Sunday, October 5, 2008

Grains of Paradise, RA Puram, Chennai

This is a new place, about 8 months old, as admitted by one of the waiters at the restaurant. I had seen this place a few times, but never grabbed my attention. There is also an Italian restaurant named Mmmafia, just above this place, run by the same management.

First off, parking is a pain everywhere in Chennai, and this place is not different. And so, the thankful service of valet parking solves this frustration quickly. However, when you leave the keys, you are befuddled, as to how they are going to solve the problem.

One flight of stairs, and you are at the entrance of this interesting dining place in Chennai. Well, it is a vegetarian food place !! I was a little surprised, the decor, the menu, and all, you would have thought different. You are just used to this, vegetarian means Saravana Bhavan and Udipi places, and Tandoori/Chinese cuisine means non-veg is included.

The dining experience was mixed. They had a good collection of food (new names, combinations you may not have heard off before). The specialty choices appears mostly from the north (Jaipuri, Rajasthani etc find mention in the menu). One interesting started we tried was Makki Sheekh, a combination of panneer and corn/maize. Panneer in many forms appears all over their menu. Thanks to the large crowd we went with, we had to settle for the tame, malai kofta and panneer butter masala along with some rotis, to ensure that it was acceptable by most. The malai kofta had a distinct taste, while the panneer butter masala was a disappointment. Their rotis and naans had nothing noteworthy to speak about, but were good enough and as expected from a decent tandoor oven.

A few people from our party also ventured into chinese food and were not disappointed. I tasted a lil bit of the american chopsuey, and it was good, but i chose to stick with my pudhina parota (they were out of methi !!) and garlic naan. As is usual, in these group dining efforts, there is roti/naan left at the end of the curry dish, or the roti/naan run out soon. And then the second order takes long enough to kill all appetite. This time was not very different.

Somewhere in the middle i was enthused to try out lassi, considering the food so far looked and tasted decent. And i was thoroughly disappointed with the watery buttermilk mixed in with some dry fruits, which looked more like crap floating. But the people were kind enough to try a second time, with no major improvements. I must now state, that the service was better than par, and people took care to serve and attentive in general.

The dessert was a limited menu. They were also had only vanilla, strawberry, choclate, butterscotch and mango ice-creams !! I mean they should have a problem carrying more flavours, considering they only had about 5 other items on the dessert section. The special of the day was jelebi with ice-cream. The other item ordered was the shahi-tukda. Both of these were awesome. The jelebi fresh and hot, and so a little late, but served with nice cold vanila ice cream. The shahi-tukda was neatly done, small pieces, mixed in with dried fruits and nuts, again the best i have tried of this dish so far.

All in all the experience was very welcoming and pleasureful. The prices were also not exorbitant, but reasonable for the place. I plan to go back, and try some different items on the menu. I will be sticking to the tandoor and Indian cuisine, 'cause if i want chinese, i think there are other options.