Sunday, 5 April 2015

Those who have been following my posts over the last few years may by now have known that I'm a major dessert person. When it comes to dessert, I can gulp down anything and everything that is laid out on the table. But even I've had evenings when I really didn't feel indulging in a lot of sugar but yet craved for something sweet. My saviors on such days were 'Waffles' and occasionally the 'Pancakes' as I'd always considered pancakes a breakfast thingy. Having tasted some amazing waffles outside India, this was always a major setback for me in Chennai. There were only one or two places that served waffles that even had the right of being called waffles as most shops/kiosks/restaurants usually serve a huge chunk battery stuffs.

As I usually stick to the two trusted places, I was not so excited when I heard about 'Waf O'Bel', a dedicated stand alone waffle place opening, as I assumed it to be yet another shop claiming to serve something in the name of Belgian Waffles. But this perspective changed when curiosity got the better of me. Upon researching more about the place, I came to know that 'Waf O'Bel' has a Belgian Waffle Chef by the name of Christophe. The more intriguing aspect was the fact that they had both the types of Belgian Waffle, the 'Liege' and the 'Brussels'. This sealed the deal and I decided to visit them the same evening.

To all those thinking of a swanky place, do not expect further. 'Waf O'Bel' is located within a pizzeria and shares seating with them. They have a simple menu comprising of a selection of 'Liege' and 'Brussels' waffles along with a host of hot beverages. For those of you  wondering about the difference between the two types, 'Liege' waffles are made from brioche bread dough mixed with sugar crystals and are more denser than the commonly represented 'Brussels' waffles which is made from a light batter and hence more light and crispy. The waffles at 'Waf O'Bel' can be topped with chocolate chips, nutella, ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, fruit compote and sprinkles.
(Brussels Red Carpet)
(Liege Cool Banana) 
For the evening, I ordered for a 'Liege Cool Banana' and 'Brussels Red Carpet'. The Liege waffle as expected was dense and chewy with ample toppings of banana, nutella and whipped cream. However, the winner of the evening was definitely the Brussels Red Carpet. This was by far the lightest and the crispiest waffle I'd ever tasted in India. It was just mind blowing. I could have just sat there in oblivion downing waffle after waffle. The Red Carpet variant of the waffle had a topping of fruit compote and whipped cream. Now if anyone asks me where to head for some waffles, there are no longer multiple options, its just 'Waf O'Bel' as I'm sure if they continue to dish out waffles with such taste and consistency, they have a great demand awaiting them.

'Waf O'Bel' is located inside Eatzaa pizzeria (formerly known as Sam's Pizza) on Jagannathan road, Nungambakkam and the waffles cost about ₹ 70 for the waffle alone while with toppings it can range up to ₹ 140 plus taxes. 

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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Gone are the days when there were only a handful of amazing restaurants located within five star hotels. With the mushrooming of several new properties every year, the existing hotels are continually looking at increasing their revenue by revamping the restaurant offerings situated within. One such chain of hotels that has been consistently great with their restaurants is Hotel Raintree. Among my multiple visits to both their properties in Chennai, I’ve never left back with a single iota of worry. So when I was told that the Coffee Shop at their St. Mary’s road hotel had been renovated, I just couldn’t wait to check the new place.

