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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Lunch Buffet at Spice Jar, The Residency

Imagine walking into a room and the aroma of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and ginger hits you, leaving you in a whirl of flavours? That would be heaven or hell, depends on what you like or not. I remember feeling this when we walked into one of thestores in the  spice market in Kochi. 

So, when you tell someone "time to visit the Spice Jar", you invariably end up imagining the above mentioned scene unfold. I walked into Residency, GN Chetty road with this in mind. But then I saw a huge restaurant, with glass walls and a row of huge glass jars filled with different spices high up above the buffet counters.  I was here a few days ago, after a late night movie for a cup of coffee. And today I was here to try their Lunch Buffet. First order of the day was to get myself a glass of Fresh Lime Soda Salt [in fact this has become my favorite drink, and I don't mind having a glass of this very now and then].  Once we had settled down, spent a few minutes catching up on our lives, work, and sundry. Looked around to see a large crowd in the table nearby, also managed to catch a words here & there [sounded like someone was celebrating their birthday, pretty soon the entire crowd had piled around the lady and were giving out gifts, gushing wishes and yakking away]

We made a beeline towards the Buffet to check out the spread, and soon grabbed a plate each and took a sampler of sorts- bread, salads, the veg kebab and sipped on the soup served on the table. Mine was a clear veg soup with a few pieces of colour zucchini in it [was very bland]. The non veg soup looked spicy [ almost like the hot & sour]. I wish they had a similar soup for veggies.. The kebab was good and so were the salads and breads. Quite a few rolls to choose from- brown bread, herbed rolls, white bread slices and few others as well. I also tried the corn & spinach bake which was simple and good. I make this at home with variations [mushrooms, paneer, etc]. 

The place had a constant flow of people, which is always a good sign for a restaurant. I remember visiting Chin Chin, the chinese restaurant on Women's day and enjoying the lunch spread there. Suddenly, breaking into my thoughts I heard Mr Madhu introduce the Chef  [Bengali] who chit chatted for a bit about his favorites, the dishes he is in charge of and places he has worked before. 

While we were trying to order another drink, the staff mentioned there was nannari sharbat available in the buffet. Instantly, we all walked over to the table with 4-5 jugs, and tasted the nannari juice. Yumm! Alas, they dint have too much, so some of us got nannari, while others took roohafza. There was also buttermilk which I liked [ no ginger no coriander.. yayy] 

The highlight of the buffet is there were as many if not more number of Veg dishes as Non Veg. I enjoyed the garlic noodles and Red thai curry the most. Skipped the Indian dishes and went straight for the desserts. There was a payasam of sorts, a bread pudding, coconut strudel, and plain ice cream [2 flavours- Vanilla and Strawberry]... The chef brought a Caramel custard since the one in the dessert section was nearly over. It was just again lacking in flavour, but atleast did not have an overpowering eggy taste.

Overall, the food was alright, nothing over the top, but then it is value for money. 

The veg buffet is priced at Rs597 [Rs475+taxes] and the non veg at little bit more for the weekend and it is tad less during the weekdays.  [shall reconfirm on the rates]

Spice Jar
#49, The Residency, 
G.N.Chetty Road, 
T Nagar, Chennai- 600017
Ph : 04428253434 Extn 6118 / 7401204255

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pizza by the slice- Sbarro

Thanks to the unscheduled powercut last evening, friend & I decided to get out of the house, go somewhere with AC and when I mentioned not having been to Vijaya Forum Mall, that is where we headed to. From the  exterior appearance to the main entrance, I felt like I had been transported to Bangalore Forum mall [Hosur road]. The place is huge, we did spend a bit of time checking out some stores, did some shopping as  well.


And before leaving, decided to grab some dinner [take away]. This is when we hit the Foodcourt, and my friend mentioned Sbarro and how good their pizzas are. Though I am not a pizza fan, decided to give it a shot and was not disappointed. This is the only place [outside of that one stall in bessie beach] where I saw pizzas being sold by slice. They had about 4 kinds of Veg pizzas and 3 Non veg pizzas on display. Apart from this, I also spotted another counter with 2 kinds of pastas, different sauces and veggies. Interesting~! 

