Holy Grill

Holy Grill

If you are on a journey to search for the holy grail of vegetarian food you should make a stop at Holy Grill!! And trust me when I say that locating this restaurant is a unique challenge by itself, especially if you are looking for it on Khadar Nawaz Khan road like the address states.  It is a good thing that the restaurant offers valet parking.

Many barbeque restaurants have popped up around Chennai, thanks to Barbeque Nation which seems to have met its match! What makes Holy Grail a very exciting option for folks like myself and the other conservative Chennai brams I found dining with great gusto is the fact that it is vegetarian. So no more worrying about what was on my skewer stick before the paneer and whether it has been sterilised properlyūüôā

The table top grill

Once you are settled at the table, the staff setup the coal grill at the table. After a brief review of the menu the food started arriving. Everything accept salads and desserts are served at the table.

Cream of Tomato

The buffet menu started off with Cream of Tomato soup! This is was a big disappointment as the soup was watery and tasted more of the corn flour used to thicken it, rather than tasting of tomatoes! And hold your cream and croutons as you wont find either of these in the soup… But we were able to forgive this sorry soup as the rest of buffet more than made up for it.

On the grill, skewer sticks containing:


  • Baby potatoes – Bland but appealing
  • Corn on the cob – sweet and spicy. Enjoyable for those that enjoy corn on the cob, especially when it is roasted on fire and coated with spices
  • Mushrooms – Salty but juicy!
  • Grilled vegetables – Healthy and tasty ¬†marinated green and yellow zucchini, green and red bell peppers and broccoli.
  • Paneer – Cubes of fresh and super soft paneer marinates in green chutney and perfectly grilled! This was the star of amongst the starters on the grill!
  • Pineapple – Chunks of sweet pineapple marinated in spices and grilled. This would definitely be enjoyed by those that love pineapple on their pizzas!

were placed for us to enjoy! These were soon followed by starters from the kitchen to our plates, Thai Basil Crispy Baby Corn which contained some complex flavors and Chatpate Khasta Aloo which was potatoes in their skin deep fried and tossed in sweet tamarind chutney and some other spices! This reminded me of some kind of chaat thanks to its interesting play of flavors.

Once we were done with the starters, (we were half full by now) the main course followed. This consisted of paneer tikka – too much paneer and very little gravy, mixed vegetables, vegetable koftas in palak / spinach gravy which were extremely passable and black daal. The paneer and mixed vegetables were very good with the rotis and the naans and the black daal formed the perfect accompaniment to the flavorful vegetable biryani and steamed rice.

Buttery Noodles

Then there was the chilli butter noodles which was very tasty. Though I fail to understand the role of a single Indo Chinese dish in almost every buffet in town!! Well, at least Holy Grill managed to get this right when it comes to taste and presentation.

We avoided the salad bar which did not look that appealing.

By this stage we had no more room for anything else! But then who leaves without hitting the dessert bar! From a display of chocolate pastry, kheer, gulab jamuns, jalebis and bread pudding I opted for the yummy jalebis! My company was satisfied with the jamuns and the pastry. ¬†We just couldn’t try anything else especially when we had a choice between Mango and vanilla ice creams. What decent Chennaite would give up mango ice-cream? Not us for sure! So we indulged in the yummy mango ice-cream and I swear I experienced the mango dancing on the tree…It was that good!!

Last but not the least, I had to say this. They definitely to clean their bathrooms. Now that this is out of my system, I declare that at the end of the day it was a great meal!! Definitely visit Holy Grill for a¬†great vegetarian barbeque experience!¬†Don’t forget to make reservations! As for me, I wish that they would drop their salad bar and reduce the price of the buffet. They definitely need to¬†improve their soup recipes!!

You can find Holy Grill at: No 10, wallace garden 3rd street, Khader Nawaz Khan Rd, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600006

Cost for 2: Rs.1600


Dinner Buffet @ Jalpaan, Chennai

Dinner Buffet @ Jalpaan, Chennai

It was pretty late  on a Friday evening, when we decided to have dinner at Jalpaan, a vegetarian restaurant located at Adyar, Chennai. The restaurant is located on the third of building on the every busy Sardar Patel Road. For those wondering about where to park, no worries. Jalpaan offers valet parking. However, we chose to park few streets away and took a five minute walk to the restaurant.

I heard a lot of good things about Jalpaan, but it seems like most of these thoughts were outdated. As soon as you enter, you can smell the kitchen and the left of the hallway seemed to be pretty untidy. Once you ignore that, you can find you way to a large hall with tables and some good lighting. The buffet is set to the right and curved around the wall. Though the buffet didn’t look too impressive, we opted for that only because we were too tired to think! For many years now, I have lost my respect for buffets and the experience out here did nothing to change that!

