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

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*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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08/05/2019

The Box Project, Woods Road, Chennai

18:16:00

Food Courts in Chennai started way back with the 1st Planet Yumm! I remember it very distinctly, getting a place to sit used to be a big thing. People used to flock to Planet Yum in Spencers Plaza and in Anna Nagar. The concept of having the opportunity to dine in multiple restaurants in a single location to full fill the unique taste buds of everyone in the family. But the fad soon disappeared. People started returning to the standalone restaurants. Nowadays we find these restaurant aggregation mainly in Malls.


To recreate the euphoria again in a standalone place, restaurant aggregators have started exploring newer and newer concepts to catch the eye of the young and hep population. One such concept is The Box Project in Woods Road.


Box Project as the name implies, is boxes of restaurants. Concept is to take old shipping containers revamp em to take in a nice cozy kitchen and Vola! you have Box Project. They look really really cute and also as the shipping containers are re-purposed they are recycled for use.

The Box Project has options to cover all the basis. Chaat stall in the form of the Brunch, Idly and Dosa from Little Idli, Juices in the form of Goli Soda, Chinese dishes from Tago, Succulent Kebabs from Hatimy's and finally Desserts from The Waffle Place.


Food:
Since I was invited over along with a friend we settled on  the restaurants serving us one or two of their best dishes to sample. Down below is my experience on the same.

We started the proceedings with Goli Soda & Yummy delicious Sambhar Idly in Mud Pot from Little Italy. I have not had such a kind of idly preparation before. Apparently it is a specialty in Andhra, something which I have never heard before. I usually relate Andhra to the spicy food. The idly is broken drown to upma consistency topped off with hot Sambhar, spices, nuts and ghee. It tastes more like kitchida than sambhar idly. But a brilliant dish, I would say.


Next up we had the Muruku Cheese Sandwich from Brunch, which was neat.



After this we got to sample the Tago Fried Chicken and Tago Bento Box. Tago Fried Chicken was oriental version of crispy fried chicken. The Bento box had the Fried Rice, Pepper Coleslaw and Chicken Redang Curry a very good bento box. You get to have all the items.


Now coming to the stand-out part. The following items were served from Hatimy's. Each dish was one level better than the other. We start with the Kheema Samosa. Muslim household style wholesome samosa. I would not mind gobbling down a couple. Then came the Hatimy's Spl Crispy Chicken. Totally different take, superb concept. Using wonton paper to give the crispy texture.



After this we had the showstoppers. Shanghai Mutton Chops and Iranian Chicken Leg. My - o - My! Fusion food at its best. Using chinese spices to cream cheese to amp up the taste in tender mutton chops. Mind blown!  Iranian Chicken leg is the epitome to kick-ass. I would definitely be going back for this.

I heard about the eid - iftar combo plans. It sounds amazing, cant wait to try them out.



Finally we finished off with Veg Sandwich from brunch and Waffles & Mini Pancakes from That Waffle Place.

Ambiance:
The Box Project does well to aggregate different cuisines in a open air atmosphere. The Box Project  has car & bike parking next door.

Service:
NA

Price:
A meal here for two should cost around Rs 600 to 800/- depending on the order.

Disclaimer - I was invited for the meal

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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03/05/2019

Tao of Peng - Pop-Up at Crowne Plaza by Dine Out, Chennai

10:15:00

Tao of Peng is a great Contemporary Fine Dine Chinese Restaurant in Chennai. But not many know of it existence as the restaurant is located in the Intercontinental Hotel property on ECR. To create awareness and make people fall in love with the exemplary food served here, Intercontinental has created pop-up event along with DINE-OUT at Crowne Plaza, Chennai. This has facilitated in bringing the location closer to help create an opportunity for people to know about it, and dine here to savor the flavors of Tao of Peng.


Food:
Tao Of Peng has brought in a new head-chef named Tenzing. I must say, he made quite an impression with the food he served us.
I will let the photos do the talking.

Dim-Sum Platter



Assorted non-veg Dim-Sum in close proximity

Crispy Batter Fried Lobster





Price:
The special four course meal is priced at Rs 1800/- and the coupons for the same can be purchased on dine out website - www.dineout.co.in/chennai

The pop-up event is on till 5th May 2019. Do not miss out on the opportunity to dine here.

Disclaimer - I was invited for the meal.

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!!

17/02/2019

Rooftop Lounge, Ramada Plaza, Guindy, Chennai

10:36:00

I have always believed Chennai has had only Hot Summer, Hotter Summer and Hottest Summer climate but of late due to various factors we have weather south of 30 degrees even in the month of February. This calls for the opportunity to dine at open air restaurants. I was recently invited to The Rooftop Lounge at Ramada Plaza and what follows is my take about the experience.




Food:
We started with Charcoal Roasted Twin Pepper Soup served with super light toasted bread which was simply awesome. Light and at the same time full of flavor and also a delight to look at. Following which we were served with a nice Berry Mock-tail.



Next came the deconstructed Chicken / Paneer Carolina Salad which I would rate as a must have. The honey mustard sauce with sensationally marinated Chicken/Paneer and the Cheddar and Parmesan cheese was a delight. This is nothing like the salads from Subway and I would highly recommend it.


Next a dish from the veg part of the menu, Cottage Cheese & Green Peas Kebab. This dish was served on a park-bench kind of a plate with charcoal underneath it to create a smoke kind of theatrics. The taste definitely matched the antics with which it was served.




Banjara Kebab was served next. It was chefs take on Chicken Tikka which was mouthwatering. Next up were the Mini Falafel Wrap ( Arabian Platter ) and the Mango Cheese Fingers. Both brilliant. I would recommend having the fingers while they are hot unlike me, who went about wasting time to click the right picture.



In between all this I was given a different mock-tail based on Guava & Litchi to relish on! After munching such delicious starters we were served with Bento Box kind of Mains and Polenta.


The Bento box contained Mini Butter Naan, Steamed Rice, Mutton Roganjosh, Dal Makani and Vegetable Kohlapuri with assorted condiments. The kicker was the mutton and naan. Mutton was so soft without any of the smell which we associate with it. Polenta is a the Italian take on Indian Upma which was neat.



We finished off  dinner with Country Fair Apple Rasamalai Pie and Rabri Angoor which was definitely the icing on the cake.

Also we got to have a friendly chat with Chef Pawan Kumar about his experiences and his connection with Chennai.

Ambiance:
The restaurant is located on the top floor of Ramada Plaza with 360 Degree view of the Guindy Skyline. With weather being pleasant in the month of February is the right time to visit.

Service:
NA

Price:
A meal for two should cost an upwards of Rs 3000/- depending on the number of courses and items beings ordered.

Roof Top Lounge is located on the top floor at Ramada Plaza in Guindy.

Disclaimer - I was invited for the meal

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!!