Sunday, 29 May 2016

Grand by GRT, T.Nagar

GRT in T.Nagar, being a spirited Chennaite it is, has sprung back to action, in style, after the devastating floods, that had actually showed us all what our strengths are. Amazing comeback! I visited two of it's recently opened Restaurants - J.Hind Diner, their Pan Indian Restaurant and Bazaar, their Round the Clock Restaurant. While, I write this, their Bar - Whistle Podu - is open for public too.

J.Hind - Actually is the short form of Jugalbandhi Hindustani. This Restaurant, is one of a kind, which has 'Progressive Indian Cusine' as the main feature, presenting Indian Cuisine in a New Avtar. No, it's not just deconstruction of food that we are talking about, this is more than that, the usage of Avant-Garde cooking techniques et al. For lay people, like you and me, it's a visual drama, interesting one at that. It's not an art, it's science, which intrigues me totally and at the moment I'm spell bound by J.Hind.
They've introduced a Set Menu, the day after I went for lunch here (My luck :(), which includes what I had and more. I'm posting the Set Menu along with the pictures in this write-up. Cost of Set Menu is INR 1450++ for Non-Vegetarian and INR 1250++ for Vegetarian.

Set Menu
Welcome Drink - The drama started right here. Welcome drink was Tender Coconut Water with Pomegranate Caviar and 'Popping Boba' or Caviar Balls of Saffron flavoured Thandai and Aaam Ras. Divine!
Welcome Drink
The Order:

Street-Eat Drama - A 2 course Chat Drama:

First Course was Pani Puri served in a Pizzarra. It was a bit tiring to serve oneself the Pani using the Injection. But taste wise, no complaints.
Pani Puri
Dhokla Papdi Chat: A chat trolley arrives at your table and the preparation is done right in front of you with step by step explanation. Dhokla drenched in liquid Nitrogen, the sauces and a secret spice mix and Voila, the chat is ready to be served.

No onions and in stead of the usual coriander, Micro Greens are used, but you can't find the difference in the taste, even after much scrutiny. A winner!
Dhokla Papdi Chat
Street-Eat Drama - Chat Trolley
The Great Southern Indian Railway Co. Chicken Curry:

The Railway Chicken Curry arrives in a Miniature train in a Ceramic Dishware separately, along with 3 numbers of Lump Rice neatly packed in Banana leaves and a bowl of Kachumber. Absolutely Yummy!! The Curry went well with the assorted breads that was ordered.
The Great Southern Indian Railway Co. Chicken Curry
The Great Southern Indian Railway Co. Chicken Curry
Assorted Breads:

The Assorted Breads were Amritsari Kulcha, Ulta Tawa Paratha and Sundried Tomato Roti - all three were of great quality. Didn't loose the texture even after getting slightly cold, which is impressive.
Assorted Breads

Lamb Biryani:

This Dindugal styled Biryani arrived in a bottled air-tight jar, and the smoky flavor is introduced into the Biryani by using a smoker. The traditional taste in intact and the smoky flavour gives it a nice lift. Tastewise, as close as it can get to be an authentic Seeraga Samba Biryani, no compromise has been done, which is commendable.
Lamb Biryani
Creme Brulee:

This was complimentary from the Chef. Loved this Indianized Creme Brulee to bits. It's usually served with a Rose Petal Biscotti, I was told. Cardamom flavoured Creme Brulee served in an Indian Style Matka, progressive cooking... Huh! No... It's mind blowing.
Creme Brulee

Bazaar at Grand by GRT:

The Samurai Chicken Burger:

I was at Bazaar well past lunch time for lunch, when the buffet counters were getting cleared. I was riding solo, so settled for the Samurai Chicken Burger as the description had Crispy Chicken Strips in Teriyaki Sauce in it. Served along with Cheese Balls, Salad and a Virgin Mojito. The Dip was spicy salsa - Yumm! The meal was very satisfying, I must say. The complimentary Cranberry Juice that I was given was very good, indeed.

