Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tantalizing & Tamilian

Chennai has seen a sudden influx of hotels and restaurants, giving us foodies several options of sampling delicacies from the Tamilian heartland without having to brave the humid, hot outdoors. All you need to do is locate the best new choices within the many burgeoning five-star hotels with their many restaurants that are falling over each other to get your attention and business!

One such new hotel is the gigantic new ITC Grand Chola.  Built like one of the older palaces, this hotel is as confusing to navigate as one of those ancient buildings.  It took me a couple of days to master the routes between my room in the Club section to the spa or even the restaurants.

The all-day dining restaurant here,  Madras Pavillion, is a notch above the usual 24x7 restaurants in five star hotels.  During the evenings, they had a buffet fit for the kings.  With a variety of small starters served hot at the table, followed by cocktails that were made at a mobile bar table-side.  A large, elaborate selection of food with North Indian, South India, western and Asian counters were on display.  Desserts and South Indian 'filter coffee' followed.  A must try on a day when you have a big appetite.

Cafe Mercara Express offers some interesting delights such as the lovely spiced and seasoned local fish fillets with South Indian chutney and Moplar lamb biryani.  A good way to satiate your hunger as you nurse a glass of your favorite single malt and listen to rock and pop from the 70s playing on the jukebox.

Another nice place to try is Madras, the signature restaurant at the Raintree hotel in Anna Salai.  Even as you wait for the waiters to bring your large thali-full of culinary delights, there are the quirky local motifs on the plates to smile at.

The thali itself is a luxurious one - plates of local breads, vegetable, meat and fish preparations.  Accompanied by a plethora of chutneys, pickles and papads.  And followed by desserts if you still have space for more food.

I am a fan of South Indian food, and end up over-indulging whenever I am in the south. The fiery Andhra curries, Chettinad mutton, and the mild white Kerala delights all make me salivate. It is probably a good thing I don't travel to these cities as often now.


Karthik Sankar said...

Hello Shantanu,
I visited your blog after a long time and I must say the blog is as refreshing as ever. Your post on south indian food made me nostalgic. I am in north now and I terribly miss south indian food.

Shantanu said...

@Karthik: Welcome back. :)