Monday, July 6, 2009

Ok.Up until this post..

..the Older posts are actually the most recent.

So dont skip looking at the oldest posts.

Slightly Scrambled order of Chronology.Result of trying to squeeze a few years' work into a blog.

Will post in order, with more relevant details and bearings, from now on !

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mystiq Masala

A friend and i made sudden lunch plans. The options were Amethyst , Cascade or MM.(The latter two are run by Mr . Mahadevan, BTW).
Since im not a fan of Cascade's revoltingly huge portions or Amethyst s whimsical taste/service , I said lets do MM. ( Although im slightly against going to a place that serves only Indian food).
My friend is a complete food and wine connoiseur, so im glad i trusted her.
When you enter, your'e hit by waves of deja vu. ( Really , is there only one restaurant decorator in town ??)
The decor is pleasant but predictable and borderline boring. Whats with every restaurant in town having TWO(essentially pretty) East indian receptionists/waitresses ?( Little Italy , Ecstasy , and now , MM). Im not complaining , but its sort of clicheed !

Ok, now the food.They served us two (only !)complimentary bite sized papdi with a spiced channa paste.The presentation was beautiful, but the plate looked rather bare , so i suggest they serve atleast four, especially considering they were yummy !!
There was an assorted papad basket with three kinds of chutney . The mint chutney was nice and tangy. The sweetish papaya chutney was out of the world !!
We ordered the Yam Galouti for starter. In my Friend's words, it simply mellllted in the mouth.SO DELICIOUS ! It was served with a South Indian style Peanut Chutney and a Red Chilli Chutney.You have to, have to, have to order this if you're vegetarian. (There s a lamb version for the meat eaters).
For the main we did the phulka , vegetable rice and gravy route.
We ordered this gravy with water chestnuts and corn . It was nice, subtle and rich.The phulkas were soft. The rice was good , long grained, fragrant Basmati . What I liked a lot about this place was every dish is presented beautifully, as opposed to other restaurants run by the same chain. I will definitely go there again , esp since my husband enjoys indian food .

Highly recommended !! Also the prices are very fair.

Karma Cafe

Was here about 10 days ago. Finally getting around to sit down and write review. The Cafe has a toasty ambience to it , thanks to the warm ,brown wood panelled walls. The colour element comes from the display of quirky , fun Karma t shirts , that take up one wall. There s also a small display of trinkets, amidst which Mansi keeps this menacing leather and steel wrist band , which she uses from time to time , to deal with difficult customers :)
They have a huge selection on their menu,sandwiches , pastas bakes- as compared to other run of the mill places like Coffee Days and Baristas. I ordered the failproof Corn, Cheese and Spinach Sandwich. My cousin ordered the Jerk Chicken Sandwich.
The portions are big so you can pretty much make a light meal of it . What I really like is they dont skimp on their ingredients like other places(3 corn kernels, 2 strands spinach at most places ive had).The Jerk Chicken I hear had a Whiskey flavor going on and my cousin was quite happy with the portion and the flavor. Desserts are by Sinful Something. Here again they have a good 4 to 5 different items on display , that you can choose from. I think the cheesecakes by SS are by far, the best in town , so do give it a try ! They are reasonably priced , and considering their portions and great taste , Karma cafe is definitely VFM . A great place to kick back and chill out with friends.

Casa Picola

Warning : This post is going to be VERY long.
I really don’t know where to start . Both of us were in a foul mood. I declared that I had to go out to eat. My husband was not exactly jumping with joy at the suggestion of Casa, and he was like “whatever....”.
I called Mr .Deva to make reservations . I was pretty anxious and hoping the food wont ruin our already bad day .We reached, and the weather was quite as damp as our mood. So, no rooftop. Oh and no lizards either .
Mr. Deva and a waiter welcomed us and ushered us in our seats. As soon as I entered, I noticed the average age of the ppl who dined there was around 13. I did feel a little old.All the cackling did not do anything to soothe my frazzled nerves, and I heard from Deva , that this is the kind of crowd that usually prevails till 9. But mr. Deva , more than made up for it with his congeniality.We stated we were vegetarian , and ordered the Cheese Dynabytes and Stuffed Chilli. And wondered what else to order. Deva immediately pulled a ‘ Main hoon na’, and in no time , we were not only eating those , but also , Baby corn fritters and Onion rings . My husband was floored by the Cheese Dyna bites , while I devoured the Baby Corn and the Onion rings . The spicy stuffed chilly rounded it all off really well.
Two tall glasses of iced tea took us by surprise.Fantastic stuff. Not one bit synthetic :)
I ordered Lasagne( luscious layers of cheese and veggies ) and the husband left it to Deva as he wanted something with a hint of spice. Deva kept up the good work and a lovely dish of veggie dumplings and herbed rice,turned up, which my husband gave more than full marks for. We were also served the Harvest Casserole. Honestly , we were too full to relish it fully :(

