Chennai · food · restaurants

Chennai Diaries II

We, as a couple, have now accepted the fact that how much ever we want to be fit, avoid outside eating and save money, we can’t spare hoteling. It’s not only about fancy food but it’s the experience! The thrill of trying something new, expecting the unexpected, learning from the disappointments and of course, interesting conversations that follow the food.

This post is dedicated to the people who are coming to Chennai for the first time and don’t want to spend time browsing hotels on Zomato 😉 (No offence meant. I am also a reviewer there)

We have been in Chennai for almost a year now, good amount of time, isn’t it?  And the only thing which helped us to beat the heat, boredom and lack of social life here was to go out and explore food avenues.

Let’s start with places where we go for full meals – lunch/brunch/dinner

Nando’s

So, this is a chain of Hotels and many of you must be already aware of it. I am still recommending it out of my sheer love for them.  This was the first restaurant we went to after coming to Chennai. I have been to Nandos in UK a few years back and still had the fond memories. This is one place where I don’t mind going alone to have meals. 🙂

The cuisine is Portuguese and African. A little different from what we usually opt for. The spicy level can be chosen and dishes can be customized as per choice. Food is served within 15-20 minutes. You never have to wait for the dish to come. Not too quick and not too late.

I personally love the decor, especially wooden furniture, amusing paintings and yes, the music. Hands down for the vibe!!

Staff is also very friendly. We met a Maharastrian staff member a few months ago and he does come and meet us every time we visit 🙂
It’s a bit pricy and not usual roti-gravy restaurant but a must try for a different experience altogether.

Area: Phoenix Marketcity, Velachery and Gopalpuram

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: Chicken wings, spicy mixed olives, refresh mint and angry mango burger (this is seasonal) and peri-chips.
  • This is popular for Chicken lovers but they have equally yummy dishes for vegetarians too.
  • Meal : Dinner/brunch/lunch
  • Unfortunately alcohol is not served in Nandos, Chennai. Don’t worry, you will get used to this happening in almost every other restaurant!!

Orange Wok

We were closing in on our first year Chennai  and were done trying south Indian cuisine. Even Punjabi food was also not doing any good to us. So, Zomato to the rescue and we decided to try this one based on the above average rating.

Trust me; the food recharged our taste buds. The yummiest Chinese/Thai food I have had in ages. No dearth of vegetables used in curries, noodles and rice recipes. The dish portion is in proportion to the price charged. The menu has a lot of variety and was quite glad to see different recipes for a change. It’s a small place and decorated well. Loved the specially designed chairs, tables with the wheel and who can forget the Bruce Lee wall. They have an open kitchen, quite a fun to see chefs at work.

Totally recommended for people who love Thai or want to try it for the first time!

Area: Velachery

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: Chilly garlic fried rice, Burmese chicken curry, chicken satay
  • Not recommended for desserts. We didn’t like the deserts much.
  • Meal : Dinner
  • Bar not available.

They do serve fish dishes though we have not tasted any yet.

Eden

We go to Eden when we have to take family for dinner/lunch and hence want to be safe in terms of food and place selection.

It’s a lovely place!! The cozy, “greeny” look and sober decor brings smile as soon as you enter the place. The USP would be the tasty food. We usually order north Indian cuisines which are not at all oily, are served within time. The staff is polite and pleases us with the hospitality every time we visit. A must try at least once.

Area: Nungambakkam

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: No favorites as such.
  • This is a vegetarians only place
  • Meal : Dinner/lunch
  • Bar not available.

Café

Like for most office going couples, there are very rare times when we are together for weekday evenings. But, we make it a point to make those evenings special. I present to you such café which are tried and tested and are worth the time and money 🙂

Shiraz Art cafe

The times when you feel like taking a long stroll by sea-shore in the evening and then spend time without looking at the watch. ‘Shiraz Art Cafe’ is the answer for those lazy and relaxed evenings! Place has spacious outdoor and classy indoor, quiet space away from crowded and congested city restaurants.
It is not only the location which makes this place a must visit but also the hospitality.
Just don’t have too many expectations for the food variety here. They have really limited varieties, though food is tasty and have unique taste. They are known for the Iranian cuisine.

Especially recommended for people who want to have tea by the beach!

Area: East coast Road

Make a note:

  • personal favorite: Guava juice and Shiraz tea
  • This is a vegetarians only place
  • Meal: Evening snacks. They have limited variety for meals and we didn’t find it worth the money.