Samurai Chicken Burger
Cranberry Juice
The Cost of Buffer at Bazaar on weekdays is INR 1299++ and on weekends INR 1499++


Overall Experience: Chef Paramjeet Singh Bombra, is a very enthusiastic chef and both the times while I was at GRT, I blindly followed his recommendations and never a moment of glitch. It's an absolute pleasure to dine at J.Hind and Bazaar seems to be joining my favourites list too. Looks like, the time for me to apply for GRT's loyalty card has come, as I'm going to be using their services quite often.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Salt.Co.531 at Radisson Blu, GST Road

Salt Block Cooking, was a subject that interested me since my initial visit to this place. But, I wasn't confident of writing about it unless and until, I could directly clear my doubts with the Exective Chef Abhiram Gona, during my last visit. He was patient to clear all my silly doubts and also send across to my table few of their awesome dishes. A casual lunch turned into a tasting session and I was absolutely delighted. Because, I think, Salt.Co.531's strength is also it's concept, along with the awesome food that it serves.

Salt.Co.531 has designed their Buffet Menu/A la Carte Menu around 14 different types of Salts - Huh! A revelation to me, who was thinking there was only Toothpaste with Salt apart from the Normal Salts used in our households. Their Buffet is wide spread, with an assurance that there'll be something for all. With what I've seen, I can guarantee that the Buffet Spread is simply one of the best in town. Quiet interestingly, every dish is labelled along with the type of salt that has gone into the Dish.


The Himalayan Pink Salt Block that has been used for Cooking has many interesting facts surrounding it. It is highly resistant to extreme temperatures (Hot or Cold), making it a very good medium for Cooking. It has a more complex taste than Salt and adds healthy minerals to food. The Surface of the Salt Slab is naturally Anti-Microbial. Knowing all this actually doesn't actually pinch you when you pay for the food at Salt.Co.531. Have to admit, it's an awesome feeling to understand what's in my plate.

Chef's Recommendation:

Watermelon and Feta Salad on a Chilled Salt Brick: Chef recommended that, I try this by Picking up the Watermelon Piece and Feta and taste it after rubbing it slightly on the Himalayan Salt Brick. Wow! Loved it to bits. Very fresh, refreshing - those are the words that I can think of.
Watermelon and Feta Salad

Shredded Kolhapuri Chicken Salad: Chef had introduced this one saying, I would get a blend of North meets South taste - It was an understatement. I was awestruck how this simple salad can give me an amalgamation of all Indian flavors. Avocado Koshimbir, Barbecued Chicken, Curry leaves, Kala Namak - Brilliant!
Kolhapuri Chicken Salad

On a Platter - Texas Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip, Coconut Prawns with Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce and Karuvepillai Meen Kuchi Varuval with Chettinad Aioli, Edamae, Podi Idly
Everything was a Masterpiece. Just in case, if I have to pick up the best of the lot then, it'll be a tie between Texas Buffalo Wings and Edamame. All others on position two.

From the Buffet: Only from what I tasted, there were so many dishes that I didn't taste:

Soup: The Tomato Soup, undoubtedly is one of the best.

Starters: I preferred their Vegetarian Starters - Wasabi Tossed Mushrooms, Kaju Mutter Samosa, Salt Seared Pineapple and Masala Paneer Tikka (In that order of preference) to their Non-Vegetarian Starters - Meen Varuval, Shish Tawook and Crumbed Fish (In that order of preference)

Main Course: Here too, Vegetarian dishes scored more than Non-Vegetarian dishes. The Lasooni Dal and Palak Makkai were the best amongst all the sides. Their Gosht Dum Biryani is a sure winner. Methi Murg along with Roti was simply too good. Next vote goes to Fish Hubei. Vennai Mamsam Koora and Prawns Siciliana were Okayish.


Desserts: In my opinion, their Indian dessert creations have a higher hand over their other dessert creations. Loved the Kaala Jamun, Kalakand and Apple Rabdi. The offerings are so vast, one can actually skip the main course and attack desserts directly.

