Eating Out, Food, Random Things of Interest, restaurant review

Discovering: Haute Couture Toast

The current scene in the Bay Area region is very much hipster (as known by all residents of the world). Gone were the days when toast just referred to that brown piece of cardboard popping out of the toaster. Artisanal bread, topped with what may seem like “mundane” toppings – cheese, jam, nuts and fruits is all the rage. And oh no, not just regular jam, but jam made with organic farmed fruits, farm fresh cheese and nuts. I wanted to experience this trend as much as I could before people realized that they were just getting excited about bread, and jumped on a newer, more basic bandwagon.

[Listen to this piece by This American Life. Read this article in The New Yorker.]

I had read about a couple of popular places that embody this trend . The Husband who struggles to be up to date with the hipster world stumbled upon a cafe late last year and described (failingly) the amazing breakfast he had that featured fruits on toast. After surfing Yelp I decided that I needed to experience this new trend. Hence I was led to farm:table (reads farm to table not farm *cricket sound* table as pronounce by a noob (not me)).

Farm:table is a tiny, Harry Potter’s-bedroom-under-the-stairs sized cafe? restaurant? breakfast area. While there is a little more variety in the menu by way of croissants, eggs and pastries the star of this establishment is toasted bread (varies daily) generously slathered with butter, topped with mascaporne cheese and assorted fruits, with a sprinkle of nuts. Sounds pretty basic, I know. Even the husband mused, “Who would think to put fruit on bread!”, and then paused to realize that jam was essentially canned fruit.

But believe me when I say that this variety of toast was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before and was definitely not basic. Each bite was at once creamy, crunchy and fruity. It is probably one of the best breakfasts I’ve had, a great departure from my usual breakfast of bread and fried egg. I would return to farm:table in a heart beat if I didn’t live an hour away. But make no mistake, I will be making the trek the next chance I get!

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Eating Out, Food, madras, restaurant review

Waiter, one coffee please.

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Meals, Saravana Bhavan, Fremont.

We finally went to Saravana Bhavan a few weekends back. The food did taste a little different than the one in Madras but I was satisfied. It felt like a little piece of home that I could visit any time I wanted. Granted there were no familiar waiters, the smell of coffee in the air and the general chit chat that only Madras offered. But dipping my fingers in their famous sambar after three and a half months of a dearth, this was more than I could ask for.

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restaurant review

Benjarong

There is no sincerer love than the love of food. -George Bernard Shaw

While on a holiday in Bangkok a few years ago I had the opportunity to tase the most amazingly fragnant and delicious tom yam soup.I don’t know the exact ingredients that go in but it looked like a mess and tasted like heaven. A few things that went into the soup were mushrooms, lemon grass, prawns and lots of different Thai herbs and vegetables. Due to the lack of halal food we had to make do with drinking this alomost everyday. No complaints there.

So, this weekend we visited Benjarong, a Thai resataurant in Alwarpet. Yes, I know its been there for a long time but I never got to go.

The decor is very subtle with a lot of Thai influences. There was a sleeping Buddha here and a dragon there. Lots of whiny Thai music too. Near the entrance one chinky looking girl in a traditional kimono type dress was sitting on a little dais peeling and carving carrots.

For all the scene they put I thought the food would be bad. How wrong I was! Samma yummy it was! I wanted to take pictures but the glutton inside me didn’t want to wait. I did manage to overcome that and click three photos.

For starters we had tom yam soup. Super yummy it was. But thanks to all the kaaram, full nasal leakage only. We also had kimono wrapped prawns. Cute, I know. It tasted even better. The lamb something crispy was to die for! It was fried oh-so-gently with peppercorns and was crispy and soft at the same time.

Main course was rice noodles, Thai red curry and white rice. Thai cuisine is mainly know for the aromatic herbs and spices used. It is also known to incorporate the balance of the five fundamental tastes in each dish : kaaram, pulippu, inipu, upu and kasappu.

Benjarong amalgamates all this perfectly and forms one beautifully presented meal that is sure to leave your taste buds begging for more, although your stomach will burst from the excess food.

Location : TTK Road, Alwarpet, Chennai. It is right opposite the road that leads to Samco Malaysian restaurant. It is a one way road. Do not go in the opposite and direction and get stuck like my brother did.

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restaurant review

The Great(Ya, right!) Kabab Factory, Radisson

When food is pretentious the stomach is forever empty.

This must have been the underlining factor on which Radisson runs ‘The Great Kebab Factory’. I’ve had some of the best kebabs in Dubai and Saudi and Radisson tries to over step the greatest kebabs in the world by claiming to have TGKF.

A couple of days back my brother decided that it was time we went to TGKF having heard a lot about it from friends. The format of the meal is like a buffet where you don’t have to get up. The food is brought to your place and it is an unlimited meal. Unfortunately, the food is brought piece by piece at such a slow pace. So they started us off with no starters or soup but with a salad that failed to hold our interest. It consisted of juliennes of an assortment of fruits and vegetables with ‘strawberry vinegar’ which was something like liquefied strawberry jam.

They have a total of around five to six kababs. The kebabs are so bland and awful that you would not want to relive the experience by having another. So the first kebab was this mutton seekh thing shaped like a cutlet and was incredibly soft. It was served with some paratha. Honestly, this was the only part of the whole course that tasted good. The next was chicken which had some fancy name. It tasted like nothing.
Literally. I’m sure even raw chicken will have some taste at least.

