Showing posts with label tea house. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tea house. Show all posts

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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Sunday, 8 September 2013

When Qwikys Coffee Pub opened their first outlet in Chennai in the early 2000’s, it was the beginning of a new era in many ways for Chennaites. All of a sudden there was a euphoria amongst the young, whether affluent or not. This in a way marked the beginning of the coffee shop culture in Chennai, which was earlier a concept only akin to 5* hotels.

But today Chennai has travelled extensively through the journey of time. To such an extent that the very Qwikys is no longer even present in the Chennai market. Such has been the domination of other café outlets that mushroomed taking advantage of this new found hang-out/meeting place concept in Chennai. But with a café in almost every nook and corner, saturation of these places begun noticeably with a dramatic drop in the quality of their food and service. Cafe’s started to lose their essence and eventually became a place where one would go only if all other options were exhausted.

Taking cognizance of this saturation, a team of five closely knit people decided to change the face of café’s in Chennai. With a vision to bring a never before concept in Chennai, Vandana, a home baker decided that Chennaites were ready to experience a true tea house. Backed by Pavan, an investment advisor, Rashmi, an expert in fashion & design, Sunny, the in-house tea connoisseur and Rajesh, the de-facto man in charge of running operations, began a new era in F&B concepts in Chennai. The birth of Chennai’s first dedicated Tea House, the “Lloyds Tea House”, aptly named after the road it is located at while at the same time providing a touch of Englishness, who are known for their beautiful tea houses.

The first thing that strikes you as you enter Lloyds Tea House is the ambiance of the place. They have a nice little cosy lounge type seating in addition to the regular seating. A small library but with loads of books on topics ranging from travel to food to designing. Perfect place if you would like to indulge in some me time. The lounge area also has some charming props from the yesteryears. As we were seated, we were shown with two menus, one for the food while the other exclusively for their amazing Teas. We decided to start with some appetizers and ice tea. Followed it up with mains, desserts and hot tea to complete the evening.

The evening started with their tea of the month, the ‘Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Tea’. The appetizers were ‘BBQ Chicken Fingers’, ‘Vol au vents’ and a ‘Rosti Platter”. I was just curious as to how the flavour of a dessert can be truly flavoured in a tea but they proved me wrong. Right from the first sip it kept knocking me as a dessert rather than a tea. The flavours were perfectly replicated. The BBQ Chicken fingers was one of the star dishes of the evening and a personal favourite for me. Evenly sliced chicken well marinated and served with a generous amount of sauce that tasted amazing even on its own. The Vol au vents was a puff pastry with mushroom and cheese on the top. One of the softest yet crispiest puff’s I’ve savoured in recent times. The Rosti platter comprised of a hash brown topped with creamy vegetables and loads of cheese. Right amount of crunchiness and toppings to make a good appetizer.
(Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Tea)
(BBQ Chicken Fingers)
(Vol au vent & Rosti Platter)
(Vol au vent)
(Vol au vent)
(Rosti Platter)
With the appetizers done, for the mains we had quite a few dishes. To start with was the ‘Margherita Pizza’. A very simple pizza and they got it spot on, served right from the oven hot-hot. The pizza had a thin crust base with a good balance of tomato and cheese. It was wiped clean in a jiffy by all of us present at the table. But for those who have some aversion towards tomato, I would recommend to either order a different pizza or ask for a slightly less amount of tomato. The next up was their ‘Chicken Cheese burger’. You cannot expect a fast food styled burger in a tea house, can you? The gourmet burger that was served to us was just mind boggling. The patty was amazingly juicy and you could savour each and every bite of it. It is again a must try for all the carnivores out there. Being a gourmet burger, it is served with some wedges for sides which again were less oily while being aptly crispy.
(Margherita Pizza)
(Chicken Cheese Burger)
This was followed by ‘Thai Basil Cottage Cheese with Rice’ and ‘Penne Arrabiata Pasta’. The Thai curry was different compared to the regular Green, Yellow & Red curries that one is accustomed to when it comes to Thai. It had some strong flavourings that gave it a unique taste. The Arrabiata pasta was accompanied by a portion of garlic bread and a sumptuous amount of zucchini topped with some chilli flakes. The presence of zucchini made a huge difference to the overall taste of the pasta. It provided a peak tinge that differentiated this pasta from the many that I’ve had over the years. The chilli could be too strong for those who are not accustomed to having very spicy food so make sure you ask for a lower spice quotient.
(Thai Basil Cottage Cheese with Rice)
(Penne Arrabiata Past)
With some great food for the mains, we were a bit confused on if we needed desserts or should we go for the hot tea straight away. Giving into our temptations, we decided to have a portion of ‘Tiramisu’ and ‘Almond Coated Chocolate Stick’. The Tiramisu was crowned with soft ladyfinger biscuits which tasted yummy on their own. The Tiramisu once again disappeared as quickly as it was brought it. The Almond coated chocolate stick was a good pairing for the ‘Blueberry Cheesecake Hot Tea’ that was served at the end of the service. What fascinated me the most was the innovative dispenser that was used for dispensing the hot tea. A timer is also provided to indicate how long you need to brew it depending on the concentration level of your preference.
(Almond coated Chocolate Stick)
(Tiramisu - Pic Courtesy: Llyods Tea House Facebook Page)
(Tea Dispenser)
(Blueberry Cheesecake Hot Tea)
Lloyds Tea House really wowed me during my first visit so much that I’ve started visiting more often than other restaurants in the vicinity. Some of my other recommendations are the Franconnian Peppermint Ice Tea, Rose Petal Hot Tea, Creamy Fusili with Mushrooms with Bechamel sauce and the Chicken Philly sandwich.

Lloyds Tea House is located on Lloyds Road, Gopalapuram adjacent to the DAV School.
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