For me, it’s travelling,” says restaurateur Akshay Anand, when asked where he takes care of the creative side of his F&B empire. “I like to get out of my comfort zone, and go somewhere very different from my usual surroundings. That’s when I start thinking and getting inspiration for the food and décor of projects.” The banker turned restaurateur has a fine eye for detail, as evidenced by his restaurants Ophelia and the Toy Room. “The interiors and exteriors are very important to me, as much as the food.
Our chefs will make sure you have a great meal, but I want the ambience to be as spectacular, and wherever I travel I get ideas of how I can do menus and how the space should look,” he notes, adding that Ophelia, the Ottoman- meets-Italian restaurant and late-night habitué of the Capital’s movers and shakers was inspired by a London restaurant.
“Before the lockdown, I would love visiting London, moving there for a week to 10 days, and renting out an apartment. We would go out and try out different restaurants and pubs and experience what they had to offer,” says Anand, adding, “The Wigmore at the Langham Hotel in London is this amazing pub, and served as a cue for what I wanted to do with Ophelia, while still doing my own thing.” Indeed, while The Wigmore is a decidedly British take on high-end retro, and Ophelia is a like something out of a decadent Byzantine mural, with definitely one of the most photographed restrooms in the Capital (“7200 pictures in four months”, mentions Anand), one can still see the commonalities in the vaulted ceilings and elaborate candelabras that illuminate the two properties, a world apart.
Of course, given the state of the global pandemic, Anand has contented himself with journeys to the hills. “There’s just something about the mountains, and they rejuvenate and inspire me. We have built a family home in Mussoorie near the Savoy Hotel and that ’s provided a welcome retreat,” he shares. It’s been here that he’s been planning his new project, and it’s literally stellar.
“We have gotten the Indian franchise for Cosy Box, which is a restaurant based in France that serves as the official venue for the Cannes Film Festival parties. It’s hugely popular with the American and European film fraternity, and we’ll be bringing it to India this year. It’s something we have been working on for a while, and of course there were delays because of Covid-19, but we are on track now, ” concludes Anand.