We had decided we were not going to have dessert as we were too full . So we asked the waiter for the cheque. And what turned up instead were two extremely dacadent , sinful pieces of heaven. The Chocolate Mousse was soo full of chocolatey goodness , and the Profiterole was very different and outstandingly delicious.Whew .

We were positively stuffed till here *points to nose *

We went in squabbling but we came back delirious . What an experience ! The service was very good . All in all… a VERY memorable evening ! Thanks to Mr. Deva ( easily the backbone of the place ) and his faithful army of leprechauns.Such warmth and attention ! Impressive ! Thank you Sam( though we missed meeting you ), for the wonderful extra dishes that were On the house, Mr . Deva , for his brand of hospitality, and CFG , for recommending such a great place !Great evening.

Little Italy

w\We had a guest over the weekend , who wated to go to Little Italy.
So here s my review of an overall good dinner
Soup: Spring onion soup, 2/3 . Was delicate and extremely delicious
sStarter : well ermmm.. i forgot the name but it was called A.20 . Since it had potatoes and cheese and parsley,we presumed it had no scope for going wrong.And expected something wodefully deep fried. But when it landed on the table, we were taken aback for two reasons:
It was a creamy potato dip.
And. it was COLD.
We dipped our breads in gingerly , and were instantly happy because it was SOO fresh and creamy.
Drink : Only one of us felt like a mocktail , so she ordered the Grasshopper.
It was a concoction of Cacao (yes, cacao, not cocoa, as we mistook it ),mint and coconut juice.
Well, it lived up to the colour expectations.It was green.
It smelt like extremely good BODY LOTION. Sadly , it tasted like that too :(

Pizza Sadu- A deliciously tangy , no -cheese pizza. Made me less guilty than usual.
Lasagne - Lasagne Alla gypsy- had mushrooms and eggplantive .No words to describe how wonderfully fantastic it was :)
Pasta - pasta Alla Mafia -a let down after the lasagne

Dessert :
We didnt have any !!
Overall,everything worked for me except the drink and the pasta .
I have to mention the service:Very , cordial , pleasant and efficient.

French Loaf, The

The French Loaf ( on Harrington Road ) has been my favourite haunt for a casual catch up with friends.
The crowd there is neither cluttered with crass people, nor with snooty wannabes.
It is small, the decor is kept minimal and very clean, and the emphasis is on food.
I think they have the best quiche s in town , and im addicted.
They have this fabulous feature, a make -your -own-sandwich station. They hand you a sheet with a list of breads, veggies,meats, dressings,cheeses etc. Tick wat you like and they turn it into one killer sandwich. Plus they have a rack full of good bread u can buy for home.The pricing is fair according to me but that may be subjective. All in all i think its one of the better places in chennai, especially for a vegetarian like me.

La Boulangerie Central

Many months ago the first time I wanted to go here, I got lost.
The second time around, it was a Monday.(Their weekly holiday).
Like a bloodthirsty piranha, Iwent there again, for the third time.
Ive been hooked ever since.
Their Coffee Eclair needs a thread of its own. You could eat it , die , and happily go to Heaven.
Im a quiche addict and i loved their quiche the one time i ate it, though it could have been bigger.