Soups, starters, naans and rotis were served at the table.

Seven Treasure Soup – So not interested in this treasure hunt!

The choice of soups available to us was the Chinese styled seven treasure soup and a Daal Shorba. Both are thin soups. However the former lacked flavor and my bowl was sent back as full as it was when it got to my table, while the later managed to make up for its partner in terms of flavor.

Score 2/5. Thoughts: No soups for me!

From the salad and chaat bar…

There was a selection of salads and most of these are passable. The German potato salad seemed to be coated with mustard sauce and there was nothing to rave about with regards to the pasta salad. The spicy cucumber salad on the other hand seemed different and cool.

Score 1/5. Thoughts:  Maybe just the cucumber

Now, for the starters : Chilli paneer and Chinese style potatoes made up the Indo-Chinese starters and the the vegetarian sheek kabab and aloo tikkis  completed the quartet.  The paneer was a bit tough and both the chilli paneer and potatoes were coasted in a generous dose of soy sauce and chilli garlic sauce while the kebabs and the tikkis set my mouth on fire!

Score 2/5. Thoughts: Blah!

Setting my mouth on fire – The starters.

I was¬†glad for the dispensers that had a continuous supply of butter milk and orange juice. I used the butter milk to cleanse my palette every now and then. This was the only fool proof way to get an idea of the actual flavor of the various dishes on the buffet. ¬†At this point, I¬†should mention that there was a DIY chat counter with pani puri, papdi and samosas. The various chutnies and the fillings for the pani puris were placed separately and all that one needed to do was make a customized chat, if you like that kind of thing. There was also dahi balla, albeit a bit sweet ready for consumption. There was also an unmanned pasta counter and I promptly found someone to order me some pasta. Only pasta in white sauce is served…hmm.

Soon I got a plate with sample servings of everything that was offered. The only items that really stood out where the Bhindi do pyaza, daal tadka, paneer tikka masala (this was  spicy), corn pulao and the hakka noodles.  The rest of the dishes could safely be ignored!

Biryani, Corn Pulao, Mixed Vegetables, Bhindi, Paneer Tikka Masala and Dal Tadka

Soon the pasta made an appearance and I am not quite sure how to describe its extremely sweet taste. It had few pieces of yellow and red bell peppers. I am a fan of great pasta and I sincerely feel that this dish does not do justice to the buffet. Also it seems to be out of place in the midst of an extremely Indian buffet.

Pasta in white sauce!

Score 2/5. Thoughts: Quality looses in face of quantity

Last but  not the least the desserts. An average pastry, kala jamoon which was good but a bit a dry, moong dal halwa, badusha ,a mousse which was just whipped cream piped into some dessert glasses on top of some kind of fruit puree that i believe was  lychee and a choice of vanilla and strawberry ice creams. There were also bowls of seasonal fruits like watermelon and musk melons.

Score 2/5. Thoughts: I am pretty confused about my feelings for this buffet!

Last but the least a finger bowl, a liquid pan shot and our bill.

At about Rs.1100+ I wished we had opted for the à la carte.  I  happened to chance upon on those intelligent diners who had ignored the buffet and ordered from the large menu instead. Some of the dishes that were served to them were utterly mouth watering while the dishes offered on the buffer paled in comparison! I was left wondering if there were a different set of chefs when it comes to delivering the à la carte menu! Jalpaan boasts of a menu that is actually like a very large book and this book has a selection of recipes that are Italian, Mexican and Indian!

If ever there is a next time with Jalpaan, I am definitely opting for the à la carte! Maybe then, I could get more bang for the buck!

Smooth Driving!

Finally I have something to re-surrect this blog which must have taken its inspiration from sleeping beauty and doze off until a handsome prince could break the curse! Only in this case there is no handsome prince, but just a crazy Chennai gal who doesn’t have much time these days to do much….Anyways yours truly came across this on the lovely over populated road routes of Chennai and couldn’t help but share this with folks out there…..

Chennai is known for its crazy traffic and reckless driving but then we all know that this is still one of the best cities when it comes to following some road rules (I know sounds terrible! ) But then when you spot something like this you are left speechless! Without more words here is what I am talking about – This is what I call smooth driving! How many of you can manage to pull this off???