Sbarro is a chain of pizza restaurants that specializes in New York style pizza and other Italian-American cuisine. Its headquarters is located in Melville, Huntington, New York. [Source: Wikipedia]

I ordered for 2 slices of Paneer & Brocolli, while the friend ordered for Margarita, Standard Veggie and a Chicken pizza.  Took them about 10 mins to get the order ready, we grabbed our bags and got out of there. 
The pizzas are priced at Rs120 for a normal pizza and premium pizzas -Veg was Rs135 and Non Veg- Rs155

After about an hour or so, at home, we warmed the pizza in the microwave and had them. They were soft, and quite fresh [the base had not become chewy or hard].  What surprised me was I had 1 slice and was nearly full, the 2nd one I could barely finish. Friend mentioned the slices were about 30% smaller than what she got back in Doha.. *gulp*

They also served fountain soft drinks along with the food items.  And as it goes in most malls, you need one of those Food coupon cards [buy a credit card like card, load it up with cash and swipe it across restaurants, recharge if reqd] ...  

Highlights about Sbarro:
1. Veg & non veg pizzas in separate shelves
2. They dont give you a bag unless you ask for one [ bags are charged Rs3 each]
3. No cutlery and so you end up eating it by hand [and you need 2 hands to hold the slice]
4. Quick service

Forum Vijaya Mall, Arcot Road,
Vadapalani, [opp kamala theater]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A cookout with a difference at Dario's

I for one began cooking, or atleast entering the kitchen quite early. Mom & Gramma used to say - at the age of 3 I was making dosas and thus began my love for cooking. I began full fledged cooking in 10th or 11th Std, mainly making my own lunch and weekends/holidays would experiment.  But then today, when I see kids all around me, they not only know how to cook [a few select dishes] but are quite proficient in rattling out the most complicated names of dishes. Blame it on TV? No blame, it is a good thing~! 

After watching Masterchef Australia Juniors edition, I was all set to be blown away by kids from Chennai. And they indeed did just that. I was amazed at the amount of exposure and knowledge these kids had, especially since most of them were between 8-12yrs of age.   

The Kids cookout is a summer workshop from Dario's restaurant, spanning across 5 days. Parents had the option of signing their kids for the entire course, or pick a session and sign them in just for that. In all there were about 12-15kids in the session I attended on Monday. It was all about Desserts. The Dario's Chef and Anusha were holding fort and making sure the kids got some learning out of the sessions. There were a few, tiny ones that were lost in their own world, and while it was cute to watch, they did manage to distract the others... Kids will be kids, right?! 

I have been seeing, eating Tiramisu and Pannacotta maybe over the past 2years, prior to which I had no clues what they were, leave alone how they were made. So, watching the chef whip up the 2 desserts while the kids worked parallely was quite a sight.  

Anyways, the 1st dessert that Chef was prepping for was Panna cotta- with each step explained in detail, the kids then got a chance to pour the hot milky liquid into the little moulds they had before it was whisked away to be chilled.  Not giving them time to break out into a frenzy, the Chef moved on to the next one. Aptly called "pick me up" Tiramisu is quite a delicious dessert. But unlike in other restaurants, Dario's being completely vegetarian, the Chef was teaching the eggless version. 

While Anusha got the kids all excited in guessing what went into Fresh Cream, we were dazzled by the kids when one commented "we can make mascarpone cheese at home, right?" and another asked "where is it available in Chennai?" and one more said "I am going to make this at home one day". Kids do know a lot. It was quite insightful listening to the various explanations of the ingredients, being shown the product, the whisking of the cream to a stiff peak and following the entire process. I was amazed at how engrossed the kids were, they sat patiently waiting their turn, no screaming, no throwing tantrums. And once completed, some stylishly pulled out an iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy note and clicked a picture of their creation~!

As we made our way down the stairs and headed out of the restaurant, I wondered what was in store the remaining 3 days. There was also a small twinge of jealousy , I wished  I had been born in this day and age when there were so many opportunities and exciting activities.

So, if you are interested, 2 more days remain. Sign up now and let your kid come home with some interesting recipes or inputs on dishes that you have loved. 

