Beyond the Gates : Chennai Cuisine


“Appetizingly well written, and the choice of restaurants is good.”
– Sachin Nair (Member, Chennai Food Guide)

For those of us disgruntled with the culinary monotony of the insti, a knowledge of the routes to the outside world called Chennai is imperative to satiate ourselves and fulfil the long deprived yearning for nourishment called REAL FOOD. So the next time you are in the city, check out these ten favourite food joints.

Murugan Idly ShopTake a morning jog along the beach, smell in the salty surf and whet up an appetite fit for the kings. This is exactly why Murugan’s Idly Shop in Besant Nagar is Chennai’s favourite breakfast place. Steaming hot idlis, crisp vadas, paper thin dosai on banana leaves with the signature filter kaapi is indeed a royal fare any time of the day.

MASHWhen in Bessie in the evenings, stroll into Mash. Done in simple wooden interiors and paper lanterns, Mash offers a beautiful view of the Bay while you tuck into an indo-continental-Italian menu offering an amusing choice of poultry and seafood. Easily affordable at less than Rs 500 for two, it is a perfect setting for those romantic dates.

ZaitoonCloser home in Adyar, off LB Road is Zaitoon. An urbane chic interior and an impressive exotic Arabian fare combined with a north Indian “zaika”, this basement restaurant is within a reasonable price range of Rs 250-400 per person. And for your savouring senses you can add a dash of White Pepper.

An authentic Chinese restaurant with the best dim sims, orange mocktail and fried ice cream (yes you read right: it is fried indeed!), The White Pepper (just off LB road, Thiruvanmiyur) is pulling the crowds in from everywhere. Good value for a start of Rs 200 per person.

One of those rare fine dining experiences can only be at The Crimson Chakra in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar. Fusion food they claim. A culinary treasure trove I say. A tranquil decor in folk and modern art adds to the splendour of a renovated yesteryear house. Reservations are recommended. Prices are considered a bit steep but the experience is truly divine.

Mast KalandarAuthentic, desi, vegetarian food at Mast Kalandar, Thiruvanmiyur caters to an array of lip smacking combos that will keep you coming back for more. Prompt service assured. Satisfaction guaranteed. But for a more impressive vegetarian fare check out the plush pink and black interiors of Flamingo on the Velachery bye pass road. Courteous staff and chef’s special savouries make this a great place for the anti-carnivore foodie.

Cream center in R A Puram may come across as just another vegetarian joint but their internationally flavoured Lebanese and Mexican menu urges you to be bold. A tad heavy on the wallet, nevertheless Cream center has great food. It is simple and humble.

EatalicaTry Eatalica on one of those evenings when a light bite appeals to your gastronomical humor. A cozy little joint in Alwarpet made famous by its creatively done Americana-Italian menu. Monica Chewinsky, Keanu Leaves, Angelina Lolly and Gill Bates aren’t names you will forget. A meal for two would be around Rs 250.

BBQ NationAnd if in T Nagar on weekdays, drop into the best all you-can-eat-barbeque buffet lunch in the city. At start off prices of Rs 350-550 buffet lunch per person with unlimited food (and complimentary beer!!), Barbeque nation is ideal for the high end treats at a cost effective price. BBQ offers amazing vegetarian and non vegetarian barbeque starters. The thalapakkatu biriyani tingles your senses with its heady, spicy aroma, the Korean kimchi dares you in temptation and you keep going back for helpings of the chocolate cake and kesar kulfis.

So let there not be deprivation in despair. A whole new world waits beyond the gates. Enjoy, explore and savour Chennai’s finest gastronomically genius cuisines.

Written by Ranjini Balan, Correspondent

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