Lost in Gelato land!! Emilios Gelataria

Latte at the North Pole

Are you in the mood to beat the heat with a “Latte at the North Pole”? Or do you feel like belting out some “Autumn Songs” ¬†cos “Life is just a Bowl of Cherries”?? Maybe you wanna making your valentine’s day special by confessing to your “Tall, dark and handsome” something on the lines of “I’m ¬†nuts about you”?ūüôā

Tall, Dark and Handsome

If you are wondering what exactly I am going on about, these are the innovative names for some of the yummy gelato creations at Emilios Gelataria at CIT colony, Mylapore! And what a contrast this place is compared to its franchise on Besant Nagar beach!

M2M happened to be there on a quiet and cozy evening and really enjoyed the concept of low fat yummylicious delights with books! When I say books, I am referring to their mini library of book shelves containing loads on books on a variety of topics along side some magazines.

Could have this Latte all year around!
Truly Handsome!

The gelataria had some sofa seaters and tables laid out in a very simple manner. The ambience was peaceful, the gelatos soft and creamy and the service was good. But then I have already mentioned that it was a quiet evening and we only had 2 other families for company!

A perfect place for the singles to sit back and enjoy some books and deserts…

With their interesting menu, the place is also apt for families out for some dessert post dinner and those who want to grab some food. Oh yes! they have a limited menu with sandwiches and pasta which is sure to satisfy a hungry soul; M2M however did not have the opportunity to taste the food! Oh and easy on the pocket!!

Do check them out at: http://www.emilios.in/

The drool worthy gelato board

Vettai – The hunt for the entertainer begins!

Vettai – The hunt for the entertainer begins!

Watching “Vettai” was a good way to kick start this years Kollywood entertainment line up. The story of a mousy cop who takes a 360 degree turn to become a lion has been done many times in the past, but the screenplay of “Vettai” has a fresh take on this concept. The story of 2 brothers – one, a mouse and the other, a lion (I mean their personalities) and their hunt for two of the most feared gangsters in Tuticorin while findng the time to romance and jest around keeps viewers entertained through out the movie. Keeping in tune with M2M’s straight forward style of talking about movies here is a dose of why you should and shouldn’t watch “Vettai” (For all you non-Tamil¬†speaking folks, “Vettai” translated in¬†Tamil¬†means “Hunt”

Reasons to Watch Vettai

  • Madhavan – Charming as ever! He may not quite look like the chocolate boy of the past but only an actor like him can make the role of a mousy personality charming! Also it takes a lot of courage and security for a senior actor of his¬†caliber¬†to tackle a role that is not as heroic as heroes of tamil cinema are intended to be. Hats off to Maddy!
  • Arya – This actor has come a long way. Here is an actor that looks good and can also act. He pulls of the personality of the courageous younger brother perfectly while taking care of comedy and romance. ¬†He breezes through the action sequences and gets the full attention of viewers as he delivers savvy¬†dialogues with the villains.
  • The chemistry between Madhavan and Arya – The viewer can easily imagine that these two could be brothers in real life (barring the super hero stuff of course)
  • Heroines Sameera Reddy and Amala Paul – They manage to look smart and their roles are not as dumb as is common with the roles of leading ladies in hero oriented movies. They make their entrance singing a song about the kind of man they want to marry and it was amusing to note that their list of demands is pretty similar to the ones that girls make these days!!
  • There is actually a story!! It may not be the most original or the most exciting or very obvious but its there…..
  • The absence of a comedy actor! The humor is beautifully interlaced with the rest of the story and the actors themselves take care of this aspect of this movie! It was definitely refreshing to note the absence of a Santhanam, Vadivelu or Vivek with separate tracks of their own!
  • The villain – Bollywood actor Ashuthosh Rana does a great job as he makes a splash on Tamil screens as the bad guy. He has great screen presence and pulls of the role of an urbane rural bad guy to the T! Looks like South Indian cinema has found another baddie from the North!!
  • The supporting cast of the movie is pretty good.
  • The songs were easy on the ears and choreographed well, though I couldn’t recall any of the songs once outside the theatre…
  • The action sequences were stylishly choreographed and¬†balanced¬†throughout the movie and absence of gore made these scenes more digestible. The last 15 minutes were a drag but this can be looked over!

Reasons not to watch Vettai

  • You don’t like any of the main actors.
  • You don’t like the influences of other cop movies while you are watching a cop movie! I thought some scenes were inspired by the Vikram starrer “Saamy”
  • You don’t like super hero stunts!! But then what Indian masala potboiler is made without this aspect??
  • You like “item numbers” ¬†in the films you watch – this is blissfully absent in this movie!
  • You are the type that watches serious cinema

Verdict:¬†¬†It’s worth the watch if you love total entertainers! Full marks for “paisa vasool” !!