For the workshop:
Please call 044-49193333 | Ms. Anusha - 9841615232
URL for further details: Kids cookout at Dario's

Dario's is a Pure vegetarian restaurant, you can read my view of the place here

No. 11, Kasturi Rangan Road, 
[Take the 1st right on the road and it is the building right next to Aswene Hospital]
2nd Street, Teynampet, 
Ph-  044-49193333

Cooling your heels- Movenpick

I love the Apple pie with ice cream at Movenpick, but then they went and shut the outlet. And then I was left testing the various other apple pies around town. Disclaimer: I  am not too fond of ice creams [ find them tad too sweet and so prefer such desserts or yoghurt based ice creams if available]

Anyways, a few years passed and I was happy digging into the desserts at various other places when one evening I spotted the shimmering white board and interiors of a new place on Nungambakkam High Road. upon investigation, to my delight, it was Movenpick. Yayy!!  But then, as luck would have it, I haven't made a visit here yet.
One evening mom, gramma and granpa had gone out [temple, shopping, etc] and gramma came home with a movenpick bag.. Peeked inside and Whoopie, it contained a box of Strawberry yoghurt ice cream. I was quite impressed with the packing, there was a 2nd layer seal inside the lid as well. 

Scooped out the light ice cream and dug into it. It was sheer heaven. Fresh strawberry pieces blended with the ice cream. It was just perfect.  What a treat to beat the heat~!! 


53, Nungambakkam High Road   


Chennai - 34
Ph: 044 28279300 
This 1litre tub was priced at Rs 899/-

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lloyds Tea House

I am a little tea pot
Short and stout
Pick me up
Pour me out…
is a song that comes to my mind when someone mentions Tea.  And I hummed this in my head as I walked into Lloyds tea House in Gopalapuram that Thursday evening.  Located near DAV school, Lloyds is probably the only café other than CCD on that stretch. It also brought back memories of the old Amethyst [used to be on the road perpendicular to Lloyds] And ever since my 1st visit to Infinitea in Bangalore, I kept wishing for a similar place to open in Chennai.   

As you walk in, the decor and the colour on the walls is what hits you first. Very soothing turquoise/cyan colour on the walls, a small section with sofas covered with map upholstery and a book shelf to separate the sections. There are shelves at the far end of the cafe with a few artefacts, some of which are absolutely adorable and chic. There is a small counter in the middle with a display showcasing the wide variety of desserts they offer,a long with a few trays with Scones, biscotti and the pound cake. 

The shelves all around are filled with black containers with labels on them. Only when I went up close did I discover they all held different kinds of tea in it. They have over 60 kinds of Tea. Yes, you read it right! 

We began with an order of Teas, I wanted to try the Himalayan Wine, but they dint have it and so I opted for the Lloyds Blend which was a blend of 3 teas. More than the tea itself, it was the contraption that had us all curious. They bring to the table a pot with tea leaves in it, pour the hot water and then place a mini timer on the table. It has 3 options- light, medium or dark with time for each of them. So, depending on how you like your tea,. you can wait it out. Wait, there is more. The entire pot is then placed on the mug and voila, you get a cup of perfect tea. That is how awesome that contraption- err tea pot was. :-)   

There were a few who opted for the cold iced teas, but personally I preferred the hot ones. We tried the Blended tea, Irish tea, and so many others [my head is buzzing with names and flavours]. Their menu does not end here. They offer quite an array of eats as well, ranging from finger food to main dishes. 

While we waited for the food, a few of us quietly occupied the sofas and thanks to the TV on the wall, were enjoying the cricket match.

For the vegetarians, there are quite a few options and I say this with a big broad smile. There are club sandwiches, pasta, risotto, pizza, and the curious Zucchini fantasy[the dish was a drama on its own, you unfold the zucchini sheets to find a mix of veggies cooked Italian style inside]..  There was also the Rosti platter, mini tartlets if you will call them that and ofcourse the corn on toast as well. The risotto was interesting- it was served alongside Thai red curry. Italy meets Thailand, and they were quite happy together!! 

"Only 2 clicks and we dig in" was the chant in our group. We were hungry, and couldn't hold off any longer.. hehe.. all attack with spoons, forks and hands... 

Ah, now we were all smiling and happy. Just in time for the grand finale, drumroll please. We are now making our way towards the desserts sections, the place has 1,2,3,4, 5..... and many more desserts. There are fudge brownies, pound cake, red velvet cake, chocolate truffle, and then some more. Feast for your eyes and for the growling tummies..

Next time you want to grab a quick bite or go somewhere interesting, make a beeline to Gopalapuram and head to Lloyds.  What more? They have valet parking as well~!