I had a guava dessert in a glass which tasted slightly of Antibiotic. Nevermind, they atleast tried to lift a boring Indian fruit to higher levels.
As i keep having the coffe eclair EVERYTIME i go there (no regrets ), i've nothing much to say about the other items.
My husband does order different things eachtime,and usually likes what he orders.They also work for a good cause. ALL the profits go back into training underprivileged kids , in the art and science of Baking. The kids are usually the ones who take the order and serve you too.
Here s hoping they add many more items to their menu , as there s no such thing as too many delicious things :)


Live around here and I go here quite often.So its about due I wrote about them.
A little piece of Gujarat in Chennai, the people, the sights, smells...
The common chaats like Bhel Puri , Paani Puri, Dahi Puri, Paapdi Chaat , Dahi Paapdi , Sev Puri , Samosas and Kachori s are superlative.So is their Pav Bhaji.
If u are an adventurous person, leave your incline out at the door , because stuff like Chilly Cheese Toasts and sandwiches suck so bad :(
They sell some extremely good Dhokla, Khandvi, Lassi, Rose Milk , and other assorted North Indian fare.
They have an entire wall lined with rows and rows of ghatiya and mixtures in all possible permutations and combinations.I havent tried any , but im pretty sure they are atleast near authentic or atleast pretty yummy.
Besides the food , there s nothing interesting going on here.
Ambience : zero
Hygiene : well, just shut your eyes tight.(Shri mithai is waaay more spacious and the place/cooks look cleaner)
Parking : ha ha .

Aggarwal Bhojnalya

Oh my God , people ! This place is a FIND !!!
For one, words are just not enough to testify for this place .
Like all things precious , getting here is a pain. How u'll park around here i have no clue . I always park in GGH where i workand take an auto to Patni plaza.(Which is quite a landmark in these parts, for reasons beyond me). So figure that out for yourself.
For a general idea , it takes a good deal of brushing against cows (or oxen , im not sure ), precariously stepping around flea infested stray dogs, careful of not getting in their bad books , and jumping mounds of rotting garbage ,to go from any point A to point B in this area.

Aggrawal is in the non descript lane near Patni Plaza. Enter in and you'll forget all the pain u endured to get here. Its a clean, old fashioned little room, with equally old fashioned tables, and plastic chairs. Absolutely nothing fancy.You pay for ur Thalis and then take a seat next to a random somebody.
There s the preliminary 4 cups .. with mango/garlic achar , mint chutney ,and chopped chillies in mustard oil.. it looks innocently plain , but serve yourself a bit of each. Its all delicious.
Then they served us the following :
Aloo and beans curry, dal,cabbage dal, green gram sabji .
Rotis.Complacently rotund. Smothered lovingly with ghee. Piping hot.And ofcourse, unlimited
And chawal. Tastes fabulous with the dal. Toss in a few of the aforementioned chillies, crush some roast paapad in and youre good to go!
Every one of these was finger lickin-yummy , to say the LEAST.
Cup of thick curd.
Its a long time since i left the place but im still reeling in the pleasant ,lingering memory of their fabulous food.(and stiffing my fingers every twenty seconds or so ).
The service was warm and home-like.
I strongly urge everyone to go here . You will love it just as much as i did if not more.

PS : Just get someone to blindfold you enroute and back, to avoid taking in the nasty vistas.

Rendezvous , Pondicherry

We made spur of the moment plans to go to Pondicherry on Sunday ( the first Sunday i was free in a looooong time ).
We went here for lunch.This is a nice little place located on Rue Suffren.It is situated on the first floor , comfortably dim ,with a neat thatched roof , decorated garishlywith gold and silver paper stars ( if they were recreating the night sky .. bad , bad attempt ).And the walls had paintings from the Ramayana(Ravana slaying some bird ??). Quite a mixed personality , but it doesNOT seem to suffer from an identity crisis anyway.
What we ate :
Garlic bread : Absolutely melt in the mouth
Mushrooms tossed with garlic and onions : so SO light and fresh
Veg Shaslyk : an ok sizzler consisting of some curried rice and a skewer of grilled veggies and paneer
Veg ( lol ) Moussaka : i know , i know, there s nothing like a veg moussaka.
This imaginative version was layered with aubergines and potato ,curried black whole dal (!) and cheese.
It made for a little bit of a gastronomic adventure , within vegetarian territories.
I did look at the non veg selection of their menu . Way more stuff for you guys!
tThey are BIG on sea food , serving pretty platters of prawn , calamari etc
And they serve beer , i think.(The place being Pondicherry , and all.)
They have a huge crowd of foreigners , but the waiters remain obstinately indian ( "veg saasli " was how they pronounce shaslyk !!) Jai ho.
The meal came to between rs 500 to 600 for the 2 of us.

