Desi Rasoi's Punjabi Dhaba, T.Nagar

Desi Rasoi's Punjabi Dhaba, T.Nagar

This place used to be our favourite lunching spot. We haven't been here for a long time as the last time we went, they were closed for renovations. On my recent visit to T.Nagar saw them opened. So decided to have our lunch here last Sunday. Pretty small place with 7-8 tables. Limited no fancy menu. We ordered a masala pappad and a mixed tikka to start with. Pappad was perfect. Crunchy with spicy onion tomato salad. Tikka was just paneer and mushrooms with the usual onion/tomato/capsicum mix. It would've been great if some aloo/gobi was seen in the platter. Tastewise no complaints at all. Perfect marination. Soft paneer pieces. More than the paneer/mushroom I loved the onion and capsicum. They were grilled to perfection giving a nice crunch in every bite

For main course we ordered Butter Roti, Garlic Naan, Dhania Roti, Paneer Chilli Gravy, Malai Kofta, Channa Rice and Raita along with couple of malai lassi and a badam pista lassi. Breads were super soft. Especially the garlic naan with lots of garlic was yummy. Paneer Chilli Gravy was basically manchurian based gravy with more tanginess (from tomatoes) with fresh paneer pieces. It went well with the breads. I would prefer the kofta to be cooked little bit more but others were okay with it. Channa Rice was pure bliss. If you expect a fried rice kind of dish you would be disappointed. This is a mix of rice and channa masala with a wet consistency. It was super hot and spicy. Loved every bit of it and I ended up eating the whole portion leaving nothing for the folks :D Malai lassi was perfect in all means. Rasagulla was okay and the rabdi was very thin but tastewise no issues.

All these set us back by 1200 odd bucks. Prices mentioned in the menu are inclusive of taxes. Service was pretty quick and attentive. Overall a satisfactory lunch.

Arasi Mess, Chepauk

Arasi Mess, Chepauk

A simple, no frills, no fuss South Indian Non Vegetarian meal is what you get in Arasi Mess. This place was in our wishlist for a long time and couple of failed attempts later we were there for an early lunch on a weekday. Trust in Google Maps for the location. It's a very small place which can accommodate about 12-15 ppl at a time. They also have a family room kind of set up to dine in private.

The most important thing I like about these kinda places is the array of dishes they bring to you to choose from. We settled with 2 meals (limited), prawns fry, nethili fry, kaadai roast and mutton chukka. Meals comes with 2 veggies (a dry curry and kootu), 4 gravies (chicken thokku, naatu kozhi kuzhambu, mutton and fish gravy), rasam and curd. Priced at 50 bucks I would say this is a steal. I loved the naatu kozhi (country chicken) kuzhambu with strong hint of freshly ground pepper. Chicken thokku was slightly on the raw side with the masalas. Fish curry was yummy. Typical home made style.

Out of all the sides we had, I loved the Kaadai roast. Tender meat with pounded masala was simply amazing. Prawns and nethili fry tasted fresh and yummy. Mutton chukka was okayish. Rasam served with the meals was awesome.

 All these along with few takeaway costed us 750 bucks. Hand written bill with no GST :) We were billed for only one meals as we didn't even touch one plate of rice (yeah we gorged on the side dish a lot :P)

Everyday Exotics - A pop-up by Big Bandha @ 601, The Park

Everyday Exotics - A pop-up by Big Bandha @ 601, The Park

Fusion and giving a make over to any traditional dish is like a double edged sword to the chef as well as the diner. You either fall in love with it completely or you end up hating the idea. There is no middle ground in this. When my partner in Crime asked me to join her for lunch I was quite sceptical as my previous experience with fusion wasn't that satisfying. On the other hand, I was waiting to taste Chef Manoj's creations as his previous pop up, the closed doors was literally admired by Shab. Moreover the teaser of the show spiked the interest in me by a greater margin.

The pop-up started on July 21st and will be ongoing till 30th July. A specially curated menu with choice of a-la-carte / degustation (a three course meal) is available for lunch and dinner. We were a group of 4 and we decided to take up the duo sampler comprising 2 starters, a main course and a dessert of our choice from the veg/non-veg sections. Even though we were hardcore carnivores, we went ahead with the Duo Sampler as few dishes from the veg section sounded delicious.

I never thought I'll love green beans this much :P Panko crumbed green beans were cooked to perfection, yet retaining their crunch. Loved it along with wasabi aioli. I was floored by the taste and texture of pumpkin served as bang bang pumpkin. The spicy thai glaze had a crispy texture and the soft centre of pumpkin was a different experience. Bejaar was brain fry tossed with five spices, cumin and sauteed onion. Bejaar was thaaru maaru :) Moist flavourful lamb chilli with runny country egg and molten cheese served as egg billionaire was brilliant. Not a big fan of soft shell tacos. Yet the blue crab tasted brilliant in the tacos. Other starters like dragon idli, tex mex bhel, and bombay sausage toast were good too.

For main course I had Paya ramen in mind but the moment I saw neemo idli, I had other ideas :)) Soft idlies soaked in spicy Koduva fish curry with raw mangoes and shallots was mind blowing. The dish had fish from the curry as well as the fry which tasted fresh. Chef informed us that the fish curry was made the previous day like how most of the households do. Loved it to the core and presenting it in a mudpot is what I call attention to details. I couldn't stop eating that and loved every bit of it. Quail-ation another main course was absolutely brilliant. It's our own south indian style preparation of pepper quail presented in the form of roll. Flaky and well done parathas went well with the spicy peppery quail. Jack slider was another dish which tasted brilliant. tender jackfruit rendang in lemon grass flavoured buns were delicious. The other main course we tasted was the baked parotta with chicken. This was presented like a lasagna with alternating parotta and chicken layers. Felt it to be a bit dry but the accompanying salna took care of that issue.

It's really hard to have a meal that satisfies you from the beginning till the end. And the desserts were spectacular. The dark rose was a feast to the eyes as well as the palate. The rose infused dark chocolate mousse was mindblowing. Served with kesar ice cream it was a true delight. 

One specific dish that needs a standing ovation was "Thamizhanda" It's very unique and I'm not sure how many of you can even think about that. During elai sappadu have u ever tried soaking/dipping the vadai (only urad dhal aka medhu vadai) in payasam and eat it? It's one kind of experience and I'm sure many can't appreciate the beauty of it. Chef nailed it with his unique dessert. Vadai stuffed with paal payasam and topped with sarkarai pongal gelato (yeah you read it rite) was vera level. The salt and mild spiciness from the vada cuts through the sweetness of the gelato and it was a match made in heaven. Small bits of fried coconut and the jaggery syrup in the plating, perfection at it's best.

The degustation menu we tried was priced at 899 + taxes. For four of us we paid close to 4.3K. The experience was absolutely worth the money. I'm even thinking of going back for the neemo idli and the kickass dessert :) They are open for lunch and dinner till 30th of July.