Add to trip
#179, Lloyds Road, 
Gopalapuram, Chennai - 600086
Ph : 044 45524231

Monday, May 13, 2013

Southern Spice at Taj Coromandel

There comes a time in everyone's life when they deserve to feel special, when they get the Royal treatment. I guess my time was now. There I was walking into Taj Coromandel and stepping into the grand Southern Spice. It has been 4yrs or more since I was here last. Yes, Dec2008 I was practically living in the Taj [for an event], and morning breakfast those 3days was at Southern Spice. But the space I had walked into tonight resembled nothing like what I remember from my earlier visits. That is how the place had changed. It now reminded me of a royal ballroom, tall pillars, rich upholstery, cutlery that looked like it belonged in a palace and more. 

We were directed to one of the private dining areas adorned with a long table, a beautiful piece of art on the ceiling and a piece on the wall displaying the various rulers of Karnataka, the Wodaiyars if I am right. We were greeted, seated and treated. 

A brief round of introductions, a few words about the Maha virundhu that awaited us and the 1st of the dishes started coming to our plates. Oh wait, did I mention how beautiful the plates looked. Look at the pictures and you will know what I mean. 

We were served dishes from across the regions down South, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, each one unique, each item distinct in flavour, appearance and textures.  We were told that the Chefs had scouted the regions extensively gathering recipes, sampling dishes and had chosen the finest of them all and incorporated them into the menu.

More than the food, more than the service, it was the entire experience that has us all enthralled. We couldnt get over how beautiful the whole evening was. We were served little idlis stuffed with raisins, banana dosa, lettuce with kosmalli in it, different kinds of vadams with an array of chutney and oh, how can I forget- the Mysore rasam [think we all had more than a helping of this]

South Indians are indeed known for their hospitality. And keeping with this tradition, the dedicated staff in the private dining area made sure our plates were never empty. After the appetizers, a plate with small bowls landed in front of us. Shimmering against the light, they were soon filled with gravy and vegetable curries, each one outdoing the other.

The highlight of the evening were Asparagus Paruppu usili, Edomame Kurma (Pookose urlai kurma), Zucchini thengai curry (Zucchini kaara poriyal), the light and flavour filled vegetable stew (Pachakari ishtew) and Channa gravy (Kadala gassi) . The non vegetarians had their share of delights as well. Each of the dishes had a South Indian touch but were unique. I would have never thought of making Asparagus usili, leave alone stir fry zucchini  with coconut.  We were served Aapam, Idiyappam, parotta for these dishes.  

And somewhere during the conversation, Vodka came into the picture and there we were staring at shot glasses with curry leaf juice topped with vodka. It sure was zingy, taking us higher up. :-) 

Wait, they were not done yet. Next came plain white rice, some ghee, a sprinkle of paruppu podi that was hard to resist. I loved it. There was also Arachivitta Sambar [a recipe from Chef Anand's home kitchen] and finally, there was the grand entry by the humble curd rice. We had the option of vetha kuzhambu, mor milagai vathal, and pickles for this finale... We were all stuffed. Before we knew it, we had managed to go through not 10 or 20, but nearly 30 dishes. 

Now, it was time for desserts. After much pleading, the Chef gave in and served us a few portions of the 2 desserts that were part of the Maha virundhu. There was the delicate elaneer payasam - a recipe from the MRF Mammens' family served alongside a cup of Godhi-bella ice cream (banana jaggery wheat ice cream). And there was one more dessert- Belgian chocolate mousse cake filled with coconut and jaggery fiulling that oozed out when you cut into the mousse (Chocolate purnam mousse). What a pleasant surprise it was.  

This Mahavirundu is fit for a King or a Queen. It is served to large groups who are looking at a beautiful experience, not just good food. Priced at Rs5000+ taxes, there are various other packages as well. If guests seek a meal with local wine, it is a different rate, international, and so on- you get the drift, right? ~!

As we bid the team Good night, the clock was ready to strike 12 and a new day awaited us around the corner. Where did the evening go? Next time you are in the mood for something Royal, you know where to head..