Kudutha kaasuku nalla vasoolūüôā

The Pasta Bar Veneto

Located in the back yard of an old T.Nagar home converted to a restaurant, dining at the ‚ÄúThe Pasta Bar‚ÄĚ is probably similar to how suburban Italians dine at their favorite caf√©‚Äôs. Contrary to its name, the place has more on its menu than just pastasūüôā The menu is a jamboree of pastas, pizzas, dishes from the grill, Italian sandwiches, coffees, smoothies and deserts

Tomato, Basil Soup

¬†From a very colorful and interesting menu loaded with interesting tidbits about Italy, we decided to start with the ‚ÄúPomodoro e Basilico Zuppa‚ÄĚ / Tomato Basil Soup and Cheese garlic bread! ¬†Though not an ardent soup lover at restaurants, I have to say the medley of real tomato puree cooked with ¬†saut√©ed onions, basil and other spices has made me want to declare this as the most authentic tomato soup I have ever tasted! We teamed this up with some Cheese garlic bread ‚Äď warm toasted bread topped with melted mozzarella finished off with some oregano sprinkle! The combination was a winner!

Cheese Garlic Bread
Crepe filled with Spinach and Ricotta

We settled for the ‚ÄúCrepes con Ricotta e Spinaci‚ÄĚ ¬†¬†– crepes filled with a mixture of saut√©ed spinach, seasoned ricotta and cheddar cheese baked in cheese sauce with some jalapenos thrown in (per request) and the Pizza Diavolo which was a concoction of bell peppers, roasted vegetables, onions, chilli, tomato, olives, basil and mozzarella on a thin crust.

After having tasted pasta with the usual white and red sauces the crepe that was baked with just the right amount of white sauce was a welcome change. It was served with a slice of steamed and seasoned carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, mashed potato and toasted bread to boot!! The crepe was polished off in no time and the spinach made me feel lest guiltyūüôā

 And the pizza…..ah…. that was good. There are no better words to describe this tasty, veggie goodness!

Pizza Diavolo
More Pizza goodness

I loved the ambiance of the restaurant with subtle lightening with sketches from the scenes of Venice and other Italian cities on the wall which appealed to the art lover in me. From where we sat, I also had a direct view of their espresso machine and as the sounds of preparing hot espressos and steamed cappuccinos accompanied my thoughts and conversations, it was the perfect night out at a great place in the city!

The restaurant also has an outdoor seating, complete with a tree right in the midst of the tables! As I mentioned at the beginning of the post this was probably the back yard of an old charming home. The indoor seating is situated at a slightly higher lever compared to the outdoor seating, giving it an illusion of cafes that could be situated along the banks of the Venetian canals. The staff were friendly, the service was good and we were even offered a tour of the kitchen that we respectfully declined due to time constraints. Most importantly the prices didn’t burn a hole in our wallets!  A meal for two with a soup, appetizer and 2 main courses will probably cost around Rs.600!

As of date the restaurant has branches at Burkit road, T.Nagr and Alsa mall, Egmore! They expect to open few more branches, including one at OMR by the end of the first quarter of 2012. They also do takeout and deliver is most areas of Chennai.

M2M recommended for anyone looking for good Italian dining experience without the sky high prices. For more details check them out at http://www.thepastabarveneto.com/ (Yes!! they actually have a good website!!)

Bird Watching at Perungudi, Chennai

M2M introduces you to some of our pretty winged friends in the city!! This thoroughly researched, interesting ¬†and informative post on some of the birds found in Chennai is brought to you by our guest blogger Ramesh. Ramesh who has¬†recently¬†moved back to Chennai is an avid reader, photographer and blogger who blogs at¬†Engram’s Random Rambling¬†– Thanks Ramesh!!!

Warning РLong Post ahead.

All photographs on this post are owned by Ramesh. Please contact him on his blog in case you would like to use them.

There are over 130 species of birds in Chennai region and can be seen in pockets of spaces like the IIT campus, Guindy National Park, Theosophical Society Gardens and Adyar Estuary. This photo post is basically about the birds that I have seen in the vicinity of my house at Perungudi in mornings chirping and tweeting. Being a suburb this place is uncluttered unlike the city ,with independent houses and quite few empty plots filled up with dense bushes and it attracts quite a few species of birds, in addition the usual crows, mynas and sparrows there has been few birds I saw for the first time here. Here are the photographs of those birds taken by me. Bird description- Courtesy Wikipedia.

