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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Friday, 11 March 2016

I’m sure most of us associate chocolate with our childhood memories. The first thing that may come to us would be the chocolate bar which used to be divine to us and even today can bring back old memories. Personally, I’m a big cocoa lover and a dessert without cocoa in some form or the other never completes a meal for me. If this is the case, imagine a brunch completely themed around chocolates. When I came to know about this special Chocolate brunch, I was ecstatic. Couldn’t wait for the Sunday to come by. 

As part of a special promotion, Park Hyatt Chennai and Cocoatrait joined hands together for the first time to bring a complete Chocolate Sunday Brunch. If your guessing how, don’t be amused. The brunch had elements of chocolate across all courses. And the chocolates were paired precisely to the menu that was crafted. The brains behind this Special Chocolate Sunday Brunch were Chef Greg & Chef Vamsi from Park Hyatt Chennai and Nitin from Cocoatrait. 

Place:

The Flying Elephant @ Park Hyatt Chennai – Guindy

The Flying Elephant has been making waves ever since they opened 3 years ago. In fact, even before they opened, it was one of the most anticipated restaurants as it’s the only multi levelled themed restaurants currently in Chennai with the entire restaurant spread across five different levels each offering its own comfort space. Needless to say, the doors never close as after dinner service on weekend nights, it transforms into the most happening place in Chennai.

Ambiance:

The restaurant itself looks very spacious and accommodating thanks to the multi-level seating that it has to offer. Be it next to the kitchen or overlooking the pond or on the balcony or if you prefer a quite space then the top level is your ideal space. Being a Sunday brunch, the restaurant had its own share of entertainment in the form of all staffs dancing periodically along with some fun for the kids with cartoon characters and a Balloon artist keeping them busy. With loads of natural light flowing into the restaurant it was a great place to be on a lazy Sunday. Also the brunch at Flying Elephant is quite unique as most of the dishes are ordered to your table with a hand full of them spread across counters where you can pick them up. This ensures that the food served is always at the right temperature.

Food:

The brunch started with soup which was called ‘Sopa De Abobora E Coco’. Yes, a very long name indeed so much that made a note of it as its too much to remember. It’s a butternut squash & coconut soup topped with some pumpkin seeds and coconut cream cilantro. Are you wondering where the chocolate? The entire soup was garnished with an Award winning pure Ecuadorian Lemon grass chocolate. The soup was just extra ordinary with the flavours of the lemon grass chocolate accentuating a good soup to and awesome one. The soup was followed by some sushi of salmon, prawns and crabs.
(Different Chocolate based Mocktails)
(Sushi)
Next up was another chocolate speciality dish from the charcoal grills section. We were served with a ‘Grilled Polenta Cheese Cake’ which was made using Ghana Dark Chocolate and served with a cute little pomegranate salad and a honey balsamic reduction. The polenta which we are used to seeing in its natural colour gave a very unique appearance in the chocolate form and had a good texture as we sliced into it. However, it was a good dish it failed to wow me. 
(Grilled Polenta Cheese Cake)
When I proceeded with the menu, I was lit up like a flood light as the next dish that I ordered was the dish I’ve been curiously waiting to savour ever since I sat at the table. And guys don’t be shocked for the dish I was waiting for was none other than the ‘Madagascar Dark Chocolate Paneer Tikka’. Paneer and Chocolate, two of my favourite ingredients paired in a single dish, what more could I ask for. The traditional paneer tikka was stuffed with a chocolate filling made of 70% Madagascar Dark Chocolate. One word to describe this creation was heavenly. I couldn’t get over it that I ordered for several repeats. It was just too good to describe. 
(Chocolate Paneer Tikka)
(Chocolate Paneer Tikka)
Once I finally decided to proceed to the next dish on the menu, I couldn’t be happier for it was another favourite use of chocolate in a savoury dish. It was a ‘Chicken Pizza topped with 88% Gold Colombian Chocolate’. Truly outstanding medley of ingredients. Another of my favourite of the day so far. To go along with the pizza, we had also ordered for another speciality dish of the brunch, a chocolate flavoured risotto. The risotto was a ‘Cauliflower & Vanilla Bean Risotto’ with 100% Gold Venezuela Chocolate. The Risotto was fabulous too with the right ratio of ingredients and brilliantly topped with some mint oil and hazelnut to elevate our senses. 
(Chicken Pizza with Chocolate)
(Cauliflower & Vanilla Bean Risotto)
Stuffed with all the chocolate inspired dishes, decided to just savour a few others from the menu. The Tenderloin steak is mention-worthy mainly due to the perfect way it was grilled so was the rotisserie chicken which was again grilled to perfection with the chicken retaining all the flavours within it. Skipped most of the other dishes as I wanted to head to my favourite section, the DESSERTS. 
(Cheese section)
(Rotisserie section) 
(Chicken all set up)
How can one miss desserts on a brunch that is completely themed around chocolate. The dessert counter felt like a wonderland for me. The amazing array of chocolate based desserts was fantabulous. The majority of the dishes were based on chocolate barring a few for the minority non-chocolate lovers. The desserts that wowed me were the ‘Silk Log’ made using 70% Madagascar chocolates and the ‘Mocha Macaroons’. A special word of mention for the Mocha Macaroon as this was the closest in all aspects to those that are from LadurĂ©e, which is world renowned for being the best Macaroon in the world. The other desserts that were also equally good were the ‘Chocolate Rasamalai’, a ‘Chocolate Fondant’ made using Italy 66% Prendine and the ‘Banoffee Pie’.
(Chocolate Silk Log)
(Mocha Macaroons)
(Chocolate cake with Sea Salt)
(Chocolate cake with Sea Salt)
(Chocolate Rasamalai)
(Banoffee Pie)
Price:

The Non-Alcoholic Sunday brunch is priced at Rs. 2295 plus taxes with options for both alcohol and champagne also available at an additional cost.

Location:

The Flying Elephant is located at Park Hyatt Chennai in Guindy adjacent to the Raj Bhavan. I would strongly recommend a reservation for meals on weekends.

To be updated on my latest reviews, do subscribe to the feed by leaving your email address in the subscribe section on the top right hand side of this post. If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested and benefited too!!! For quick reviews, ratings and yummylicious images, follow me on Instagram at @FoodInChennai. Request you to also visit our Facebook page Food In Chennai - Facebook and share the page with a Like amongst your friends and also follow us on our twitter handle at @FoodInChennai. You can also follow us on Google Plus at Food in Chennai-GooglePlus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too. 

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