Taj Coromandel
37, Mahatma Gandhi Road
Chennai - 600 034
Tamil Nadu, India
Telephone: +91 44 6600 2827 

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-) 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sukh Sagar, Kilpauk, Chennai

Contrary to popular belief, veg food is quite yummy. Dont believe me? ask some of my friends who are staunch non veggies but have been enjoying the veg fare at the new line of restaurants in town. Yep, right from the horse's mouth you see. Next time I drag you to a veg joint, think twice before making a comment.. I just might let you starve while I devour some of the yumm fare. Where is this convo headed? Well, am all set to brag about one more Veg restaurant. Not new, infact they have been creating waves for quite a few years, in Chennai & Bangalore.

Infact, if you've been in Anna Nagar, or driven down the main road, you will have spotted the giant red building. That was where Sukh Sagar was. but now, they have a new address, they are on Harley's Road, Kilpauk. Woohoo, close by home, walking distance!  

Renowned for their veg fare and chaat, I was looking forward to this visit. As you walk in, there is an open floor with a kitchen on the side for the early morning hunger pangs or chaat kicks. And then you find a small stairway tucked away leading to the Fine Dining area on the 1st floor, and a floor above houses the Banquet hall. 

By the time I got to the hall, most of them troops were already there. Found a seat beside Vinay & Vishnu, the men who own the place. The evening began with a glass of chilled watermelon juice. We were told we could order what we wanted and eventually sample the main dishes.

I opted for the Veg Manchow soup, it was good, the crispy noodles on top added to the texture. What happened after the soup is a big mystery. There were plates of food that just kept arriving at the table - a wide array of starters, here goes the list [ almost reminds me of the  lyrics to We Dint start the fire by Billy Joel] lemme see if i can remember 'em all  --

Tandoori starters: Corn sheekh kebab - Small pieces of moist Kebab served alongside Mint chutney followed by the Channa se bhara khumb - These were interesting- two mushrooms stuffed with Channa flour and cooked over the tandoor. there was something sweet about this starter. I liked it, maybe cos i love mushrooms and finally the Achari Paneer tikka- amazingly soft paneer marinated with spices and cooked to perfection. 

Next up were the Chinese starters- - Veg Crispy  and Paneer Chilli- Both were good, except I couldnt tell the veggies apart in the veg crispy. Enjoyed the paneer chilli starter. 

Phew, that was a lot of food. Oh wait, we were far from done. Next up were the Chaat items, started with 
fresh Dahi Puri, we then got to sample the Pani puri and finally the Bhel puri. The chaat were all good, except I felt the Bhel was slightly soggy and not as crispy as I am used to. 

During the course of the evening, we spoke about quite a variety of topics, ranging from food to travelling to making sudden plans to drive out to Pondy that very night [ya right, I think somewhere all of us knew that wasnt going to happen, but that did not stop us from planning, plotting]

While we were busy, the staff brought out plates of South Indian eats, starting with the Idli [which I steered clear off cos I need immense motivation to eat it], but the Sambhar vada, Oh gosh, I loved it. yep! Just as I put my spoon down, a plate with a veg sandwich popped in front of me. The caramalised onions added a nice touch, and the crispy grilled layer was a pleasant surprise. 

Just when we thought "yayy, we are done" Vinay came over to tell us the main course was on its way. Jeez. We requested him to just send out teeny tiny portions and he obliged. We tried the Roti, Dal makhani, paneer butter masala and Mushroom masala. The dishes were all good, each with a unique flavour. 

Burp.. oops, pardon me! Oh no, I saw a spoonful of Vegetable Biryani land on my plate and was ready to bolt. Luckily it was a tiny mouthful and was quite nice. There was also the Pav Bhaji and Chola Batura which I passed up on [if I wanted to retain my]  

Bring out the drums and trumpets... it was time for the desserts and that meant we were done... yipee!! We each ordered a different dessert so we could sample them, and it worked out just fine. I chose the Gajar Ka Halwa, while others opted for the Gulab jamun, some chose different ice creams- Gadbad, sukh sagar special, choco nut sundae, kulfi  and Falooda.. Not sure if there were others.. 

To bring the evening to a close, couple of us ordered Filter Kaapi and it was A class.. The conversation about Pondy had by then wound down, we were talking a drive to marina beach and finally ended up heading home.. lol.. 

Before i forget, next time you are hungry and in & around Kilpauk, head straight to Sukh Sagar... Reasonably priced, fresh & yumm food   :-) 

No 1a, Harleys Road [near Bain School], 
Chennai - 600010 
Ph: 9940192886, 9790899430 
(044) 45500306


The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-)