Common Hawk-Cuckoo

The Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius), popularly known as the Brain fever bird, is a medium sized Cuckoo resident in South Asia It bears a close resemblance to the Shikara a sparrow hawk, even in its style of flying and landing on a perch. The resemblance to hawks gives this group the generic name of hawk-cuckoo and like many other cuckoos these are brood parasites laying their eggs in nests of babblers. During their breeding season in summer males produce loud, repetitive three note calls that are well-rendered as brain-fever, the second note being longer and higher pitched. These notes rise to a crescendo before ending abruptly and repeat after a few minutes, the calling may go on through the day, well after dusk and before dawn.

The Common Hawk-Cuckoo is a medium to large sized cuckoo, about the size of a pigeon (ca. 34 cm). The plumage is ashy grey above; whitish below, cross-barred with brown. The tail is broadly barred. The sexes are alike. They have a distinctive yellow eye ring. Sub adults have the breast streaked, similar to the immature Shikara, and there are large brown chevron marks on the belly.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfever_Bird Рcite_note-pcr-3 At first glance they can be mistaken for a hawk. When flying they use a flap and glide style that resembles that of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparrowhawk sparrow hawk and flying upwards and landing on a perch they shake their tails from side to side. Many small and birds and squirrels raise alarm just as they would in the presence of a hawk. The sexes are alike but males tend to be larger. During summer months, before the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsoon monsoons, the males are easily detected by their repeated calls but can be difficult to spot. The call is a loud screaming three-note call, repeated 5 or 6 times, rising in crescendo and ending abruptly. It is heard throughout the day and frequently during moonlit nights.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfever_Bird Рcite_note-ali-daniel-6The calls of females are a series of grating notes.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfever_Bird Рcite_note-hbk-4 Common Hawk-Cuckoos feed mainly on insects and are specialized feeders that can handle hairy. Caterpillar guts often containing toxins and like many cuckoos they remove the guts by pressing the caterpillar and rubbing it on a branch before swallowing it. The hairs are swallowed with the caterpillar and are separated in the stomach and regurgitated as a pellet.

White-throated Kingfisher

The White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) also known as the White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher, is a tree kingfisher widely distributed in Eurasia from Bulgaria, Turkey, east through South Asia to the Philippines. This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingfisherkingfisher is a resident over much of its range, although some populations may make short distance movements. It can often be found well away from water where it feeds on a wide range of prey that includes small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds.

During the breeding season they call loudly in the mornings from prominent perches including the tops of buildings in urban areas or on wires. This is a large kingfisher, 28 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The flight of the White-throated Kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring. In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

The Green Bee-eater, Merops orientalis, (sometimes Little Green Bee-eater) is ahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_passerine near passerine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird bird in the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee-eater bee eater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_%28biology%29 family. It is resident but prone to seasonal movements and is found widely distributed across sub-Saharan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa Africa from Senegal and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gambia The Gambia to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopia Ethiopia, the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India India to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam Vietnam. They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known and several subspecies have been named.

Green Bee-eater

Like other bee-eaters, this species is a richly colored, slender bird. It is about 9¬†inches (16‚Äď18¬†cm) long with about 2¬†inches made up by the elongated central tail-feathers. The sexes are not visually distinguishable. The entire plumage is bright green and tinged with blue especially on the chin and throat. The crown and upper back are tinged with golden rufous. The flight feathers are rufous washed with green and tipped with blackish. A fine black line runs in front of and behind the eye. The iris is crimson and the bill is black while the legs are dark grey. The feet are weak with the three toes joined at the base. Southeast Asian birds have rufous crown and face, and green under parts, whereas Arabian beludschicus has a green crown, blue face and bluish under parts. The wings are green and the beak is black. The elongated tail feathers are absent in juveniles. Sexes are alike. The call is a nasal trill tree-tree-tree-tree, usually given in flight.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bee-eater – cite_note-whistler-2

Golden Oriole

The Eurasian Golden Oriole or simply Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is the only member of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriole Oriole family of passerine birds breeding in northern hemisphere temperate regions. It is a summer migrant in Europe and western Asia and spends the winter season in the central and southern http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa Africa. Golden orioles have an extremely large range with large populations that are apparently stable. The male is striking in the typical oriole black and yellow plumage, but the female is a drabber green bird.

Orioles are shy, and even the male is remarkably difficult to see in the dappled yellow and green leaves of the canopy. In flight they look somewhat like a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrush_%28bird%29 thrush, strong and direct with some shallow dips over longer distances. They feed on insects and fruit. They build neat nests in tree forks and lay 3-6 eggs. Their call is a screech like a Jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard.

In addition to the above I did see Black Drongo and a honey bird but could not take a decent photograph of them. Also because of fish in the rain water stagnated in open plots we do get to see some egrets and drake flying in but I was unable to photograph them due to dense bushes.