Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Donut House, Chennai


This week I decided to venture a little out of the comfort zone. We trekked all the way to Egmore to visit the recently opened Donut House. Bright yellow dominates the decor and gives a warm, chirpy feel to the whole place. The live kitchen is a nice touch. 

Quickly we got down to business and ordered a bunch of donuts. The donuts have an obvious chocolate bias. The Coffee Roasted Almonds was a hit. The donut was sophisticated with a hint of coffee, a sprinkling of almonds and a nice dose of dark chocolate.

Coffee Roasted Almonds

The Alien is all about the chocolate. Liberal layers of dark chocolate topped with white chocolate dusting. I took a gluttonous bite and the chocolate stuffing came oozing out. Yumm! That said, I do wish the dark chocolate had been richer. Would have made it perfect.

Alien 
The Oreo was a bit of a letdown. It was good but it didn't knock my socks off, the way I expected it to.

Oreo Dream

My favourite donut was the Italian Spices. This savoury donut was incredibly good. Lots of cheese topped with some not-too-spicy spices and herbs complemented the inherently sweet dough perfectly. I preferred this to all the chocolate donuts and given my incorrigible sweet tooth, that's saying something. I highly recommend that you try this.

Italian Spices
The donuts were all warm and soft. The dough was not oversweet and tasted good. Thankfully, it wasn't all about the toppings. 

They also serve sandwiches, coffee and some drinks (of the non-alcoholic variety).


They also have a kiosk at EA. Deciding to see if this one was as good, I hopped over to the stall later that day. The Peanut Dark Chocolate had a lovely flavour and strong peanut butter overtones.
However, the variety at the EA kiosk is limited and the donuts not as fresh. If you can manage the time, I recommend that you hop across to the main branch.


Donut House brings some much needed variety to the quick eats scene in Chennai. I see myself visiting this place soon and am fervently hoping that they produce some delicious Bavarian custard filled donuts.

Donut House delivers to select localities. 

Thanks to Nathu for coming all the way on a boiling Saturday afternoon.

Nathu

Pricing: Glazed donuts cost Rs.42 and others cost Rs. 46.
Location: Wellingdon Estate, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore , Chennai

  • Landmark: Opposite Ethiraj College
  • Phone: 42656426

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shiraz Cafe, Chennai

Enthralled am I by Vikram Seth,
To speak in rhyme is my current fate.
This post is going to be in verse,
Apologies if this makes you curse.

Enough of this, let us begin.
For this week's review, we tried some Iranian cuisine (?)
Drive down Eee Cee aaR,
And you shall spot, many restaurants claiming to serve food from lands afar.


Of Persian heritage is the Cafe Shiraz,
The setting is pretty and the crowds sparse.
The fruit slush which greeted us is exactly what we need (ed),
Cold, soothing and especially fascinating was the Chia Seed.


To whet our appetites they gave us some fried veggies and paneer skewer(s), 
Far from Iranian, the food seemed to be from lands near. 
They also served hummus, which was good,
But all through I kept wondering, where is the promised Iranian food?!


For the main course they had a decent spread,
Looking at us, they must have figured we are well fed. 
There was much rice, and an eggplant dish,
Something that looked liked dal. On a spinach bed they served some fish.
For those who want a meatier feast,
There was lamb and beef.


While I found it hard to discern authentic Persian food,
I had someone from the fair land in my hood. 
I hear that in Iran,
Food is flavoured with much saffron and sweet anars from Sistan. 
While some dishes are similar,
The food isn't as Indian-ny as they made it appear. 

As accompaniments they served us panir/fresh white cheese,
And the raitha-esque Masto-Khair, Both of which did please. 

Then there was something sweet, 
With great gusto, the Bastani-e Za'farāni (Persian ice cream) did we eat. 
Rosewater and some clotted cream did set it apart,
But it must be sandwiched in crispy waffles, to truly perfect the art.

We washed this down with some lemony tea and freshly baked cake,
Stuffed, we were rendered immobile in it's wake.


Despite its questionable authenticity, I am going to say,
Make your reservations, go for the Sunday buffet. 
Kick back, relax have a good meal,
Revel in the hospitality, enjoy the pervading lazy feel.  

It's well worth the money, not too heavy on the pocket,
The whole package is one of the better ones in the market.

As always, I say 'Thank You'!
For coming along, you are a great crew.