Drinks: Lemon Iced tea was very good.

Ended the meal with coffee, I prefer their Black coffee which I had in my previous visit than to the Cappuccino that I had in my last visit.

Cost of the Buffet lunch is INR 1299+Taxes. For kids the cost is 900+Taxes.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Days Hotel, OMR

Run under the able flagship of Wyndham Hotels, Days Hotel, has a very elegant facade. But, the interiors, came to me as a very pleasant surprise. It has been tastefully done - A Long Chandelier at the Lounge, Artifact made out of Mother of Pearl at each floor, thematic restaurants, wall hangings with contemporary art, space planning at it's best, well lit - I must say, it's quite impressive.

Days Hotel, OMR


A 3 floor building with a total of 57 Rooms, which comprises of 3 Suites, 21 Deluxe Rooms, 32 Standard Rooms and 1 Accessible Room for differently abled. And the amenities and facilites, covering all needs of both the Business and Leisure Travellers.

Days Hotel - Suite
Days Hotel - Standard
Days Hotel - Deluxe

D Lounge:Timing 9 AM to 11 PM: The lobby lounge, ideal for quick meetings or meeting up with a friend.

Sunrise Banquets & Conferences: With 3000 sft of two splendid halls, 6000 sft of lawn area, a meeting room for 12 - ideal for private celebrations and corporate meetings too.

Viviana: The in-house Spa & Salon, which is operational. And a full-fledged Gym is under work in progress.

Ride Bar: As of now, license for the Bar is pending. But, with that we had a look at, this place is sure to lift the spirits high.

Ride Bar
Svanna: The Alfresco Restaurant, focusing on Global Grill concept for food and with one of the best Skyline views overlooking the Beach at ECR. Eagerly waiting for this one to open soon.


Nutcracker: Timing: 7 AM - Midnight

Nutcracker, OMR
This was actually the hero of the day, as we were invited for a tasting session.

Since, I had reached a bit earlier, had a chat with the Executive Chef Sathya Seelan, who had started his career from Chennai, travelled a bit to Middle East and now back to his Territory to showcase his Culinary skills. A dedicated Japanese Menu only means that he knows his customer's expectation well. The Menu is quiet vast and interesting to note was the inclusion of Japanese Breakfast option.

Mr. Prakash Chandran, the Vice President, who is the brain behind the tastefully done interiors, as he has hand picked almost everything that you can physically see in the Hotel, explained to us that, the Hotel is for Business and Leisure travellers, but the Restaurants are more focused to cater the neighborhood community, where a family or a group of friends can walk in anytime and enjoy some good food.


Details on the Tasting Session:

Absolutely no qualms on the food. In fact, I liked almost everything that was served on my plate. So, I'll divulge in minimum details.

Welcome Drink was Nannari Sarbat. An Orange Mojito was served a bit later - Both were spot-on



Pappad: Good
Tomato Bruschetta: Bread was soft, with a good amount of toppings and cheese
Trio of Idlys: 3 Mini Idlys - Tulsi, Lemon and Pepper - served with 3 types of chutney
Chettinad Urulai Croquettes: A good twist. Our own South Indian Potato masala (Bonda Filling) made into Croquettes.
Panko Crumbed Squid: Crunchy and nice
Karaivepplai yera: Reminder that Curry leaves can be tasty too.
Maa Thai Lamb: The Best amongst the starters, according to me.

Vegetable Tempura: Very well made and tasted Yummmm!

Sushi Platter: Plating looked like an Art Work. Pretty decent affair.

Main Course:

Grilled Fish with Lemon Butter Sauce was the best of the lot for me. Loved it. Followed by, Lamb Chops with Own Jus, and Kozhi Varutha Curry. Indian Breads were soft and nice. Dal Makhani could be better, Paneer Lababdar, the gravy was yummy, but would have preferred the Paneer to be softer.

Biryani, scored very well along with the Bagarae Baingan. Everyone at the table seemed to enjoy the Fish Curry, but to me it was too rich and had a very strong hint of Coconut Oil, I would have preferred a subtle version of the same.



