Monday, August 11, 2014

Quick Bite at Sangeetha, Adyar

We had to get a lot of outdoor wok done and with a long evening ahead, we decided to hop over to Sangeetha, famous for its vegetarian fare, for dinner. Inspite of being in my neighbourhood for years, I never felt compelled enough to drop by for a bite, until curiosity got the better of me. All with a purpose - I was looking forward to tasting the pesarattu, a moong dhal crepe filled with rava (sooji) upma. I had this delicious Andhra speciality at Idli-DOsa at Sathyam cinemas with my cousin. The ginger chutney that accompanies the crepe is the true hero of the dish. Since then, its been on my mind. 
When I looked through the menu, I was disappointed to find out that Pesarattu is served only on Saturdays. Apparently, the idea was to serve specials each day, to keep the customer base entertained. So we decided to try soups and split a plate of Schezwan noodles. For complimentary bites, everyone was served a plate of fryums. Either they forgot our table or they did not think it necessary. I asked for it on the principal of equality and attention to detail. 
For the real deal, I ordered the vegetarian kebab, which was perfectly done. We had a spicy mint chutney to add moisture and flavour to the dry warm slices.

Since the restuarant is famous for Indian food, and we usually make similar dishes at home, we settled for a slight safe choice. That explains why we split a tomato soup garnished with fried bread. It tasted great. Especially after a long day out, a warm tasty soup can uplift your soul.

For the close, we ordered a plate of spicy noodles. We also let the chef know we did not want a plate of oily noodles, because sometimes, they add a heap of chilly oil to enhance the taste and it gets very heavy and leaves an oily after taste. That said, the plate of hot noodles served with vegetables was delightful. 

On the whole, it was an enjoyable. Service was quick and quantity was good for two. Price was a tad high in comparison to slightly high end restaurants like Cream Centre. The bill for two was approximately INR 350. Sangeetha gets crowded on weekends, so better get their early. If there is anything I would like them to improve upon, it is their cutleries, too plastic. I understand from the point of maintenance, it is easier, but from an appetizing view, it is not so appetizing.

Calvin's CLoud

Even if things don't unfold the way you expected, don't be disheartened or give up. One who continues to advance will win in the end.

- Daisaku Ikeda

Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Surprise Dinner at Eden

My uncle was visiting us from Bangalore just for a day. Since we hardly meet, I decided to take him out for dinner at Eden, another famous vegetarian restaurant which my family, friends and I patronize.

I also got my aunt a simple jewellery piece as a belated birthday gift and their sweet little kid, a big bar of chocolate. We picked up a sea blue t-shirt for my uncle, which he liked, but not before he tried the earlier tshirt that I had bought, which turned out to be too big for his medium frame. So the plan was to drive over to the beach, find a parking spot on a Saturday evening if you are truly blessed, walk over to the shop and exchange the t-shirt and head over the beach for a while and wrap up with dinner at Eden.

It was a perfect plan and it worked beautifully. The evening drizzle made it even more endearing. I had completed a cycling session an hour earlier and was lucky to have caught a rare rainbow over the ocean. It was such an unexpected magical moment, so I called home and let them know incase they were interested in making a dash to the beach. 

It was breezy and just a great feeling to sit by the banks, enjoying the bluish-grey sky and watching the corns getting grilled over the charcoal. As the evening progressed, the beach came alive with the rows of snack shops ready to fry away the usual favourites. We decided to make a move since we were hard pressed for time.

We went to Eden by 7.00pm and the place was relatively empty. Within 30 minutes, it was packed with waiters scurrying from table to table taking orders. They forgot our soup and the Tandoori salad and had us waiting for over 30 minutes. 

We were terribly disappointed with their service and I was embarrassed when my uncle suggested we cancel the order! After a reminder, the tomato soup and the salad were served immediately. The soup was well flavoured and served at the right temperature. The tandoori salad, which is my favourite did not measure up. The cottage cheese (paneer) seemed chewy and possibly not fresh, because if it was fresh panner, it would cut through like butter. The rest of the vegetables were done well. The coriander dip was an excellent accompaniment. 

For the main course, my uncle preferred rotis. For the sides, I ordered a dal makhani and a tandoori gobi masala. While the dal makhani was cooked with the right spice levels, the gobi (cauliflower) masala was a little too hot for me to handle. So mom and I attacked the mildly spiced lentil gravy.

Thankfully, we had ordered just enough portions and except for the dry vegetable, we cleared our plates. The bill for three was INR 1300 including tips, moderately priced.  I usually don't tip for poor service, but gave them the benefit of doubt on this occasion. The service is usually impeccable and the waiters are old timers who take care of each and every customer who walk through their doors. Some days are like that I guess. Who knows I may need the benefit of doubt on another day!

