12/09/2019

Earthen Oven, Welcomhotel, Cathedral Road, Chennai

18:16:00



Its been a while since I did a proper blog post. I have become so accustomed to doing an Instagram Post / Story and be happy with it. It helps me get done the work really really quickly. But this restaurant deserves a proper blog post.

I was here at the Welcomhotel which was previously known as the My Fortune and before that it was called The Chola Sheraton. It was the first hotel setup by ITC. It was around the same time that Taj had setup Taj Coromandel in Chennai. Now both the hotels stand as a part of Chennai's city scape with glory and pride.

To be very frank I have not visited the hotel ever since it dropped the Chola name tag. So visiting here after 10 plus years was bringing back a lot of familiar memories of the time I had visited with my parents and grandparents.

The hotel still holds its charm with its design very reminiscent of the 70's. One would definitely notice the teak wood which has been used in abundance, cane chairs with upholstery very much in tune with the trends in the 70s to the 80s. It definitely gives a good rewind in time.

So I was dining at the Earthen Oven for lunch with the bunch of bloggers. Earthen Oven used to house Peshawari when the hotel used to be called the Chola Sheraton. The layout of the restaurant remains the same but has been revamped to suite the time.


Food:
Earthen Oven explores the food from the northern frontier. Full on Kebabs, Dals and Rotis. We started our meal with nice welcome drink. Pineapple Rasam Mocktail it was amazing. They do have a alcoholic version of the same called the Pineapple Rasam Martini which I did not taste.

The kebab course began with the Aatish-E- Aloo which was crispy stuffed potato with potato cooked in a tandoor. We can call it alooloo (just kidding). It was delicate and well balanced. Next was the Bharwam Paneer. It is paneer stuffed with spinach and batter fried. It resembled a sandwich only the bread was replaced with paneer. I must say it was heavenly. Even as I type describing the dish I get the gush of salivation in my mouth.


Next began the best non-veg feast I have had in a long time. Tandoori Jhinga or Prawn tandoori was delicious. Also the prawns looked like they were measured and compared before cooking so that they look identical in size and shape when served.


Murgh Kadak Seekh was next to be served. It was batter fried Chicken sheekh with a stuffing of cheese and chilli. This dish is essentially a ITC Chola Sheraton invention and it remains part of their menu even today. This dish has good back story too. One fine day a Guest walks into the restaurant just as they were about to wind-up for the day and asks for a kebab dish. The Chef realizes that the the tandoor had been switched off and it would take a few hours for it to get to temperature. So he decides to batter fry it and give a twist to it. Thus the Murgh Kadak Seekh is born. The story is written as it was conveyed to me. Also the kebab was as tasty as the story. At times the craziest dishes are invented at the time of need.


Then came one of my favorites Murgh Zafrani Tikka saffron flavored boneless chicken which was infused Indian Spices. Full marks to the succulent chicken. I loved it.



Next came the Khaas Sheekh Kebab which was mutton sheekh kebab. Really loved the flavors and it was so tender as well.


Finally we got to sample the Shikandari Raan. Hands down the best dish. If you are a person who loves mutton please do not miss this dish. The meat was so tender it just fell apart from the bone and also when you pierce the meat with the fork it breaks down into small fibers.







For mains we got to sample the Dum Mutton Biryani, Palak Aur Anjeer Ke Kofte, Dal Makhani, Murgh Khurchan with assorted Indian Breads. Mutton Biryani was finger licking good and very good by restaurant standards. Palak Aur Anjeer Ke Kofte was spinach kofta curry which was different from the regular paneer koftas that I am used to. Dal Makhani was yummy and went well with the Naan. Finally the Murgh Khurchan was shreds of Tandoori chicken in tomato gravy. Mixing a bit the bread in the chicken gravy and in the kofta was simply scrumptious.


We finished our meal with a warm Gulkand Gulab Jamun and Saffron flavored Rasamalai. Both tasted like a bite of heaven!

Ambiance:
The restaurant is pleasant with many touches from yesteryear.

Price:
A stomach & heart filling meal for two would roughly cost Rs 3000/- and above if we choose to indulge a bit.


They do have set Menu which is worth exploring.

