and experience in creating the restaurant’s crisp, modern concept – the ambience, the edgy lighting, the cutlery, the menu and the training of the restaurant chef. I am sure this 50-seater restaurant will not be enough when the serviced apartment fills up soon. Even when I was there, I could see almost half the restaurant full every evening and most people came by word of mouth.
The menu features a selection of popular dishes from across the globe. And of course, Kerala food is a big shout in this restaurant. Guests are treated to a set menu for breakfast which includes continental and Indian breakfast items. I opted for Indian breakfast on all the days I was there. Each morning I had a Kerala style breakfast dish.
Puttu and Kadala curry is one of Kerala’s treasured breakfast dish but also served during lunch and dinner. I find this combination great for breakfast – the protein packed chickpeas and coconut curry and the carbohydrate from the puttu certainly is a healthy, satisfying, balanced meal. The chickpeas curry was spicy and very aromatic. Step aside bread and omelette!
I tried the Appam and Vegetable Ishtu for breakfast on one of the days. It was surely one of the best combination dishes. Forever popular in Kerala and usually served as breakfast or dinner. The appam was fluffy with crispy edges. Appam is generally a favourite with children especially if it is topped with freshly grated coconut and jaggery. I liked mine with the delicately flavoured vegetable stew -thick delectable gravy elevated by the addition of fresh vegetables, julienned ginger, cashew nuts, fresh, naturally sweet coconut milk and with bare trace of whole spices like black peppercorns, star anise and cardamoms tempered in pure coconut oil. You can sense the presence of these spices but yet they do not overpower the natural taste of the vegetables. I asked the chef if he could make me a sweet appam and he readily obliged with an appam sprinkled with chopped jaggery and grated coconut.
On another day, the chef surprised me with yet another Kerala breakfast dish – the Kallappam. Traditionally toddy (kallu) was used as a raising agent for this thick pancake made from fermented rice flour batter. The chef used yeast instead. The soft and fluffy pancake soaked up the fragrant vegetable curry that accompanied it. I ate two pieces and could have devoured even up to four if not for the fact that I had a tasting session at another place later.
Besides all the fabulous breakfast dishes, I also tried a few of Chef Ramu’s signature dishes. One of the best Indian style deep fried sardines I ever had in the last few years was from B at the Bay. The Mathi as it is called in Malayalam, is a popular and favorite fish in Kerala. The sardines are in abundance in Kerala. These beautiful small, silver-colored fish are not only cheap and tasty but also packed with loads of health giving properties. The restaurant served this plate of fried sardines as starters and I could eat the same for all the courses – bones and all!
Chef Ramu Butler introduced me to his specialty – the Kizhi Biriyani. He explained that the green ‘kizhi’ (pouch) made of tender banana leaves is tied with vaazha naaru (plantain fibre). The package is then steamed. What makes eating this style of briyani an experience is the blast of aroma that hits your nose as soon as you open the package! No words to describe! You need to experience it.
Kerala’s long coast line means seafood figures prominently in the cuisine. At B at Bay there are several seafood options in the menu. One Kerala dish that is a must try at B at Bay is the Karimeen Pollichathu. Marinated in thick assortment of ground spice, tempered with coconut oil, wrapped and cooked in banana leaf, the classic Karimeen Pollichathu arrived in a steamy bundle dressed with tomato and onion slices on the side. The pearl spot fish was flavoured almost to perfection though I would have preferred it spicy hot. But I guess, the dish was made to suit foreigners and all and I should have just told the chef that I would like mine spicier.
I would certainly stop by at this restaurant the next time I am in Kochi. I foresee the restaurant packed with regulars soon.
B at Bay
Kent Baywatch Suites, Kozhikudu Stop, Edakochi, Kochi, Kerala 682010, India
Mob. +91 99473 88334,