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.

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That Madras Place

A small, cool and cozy place to hangout with friends. When one of us was in the mood for cheesy pasta we headed straight to That Madras Place, located on one of the by lanes of Kasthuribhai Nagar, Adyar. Three of us were here for lunch on a fine sunny day

We kept our orders simple. Parsley garlic fries along with lemon iced tea, strawberry - pineapple soda and Mango & green chilli mojito were our initial orders. Sizeable portion of fries with roasted garlic and chilli flakes were very good even though we could hardly sense the parsley. Drinks were fantastic. And I loved the strong kick of chilli in the mojito.

5 Cheese - Mac n Cheese, Pesto Grilled chicken and french onion cheese melt sandwich were our main course. Last time when I had the mac n cheese here, I felt that it needed to be bit more cheesy and saucy. Had given that feedback to the team and I was quite happy with the mac n cheese this time. It was perfect and my friend loved it. Pesto grilled chicken was absolutely delicious with the salad and potatoes. Huge portions with perfectly grilled chicken. While the sandwich (french onion cheese melt) tasted good, the oomph factor was missing. If at all the cheese had been melted properly, we would've had that gooey strings of cheese while biting into the sandwich.

We settled for theobroma and nutella ice cream to finish off the lunch. A lot has been said about the theobroma. Nutella ice cream was pure ecstasy. Every spoonful of it was a journey to heaven and back. Loved it to bits :)

Lunch set us back by 2000 bucks (This was before GST). Given the taste and portions, it was absolutely worth the money. They also have some happy hour deals during weekdays in the evening.

Place            : That Madras Place
Location       : Adyar (lane opposite to Nilgiris in Kasthuribai Nagar)
Cost             : 800-1000 approximately for 2

P.S : The write up is based on personal experience only. 

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