Disclaimer : Invited Review

Earthen Oven is located in Welcomhotel which was formerly known as Chola Sheraton.

If you like what you are reading, Please share it with others.

*A review about a place holds good only for 6 months as there can be a change in quality and quantity of the food, the service, and the staff, due to reasons best known only to them. So kindly consider these factors while visiting the places.


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15/07/2019

Golden Dragon, Taj Coromandel, Nungumbakkam, Chennai

13:13:00

The Golden Dragon at the Taj Coromandel is one of the oldest restaurants in the hotel. The restaurant was launched around the time when the hotel was opened to business in 1975. The Menu here has stood the test of time with a few additions and deletions whenever a new Chef had taken over the reins. But few dishes have been immortalized on the pages of Golden Dragon Menu such as Kung Pau Chicken and Peking Duck.

In a bid to re-invent itself, the restaurant has brought in a new chef. Master Chef Lian. He is not much of a talker, but he lets his food do the talking. I must say I was floored with his cooking. Dish after dish was a home run.

Food:



The first dish to be served was the Dimsum - Duo of Asparagus, a dumpling with very subtle flavors, this makes you wonder that a dimsum can be tasty even with light flavors. 


The next to be served was the Qiling Fish with Sichuan Toban Djan Sauce. I would recommend this dish to anyone who is to dine here. It was just divine.


Next came the Lotus Stem Chengdu Style, which was slightly different from the usual super crispy version. This was mildly crispy yet loaded with chili.


Next was the North Atlantic Steamed Scallop with Pickled Chili. I sure loved it. The steamed scallops were just perfect. The sauce rich in pepper and chili had a unique flavor. A word of caution is to not bite on the chili. They are quite spicy.


Following the scallops we were served the Crispy Tiger Prawns with Chili Butter Garlic. OMG! this is not to be missed. The prawns are gigantic and crispy fried. Its a pure melody. Another dish which should be surely be tasted. I am pretty sure this is gonna become a sure dish on their menu.


Following this we were served Spicy Mahti Chicken which was infused with Sesame and was mildly spicy.


Next was the veg version of the Steamed Scallop. The scallops was replaced with mushroom. The mushroom were cut into long threads like a noodle. It was just as good as the scallops version. Again a word of caution on the chilli. They were quite spicy.


Next up was the Crispy Lobster Chili Butter Garlic. The meat was made into small morsels and crispy fried, and served with the shell which tasty and eye catching. A brilliant dish!






Finally the last of the appetizer. This was the duck served katti roll style ( Aromatic  Duck). The pancakes are taken first and coated with the sauce. Next up the veggies are loaded following which the duck is placed and you wrap it into a roll then dig in. A Chinese take on our katti roll. Simply Yumm!



Finally we got to dig into the main course. Vegetable Hakka Noodle, Jimling Style Jasmine Seafood Fried Rice served along with Chicken in Peanut Sauce, Stir Fried Tofu and Steamed Okra in Soya Garlic Sauce.




If it was me I will be content with the Chicken in Peanut sauce and Steamed Rice. The combination was heavenly. The noodle was simple and neat but the flavor were elevated with the Tofu. Something the veg eaters will love. Seafood fried rice was another hit among the group.


We finished our meal with Sticky Toffee Pudding and Basil Ice Cream. Through decadent dessert which is not to be missed. 

Ambiance:
It is a mix of old world with Chinese design with a Taj Twist.

Price:
A meal for two would cost Rs 5000/- and upwards depending on the number of specialty dishes ordered.

Disclaimer : Invited Review

Golden Dragon is located inside the Taj Coromandel.

If you like what you are reading, Please share it with others.

*A review about a place holds good only for 6 months as there can be a change in quality and quantity of the food, the service, and the staff, due to reasons best known only to them. So kindly consider these factors while visiting the places.


**Want instant reviews, follow me on Instagram!!

22/05/2019

Avartana, ITC Grand Chola, Guindy, Chennai - 2 Year Anniversary

12:27:00

When it comes to Fine Dine Indian Food, we immediately think about Kebabs and Dals and Naans. The Northern frontier takes precedence over the South Indian cuisine. But thanks to Avartana at ITC that is not the case. They have showcased the food of South Indian region with a twist and have put the dishes on the road map to stunning delicacies.

