Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rhapsody, Marriott Courtyard , Anna Salai, Chennai

We picked this place, because someone said, it was a good italian food place in the city. I love italian food, well mostly the carb rich pasta, but the bread and their sauces too. And so it was worth putting this to a test. I guess every recommendation comes with a catch. Is their good, good enough for you? Or what exactly does good mean?

Chennai always known for its idli, dosai, vadai and sambar is increasingly playing host to a variety of cuisine. The most popular ones, though, are the junk food exported from the US - KFC, Pizza, etc. So a visit to Rhapsody would have been a nice distraction. Situated bang in the middle of what most people would consider the artery of Chennai - Anna Salai, our erstwhile Mount Rd, its located within the Marriott Courtyard hotel. I have been to the hotel a couple of times, a decent place, with a lot of pretense.

The same pretense shows through in their service and food selection at this restaurant too. We walked in, there were three of us, and were greeted politely by a 'lost' host. He was not sure if we were there to drink and be merry or eat and sleep. Well, you see, there is lounge bar, right there within the restaurant. A lounge bar, that played sports on a large screen TV. Thats a first. A fine dining place, that comes with a sports bar, that masquerades like a lounge bar.

Well we there for business. Food. Quickly ordered the main course, since time is always a constraint for many reasons. No soups or starters. It was easy to skip the starters, because we were served an assorted selection of bread. Many were cold. Off different varieties served, the flat bread stood out, in taste. The rest was just baked yeast. Common tea shops serve similar selection of bun. Right there, the italian restaurant failed its test. A fine italian place also serves very, i mean very very, good bread - hot, crisp and hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Or some variant of this. Never dull bread.

I dont know why. I came to eat pasta. But the menu item 'grilled salmon' caught my fancy. The many years living in the US, i had perfected my 'Grilled Salmon' (or similar fish steak) order. I was a fool to visualize the food before it arrived or at the time of the order. One colleague, ordered the pizza, since he wasnt so adventurous. The other picked the pasta dish made with angel hair pasta.

Conversations, if interesting, reduces the wait for the food to be delivered to the table. And apparently we didnt have to wait long. My friend who ordered the pasta is a globe trotter. His pasta dish arrived at the table. We had a knife and fork, the only silverware at the table. No spoon. Another test, failed. How do you eat pasta, the long kind, without a spoon? But a request, delivered an ordinary large spoon to the table. That was good enough, but not ideally suited for the pasta gumbtion. Luckily the waiter saved grace, by asking, if he wanted cheese. He then brought a big lump of cheese, grated it right on to the pasta. They seem to have got one part right. The pizza was good, and better than the fast food variety.

My fish arrived in decent shape, but it was clothed. Yes, they apparently thought it was best to grill the fish with its skin. But they choose to leave the skin only on one side, and removed it from the other. What ever side, they picked they left the skin on the wrong side. Nothing irks me more, than seeing skin on a piece of meat. The fish was cooked well, just as i had asked. But it was devoid of any spice or flavor. Thats fine, in america or europe, where it may be the desired way to consume, not here. I would appreciate a little flavor of salt, and a bit of spice. So i asked for pepper, the fresh kind, so it could be ground right over your food. Instead i was treated to the two regular spice, that is found on any average food table - regular salt, regular factory mass produced devoid of any flavor pepper. Fail again.

So without the soup, and binging on free starters, the main course and drinks set us back, a little more than two grand. It was a decent experience, i wont call the food bad. But i dont think their claim to be a fine italian restaurant is legitimate. While one can always pretend to be something, it takes diligence, and more importantly simple astuteness to mimic something thats foreign to you.