L to R
 Kenny, Kimia. Hayley, Nammu,Nathu, Bhaps and Mattu

Pricing: Rs. 500 per person
Location: Inside Cholamandalam Artist's Village, Injambakkam, East Coast Road. 
Phone: 9840572126                                                                                                                                                  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Soup and Salad Cafe: Don't be fooled by the name





Trying to balance my blogging needs and impending obesity, I decided to check out the healthy sounding Soup and Salad Cafe this week. The ambiance at this place rates really high. Cute interiors with some witty signage. They have books, a foosball table, board games, wi-fi connectivity and a TV. All that remained to be seen was whether the food matched up to the promise. 

After ordering a staggering amount of food, we secretly reveled in the boy band music that was playing in the background (Seriously, Quit Playing Games with my Heart!). 

The Chips Ahoy (potato, onions, and potato chips doused in mint sauce) receives a thumbs down from me. Even the overdose of potatoes couldn't compensate for the bland taste, excessive onions and dressing. Another salad that suffered from too much onions was the spicy paneer. It consisted of five pieces of paneer and raw onions. Terrible, terrible.

Spicy Paneer Salad


The Famous Kaamatein High Salad tasted great but it wasn't actually a salad. With rajma dal, crunchy peanuts, potatoes and liberal dressing it tasted more like a westernized chat than anything else. Yes, it was tasty but it wasn't what we signed up for. And this is true of most of the salads that day. The Mexican Salad was filled with crunchy nachos, buttered mushrooms and some peppers. It tasted nothing like a salad should but more like a Mexican snack. Admittedly, a Mexican snack that we liked.


The Nicoise was more like a salad though this too was plagued by the chef's onion obsession. So many raw onions! The South West Grilled Chicken was definitely the best of the salads but then again the dressing was excessive. In all fairness to the Soup and Salad Cafe, overdose of dressing seems to a common affliction with most salad places. And no, that doesn't make it right.

Nicoise

In the soup section, we tried the 'Popeye goes to Itay' and Minestrone soup. The former is a creamy spinach soup with some pasta. It  was passable but nothing great. It lacked the wholesome goodness that recommends most soups. The Minestrone was pretty decent: warm and full of veggies. It's not the best in the city but it will do.

Popeye goes to Italy

The best thing about the place was the wraps. It was light, slightly spicy wrap with nicely grilled panner/chicken in it. Possibly the healthiest thing we had that night.

Paneer Wrap

Of course, the same couldn't be said of the Mornay Pasta which was melted cheese with some penne and olives thrown in. I couldn't put more than a spoon in my mouth. So much cheese and just cheese. While it may satisfy some, this is definitely not good pasta in my books.

Mornay

For dessert, we ordered almost everything they had on the menu. Keeping in line with the rest of the meal, the desserts were a let down too. Most of the desserts were dry and tasted synthetic. The Mocha Truffle Cake in particular had an unpleasant after taste. Stay away from the desserts here but if you must order something, then the Chocolate Mousse Cake is your best bet.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Blueberry Cheesecake

Death by Chocolate

While Soup and Salad cafe has the ambiance all sorted out, they really need to concentrate on their food. The salads were terrible and the ones that we did like had no resemblance to salads at all. If you want a nice snack, this is not a bad place to head towards but if you go by the name you are going to be mighty disappointed.

Service is OK, portions sufficient and the loo clean. Prices are pretty reasonable. 

This review stands for the Adyar branch only.



Pricing: Rs. 120 per person
Location: 30, Kasthurbha Nagar, 1st Cross street, Adyar , Chennai
  • Landmark: End Of the lane adjacent to Ramkay TVS
  • Phone: 42114504, 9551777000

A big shout out to my peeps who braved the rain, flooded roads and Chennai auto drivers to join me on this review.

L to R: Renee, Bhaps, Nammu, Nathu






Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ecstasy, Chennai

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a dessert person. Which is why it's surprising that it's taken me nearly a year to try out Ecstasy. The place is calm, quiet and a welcome break from the madness that is Sathyam Cinemas. The minimalist, white decor puts the focus of the entire place on the dessert bar which is exactly where we want it to be. 



Ecstasy ascribes to the designer food philosophy and the desserts are all dressed up. Vibrant colours, cute designs and edible accessories: if nothing else, the food looks fabulous. I'm always wary of things that look too good and approached the desserts with caution. The good news is that most of them taste as nice as they look.

The Duja is a basil, lemon and chocolate concoction on a hard dark chocolate base. It was surprisingly good. The texture was mousse-y and the flavours light. While Italian Mama thought there was a little too much basil in it, I thought it was perfect. It's a tricky dessert and could go terribly wrong but I think Ecstasy's version managed to walk on the right side of the line.

Duja


Le Chocolatier was a chocolate rose served with chocolate ice cream. The dish was very very rich with a dark chocolate layer at the very bottom. Sure to satisfy all you chocoholics.