In the last two years, my recommendations for Avartana have been countess. It has stood as a symbol / showcase for Contemporary Progressive South Indian Food. Recommended for friends and family visiting from abroad. I was one of the first few to try out their menu when Avartana was about to launch about two years ago. I was awe stuck with Michelin Star like service. And once again I was  part of the  chosen few called to sample their new upgraded menu / 2.0 which has been launched recently, as a part of their second anniversary.

Things to understand about Avartana is you can't go here and order what you want off a menu. You choose a menu based on your preferences and it is served on the table, course after course.


Food:
We started the evenings proceedings with a Amuse Bouche which was a thinly sliced piece of carrot curled into a cone filled with yummy goodies. The taste was very much like a bhel puri , but refreshing.


 Next up was an appetizer. First to be served was the Cuttle Fish served on a bed of cauliflower and coconut chutney. This was the 1st time I have ever had a cuttle fish. It was soft and in similar consistency to squid. I do not seem to have a reference to this dish or it origins cause I have never had cuttle fish elsewhere.




Next up was Cracklings served with Mango Mush. The cracklings or cracker were made out of Lotus Stem, Corriander and Curry leaves and Gongura Leaves which need to dipped on the Mango Chutney which was served on nice looking black stone. Mango chutney was similar to the mango jam which we are all familiar with. Taking a simple papad or crispies and giving them a master chef makeover.


Next to be served was Sundried Tomato Tapioca. This dish looks like a brain on a bed of leaves with blood splattered around it. Very refreshing dish.


Crispy fried potato is a very familiar dish which is served with curd rice. The chefs here have taken the simple dish and conceptualized in a whole new way.  Enter Crispy Chilli Potato 2.0. It looks a lot like birds nest. The crispy chilli potato in the form of nest and the egg on top filled with pineapple and mint juice. It needs to be consumed as a whole. The egg breaks in your tongue and releases the juices. Its pure symphony in the mouth.


Next to be served was the Lemon Leaf Sorbet to cut the flavors of the starters before we indulged ourselves with the main course.


First of the mains was the Fried Sea Bass served on a bed of aubergines. Easily my favorite dish of the day. The fish had a crispy outer which made it yum!


Next to be served was Pan Seared Quail with Quail egg sunny side up and rice cake (neer dosa / appam consistency) was just wow! The quail was just spectacular.


Next was the Braised Lamb Cheeks served on a bed of Semolina (Upma). Mine was perfectly cooked and easy to cut and yummy to taste but some on the table had a slightly over cooked rendition which was up chewy alley.



How can a South Indian Feast end without rice? So we were served humble Tamrind Chicken Rice on a Banana Leaf  with Okra Yogurt. I just loved it. I definitely would not mind another portion of it. The yogurt cuts the tamrind flavor and is a delight.


To finish the main course proceedings we had Curd Vermicelli which was neat and a nice way to get done with the main course, something very similar to our Thairsadham.


We finished off this lip smacking meal with Almond Cremeux which was an almond mousse served with orange ice cream garnished with berry sauce. The berry sauce was a little strong for my liking but the ice cream and mousse was divine.

Meal here is a must have for people who are open to experimenting and for people in search of something new.

Ambiance:
Common South Indian interiors but re- imagined. Carpets resembling banana leaves and wall motifs like Kerala Boats and finally an open kitchen - a first for a south Indian restaurant. The restaurant also has a private dining which can seat about 10 people at a time.

The restaurant does have restrictions on kids under 10 years of age, but they would not mind serving them a small special menu if we do land here with our kids without knowing about this.

Price:
Avartana offers tasting menus ranging from Rs 2000/- and upwards for a seven course meal.

Calling this experience 'mind-blowing' would be an understatement. Having a Master-chef style experience from a south Indian cuisine will have you raving. Avartana is here to redefine the food with simple and humble origin into Michelin experience.

Disclaimer : Invited Review

Avartana is located inside ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

If you like what you are reading, Please share it with others.

*A review about a place holds good only for 6 months as there can be a change in quality and quantity of the food, the service, and the staff, due to reasons best known only to them. So kindly consider these factors while visiting the places.


**Want instant reviews, follow me on Instagram!!

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