Padmashree Foods

We were spending a jobless evening in the alwarpet area , so we decided to pop in for a quick bite.i
Its strange to note the way they ve done up the place.
Although they are professional bakers , there s a very homely feel to the place.. mind u , there are no fancy frills or flashy baubles around , it just feels like an extension of their own home, which is a pretty sweet thing ( the pun just happened).I had a slice of the Irish Coffee Cream cake , the husband ordered a Banana Fudge brownie and a Veg Sandwich .The Banana Brownie was really fudge-y and banana-y .
And highly recommended.

The Irish Coffe cream (cake) was moist and yummy.Im not sure if its authentic Irish Cream and all that ,(primarily bcs i have not been to Ireland ) ,but bottomline is it was yummy.
Their servings are quite just the right size( who wants to eat an elephantine cakeand then run twenty miles to lose all the fat ).And starting atrupees 13 , I think its quite a neat deal. gGo there for a quick bite if u happen to be in the area.
They do good pre- order birthday cakes etc at reasonably good prices.

Courtyard by Marriot

It was our anniversary and we went here yesterday.
Its probably a 'Been there , Done that' place for most food lovers in Chennai . But im a relative noob in this city, and i have not been here before.
We had a LOT of plans ,which involved going to the temple around 5 pm , doing other things between 5 and 8 pm and finally hitting the place by 8.
Thanks to the weather +traffic playing spoilsport , we left the temple @ 5.30 pm , and reached Marriot @ 8 PM !!!! ( doing nothing in the meantime , but driving at a terminally-ill snail's pace , and me singing tTamil songs off-key, with the radio , to my husbands great annoyance).
At The Marriot they do a decent bomb check- ( perhaps after they bombed the Marriot in Islamabad ?)
For car : sniffer dog , burly guy with a flashlight.
For you : walk in metal detector , bag check. Thankfully they dont frisk you bcs its pretty out there in the open.
So ultimately you feel super secure for the next hour or two.Everyone knows there s no dearth of food here by any standards , so im not gonna list what we ate here .(Partly bcs its a huge list and i'm lazy to type , and also bcs there were too many names to memorize).
The cold salads were all brilliant. Essentially simple , unique flavors to each of them.

The chef seems to be addicted to basil ( reflected in the salsa they served with their complementary bread , AND in their pizza sauce ).
Now this is something every pizzeria could easily follow .Basil is the secret weapon , and yesterday i found out , there s no such thing as too much of Basil. It gives such an incredibe burst of freshness to every bite.

Pasta from the pasta counter was fantastic. Some of the asparagus was a little too thick to chew.Avoidable.
There was quite a spread of Indian gravies for the Naans. Everything worked well for me.
The Cheddar Potato , Veg Parmigiano were exceptional.
For rice there was Tamarind rice and curd rice . I completely skipped those, as im not a huge fan of either.But my husband loved both , and said the pickles were very authentic too.

I was delighted to find they had about ten icecreams on offer with abt ten toppings to boot !!I took small scoops of butterscotch , coffee and chocolate, with almond slivers.And that made my day :)
My husband liked mango and other fruit flavors .There were about 15 other desserts about which i have the following to say :
The Mascarpone and chocolate brownie : out of the world !!
Walnut brownie : best walnut brownie ive had
Banana herb cake : fantastic. had Basil in it (!!)
Reinforces my theory that basil tastes good with anything.
Some other banana cake : yummy.
Orange mousse (?) , some other fruit mousse : its ok to taste gelatin @ other places but I least expected it here. Sad.

All in all we had avery, very good time/meal .

