Showing posts with label Egmore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egmore. Show all posts

Monday, 23 May 2016

Over the last few years, Chennai has witnessed the dawn of several International food brands. Most of these chains prefer to open shop in malls with Phoenix being the most preferred destination owing to it being the latest amongst the other gamut of malls. For folks who lived in the main parts of the city, it was always a long drive. Thankfully, the latest entrant in the International food brands, Chili’s made an exception. Opening up adjacent to another leading International food outlet, Chili’s is right at the heart of the city located at Express Avenue.


Chili’s Chennai provides the same look and feel to that of their other outlets. The décor is uniform and gives the impression of being in one of their International outlets. With an overall rustic feel to the dining area, the outlet also has a long bar counter where the liquid concoctions are crafted. There is also a large screen that was screening an IPL match when I was there.


Being midway between lunch and dinner, I was confused on what to eat. The menu was exhaustive and for sure knew, I had to make multiple visits to do justice to the different sections that were there. Not in the mood to have a heavy meal, I thought I’ll go in for a ‘Triple Dipper’ which basically is a pick and choose combo amongst their appetizers. I picked the ‘Boneless Chicken Wings’, ‘Original Chicken Crispers’ and ‘Southwestern Rolls’. After placing the order realised that they had ‘Onion Rings’ too on the menu and being a sucker for Onion rings, ordered a separate portion of the same too. As I waited for the appetizers to come, I ordered for a ‘Mango Chile Margarita’. It was very intriguing to see how Mango and Jalapenos can go hand in hand in a drink but the barista’s here did a pretty great job in obtaining the right balance.
(Triple Dipper)
(Mango Chile Margarita)
To start with, the Boneless Chicken Wings were just too good. The highlight of the wings was the ability to get them in a boneless avatar and the addition of the amazing tangy Buffalo sauce that was drizzled on it. I couldn’t prevent myself from gorging on it. This was followed up by the Original Crispers which was equally good. However, the Southwestern Rolls, though tasted fresh, I felt it lacked a punch in comparison to the other two appetizers. The Triple Dipper came with three different sauces to match each of the appetizers. Coming to the Onion Rings, glad I didn’t miss it. It was perfectly seasoned and was crispy to the point. Chili’s just became my preferred destination for the best Onion Rings in the city.
(Onion Rings)
(Philadelphia Melting Cheese Steak)
Having had a great experience with the appetizers, I wanted to skip the mains and go for a dessert because I was reaching my threshold. However, one item intrigued me from the menu. After some thought, gave in to my gluttony demands and ordered the ‘Philadelphia Melting Cheese Steak’. When asked how I would like the steak, I requested for Medium, which often is my preferred choice for steaks. The steak was promptly brought to my table in about in spite of ordering it after the appetisers. I tasted the cheese sauce first and it was like swimming in pleasure. Perfect sauce together with the sautéed onions and mushrooms, rendered it full of flavour and aroma. However, the first strike on the steak and realised that something was amiss. Upon slicing, it dawned that the steak was done a little too much and had crossed the upper thresholds of medium and dwelled into well done tenderness. Nevertheless, the steak was seasoned apt and the cheese sauce made a great accompaniment to the steak with the only let down being the textural difference because of the tenderness. 
(Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie)
Having had so much meat, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a dessert. A glance at the dessert menu and I knew what I wanted. I asked to be served the ‘Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie’. With high expectations, I eagerly waited for it to be brought to my table. First glance and got more excited. I’m a sort of person who can go weak in my knees with desserts in front of me. The first bite and oh me!!! The pie was great in flavour and the warm caramel sauce coupled with the cold vanilla ice cream, gave a welcome relief from all the meat that was consumed. The dessert provided a very warm feeling to the entire meal and helped complete the meal with a smile on my face. I’m very sure to keep popping in every now and then whenever I visit the mall to savour this dessert.


Although being located in a mall, the prices are slightly on the higher side with a meal for 2 costing anywhere between Rs. 3000 – Rs. 4000 inclusive of taxes. However, one has to also take into account the portion size as they are humongous. So on the whole I feel the price to be apt as there is a sure Value for Money involved both in terms of quantity and quality of dishes.


Chili’s first outlet in Chennai is located on the 3rd floor at Express Avenue Mall in Royapettah. It is located adjacent to Burger King and is right in the middle opposite to the Main Atrium.

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Friday, 23 October 2015

If one was to define Indian cuisine and the dishes that constitute it, I’m sure it would be a colossal effort. For Indian cuisine is not as simple as it may sound. To put in simpler terms, Indian cuisine is more a collective term and in true essence significance should be in mentioning the varying regional cuisines that are prevalent within India.

But if there was to be one such regional cuisine that has created an identity of Indian cuisine in the western world, then it’s got to be the Awadhi cuisine that originates from the Lucknowi region of Central India. The Awadhi cuisine is not completely indigenous to India as it was brought to India by the Mughal rulers from Persia. But over the centuries, the cuisine has adapted itself to its new found land.

The common saying goes that the true essence of Awadhi cuisine can only be felt in two places – one the kitchens of the royal family descendants and the other in the streets of Lucknow. Unfortunately, I still haven’t managed to gain an audience at either of the places. But luck struck when I was told that Awadhi Cuisine was going to make a stopover in Chennai. But being the food snob, I wanted to check it out only if it was going to be authentic. But when it came to my knowledge that it was being hosted by none other than Vivanta by Taj – Connemara, I knew it could possibly be the closest I can get to Lucknow.

