Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dining at Azulia

Lamb Chops at Azulia ChennaiThis Mediterranean restaurant at the GRT Grand Hotel in Chennai is a delight! Extraordinary food, waiters in Persian attire, and a live Colombian band make for a wonderful evening. My friend is a regular here so we got personalized attention from the waitstaff. Joseph Chanine - the friendly Lebanese chef of Azulia - kept coming back to our table, to personally recommend his favorites and explain the dishes.

Not only did the waitstaff dress like characters from the Arabian Nights, they also added a few 'magical' touches to accentuate the exotic: a small tablet dropped into a tiny bowl of water that 'grew' into a wet towel as it absorbed the water; a pepper mill that shone a light at the bottom giving a rather magical effect to the freshly ground pepper as it drizzled on to the plate.

Azulia at GRT Grand ChennaiAs we waited for our starters, Chef Joseph sent us his special pizza - crisp , thin-crust with olives, tomatoes, onions, basil, liberally drizzled exotic herbs and olive oil - which was fantastic. Way better than the those I enjoy at Soul or Stone Water Grill in Pune.

Chef's Special Pizza at Azulia ChennaiAs the Colombian band played on, they served us Soujok, Turkish home-made sausages flavored with garlic and a combination of spices in a tangy tomato sauce. We had also ordered some pita and khabous breads and some Azulia Hummus.

The Soujok was tasty and the Chef showed us the 'right' way to eat the stuff: tear the pita bread into two disks, use the tender inner surface of the bread to scoop the sausage with its sauce, dip into the hummus, and ummm! I could have feasted only the breads and hummus and been happy - they were that good. The special hummus at Azulia is blended with pimentoes, chopped pasley, lemon juice, basil and olive oil for that special taste.

Soujok, Hummus and Pita at Azulia ChennaiNext came the Dolmades de Vines, vine leaves stuffed with rice, diced tomatoes, parsley, mint, lemon juice, red pepper and then steamed before being drizzled with olive oil. This starter was tangy and quite delightful.

Dolmades de Vines at Azulia ChennaiWe only had enough space now to share an entree of Lamb Chops which came with wild rice and fried veggies, before which the chef sent us a palate cleanser - two scoops of sorbets: champagne/lime and strawberry? The lamb, which is imported from Australia, was excellent, but the portions are good only for one.

Lamb Chops at Azulia ChennaiWe ended with a dessert of their Tiramisu made without eggs or gelatin. The chef sent us small cups of complimentary mint tea at the end. It was midnight now and we were the last to leave. Burrp!

Tiramisu at Azulia Chennai
Live Columbian Band at Azulia ChennaiAzulia offers culinary delights from six different countries: Lebanon, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Greece and Morocco. Chef Chanine apparently imports the flour for their breads as well as the many herbs. The menu is extensive and designed to look like a coffee-table book with interesting details about the places, food and culture of the Mediterranean. The starters are clearly the highlight of this interesting restaurant even though the lamb tonight was excellent; keep that in mind when ordering.

Previous Chennai Posts: Chennai Snapshots, Spicy Morsels, Unlimited Kababs, Madras Matinee, Quick Trip


Anonymous said...

Hi Shantanu
Nice restaurant again! I miss the Soujok, I had it in Jaffa in Israel on my last day!

Aathira Nair said...

Hi Shantanu

Would you know some wonderful Mediterranean restaurant in Bangalore?
Those pics are very mouth watering you see!

Anonymous said...

@Priyank: I guess you had the real thing; however, I am told Azulia flies in fresh ingredients.

@Aathira: Unfortunately, I haven't eaten at a Mediterranean place in Bangalore yet.

Anonymous said...

It is a bad idea to read your blog when you are hungry:) Those pictures look mouth-watering.
I made a regular hummus yesterday. I will try to make it with red capsicum and parsley next time.


hummus looks great

Anonymous said...

Wow... You're always on a culinary adventure, don't you? :D

I love the funky shapes of the plates... And of course, the gorgeous food!

Sig said...

One more restaurant to try in Chennai for my next visit... Food looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

@Vamsee: So they tell me... :)

@Harekrishnaji: And it tasted even better.

@kyh: You are correct! Yes, even though I didn't notice the plates until I saw the pics.

@sig: This time I found the really good restaurants in Chennai. Hopefully there are a few more waiting to be discovered in my next few trips...

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