Basil With A Twist...

This restaurant with an interesting name was another one in my wishlist for a long time. Plans with fellow foodies got changed/dropped couple of times. The third time, we planned for a weekday lunch. A head count of 5 got reduced to 2 at the end. It was me and Gopi left alone. Gopi was sceptical about having food here. I was already in the mindset of eating here and somehow convinced him and dragged him there.

Ambiance was pretty good. With a open kitchen in the centre one can't expect too much you know. We decided to settle with the set menu. This is a 4 course meal (soup, starter, main course and dessert) for 699 including taxes. You can choose every meal amidst 3-4 options. We started off with a hearty chicken soup for me and Gopi had a seafood delight. Both the soups were excellent. While the chicken soup I had was thick and creamy with lots of well cooked chicken pieces, the seafood soup was thin and spicy. When given a choice, I would align with the seafood soup. For starters we had Mediterranean chicken strips and fish fingers. Both crumb coated and deep fried, lacked flavour and salt. Meat was tough, not juicy and had no flavour at all. Even the batter was flavourless. We managed to finish it off with the help of three different dips served along with the starters. We also had a Virgin Mojito and an iced tea which were so so.

Hearty Chicken Soup

Seafood Delight

Virgin Mojito

Iced Tea

Fish Fingers

Mediterranean Chicken Strips

For main course we had a Fungi and chicken pizza and a dish named Ushtipoi which was beef patties served with baby potatoes. The pizza was yummy. Though the cheese was little less, it was loaded with toppings, especially the chicken. On the other hand, the beef patties were a bit dry and crumbly and too salty to my palette. But the crispy baby potatoes served along the patties were excellent. They had a nice crunch and tasted good on their own.

Desserts was banana cake with caramel & berry sauce and blueberry panna cotta for us. The panna cotta was smooth and yumm but a bit dense. The cake was a big let down. There was literally no banana flavour in the cake. Moreover I chose this dessert just for the caramel sauce and the plate had nothing named caramel. It was condensed milk and honey over the cake. The only thing consoling was the delicious berry compote served with the cake.

Service was quick and nothing more to add. Total damage was 1800. Having a glance at the a la carte menu, the set menu seems to be a good deal. A couple of let downs here and there, but that wow factor was missing completely. There was no twist to the tale here.

Place        : Basil With A Twist
Location    : T.Nagar, near Vidyodya School
Cuisine     : Continental Veg & Non - Veg
Cost         : Too Pricey. A meal for two would come around 2K easily

P.S : The write up is based on personal experience only. Basil With A Twist Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Crisp Cafe, Nungambakkam

Another place from my wishlist checked. Have been eyeing this place for quiet sometime and the recent images of the red velvet pancakes from fellow foodie, was itching me to try this place out. Me and my kid were choosing places for having a treat in line with the exams getting over (phew!!) and suddenly I thought why not Crisp Cafe?? We checked in on a weekday for lunch.

Spacious, bright and soothing interiors with funny frames and posters all around, the ambiance was perfect. Menu is chic. We started off with a curry leaf & chilli fries. And for drinks, we took salted caramel & white chocolate freeze and a gooey chocolate. They took their own time to serve the food. The curry leaves & chilli fries was good with distinct taste of curry leaves but lacked salt. The aioli dip that came with the fries was simply yumm and made up for the lack of salt in the fries. The drinks/milkshakes came in a small container. The white chocolate & salted caramel freeze tasted brilliant initially. Later had a cloying feeling and I struggled to finish it off. The gooey chocolate was weird and mucky. I didn't like it a bit, but kiddo finished it off.

Curry leaves & chilli fries

Gooey Chocolate

Salted caramel & white chocolate freeze
Then I took a red velvet pan cake and kid opted for mac and cheese. The red velvet pancake was pretty huge with 4 large pancakes light and fluffy. They tasted good but nothing extraordinary. The cream cheese frosting was a big let down. It was not light and creamy as it was supposed to be. And there was too much of sugar in it which was not blended properly. Kiddo loved the mac and cheese and wiped the plate clean. I tasted a bit and it was screaming cream & cheese.

Red Velvet Pancakes

Mac N Cheese

We were almost full and I still wanted to try the dessert. The display counter had some beautiful desserts (appearance wise though). Saw this dessert named collapse and ordered one. What I expected was a fondant kinda dessert oozing/collapsing with salted caramel centre when cut open. And what I got was utter disappointment. I got a dry piece of chocolate cake which tasted like mud. There was a little bit of salted caramel in the top. That's it. A moist cake with some ice cream would've made wonders. 200 bucks for this piece was mere waste of money :(

Coming to the service, they took too much of time to take orders and to bring the first dish. The staff disappear somewhere and when I found it difficult to spot one at the time of need. Overall, this place is best to hangout in groups. Food was just average and nothing extraordinary to rave about. I paid 1400 bucks for all of the above and I don't feel any value for money except the pancakes.