Le Chocolatier


The Hazelnut was a huge disappointment. Aside from the tiny layer of hazelnut in the centre, the dessert didn't stay true to it's name. Despite all the sugar, it didn't really taste of anything. Bleh! Even the texture was a little jarring. I recommend that you stay away from this one.

The Hazelnut


I am a huge fan of the Liquorice-Raspberry tart. There is a just an undertone of Liquorice in the sour-sweet tart and the two unusual companions blend well together.

Liquorice-Raspberry Tart


The blueberry cheesecake here is a winner. The tiny cheesecake is a served in massive bowl with a jelly stick sort of thing. It has a lovely cracker crust and delectable cream cheese filling. Definitely my favourite cheesecake in Chennai.
 The Flak, a rich caramel-chocolate mousse on a Ferrero Rocher crust, is decadent. Every bite tastes rich caramel goodness. It's a little too rich though and is the sort of dessert that will have you bursting out of your pants.


Blueberry Cheesecake

Praline Pops

Dark Essence 

The service at Ecstasy is good. They don't bother you and let you stay on for as long as you want. The place is largely empty (much to my surprise) and is a great place to unwind and relax. It could also be a great date place.

If you are in the city, feeling a little decadent and want to indulge your sweet tooth, this place is a must visit.

Pricing: Rs.100-150 (per person)
Location: Inside the Sathyam Cinemas compound. Just outside the theatre itself.
Phone: 43920444

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuscana on Chamiers, Chennai


If you live in South Chennai, then the biggest hurdle to dining out is the fact that most nice restaurants are located on the other side of town. The thought of hailing an auto, fighting with the auto driver, traveling all that way and then doing that all over again has often proved too daunting a task. So when we heard that Tuscana has opened closer home, Nat and I immediately set out to investigate.


The new Tuscana is HUGE. One of my major complaints with Tuscana Pizzeria was that it was so cramped. This one is set over a two floor bungalow with ample privacy. I was happy to note that the striking red Vespa, or its twin, had made the journey all the way across town.


To start with, I highly recommend the minestrone: warm, filling and full of veggies. But if you don't want soup, and given the weather understandably so, I recommend the refreshing Insalata Caprese.




The options for entrees are vast. The pizza menu remains the same. For the veggies I recommend the Patata e Broccoli. Yes, that's right the broccoli pizza. Lovely yellow cheddar cheese topped with a host of veggies. It is my personal favourite. The meat lovers should try the Roma: marinara sauce, ham and ooodles of cheese.


But what I like better at the new Tuscana is the very many pastas and main course dishes. I highly recommend the Pasta del Rosso. The sundried tomatoes had a wonderful flavour and the sauce was garlicky and slightly spicy which I liked. Nat is a huge fan of the Spaghetti Bolognaise though she thought it was a tad too meaty this time around.

The Mushroom Ravioli was near perfect. The flavour and texture of the mushrooms was wonderful. The pasta packets were very well done and had just the right spices in it. Like most raviolis this was slightly bland. The  Scallopine di Pollo (sauted chicken breast escalopes served in a chunky tomato sauce with a strong hit of cheese) and Veal Scallopine (veal in a white wine sauce served with mushrooms) were fine choices too.




The best way to end a wonderful, filling Italian meal? Tiramisu, of course (Did you know that Tiramisu translates to 'pick me up' in Italian). I really think that the Tiramisu at the new Tuscana is better than the old one. This one was creamier, richer and with just the right hint of coffee.



But I've always salivated over the Tiramisu at Tuscana, so that's not really news. I decided to be a little adventurous and tried the Calzone al Ciocolato (sweetened, chocolate stuffed pizza). Between the time I placed the order and the arrival of the dessert, I grew increasingly apprehensive. After all I have had some disastrous brushes with the stuffed sweet dishes in the past (remember the Kashmiri Naan episode or my encounter with ice cream pizza??). Thankfully, being adventurous paid off. This pizza stuffed with chocolate, raspberries and mascarpone cream was great and reminiscent of a super stuffed crepe.


We also tried the warm chocolate cake with a melting chocolate centre. It was good but not great. Definitely seen better versions of this. My advice: avoid this, have the Tiramisu or the stuffed chocolate pizza.


Service is good and portions sufficient. The loo at Tuscana is huge and very clean. (They also have lovely smelling hand lotion).

All that said, a meal here is going to hit the pockets a little hard. A meal for two with appetizers, main course and dessert will cost you Rs. 2000. Go there if you are feeling indulgent.


Location: No. 89, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet, Chennai Landmark: Diagonally opp. Park Sheraton IN GATE

  • Phone: 45000008

Pricing: Rs. 1000 per person