Sizzlers at Cream Centre and Off to Rescue the Dragon

videoSundays are off for my house help. So I sometimes plan a movie or hop over to our cousin's place or just grab a lovely lunch at one of our usual haunts. I was craving for sizzlers for a while and on this particular Sunday, I was  not feeling well and like a cat on the wall, was undecided for most part of the morning. I dragged myself to Art class and when I got back, decided we might as well do the lunch and head over for the afternoon show, How to Train Your Dragon-2 at Express Avenue.

Creams Centre is a usual favourite at home. We had been there on so many occasions with friends and family. Its a 15 minute drive from home and you have valet parking since the restaurant is on the main road.They serve only vegetarian and the menu is a little bit of everything. I sorely miss my hummus with pita bread, which was always my first bite. Their Spring Vegetable soup is well prepared with fresh cottage cheese, shredded cabbage, carrots and spring onions in a light corn flour mix with soya sauce. The sizzler menu is huge hit with the masses. One this particular day, pretty much every table had some sizzle going on. The quantity is good for two. 

The onion ring starters are served in an interesting visual presentation, but we usually avoid it since we make a more rustic version at home. Second in this hot weather, we can the deep fried starter a miss. The American Corn Cheese Balls is another delectable treat, fattening but tasty. Kids usually take to it like a charm. Most of the sizzler menu have taken turns at our table with different luncha and dinner groups - you have the Mexican sizzler, Italian, Chinese and Paneer Shaslik. The Paneer (cottage cheese) version and the Italian are by far our favourites. The Paneer ka Baap, a signature dish and the Crispy Aloo (potato) Tikki sizzler seemed like a recent addition, but I am not sure. Anyways, we went ahead and decided to take on their signature version. 

The service was a little slow eventhough we went early. During the busy hours, if you are lucky, you may find a table by their garden enclosed in glass, which is refreshing. The signature dish did not disappoint. It was simply smacking good. The price for two was INR 600, which was reasonable. 

After wrapping up with a lovely lunch, we headed over to train the dragon. Only it should have been, How to Save Your Dragon-2. The effects were excellent, but the story was like a soppy love story with too many dialogues and just colourful dragons whizzing all over the place. Gerard Butler's voice did make me smile, but lets face it, at the end of it all, I could not wait to get home for a cuppa!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lunch at Pind, Velachery

We had a team lunch at the Pind in Velachery recently. It was a stone's throw away from work and a few folks told me that the food is delicious. So the decision was easy. Pind in Punjabi means a village or community. The entrance to the restaurant is quite interesting with local references.The lassi (yogurt based drink) was highly recommended and it is supposedly served in bottles as is the local practice in Punjab. 

Reservations were made since we were a large group and it was recommended on their site as best practice. Once we were seated, no service was available for a while. Maybe we should do the reservations for that as well!

We all decided to go for the Patiala thali (plate served with a variety of dishes) since it seemed wholesome, but unfortunately did not include the lassi. The service was terribly slow and it seemed to me they were avoiding us while we were getting starved.

Finally after a long while, the food seemed to trickle in. We were served tomato soup followed by the tandoori paneer, which was to die for. Succulent and well spiced, it was fantastic. This is followed by a greasy fried corn sautéed in soya sauce, which we still ate because we were famished.

The bread basket arrived and the sight was overwhelming with the roti (wheat based) and naan (all purpose flour) stacked and gleaming under the lights. The thali itself looked heavy. There were a lot of paneer  (cottage cheese) based dishes and I could not really enjoy it because they were so rich and makes your stomach feel heavy. You have a choice of plain rice or pulav, and the pulav which was everybody's favourite was the villain of the piece. The spices had our tongues crackling.

So we dived into the dessert, which was the gulab jamun with ice cream that eventually cooled us down.

Overall, good food but poor service. Ambience was interesting, but nothing to die for. The house serves pure vegetarian dishes which is great news for some of us folks.

Parking is an issue since the restaurant is located in a narrow street. Valet service is available if that makes you feel better. 

I think the thali was INR 250 per head which is a tad expensive. I suspect the reason is they won the Zomato Users Choice Award. You can certainly pop in there atleast once and that is how I get to do my reviews.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Calvin's CLoud

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.
 ~Author Unknown

Friday, June 13, 2014

An Evening at the Wharf, Mahabalipuram

One of my favourite quiet evening getaway for a warm dinner by the ocean side would be The Wharf. The restaurant is part of the Radisson Blu, Temple Bay Resort property located at Mahabalipuram. This five star property is usually jam-packed on weekends since it offers a quick one hour drive from the city. 
The Wharf is beach front restaurant and serves continental cuisine. The earlier menu had a restricted palate for the vegetarians, but since my last visit, the file has certainly got thicker. You have seating both closer to the beach as well as inside around the open kitchen. I had some lovely stuffed vegetables marinated in a sauce and spilt a pasta with my friend. For the dessert, I was recommended the crepe with condensed milk and chocolate that left me wanting for more.
My sister-in-law loves this property and wanted to stay here the last time they visited us, but ofcourse too much to do in too little time. I decided to drop in to check rates and keep options available should they decide to plan a similar visit.