Service : Very enthusiastic in .spurts.
( Dining air-hostesses are a major distraction to the waiters , so the boys tend to wander around in zig zag lines, at times :P)
My only gripe :The two seater tables are a tad too small. Since they have an impressive amount of space at their disposal ,the table could have been bigger by a few square inches.

Sparky's Diner

I dont know if its a jinx but everytime i go out to eat , I seem to have a minor adventure.
Someday ill write a book about how i slayed seven headed dragons (breathing fire, ofcourse ), sailed raging seas, fought deadly pirates and climbed icy mountains, all for FOOD.

Yesterday a friend and i decided to hit Sparky s for lunch, braving Cyclone Nisha(!!) , resultant eerie , flooded subways, and waterlogged roads.
As expected we were the only ones there. I thought the decor and stuff was nice and typically American Diner to the point of slightly overdoing it. But enough of that bcs most of you have seen the place already.
What put me off was an EXTREMELY local looking waiter, in a very grimy outfit, trying to talk in an AMERICAN accent !!! Over and over again. Completely annoying. Would have loved for him to buzz off!
Anyway the food is a different story.We ordered up some nachos with salsa.
The nachos were fantastic , but the salsa was just regular .Not at all bad though.

My friend ordered a Hippie sandwich . It was Huge (expected) and was wrapped in a thin flat bread , with lots of Hummus and fresh veggies. Very good and an interesting option for weight watchers.
Also there was a tiny, slightly cute(:P) , loaf of white bread , which looked like a sleeping baby hamster.It tasted like pita but was actually a loaf, and not flatbread.
I ordered the Bourbon Street pasta . (The annoying waiter's recommendation).
The sauce was so different from the bechamel sauce/arabita sauce that seems to be the norm in the average Indian resto. And for the first time , I thought I ate penne that was properly cooked. This sauce had a caramelized onion and cream sauce. Smokey, mysteriously dark and rich. Loaded with zucchini, 'shrooms, peppers, ... oh its a veggie dream.
It came with a complementary salad.I didnt care for the wilted lettuce , but the mayo was outstanding.
We had a good meal. I recommend both the above dishes , if you're vegetarian.
And no ,we didnt have dessert :)


Went here today for an evening snack.
My husband ordered lemonade and this mushroom appetizer.
The lemonade was so bad , both of us couldnt jointly finish it :(
The Mushroom-Whatever, was basically sauteed 'shrooms on bread squares, all grilled. Unfortunately the bread was CHARRED . But we managed to scrape off the charred parts and eat our way thro it.
I ordered the Carrot Cake which was good , if not fantastic.
The cake had a slight whiff of cinnamon going on, which was nice. And the orange zest , in the frosting added a nice tang :)
I agree its a lovely place but i dont know about the privacy . Maybe because today was a holiday, but the place was drowning in people .
And sadly we sat next to a table full of noisy, cackly people and that ruined a little bit of the feel of the place, for me.But its definitely one of the places id like to hang out at, once in a while, because ive had better experiences here before .

Sandy's Chocolate Laboratory

If you are chocoholic like me, you have found your heaven ! Well heaven's still a bit of a work in progress but let me tell you about it anyway.
For starts, how many restaurants can incorporate cocoa in every , yes EVERY dish they dish out ?
Or have a door that looks like a giant bar of divinely dark chocolate ?
Well, thats Sandy s for you : unique , in your face and just so quirky !
The interiors are a good mix of posh, eclectic and utilitarian.
The tables take their origin somewhere in the roof, the windows are mere horizontal slits. And over on the other side , there's the pretty straightforward looking delicatessen counter, selling a load of exotic or organic(or both exotic AND organic) things.
And a lot of meats , which i didnt look at too closely ;)

Coming to the food, the lunch was a set course affair , comprising of soup , the main course and dessert.
Both my friend and i ordered the Vegetarian option.
For soup there was a rich, warm, Cauliflower soup served in these hearty dishes.
The main course had Corn cakes.Luscious layers of corn pancakes ( i think) with all thing wonderful in between ! There was some kind of a creamy mushroom sauce that was used as garnish, and i could have happily wolfed a couple of tablespoonsful more.
And then, for warm up before dessert,the chef decided to send out some complementary chocolate mousse and chocolate-vodka shots.Served in beakers and test tubes, but ofcourse ! The chocolate mousse was WICK-ED.