Place            : Crisp Cafe
Location       : Sterling Road, Nungambakkam (Opposite to Sterling club & above cake walk)
Cuisine        : Cafe style veg & non veg
Cost            : 1200 for two people approximately

P.S : The write up is based on personal experience only. Crisp Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Mezze Merise - Lebanese Food festival at Colony, Raintree, Alwarpet

A group of us were invited to try out the Lebanese delicacies dished out by Chef Ahmed Ammouri, which will be featured in the upcoming Lebanese food festival "Mezze Merise" at the Colony restaurant in RainTree hotel at St.Mary's Road.

Chef Ahmed Ammouri, a self-motivated culinary professional with over 15 years of progressive experience has catered to royalty and heads of state delighting them with his Lebanese creations. A few notable guests like the King of Morocco, Prince of Saudi Arabia and Sultan of Muscat. He has also catered to the Prime Minister of Cyprus at a reception hosted by the Ambassador of Egypt in Cyprus. He has won many awards for his creations.When we were told all this, I was expecting an intimidating personality. But he was very friendly and down to earth and it was such a pleasure interacting with him. Mr. Rakesh Sethi, GM and Mr.Patel, executive chef joined us for the dinner and we were talking about food and drinks.
Chef Ahmed Ammouri
Colony restaurant (formerly called Rainbow), has the ambiance featuring contemporary Madras. They served predominantly South Indian cuisine with a twist/touch of modernisation. While one side of the wall is beautifully decorated with artifacts associated with Madras, the other end is stocked up with crockeries and utensils that are very much South Indian.

To start with, we were served the vegetarian mezze platter having hummus, moutabel, tabouleh, fatoush, batate harra, beet salad and pita bread. Being a big fan of hummus and given the fact that I can eat a big bowl of it just like that, I simply loved the hummus and the moutabel. Both were creamy and the smokiness in the moutabel was awesome. Also unlike the usual way of presenting the dish, both the hummus and moutabel were presented in a plate with the well in the centre where generous amount of olive oil was poured. The tabouleh was fresh with the parsley and tomatoes pairing up well. Fatoush, the vegetable salad with crispy pita, had a mild flavour of basil which was very refreshing. Everyone liked the batate harra - the potato salad unanimously. It was spicy and tangy at the same time and was served with lots of olives. The beetsalad was also very nice and the beetroots tossed with sesame and lemon juice & garlic were cooked to perfection.





Batate harra
The thing I loved about the mezze platter was that, everything served was fresh, light and tangy. Unlike other cuisines where we feel almost full after the starters, the platter left us feeling light and more ready for the main course. For main course we were served rice, bazella - lebanese lamb and green peas stew with spices, dajaj mishwi - baked chicken with vegetables, bajegan moussaka - baked aubergine with onions, tomatoes, cumin and mozzarella cheese and batata yakhneh - lebanese potato stew. I loved the lamb & green peas stew. Minced lamb was cooked to perfection in a mildly spicy gravy. The chicken was tender and spicy with beautifully cooked potatoes, carrot & zucchini. The mousakka was juicy, tangy and cheesy with caramelised onions. The couscous salad was light and fluffy and went well with the stews.

Bajegan Moussaka

Batata Yakhneh


Dajaj Mishwi

Desserts !! The most awaited part was this as I simply love Baklava. We were served Baklava and Basboosa. Baklava was super yummilicious with mild sweetness. The phyllo pastry in the top and bottom was baked to perfection and the pistachio nuts scented with rose water and orange blossom was heavenly. Basboosa - roasted semolina cake with shredded coconut and rose water was super sweet and very heavy. More of the fusion of kesari and coconut burfi :)

Since this was an invited dinner on part with Chennai Food Guide's bloggers initiative, cannot comment about the pricing or the service.

The Lebanese food festival is on from 2nd October - 18th October. One can get to taste the Lebanese delicacies for dinner buffet at a price of Rs. 1,450 without alcohol and Rs. 1,850 with alcohol. Apart from all the dishes mentioned above, there will be more addition along with a live shawarma counter.

Place        : Colony, Raintree
Location   : St.Mary's Road, Alwarpet

P.S : The write up is based on personal experience only. Colony - The Raintree Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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