Sunday, December 17, 2006

Kaasi Vinayaka Mess, Triplicane

This place is ancient, so I’ve heard, but by no means a relic in this age of fancy theme restaurants. But then this is not your everyday restaurant. It’s a mess. Ah! Before you get me wrong, I didn’t mean ‘mess’ as in “Gosh! What a mess!”. I meant 'mess' as in limited menu canteen.

You get wholesome Tamil food here for as little as Rs.22. That’s Rs. 25 if you want a cup of curd thrown in. Oh! Before I forget, you only get vegetarian food here – rice and the accompaniments. And they don’t ask you if you’d prefer boiled rice or raw rice. It’s just rice – the ‘limited’ variety and the ‘full’ variety, which amounts to a little more… a thousand grains or so more.

Bachelors in Triplicane, Chennai swear by this mess. They are open for lunch around 11:00 am through 3:00 pm and then again for dinner from 7:00 pm to 10:30 pm. Eleven if you stretch it. But by then the curd would have run out.

Come here, and you first need to stand in queue for your ‘meals token’. There’s the yellow and white (pronounced 'pfhite') token. Once they call your token, you have exactly ten minutes to wolf down your meal. Begin with delicious ‘podi’ and wholesome ghee to accompany your first portion of rice. This is simply divine, believe you me! But you won’t get more of it. Then comes your sambar followed by rasam and buttermilk laced with fresh spices.

You get a side of ‘koottu’ which is a gooey, bland vegetable stew and a ‘porial’ which invariably is a mix of steamed carrots, peas, cabbage and scrapped coconut lightly sautéed in oil. The papad and perfectly tangy pickle complete the picture. (The pickle goes best with rice and curd, remember.)

Too tame you think? Not a chance! It’s a whole new experience that begins with standing in queue and listening to bachelor talk followed by a ten-minute wait until your token is called. The service is fast and efficient. Everything works to clockwork and when you come out burping, you’ll be pleased you came here. Maybe you’d even write an ‘ode to a burp’ if you're so inclined.

Ambience: **
Value for Money: *****
Food: ****

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Yorkers

If you're one of those souls who loves to try various cuisines, all within the confines of vegetarianism, New Yorkers is the perfect starting point.

Mexicana and Italiana (barring pizzas, which and tres Indiana) are pretty decent here, with a liberal smattering of Cheese in all its forms available here. The trademark dishes, which everyone orders here, and is a given if you visit here are the onion rings and the nachos with cheese starters. Apart from these (which are quite enough to fill a medium-sized stomach), if you're still in the mood, you can try the baby potatoes in a delicious herb sauce and italian seasoning or the chocolate fondue for the really indulgent. Serving time is really short, but you'll have to put up with snotty brats in half pants for the duration of your meal. (make you feel OLD)

Ambience: **
Value for Money:***

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Don Giovanni

Well, first off, if you're like me- someone who speaks like there's a fog horn stuck in my throat all the time, this place is not for you. The moment your voice rises above dulcet whispers here, the waiters pass by in turns giving you dirty looks. The flip side however is that the atomosphere is hence condusive to romance and candlelight. Add to that the excellent collection of wine that the place boasts, and we have the ideal setting for lovebirds.
Oddly though, the only guests we could actually spot were straight-laced gujju families enjoying their repast- the birds of the loving variety were conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps what kept them away were the forbidding prices to the dishes. The moment one opens the menu, there's a note about how the joint was strictly Italina, would not compromise on quality, made everything feresh and did NOT Indianise the dishes. Ah. OK. Having made it thus far, and refusing to be intimidated by the Maitre De or the Italian menu, we order the food.
I must say, the food throughly lived upto its build up. Fresh Igredients- check; Authentic Italian- check; Opera Music- check!
I would strongly suggest the pizzas and the bruchettas. Didn't have an opportunity to sample the pasta, but judging from the groans of delight from the adjacent table, I would guess it's just as good.

All in all, If fine wine and candlelight is what your out for, Don Giovanni is your thing, honey!

Ambience: ****
Value for Money: *
Food: ***

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Clean Plater

Some singers sing of ladies' eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English VerseIs lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or lessPreoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Yes, food,Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there's nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings
I utter To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they're food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I'm broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
“Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphsI am not wooed;
I'd rather painters painted food.
Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you'd win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it's something to eat.
If it's food,
It's food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.

-Ogden Nash