First things first, the restaurant has been rechristened as ‘The Colony’ and flows seamlessly all the way to the lobby with a different ambiance set up near the lobby and a very colonial set up with art pieces depicting the Colonial era of Chennai inside the main dining area. As I settled down into my place, I was greeted by the Executive Chef Mr. Hushmoin Patell, whose looks immediately made me feel that I’m in for a delight tonight. After brief pleasantries, Chef informed that their concept of buffet is slightly different as in addition to the spread, a few dishes are made on order and served hot and fresh right at the table.
(Chicken and Mushroom Cappuccino)
(Salad Counter)
(Cold Meat spread)
(Cold Platter)
(Grilled Prawns on a bed of Couscous)
While I waited for the soup to be served, I made a visit to the spread and was quite surprised at the same. The cold counters had an assortment of salads with a cold mezze platter too. Some of the salads that were intriguing were a ‘Salad of Broccoli, Orange & Bocconcini’, ‘Surati Fafda’, ‘Vietnamese rice paper rolls with raw Mango & Vermicelli noodles’, ‘Salad of Wine poached Pear, Asparagus and Arugula’, a delicious ‘Grilled Prawns on a bed of Couscous’ and a whole lot of dips including ‘Mustard Mayo’, ‘Hummus’, ‘Babaganoush’ and ‘Labneh’. By the time I could pick up my choice from the cold counter, the ‘Chicken & Mushroom Cappuccino’ made its way to the table. The soup had the perfect balance of both flavours and along with the biscotti made me feel as if it was a meal all by itself. The beginning was just fabulous.
(Mutton Chapli Kebab)
(Spicy Bean Fattayar & Kudamulagai Bonda)
(Prawn Pollichathu)
With the entrĂ©e’s complete, there was an order placed to the kitchen for some of the made to order items from the buffet. First up was the ‘Mutton Chapli Kebab’. Although looks similar to the Galouti, this is quite different as the texture is coarser. On enquiring, Chef informed me that the Chapli is from the Indus region and is considered to be the forefather of the Lucknowi Galouti. With the plate completely swept, I made way for some ‘Spicy Bean Fattayar’ and ‘Kudamulagai Bonda’. While the fattayar was a mix of flavour, the bonda did not fancy me much. Not wanting to stuff myself, I wanted to try out something that was unique to the restaurant. So ask the Chef and he says I’ll get you some ‘Prawn Pollichathu’. I was excited to try it out as it has always been Meen Polichathu and being a prawn lover, was expecting a burst of flavours. The presentation was cute with the prawn beautifully wrapped in the leaf served along with some crunch. However, the first bite and I was slightly confused as I couldn’t feel the taste that you get from a claypot. Upon enquiring, Chef revealed that they don’t use a claypot due to the complexities involved as this is the only dish on the menu that may require one. Nevertheless, the prawn was still amazing and great selection.
(Buffet Spread)
With different flavours playing inside my mouth, I just had a quick sneak peak of the other main courses on the spread which included a yummy ‘Badami Murgh’, a crispy ‘Kozhi Erakai Varuval’ and ‘Roasted lamb with waterchestnuts’. In addition, I also tried the ‘Shahi Paneer’ which had a very succulent paneer. With about 60+ items on the buffet menu, it was one large spread yet by the way the spread was placed didn’t look that massive.
(Dessert Counter)
(Dessert Counter)
To bring closure to the evening, I headed to the dessert counter and realized that vast variety of selection that was displayed. Being very confident that not more than a couple can be accommodated by myself, I picked up the ‘Apple Strudel’, ‘Carrot Pudding’, ‘Rasberry Mousse’, ‘Chenna Malai Sandwich’ and a ‘Mango Velvet cake’. With this done as I was just about to call it an evening, the Chef asked me if I wanted to try a speciality dessert of theirs. Me being someone who will go to any extent for desserts, was game for it.
(Madras Filter Coffee Panna Cotta)
What came next took me by a big surprise. The speciality dessert was a ‘Madras Filter Coffee Panna Cotta’. Mighty heavens it was just mind boggling. The aroma was just like our original filter coffee while the panna cotta was perfectly set and to balance the textures it was accompanied by a lime curd and peanut Florentine. This was by far one of the best panna cotta that I’d savoured during my food journey and is on the must have dish list that I’m compiling for Chennai. Truly outstanding. If you are looking for a different buffet experience with a wide variety of cuisine, then I may say that “The Colony” awaits you.


The Colony is located at Hotel Raintree, St Mary’s Road in Alwarpet with the buffet priced at ₹1,300 plus taxes.

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