And for actual dessert, we ordered the white chocolate truffle cake, which was so pretty , it made for quite a long photo session.The very tangy berry compote with the honey sweetened white chocolate - who would have thought absolute bliss could come in the guise of such an innocent looking dessert ?
And then Ofcourse there was Fondue.Chocolate fondue. With a dollop of peanut butter. And a lot of drama from flambeeing it . It was decadent fun , just dunking in and lazily swirling about , little bits of this and that, in the rich volcanic molten chocolate.

The menu features a wide range of things ranging from cakes, mousse to even four or five kinds of chocolate potions.The price for the set meals excluding the fondue and the mousse came to just over rs 1000 for 2 people.
I doubt if they are fully functional on a daily basis, yet. But i hear mid May will see a lot more additions and a formal opening. So you know where to head, towards the fag end of this month !
(originally written in early in May 2009)

Latitude 13 (by The Park)

A place that serves fantastic food .
In a super classy ambience.
At reasonably good prices.
.The all important waitor factor.
What else could possibly go wrong ??
Well nothing , really .Ahat is exactly why this place is packed . And i mean PACKED.
So you need to be really lucky if you dont have reservations.
Its done up in a swish Middleastern style. We had a fantastic table with a beautiful antique mirror behind( handy , too) , an explosion of vibrant cushions on a plush sofa.
They have some of the most elegant black chandeliers ive seen in some time.
The waiters dont really rush it and its a good idea to go there when you have about 3 hours at your disposal.
We ordered the 4 course lunch .. one vegetarian for me and one non vegetarian for my friend.
The meal sounded promising , with Soup of the Day , choice of sandwich or pasta for the Main course,choice of Dessert, and for the final course ... tea or coffee, whichever you choose.

The soup was a thick, non fussy Cream of Yellow Pepper ,very rich and flavourful. And very yellow :)
Main course : I ordered a panini sandwich with cream cheese and mushrooms..Yum yum yum! The panini was soft , light and delish !
I couldnt taste the pasta but my friend loved it!
For dessert there was a rich Chocolate Excess truffle ,for me .( Of course i picked chocolate )And my friend had the most delicious apple desert with vanilla ice cream (a crumbly cake whose name i forget ). Warm and blissful.
We were so happy with our meal thus far ,that we forgot there was a fourth course, paid , and left :(Price per head, for the four course meal was between Rs 400 to 475 . (Forgot to take a good look .) That may not be cheap by most ppl s standards , but trust me , if you get a good seat ... the food is SO worth it !!

Kailash Parbat

Just popped in with my mum for a quick sampler.
If what little i ate is anything to go by, im thoroughly impressed !
I ordered for a Paani Puri. (The basic standard by which i size up a chaat shop). My mum ordered a Sev Puri.
In other places if ur order doesnt turn up in the expected time , one needs to summon the waiter and grumble a little bit. Things work the other way round here. Noticing that we had not started eating in about 6.5 minutes since we came, a waiter came and checked twice if we'd ordered, and reconfirmed the order too. Full marks for efficiency and courteousness.
The Paani puri came first. Naturally , im forced to compare with the City's frontrunners in the business, at this point. The puris were sturdy , more water resistant than their rather flimsy counterparts we come across all over the city. Score !
Sadly , there was only 1 boiled potato cube and 4 kernels of corn for stuffing. The whole platter looked rather too sterile and organised, like precision instruments set out for surgery. I actually like the local chaat waalas' carelessly messy presentation just a bit more.
All said and done , the taste was as authentic as pani puri anywhere else would be.

But ,for us, the true Star of the day was the Sev puri. It arrived with considerably more fanfare than its aquatic counterpart. There was more than a generous sprinkling of confetti-like , golden Sev that gave a festive feel to the platter.The flavours were bang on. It was a glorious riot of the tangyand the crispy !
So very good , and definitely worth a try.
Will certainly go there to try out more !