The funniest part was these waiters who were trained to give a vivid description of the food before placing it on the plate. So before he serves the chicken the dude will give one description on how the chicken is made, what its called, what to eat it with, etc, etc and all this is totally unnecessary ’cause I just want to eat the chicken. If I want to know how its made I would go to a cooking class!

The next kebab was a shady looking white one which again tasted like nothing. How do they manage to nullify the taste of food that way? Then came a fish. 1% of a fish to be precise. Now I know the food is all unlimited but it doesn’t mean they have to make the portions this small! The prawn kebab eerily, tasted like chicken. Oh, at least it tasted like something.

Eating all this messed with our appetites so we decided to skip the biriyani they offered and moved on to Indian breads. I asked for naan. It was just a tad bit bigger than those kebabs. The daal was terrible. There was one dark yellow daal and one light yellow daal and both left a weird after-taste in the mouth.
I hate weird after-tastes.

For dessert we had midget sized rasgullas, black burnt gulab jamun and some weird carrot halwa. The food at TGKF is bad, bad, bad dhaaba food at outrageous prices. I cannot believe a star hotel like Radisson makes such bad food, and for the price its such a rip off! I’ve had better kebabs for less than quarter of the price!

All that bad food played havoc on our stomachs the next day and my family, we have the strongest stomachs. Everything tasted like it had been frozen for days. Not one atom of the food was hot!

So basically what I’m trying to say is – “DO NOT GO THERE”.

The non-vegetarian unlimited meal for one person costs around Rs.1200.

Radisson is located on GST Road, just a few minutes from Anna International Airport.

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photgraphy, restaurant review

MASH

We had a symposium on saturday. A technical symposium is where many different colleges come together while one college hosts it and lots of fun and exciting events happen. Except that there in nothing exactly fun or exciting about it.

So what we did was wear sari, click photos, go to college, click another million or so photos, change clothes, bunk the symposium and go to bessy.

If you are one of those people who frequently visit Bessy then you must have visited MASH. and since I’m not so frequent I got to go to MASH for the first time.
And its a pretty fun place to go.

MASH is located right opposite Bessie beach. You ask- the beach is so effing long where exactly is it?
I say – I don’t know.

The restaurant is modeled like a shack. The little birdies that keep flying make it all the more interesting. The decor is also very beach-y. Cane chairs, paper lanterns, the works.

We had the most creamiest, cheesiest, most cholesterol inducing, pimple-giving, butt-expanding pasta whose main ingredient was cheese, cream cheese sauce and grated cheese. But it was way better than the other white sauce pastas in the city.

The sandwiches were the conventional 3 tier types filled with layers of vegetables and cheese although they concentrated a lot on onions which was gross. And i hate raw onions. The sandwich came with an amazing coleslaw. Not the usual watery mayo + wilted cabbage + smelly carrot types but actual fresh cabbage and mayo. The fries were so-so. I’ve had better.

MASH serves a wonderfully chilled refreshing lemonade, the likes of which I’ve never heard anywhere else. We didn’t have dessert because we were too ful from all the eating.

The unique thing about MASH is that they have a little sit out from where you can watch the beach and stuff your face. The view is actually pretty cool. Plus MASH is actually worth your money and the prices are reasonable.

Here are a few photos we clicked:

the view from MASH:


MASH:

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restaurant review

Restaurant Review 1 – Cedars

Ok so I just got back from having dinner at Cedars. Now if you live in Chennai you might recall that the restaurant was previously situated in Gopalapuram but has now shifted to Nungambakkam. The last time I visited this one of a kind Lebanese cum Mediterranean restaurants was around 5 to 6 years back. And its weirdly comforting to see that although the location might have changed thay have maintained the exact same decor.

We started off with some tossed mushrooms. Oh FYI most of the names are unpronouncable and the odds are you wont remember the names once you’ve ordered it. Yeah, so the mushrooms excellently tossed with olive oil and some kind of herby thing were amazing. But were stupidly served with some toasted wheat bread. We then had some pesto chicken blah blah. Just like the name it tasted so blah. And it was green.
C’mon! Who serves green looking chicken?

I also had iced tea and it was the first time that iced tea tasted more of ice and did’nt have any trace of tea.

For the main course I had a really amazing Lebanese dish which consisted of saffron rice ( I doubt there was saffron in it. It just looked yellow ) and this super delicious gravy that had lamb, lentils and onions. We make a similar gravy in my native but we substitute the lentils for coconut milk and that makes the gravy extremely rich. But with the lentils it was the best lamb I had ever had. My brother had this weird beef meatball which I did’nt taste cause I don’t eat beef.

The dessert was the highlight of the entire meal. We had backlava and it was so rich that I could’nt eat more than one piece. But delicious nonetheless.

The superstar of the evening was this thick slab of bisuit or cake (I could’nt figure out what it was) layered and drizzled with thick chocolate. Oh Lord, the very thought of it makes my mouth water! Now if you ever go to Cedars it does’nt matter whether you eat anything else or not but please have this awesome chocolate thing!

PLEASE!

The price is a bit high but worth it for the different flavour that has’nt been experimented in Chennai. Cedars is one of the most expensive restaurants in the city. But the quantity is not proportional to the price. And that is very dissappointing. The service is also very poor. We had to keep asking the white shirt dude for the food so often that I felt like I was in my own house asking my mother for food.

The food is very different but might not suit all palates. But be prepared to burn a hole in your pocket.

Cedars is located at Wallace Garden road right off Nungambakkam high road, opposite to Wangs Kitchen and La Boulangerie.

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