That Madras Place

We went there on a weekday late afternoon so the place was kinda empty. The menu is short and sweet. No lengthy nonsense. One you decide what to have between pasta, open sandwich, grill sandwich, burger or bruschetta, you are good to go! They do serve hot and cold beverages too. One of the best French fries I had in ages, crispy and crunchy. The Hot Chocolate was the specialty for the day and I still go “uhmmm” when I think about it! We are yet to try their variety of desserts and Italian food.

The quantity is huge, worth the price. We went there for a coffee and ended up having an early dinner. All thanks to tasty food, good service and lovely ambiance.

A must go place if you want a break from south Indian, chat or Chinese cuisine. Nice instrumentals, interesting graffiti, polite staff and yummy meal will be worth the money!
Area: Adyar

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: chicken burger, mushroom sandwich, cafe latte and hot chocolate
  • Meal: The quantity is huge so you can go there even for lunch/brunch or dinner.

For a chatori like me, I do need chat once in a while. This is one craving which is very hard to control. The same goes for my spouse. Lucky us that we found, ‘Indiska Magic’!

Indiska Magic

This is my most favorite place in Chennai. They serve excellent chat in a nice ambiance. Cleanliness and friendly staff give them extra cookie points.
The other reason worth visiting here is for ‘Baklawa’, a turkish sweet.I guess, it is the only place in Chennai which serve authentic baklawa. A good change from usual, barfi, gulab jaam or rasgulla! Sizzler pav bhaji, is again their specialty and they  give complete justice to the taste.
A must visit place for yummy chat and yes, baklawa. It might seem a little expensive, as we are not used to spending so much on chat. However, considering the rare chance in Chennai to get good chat, place is quite worthy.

Area: Chetpet

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: Dahi sev poori, Pani puri and Baklawa
  • Meal: Of course Snacks but then you can dinner here as well. they do serve paratha, chhole bhature and a few rice varieties
  • Please Please try Baklawa 🙂

Bistros/ Breakfast places

Now there comes a time when you realize that you are spending fortune on outside eating. It starts reflecting on your bank savings as well as tummy!  But then you know you can’t control cravings. The solution to this is to go out but then for ‘breakfasts’. We follow the saying, “have breakfasts like a KING!” So, recently we have started looking for breakfast places. We like to believe that we won’t consume as much as calories as dinner and yet are having good food time. Tada!! 😀

L’amandier

For a moment, I felt like I am not in India.  The decor, music and ambiance gives you the European feel, plus the majority of the crowd is of foreigners. We went there for early morning breakfast and that set our tone for the day. Delicious omelette, pure fruit juice and rare to get perfect hash browns.  I tried bacon for the first time and I simply loved it.

I would definitely recommend place if you want a perfect relaxed start for the day. Extra brownie points for the color combinations used in decor, very unusual yet impressive.
The place is obviously pricey but worthy.

Area: RA Puram

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: Has browns
  • Meal: We have been here for breakfasts but I bet the food will be amazing here. Try and go for brunch/dinner
  • The size of coffee is too big so confirm with staff before you order.

Murugan Idli shop

Ah! It has world’s softest Idli. Murugan Idli is to Chennai as Lord Balaji is to Tirupati. If you don’t visit Murugan Idli if you are in Chennai then your trip is a waste. Trust me, I am not exaggerating. First morsel of Idli will prove me right. It has become our ritual that we take all our out of station guests to the restaurant and they cannot thank us enough.

Don’t go by the ambiance, the place is more of a like canteen, nothing fancy. Additionally, they serve on banana leaf. (Bowl and spoon only when requested) But, that’s how one should enjoy authentic South Indian cuisine.
The chutneys, rava dosa, sweet pongal,Vadai, Oh, you should try it all. Only tip here is to go when you are empty stomach else you won’t be able to gorge on food as you should be.  Also, save your appetite for the unique dessert which ONLY they serve- Jigar ka Thanda
You will be treated very well by the staff here and am sure will be coming back here soon.

Area: T Nagar

Make a note:

  • Personal favorite: Podi Idli, sweet pongal , filter coffee and Jigar ka thanda
  • Meal: I prefer coming here for breakfasts. They have a separate floor for meals.

This is it for now. For your tipsy evenings in and around Chennai, let me come up with a new post 😉 Till then,

Happy eating ! 🙂

 

p.s: This post is a sequel of the one I published when I first came to Chennai. Check out Chennai Diaries – I.

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