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 properly 🙂

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!

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”? 🙂

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

The Pasta Bar Veneto

Located in the back yard of an old T.Nagar home converted to a restaurant, dining at the “The Pasta Bar” is probably similar to how suburban Italians dine at their favorite café’s. Contrary to its name, the place has more on its menu than just pastas 🙂 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 “Pomodoro e Basilico Zuppa” / 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  sautéed 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 – 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 “Crepes con Ricotta e Spinaci”   – crepes filled with a mixture of sautéed 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 guilty 🙂

 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!!)

The Wharf

Ocean spray, azure skies, balmy breeze, tropical sands, where are we? Greece? Maldives maybe? Wrong! We are in Madras, rather, about an hours drive along scenic ECR. Enter GRT Radisson temple bay and head straight for the shore, you will not be disappointed!

M2M has had the opportunity to visit the wharf quite a few times this year and the verdict is- this is addictive!!!

The wharf is a shack restaurant situated at the very edge of the GRT property and literally on their beach. Its primarily a seafood restaurant and from my very knowledgeable carnivorus friends, I hear that the seafood is pretty good. The fare for vegetarians is nothing great.

If you are looking for a variety of side dishes for the main course, then this isn’t your destination. There are a few dishes that are dry based. The roti’s and rice are served with two dhals. Other than this, there is the regular pasta on offer.

Dessert time!!

There is also a wide selection of cocktails and mocktails on offer. There are quite a few desserts on offer. M2M has tried the velvetti chocolate pudding. While it was not extraordinary, it definitely hit the right spot.

The great thing about the wharf is not the food or the service, it definitely is the ambience. Sitting under a straw canopy enjoying the breeze and pampering your senses, while gazing into the shore temple in the distance, mmmm you get the idea!

Even if you are not spending the weekend holed away in the resort, this is definitely worth the trip for a Sunday jaunt by the beachside

Kryptos Your Diet

Being a foodie certainly has a whole lot of benefits. It means instinctively finding yourself new avenues for gastronomy. Thus I found myself I Kryptos on a Sunday afternoon with family. This was not my first visit to the restaurant. Having been there twice earlier, I decided that I must try something different from the menu card.

WE started out with kremidopita. I must confess that I was attracted to the name more than anything else and thankfully the dish did not disappoint. “Greek onion and tomato baked tartlets with feta cheese”- mmm, honestly any blog space devoted to describing the taste save for ‘yummy’ will not do justice. Final verdict- must try!

Patates me Piperies

For the main course we ordered Revitho Keftedes Gyro, Gemista and Patates me Piperies. The revitho and the patates were instant hits, with the falafel and the taste of the cooked potato of the melt in the mouth variety. Special mention must be made for the accompaniments of the main course, especially the garbanzo beans stew and the potatoes tossed in lemon sauce. They definitely added a tangy zing to the taste buds.

Finally the desert. The fondant Sokolatas was indeed the piece de resistence. ‘Sticky Chocolate with Chocolate sauce’ reads the description. If sticky chocolate can melt on instant connection with ones taste buds, I’m not complaining! Exquisite and among the best desert on offer from any restaurant in the city.

A word about the ambience- dim lighting, soothing wood finish interiors. While the restaurant is not very large, they have intelligently managed the space to make it look inviting and generously comfortable. The staff is attentive.

Final verdict- I don’t know much about Greek Food, but this kind of greek sits well with me. Enjoy on a platter with dollops of fun sauce!

Rajdhani Restaurant

Rajdhani Restaurant

Lunching at this homely restaurant was a truly royal experience. Seated at a window table several stories high above the heart of the city, our Rajsthani culinary journey was truly enjoyable as we enjoyed our thalis with a side order of gazing at the bustle of the city. The royal treatment commenced as a waiter appeared before us with a jug full of water to wash our hands. Most places treat us to a finger bowl at the end of our meal but here we felt like kings and queens as we washed our hands seated at our tables even before the start of the meal!

What followed was a quick “assembly” of the Thali in a very methodical fashion. It was magical as several waiters appeared with loads of hot and fresh food and started filling up the thalis (plates) and the tiny katoris (cups) that were placed in front of us with delicious food. The entire operation took about 3-5 minutes and we were all set to start polishing off a homey looking meal.

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We started off with the refreshing green moong dal salad followed by the puran poli (a.k.a sweet chapathi) and sweet moong dal kachori. Both these dishes were cooked to perfection as they were not too sweet nor greasy. Then there was the dahi vada (thayir vada for our dear Chennaites) – it was the story of a soggy vada and some great yoghurt!  However this was forgiven thanks to the other yummy dishes!

Next came the hot phulkas (chapathis) served with ghee (bliss 🙂 ),teplas and a variety of vegetables and dals. The cluster beans (Gawar Marwadi) was delectable and we learnt another way to cook potatoes after tasting the potato curry (Batata Kari). The capsicum / tomato curry deserves special mention and we were also introduced to the matki dal. If all this was not enough, there was some yummy kadi, spicy dal and sweet dal. I didn’t care much for the sweet dal as I don’t like savory food that tastes sweet.

The waiters appeared every 5 minutes to check if we needed more phulkas or vegetables and our wish was their command as food appeared on our plates with lightening speed. Just when we thought we were done, the dal kichadi, plain rice and curd rice made their appearance. The kichadi tasted like masala bath and the cool and creamy curd rice served with the traditional chilly and mango pickles (yum yum)

Just when we thought we were done, (that was the second time we felt that way) a choice of deserts were  presented.  We had to choose between fruit shrikand, pineapple halwa and badam bhog (this looked like Kesari) or eat all three if we could!!

Then we were finally done! At this point I have to mention that this restaurant is very quick and efficient with its service. The place looks like a huge dining hall (think Rajasthani Udupi Bhavan) with a bright decor. They only serve  thalis which are priced at Rs.325. This is worth the sheer variety of dishes, amazing service and great food. A great place to share a meal with family and friends.

Rajdhani is located at the Food Court @ Express Avenue Mall. Reservations recommended.