Apple Pie won my heart instantly. Tulsi Rasgula was a nice tiwst. Mud cake and Red Velvet Cake were very nice. The Caramel Tuile was a creative addition and Strawberry Ice Cream the usual affair.

Days Hotel Chennai is located at:
#245/1, Old Mahabalipuram Road, 
Padur, Chennai - 603103
Phone: 044 3000 1444

Monday, 25 April 2016

Holiday Inn Express, Old Mahabalipuram Road

The Brand 'Holiday Inn Express' which is categorized under 'Smart Stay Hotels', worldwide, threw it's door open for Public, last Friday (22 April 2016). A welcome addition at the IT Highway of Chennai, located strategically at the ever expanding Rajiv Gandhi Salai at Shollinganallur. This property is owned by Duet India Hotels and managed by IHG (InterContinental Hotel Group).
Holiday Inn Express, OMR

Catering to the needs of both Business and Leisure Travellers, Holiday Inn Express hotels are modern, select-service hotels for on-the-go travellers, an affordable alternative to full service hotels with the reliability and consistency of an International Hotel Brand. The 136 Room Hotel complete with modern amenities meet all demand's of today's smart traveler.

Smart Location:

21 km away from Chennai International Airport/3.5 km to SEZ Avenue/9 km away from amusement park & Golden Beach/Easy connectivity to places like Oragadam and Sri Perumbudur.

Smart Stay:

A glimpse into the Suite Room
  • 131 queen-bedded and twin-bedded rooms/5 suite rooms
  • Signature High-quality bedding with a selection of soft & firm pillows
  • Free in room Wi-fi
  • Ergonomic workstation with universal plugs
  • En-suite bathrooms with 3 function massage shower head
  • Mini fridge/ Tea/Coffee maker and Mineral water
  • 32"-inch LED TV with an International selection of entertainment channels
A glimpse into the Room

Smart Meeting Room: Compact meeting room (450 sft) with In focus projector 7 screen/Mineral water & Mints

Smart Facilities:
24 Hrs Fitness Room & Laundry Service
  • Free Internet stations & self-service business centre
  • Fitness room with 24-hour access
  • 24 Hour Laundry Service
24-hour reception with fast,friendly, efficient check-in

Smart Food & Beverage: 

The Great Room by Asia Kitchen
The Great Room by Asia Kitchen
  • Free Express Start Breakfast with the option of Grab & Go
  • Snacks and Beverages available in Great Room 24X7
  • Hot & Cold snacks in Room service round the clock

Details of The Great Room by Asia Kitchen:

Bar is not yet functional, as they are yet to acquire the required license. Their food is presented by Asia Kitchen, who have been successfully serving to their happy customers at Noida,New Delhi and Ahmedabad, have now entered the Chennai market to give us their offerings.

The Great Room by Asia Kitchen is situated at the L1 of the 8 floor Hotel, which can serve 114 covers at one time. Being situated at the IT Express Highway, I must say their Buffet which includes Asian and Continental Cuisine, has been priced right for Corporate and Team Lunch outings. Apart from the Buffet, their Menu is quite interesting too, with Meal in a Bowl option, when you don't have the time to indulge, but still want to have a good meal.

Attached are the pictures from the Buffet on the opening day. The spread was quite vast and the service very amicable. A very pleasant experience. Details on their Buffet is as follows:

Breakfast - INR 395 + Taxes
Lunch - INR 595 + Taxes
Dinner - INR 695 + Taxes

The Address:

Holiday Inn Express Chennai Old Mahabalipuram Road
Survey No:-169, Plot No - 1B & 1A, Rajiv Gandhi Salai, Kumaran Nagar
Shollinganallur, Chennai - 600119, Tamil Nadu, India.
T: +91 (44) 4925 6699 I F: +91 (44) 4925 6698 or 1800 1033 066

The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR
The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR
The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR

The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR

The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR
The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR

The Great Room, Holiday Inn Express, OMR