The Awadhi food festival at Vivanta by Taj Connemara is spearheaded by Chef Shamshad Ahmad from the famed Oudhyana restaurant at Vivanta by Taj – Lucknow along with Chef Jaffer, Executive Chef at the Connemara. When I heard that they had flown the chef from Oudhyana, I knew for sure that the authenticity of the cuisine could be guaranteed. The festival takes over the complete menu and is in the form of a buffet spread with starters and soups served on the table as is the custom.
(Mutton Shammi Kebab)
(Murgh Gilafi Kebab)
(Paneer Tikka Hariyali)
(Khoya Khubani ka Kebab) 
The evening started of with a ‘Murg ka Shorba’, a mildly spiced chicken soup. The depth of flavours in the soup was immaculate and paved the way for a great meal ahead. The first of the starters to make way were from the non-vegetarian stable, with the ‘Murg Gilafi Kebab’ which was the followed by the ‘Mutton Shammi Kebab’. The Gilafi kebab was a variant of the sheek kebab with a mix of exotic Awadhi spices. One thing that was a standout was how rigid the kebab was in spite of taking the shape of a sheek as sheek has a tendency to break down to pieces once we begin cutting into it. The Shammi kebab on the other hand was equally delectable with a good texture. This was followed by the vegetarian kebabs with the mighty paneer making its way in the form of ‘Paneer Tikka Hariyali’. But the highlight of the evening has to be the ‘Khoya Khubani ke Kebab’. This was a combination I’m hearing for the first time. I’m sure most of us know the famous Hyderabadi delicacy, Khubani ka Meetha but a kebab made of Khubani (Apricot)? Well it turned out to be the star dish of the evening. It was loaded with flavours and had a very soothing textural effect on the palate. I loved it so much that I don’t even remember how many servings I’d had. If you happen to chance upon this dish anywhere in an Awadhi environment, please do not miss it.

(Chicken Awadhi Biryani)
(Dum Kofta Biryani)
(Rumali Roti)
(Nihari Gosht)
(Murgh Korma)
With the starters taking a major portion of our palate, there was very little room for the mains. So I settled in for some Rumali Roti along with ‘Nihari Gosht’ and some ‘Murgh Korma’. The Nihari Gosht was perfectly cooked with the meat falling of the bone effortlessly. The curry had a very aromatic taste thanks to the special secret spice mix that goes into it. On the other hand, the Chicken korma too was delectable but the Gosht was a clear winner. To take in some rice, I’d requested for some ‘Chicken Biryani’ and ‘Dum Kofta Biryani’. The Chicken Biryani was in true Awadhi style and was a marked contrast from the Muslim household biryani that I’m very accustomed to. But Biryani being biryani, no two cooks can cook the same style of Biryani. I liked the infusion of saffron and how the masala was light with the rice being unevenly coloured between white and yellow. The Kofta biryani was also very similar to the Chicken biryani barring the fact that the chicken was replaced by fried kofta which added another textural element to the dish.
(Dessert Platter)
To bring closure, we were served with the Awadhi desserts that shared space with their regular dessert spread. The desserts on the platter were a ‘Shahi Tukra’, ‘Sheer Korma’ and ‘Zarda Ananas’. The Shahi Tukra is a dessert that finds its place quite often in Muslim households during functions. It is a dessert made using bread which is soaked in ghee, fried and topped with dry fruits and nuts. The Sheer Korma resembled our kheer quite closely excepting it had a Date flavour to it. The Zarda was a saffron and pineapple flavoured sweet rice which was neither too sweet nor too dull. But comparing to the grandeur that is expected from Awadhi cuisine, I felt that it could have been upped a bit more.

The overall experience was quite frankly exhilarating as this was the closest we could get to being in Lucknow. However, there was one thing missing and I just couldn’t control myself from asking the Chefs present there about it. If you have guessed what it might be by now, I’m sure you have either read my reviews consistently or a great admirer of Awadhi cuisine. Yes, how can an Awadhi festival be complete without the mighty ‘Galouti Kebab’. It was then that the chefs confided in me that an important ingredient was not available matching to their high standards and as a result, they decided to leave it out for that evening. However, I was not to give up. Couple of days later, two other food buddies and I made a visit again just to savour the galouti’s made by a true lucknowi chef. And boy did we not regret for coming back again. Although mildly spiced, the galouti was bite sized and when combined with the Shirmal (Saffron flavoured Sweet Bread), Onions and some Pudina ke Chutney, it was just mind boggling. A perfect combination of flavours and textures exploding in the mouth with every gnaw. I just couldn’t resist and could have easily gulped down about 5 mini rolls.
(Galouti Kebab - Pic Courtesy: Chennai Foodie)
This experience has once reiterated the belief that the Awadhi cuisine can rightly be termed as India’s Royal Cuisine as it delivers to that title on every bite. The Awadhi Food Fest at Vivanta by Taj – Connemara is up until the 26th of October, 2015 at their all day dining restaurant ‘The Verandah’.

Vivanta by Taj – Connemara is located in Egmore between the iconic Spencer Plaza & Ethiraj College with the buffet priced at Rs. 1500 plus taxes per person.

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.