Showing posts with label Clubhouse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clubhouse. Show all posts

Friday, 6 February 2015

Nature and dining go hand in hand when one thinks of a perfect ambiance for a meal. Beach side or a rooftop restaurant can always elevate one’s dining experience to a completely new level. Being in Chennai, we are lucky to have the second longest beach in the world thereby creating multiple opportunities for beach side restaurants. The only hiccup is most of them are located outside the city barring a handful. But when it comes to rooftop dining, a couple of great options do exist. Albeit the summer weather can make it a warm experience, the months from September till about March are the best time to enjoy a scenic view of the bustling city from a height.

The first restaurant in Chennai that comes to mind whenever I hear the word rooftop, is ‘Kefi’ located at the Hotel Taj Club House, Mount Road. Ever since they had opened, this became the de facto destination for all memorable occasions in the family resulting in every visit bringing back fond memories.  With such great experiences at Kefi and the restaurant always delivering above expectations, I was in for a shock when I got a call inviting me for a preview of the to-be-launched ‘Rooftop Alfresco’ at the Taj Club House. I was wondering on the lines of a change in Kefi hence was quite eager to know more.

The first thing I noticed on reaching the rooftop was that Kefi still was there. This gave me a smile on my face. But then there were some differences in the seating arrangement. That’s when I was informed that Kefi will remain as Kefi while the Alfresco dining experience is a new concept the hotel is trying. With the recent ruling against the ban of hookah, the rooftop provided the perfect setting. The Alfresco dining experience comprises of the area around the pool with a relaxed seating arrangement and a hookah bar. The concept in the food revolved around quick eats and single course meals.
(Mezze Platter)
(Flamed Prawns)
The evening started off with a mocktail for the teetotallers and a glass of wine for the others. The first dish to make it to the table was the ‘Mezze Platter’ comprising of a Spanakopita, Lebanese styled Hummus, Tabouleh and a falafel accompanied by some yummy soft Pita breads. Must say the falafel along with some hummus and Tabouleh wrapped in the pita made for an amazing short wrap. Was thoroughly delighted with the mezze. This was followed by probably the funniest sounding dish I’ve ever heard, the ‘Ricotta gnudis’. Feeling funny at how to pronounce it correctly, we checked on with the creator of the dishes Chef Siddiq who revealed that the ‘g’ needs to be silent. At the end of the day it still sounded funny. So coming to the dish itself, it was an innovation on fried cheese sticks. The Ricotta were shaped into small fingers and fried with a crispy crust. It was served with a mushroom sauce that complemented the cheese sticks perfectly. As this was the vegetarian setting, the non-vegetarians got the ‘Flamed prawns’. From the name of the dish, we were expecting to see a flaming Sambuca styled prawns to make its way to the table however that was not to be the case. The dish was more of a flame grilled prawns tossed with garlic, parsley and chardonnay.
(Maize Wrap)
(Maize Wrap)
(Ras al hanout Pizza)
With a subtle break in service perfect enough for us to enjoy the wonderful ambiance, the next dish was brought up to the table. The ‘Maize wrap’, was a generously stuffed wrap with buffalo mozzarella, pesto and plum tomatoes accompanied by a small portion of fries and a lettuce salad. This was followed by the ‘Ras al hanout pizza’. The pizza slice was topped with mushrooms, peppers and loads of cheese. The next up was the final course for the evening, a splendid ‘Key Lime Pie’, which was of the perfect flavouring and had the right amount of crustiness.
(Key Lime Pie)
What was interesting with this concept of dining was that the dishes on the menu were all equally exciting and intriguing. Most of the dishes gave that feeling that it needs to be tried. I’m sure that this would definitely be possible as the Alfresco setting provides a perfect situation for those days when we are early from work to relax or on those really stressful days when you just want to have some light eat and distress yourself.

The Alfresco experience is available at the rooftop poolside at Hotel Taj Club House, Anna Salai opposite to Spencers Plaza. A meal for two should set you by ₹ 1500 without alcoholic beverages.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

What does one think of when the name of a hill station is suddenly mentioned? It would definitely be the weather, the scenic beauty and the flora & fauna that surrounds such places. But when it comes to foodies, we tend to vary slightly and think of the tea/coffee plantations and the selections that one might find there. This is primarily because the food is often an adapted cuisine from the lower places. 

This was my impression until very recently. I stumbled across a food festival that was being celebrated at ‘Taj Club House – Chennai’ centred on a cuisine which so far was just the name of a hill station for me. Yes folks, their restaurant ‘Clubhouse’ has a ‘Kodava Food Festival’ that delivers some mouth-watering delicacies from the hill district of Coorg. Chef Naresh, their cuisine specialist from ‘Vivanta by Taj – Madikeri’ has pitched tent in Chennai to bring us a true blend of Kodava dishes.
(Meen Cutlet)
(Kari Bale Cutlet)
(Koli Chuttadh)
 The evening started out with a variety of cutlets namely the ‘Meen Cutlet’, ‘Kari Bale Cutlet’ and the ‘Kummu Barthad’. As the name suggests, the first was a mixed seafood mince made into a cutlet and shallow fried. The Kari Bale were roasted banana patties while the Kummu Barthad were juicy with chilli spiced mushrooms. All three though being clearly distinct on the platter resembled a close similarity in the way they were cooked. Moving away from the cutlets, we were also served with ‘Koli Chuttadh’ which were good portion sized morsels of chicken well-seasoned with spices and then griddled to perfection. 
(Attukal Soup)
With the appetizers done, next arrived the famous ‘Attukal Soup’ which is the traditional peppered lamb shank soup. This particular soup is like a biryani and can take multiple avatars depending on the person who is preparing it. The variant of spices that one uses depends on their preference and how it has been handed over time to them. I found the soup here to be delicately spiced to hit the right notch unlike others that are either too hot or too bland. 
(The Mains)
The mains that followed were quite simple in stature but strong on flavours. The curries comprised of a simple ‘Koli Curry’, ‘Molai Kuru’ and ‘Toppu Palaya’ while the accompaniments were ‘Tarkari Pulao’, ‘Kadam Puttu’ and ‘Akki Ooti’. The Koli curry was a chicken curry cooked with ground spices and worked on with cream and coconut oil. The chicken had a strong infused flavour that clearly highlighted the dish. The Molai Kuru seemed to be the perfect dish for those who are health freaks as it packed a punch of healthy sprouts well made as a dry curry. The Toppu Palaya was a traditional Kodava curry made using double beans and exotic spices. 

The Tarkari pulao was the Kodava take on how a Veg Pulao needs to be and mind I say that it infact was quite interesting. The other two accompaniments for the evening were both relatively well known to me as they were similar to the ones that usually forms part of the Kerala cuisine. The Kadam puttu is very similar to the tall cylindrical puttu that we get in Kerala while the Akki Ooti was again very similar to the pathiris while being slightly thicker. This so reminded me of traditional meal days at home when such delicacies are home cooked. But the fare that evening was as good as home food can be. 
(Cardamom Custard)
To bring closure to this wonderful trip down Coorg’s traditional cuisine, we were served with a ‘Cardamom Custard’. This was quite tricky as there was a clear battle between the senses. The sight kept beating that it was a Caramel Custard while the palate kept rebelling because of the strong infusion of the Cardamom flavour. The dessert was over before the battle could be completed but the verdict definitely is that this is a must try as the intentional overdose of cardamom is to bring the Kodava feel into the dessert. The overall experience was clearly a pleasant on the palate.

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