Friday, 18 March 2016

The food scene in Chennai has witnessed a tremendous growth in both varieties of cuisines and quality of produce being used over the last few years. However, one cuisine that has not scene a great explosion in terms of choice is Italian. Going above the regular pizzas and pastas, there are only a handful of dedicated Italian restaurants in the city and when it comes to fine dine, maybe about three odd restaurants. One that stands out truly amongst them is the one this review is about.

Place:

Focaccia @ Hyatt Regency, Chennai – Teynampet, Anna Salai

Focaccia is the first restaurant that you will see as and when you step out of the elevator at Hyatt Regency in Chennai. Being one amongst the few dedicated Italian fine dine restaurants in Chennai, it is always buzzing with culinary action and a reservation is a definite must on most days. 

Ambiance:

Focaccia presents itself in a very rustic environment with a wine cellar welcoming you right at the entrance. While you adore the amazing collection of wines the cellar holds you are guaranteed to be hit with the aroma of fresh focaccia breads & pizzas being baked right across the cellar in the wood fired ovens. As you cross and head towards your table you get to witness the hustle bustle of the kitchen thanks to the vast open kitchen concept the restaurant embraces. You are also spoilt with choice of seating with options between next to the open kitchen or closer to the windows with a view over looking the busy Anna Salai.
(The Wine, Cheese & Chocolate section for the evening)
Food:

Focaccia is currently hosting an Italian Fair under the able guidance of Chef Alessandro Persico who is the Chef de Cuisine at the award winning Italian restaurant Celine at Grand Hyatt Mumbai. He is here in Chennai to showcase some of his signature dishes over a four course meal. The first thing that struck me on meeting the chef was how closely he resembled Chef Gusteau from one of my all time favourite movies, Ratatouille. I just couldn’t control myself that I went all gaga over it. It was more like meeting a super hero. This raised the expectations big time for the evening. And I must say that I was thoroughly entertained by his creations and his interactions with me. 
(Chef Alessandro Persico)
The evening meal started with ‘Ravioli di Barbabietola’ which was a beetroot ravioli stuffed with truffle goat cheese and served with a parsley salsa verde. This was my first time even hearing about a beetroot ravioli. Being a fan of beetroot I thoroughly enjoyed it as the goat cheese gave a very soothing balance of flavours and textures. The next appetizer was the ‘Anatra in salsa tonnata con cipolline brasate’. This was a duck confit salad with tonnata sauce with the salad being braised with pearl onion. The flavour was very distinct and full of joy but not being a great fan of duck felt the confit a bit over powering. The last of the appetizer was from the sea, the ‘rotolini di salmon affumicato con panna acida e caviale’, a smoked salmon stuffed with braised lettuce and topped with sour cream and caviar. Being a salmon lover, I couldn’t ask for a better combination of ingredients to savour the salmon.
(Ravioli di Barbabietola)
(Anatra in salsa tonnata con cipolline brasate)
(Rotolini di salmon affumicato con panna acida e caviale)
With the appetizers done it was time now for some pastas and risottos. The first pasta that travelled to our table was the ‘Penne Integrali con tonno in salsa puttanesca’ which was a diet conscious diners delight. Some whole wheat penne tossed with a tuna puttanesca sauce and green capers, it provided a great balance of flavour to keep the palate kicking. This was followed by the ‘Risotto con salmone affumicato, zafferano e limone’, a simple looking smoked salmon risotto with saffron and lemon. This was truly delicious and takes a big rank in my all time favourite risottos. This is a definite must have if you visit them. To bring this course to an end was the ‘Linguini con aragosta e rucola’, a very fresh tasting pasta. This refreshed the entire palate once again preparing us for the main courses. The lobster combined with fresh tomatoes elevated this pasta and also sort of acted like a palate cleanser thanks to the arugula that was also present in the pasta.
(Penne Integrali con tonno in salsa puttanesca)
(Risotto con salmone affumicato, zafferano e limone)
(Linguini con aragosta e rucola)
With the pastas and crunchy risottos done, we headed to the mains. The first mains to make to the table was the ‘Cannelloni di spinaci al forno’. The cannelloni was an oven baked spinach and ricotta stuffed cannelloni served over a bed of fresh tomato sauce. It was extremely cheesy and flavourful and along with the tomato sauce gelled well. This was followed by the ‘Tortino di patate e funghicon fonduta di caprino’ which was basically a mash potato flavoured with lemon and dished in the form of a basket loaded with grilled vegetables and forest mushroom. Although the mash was fantastic, felt the dish was slightly dull in comparison to the overall fare. Next up was probably my favourite mains of the evening, the ‘Scaloppine di pollo piccata’. This was an eggs chicken scaloppini with lemon caper sauce and some root vegetables. What made this dish fantastic was the lemon caper sauce over the perfectly baked chicken slices. Yumm!!! 
(Cannelloni di spinaci al forno)

(Scaloppine di pollo piccata)
(Tortino di patate e funghicon fonduta di caprino)
Next had to be the final course of the evening, the mighty desserts. We were served with two desserts with the first being ‘Zabbaoine con composta di fragole e Meringa soffice’ which is basically a champagne sabayon with strawberry compote topped with a soft meringue. Although the sabayon was perfectly dressed I personally felt the dessert to be a bit on the sweeter side. On the other hand, the second dessert was a clear winner with chocolate aficionados. It was a ‘Coppa Caprese’ which in simpler terms is a chocolate brawny sandwiched between layers of vanilla ice cream and a creamy chocolate ganache. To add a bit of crunch we had some chocolate tuiles. This dessert was truly divine and I kept nom-noming so much that I couldn’t believe that my portion was over even before I could realize it. But the ecstasy it left on my taste buds kept me recollecting it all through the night. Was a fantastic dessert. 
(Zabbaoine con composta di fragole e Meringa soffice)
(Coppa Caprese)
Price:

Being a limited time fare, this special Italian Fair menu by Chef Alessandro also comes paired with a unique wine for each course resulting in the course being relished in its true essence. This special menu should cost about Rs. 4,500 – 5,500 for two depending on the dishes being selected from the special menu. This is a limited time fest and is available till the 20th of March. So head there quick if you would like to savour the same.

Location:

Focaccia is located at Lobby level at Hyatt Regency Chennai. Located on the main arterial road of Chennai, Anna Salai, it is quite easily accessible from all corners of the city. I would strongly recommend a reservation so as to not be disappointed.

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