This time I settled for a warm roasted bell pepper-tomato soup which was perfectly balanced in acidity, smokiness and spices and along with that I also ordered a plate of chargrilled vegetables, which was equally well made and presented. I skipped the dessert this time for obvious reasons. 
The food and service is absolutely spot on. Evenings are the best time to enjoy the property whilst listening to the sound of ocean. The price is what you pay for good quality food and excellent service.

The only thing you got to do is turn on the music, sit back and enjoy the drive.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Lunch at Dynasty, Harrisons

Its no wonder I pile on the pounds and stay slim while living out of my home country. I barely eat out and preferred home cooked meals and long walks. Back in Chennai, I love visiting the Chinese haunt, Dynasty at the Harrison hotel. I had been here for lunch on a number of occasions while attending language classes back during my college days. I loved it.

I went there two years ago and was pleasantly surprised that the hospitality and the quality of the food remained memorable as ever. 

I usually order the sweet corn vegetable soup along with delectable spring rolls with a spicy sauce and wrap it up with their famous pan-fried noodles topped with an assortment of vegetables, served warm.

The dessert is sometimes a crisp noodles served with honey and ice-cream, which is nice. The bill for two was at that time INR 1200 approximately. 

Should plan to get back there sometime soon.

Sizzle at Kobe

While meddling with my blog template and its look and feel,I realised some of my posts were marinating in my drafts folder. This post was written a long time ago when my mom was on one of her long spiritual tours.

On one of those long days, when I was in no mood to cook, my friend and I decided to dine at Kobe's, famous for its sizzlers.

Originally set up in Mumbai, the sizzlers soon made their way to Chennai in Khader Nawaz Khan Road. The ambiance is alright, nothing out of the world. Infact it was way too noisy for my liking. We spent some time hunting for some quiet corner, but we were not lucky that day. To make it even more difficult, there was a wailing baby, which the parents could not pacify. I had ordered a vegetarian sizzler, while my friend had a chicken sizzler. Initially, we had ordered for a lime soda. We sat there wondering why none of the orders had come through, only to be told by the staff that the orders were somehow overlooked. I was really annoyed.

Finally when the sizzlers arrived, I was not really impressed. It was similar in taste to the ones you will get at Tangerine or Creams Centre. However the mash potatoes served as accompaniment for the chicken was to die for. The quantity is one huge pile as you can see. Pricing is the usual. It costs an average of Rs.1000/- for a couple.

It wont hurt to visit the place atleast once.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

App Zap

I did not ever imagine I would be app-zapped. The iPhone 4s, a birthday gift from my brother had me completely sold out on their apps. For years, I believed that Android is the way to go and more user friendly. I resisted Apple for a long time even before I used their product until necessity pushed me in that direction. It was destiny.

Facetiming with my nephew was a critical need. Atleast thats how it all started. I had the little one's tshirts printed and sent by speed post along with a personalized calendar from our family trip to Bali. If only I had explored the photo and video apps much before, I could have put together more fun stuff.

For these collages, I used Aviary to treat the photographs and made a collage using Pic Collage.

Other apps I dig are Elevate, a brilliant concept that trains your cognitive skills

A lighter fun app is the Word search, which I always enjoyed playing even as a child

The other usual must haves include VLC player to sync your video downloads and Google Maps to get around.

Watsapp is undeniably huge as a communication tool and if you are a book lover, Flipkart should be there by default; and if you are a traveller, TripAdvisor is reliable for reviews and if you are stumped for a ride, try Uber.

As I discover more, the Aap Zap story will continue to enthral you and you will be crushed senseless (Dave Matthews Band, ring a bell?)

The Ashtalakshmi Temple, Besant Nagar

I had not been to the Ashta (eight) Lakshmi (wealth) temple in ages. Infact, I have no recollection of my last visit to this beautiful temple by the shore. It was by chance when mom and I were visiting the Arupadai Veedu (six abodes of Lord Muruga) that we decided to drop in to the Ashtalakshmi temple down the road.

The temple history states that it was constructed on the behest of Kanchi Chandrashekarendra Saraswati swamigal, famously known as Maha Periava. Each form of the goddess was breathtaking. Ashtalakshmi refers to the eight forms of wealth such as education, wealth, courage, food, bravery, offspring and success. The shrines are built at different levels, which was quite interesting to observe. We also prayed at the Lakshmi Narayana sannidhi, Guruvayrappan (Krishna), Anjaneyar (Hanuman, the monkey god),  and Ganapathi (Elephant God).

As much as I enjoyed visiting the temple, I was disappointed by the attitude of the priests. Their eyes were fixated on the purse and few of them emotionally push you to keep some money at the feet of the goddess to earn wealth and prosperity. One of them were also open enough to announce to his colleague that three tourist buses have arrived and they need to make arrangements. 

It seems to be the case in a large number of temples these days. I wonder if it because they are poorly paid or is it plain greed?