Showing posts with label Coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coffee. Show all posts

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 entrée’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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Thursday, 17 July 2014

The last year or so has seen a rising number of coffee shops opening up in Chennai. A good majority of them International chains. While most of these international coffee shops were located in stand-alone locations, most mall goers had no options but to settle for either CCD or Barista. But one international brand did their homework correctly and saw the perfect opportunity of the mall going population and opened up their first outlet in a swanky mall. Known throughout the world for some of the best accompaniments served along with their Coffee & Tea, this was the need of the hour for most mall shoppers.

So when ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ opened up their outlet at Phoenix Mall, it proved to be a game changer for all those who frequented malls for shopping and were looking for a good place to relax along with some fine beverages. Unlike other places which serve different varieties of Coffee and a limited selection of Tea, ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ has numerous options in either category. Also part of their menu are sandwiches, short eats, breads, all-day breakfast menu and also good options of mains. With such a vast menu, it makes for the perfect ending to a shopping spree.

Coming to the dishes that I savoured that evening, wanting something chill to beat the summer heat, I went in for their speciality ice coffee which is called as ‘Ice Blended’. Curious to know what was so special in them, I enquired with a member of their staff who informed me that the Ice Blended coffees have no Ice Cream whatsoever in them. Thoughts started to run in my mind as to how good it was going to be and still decided to take the plunge. Being accompanied with another friend, we ordered for the ‘Dark Chocolate Ice Blended’ & ‘Hazelnut Ice Blended’. Usually not a big fan of dark chocolate but was just a bit curious as it was their flavour of the month. 
(Dark Chocolate Ice Blended)
(Hazelnut Ice Blended)
When the coffees were brought to our table, they looked ravishing. Was very impressed with the way the glass had a paper handle to ensure it wasn’t too cold to hold similar to the ones that is usually served with hot drinks. First sip of the dark chocolate and I was stunned. Had I not been informed that there weren’t any ice cream in it, I would have mistook it for being loaded with the same. The coffee was very rich and had a perfect balance of the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the creaminess of the milk. The hazelnut variant was also top notch with the right amount of flavouring, again extremely voluminous. On further enquiry, I was told that they use a special type of Ice that is patented by ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ which enables them to produce this creamy texture. The manager was courteous enough to show me a sample of the ice that is being used. The texture was so soft and fluffy unlike the ice that we all know.
(Oreo Mocha Cheesecake)
(Almond Biscotti)
(Blueberry Muffin)
To go along with the beverages, we had ordered for an ‘Oreo Mocha Cheesecake’, ‘Blueberry Muffin’ & an ‘Almond Biscotti’. Being a major dessert fan, I dived into the cheesecake while sipping onto my ice blended. The cheesecake amazed me as it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had in Chennai. Just like the popular saying, “First impression is the best impression”, the moment my cutlery sliced into the cake, and the result was out. The cake was perfect in texture, softness and the flavour above all. With the strong flavour of mocha complementing the cream cheese, it was part of heaven. I truly declare their cheesecake to be the best as of now in Chennai. I’ve heard about another of their cheesecake which is be renowned worldwide to be the best in their menu and it’s called the ‘Philadelphia Cheese Cake’. Unfortunately it was out of shelf the day I visited and just can’t wait to try it soon. Coming to the ‘Almond Biscotti’, this again was a clear winner. The texture provided the rugged look a biscotti deserves but once you take a bite you will realize that it isn’t that hard as you had imagined from the looks. The ‘Blueberry Muffin’ was gigantic and brings to memories all the muffins that we see on international culinary shows. These kind of muffins are the perfect accompaniments for hot teas and as we had ordered iced coffees that evening, we felt that the muffin was slightly out of place. But coming to the muffin itself, the blueberry filling was generous and the muffin screamed blueberry with every mouthful.
(Ice for the Ice Blended Beverages)
The accompaniments along with one beverage for each of us by itself were so filling that we realized that what started out as a casual visit to the coffee shop turned into a sort meal for the evening. The quality of the fare was outstanding and can’t wait to head back again to try the other dishes on the menu. While the Ice Blended coffee was priced around ₹ 180 each, the cheese cake was ₹ 175 and the biscotti & the muffin was priced about ₹ 80 each.


‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ is located at the First Floor of the Phoenix Market City in Velachery and will cost about ₹ 350 per person for a fulfilling beverage and a sumptuous accompaniment.

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

(For the Love of Coffee Platter)
Who doesn't loves having pastries during mid-day breaks, more so if you can tag along a few friends for a small get-together. On the other hand if you are the one who would prefer some serene and calm from all the bustling activities that your busy work day throws at you and all that defines a perfect break is to spend some me time listening to music and munching away some sinful desserts, this could be for you too.

Chennai being synonymous with Coffee, Paprika the all-day dining restaurant at Courtyard by Marriott has introduced a new offering called “For the Love of Coffee”. Available throughout the day, this concept brings you 5 Classic Éclairs paired with a choice of coffee from some of the finest coffees around the world.

The Éclairs that form the platter are
  •          Classic Chocolate Éclair
  •          Mixed Berry Éclair
  •          Dark Chocolate and Orange Éclair
  •         Chocolate and Almond Éclair
  •         Salted Caramel and Coffee Éclair

(Éclair Platter)
(Dark Chocolate & Orange Éclair)
(Classic Chocolate Éclair & Coffee Éclair)

(Mixed Berry Éclair)
(Chocolate & Almond  Éclair)
The Éclairs are all served together on a single platter and are quite a bite size. My favourite of the lot was the Choco-Almond one and the Coffee éclair. I just couldn’t resist with one such that I flicked another one from my friend’s plate.

On the other hand, the coffee options are
  •          Kumbakonam
  •          Colombian Supremo
  •          Ethiopian Sidamo
  •          Rajgiri Pearl
  •          Coorg Blend
Having savoured the Indian coffee at various occasions earlier, I decided to go with the ‘Ethiopian Sidamo’. As is well known, Ethiopia is commonly known as the birthplace of Coffee, so why not try some coffee that was grown and harvested from the birthplace itself. The coffee felt very light yet packed a good punch of flavour. Together with the éclairs, the evening felt like a full-fledged dessert expedition.

The ‘For the Love of Coffee’ is available all day at Paprika, located on the Ground Floor of Courtyard by Marriott on Mount Road.

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