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!!)

La Shaakahari

We were glad to have reserved a table at this spiffily named joint which morphed from a quiet and sparsely populated joint to one that was completely packed with families queuing up for a table. What drew us to this newbie Chennai restaurant was its unique name with a French touch and the vegetarian menu that was a medley of predominantly Indian, Mexican and Italian fare.

We started with the roasted tomato soup which was a refreshing change from the tomato flavored corn flour based soups served across many city restaurants. This was followed by their signature appetizer, the “Lasooni Paneer Tikka”- blocks of paneer marinated in yoghurt and grilled to perfection with onions and green bell peppers laced with just the right mix of garlic and cardamom. We couldn’t resist ordering the “Mexi Potato Skins”, a combination of baked potato skins loaded with corn, green olives and jalapenos topped with parmesan cheese. However it was disappointing to find a solitary olive and jalapeno pepper on corn filled potato boats which didn’t have much flavor. This dish could have benefitted from a traditional Mexican salsa and some sour cream rather than the tomato sauce with which it was served.

Post debating the orders for the main course – there were plenty of choices starting with a range of Italian pastas, Indian, Kashmiri dishes and Sri Lankan dishes with some international recipes like a baguette sandwich and stuffed peppers thrown in for good measure. After much debate we settled for “Missi rotis”, “Garlic Naan”, “Amritsari Chole”, “Dal Makhani”, “Vegetable Biryani”, “P.K.B koftas” – koftas of cashews, almonds and pistachios served in Mughlai gravy, “Mirchi Makkai Di Pyaaz” – a concoction of bell peppers, corn and onions and “Gnocchi”, an Italian hand made pasta.

La Shaakahari

The “Missi Rotis” were tasty – soft and crunchy, the naan was grilled to perfection and the vegetable biryani was pleasing to the tongue. It had the right mix of spices and blended perfectly with the onion raita along with which it was served. Though high on masalas with its taste bordering on bitter The “Amritsari Chole” was digestible! Don’t know what went wrong there but the “Dal Makhani” made up for the chole with its rich flavors. A special shout goes out to the P.K.B koftas with its unique nutty and creamy flavors – this is definitely a must try.

Now for the pasta – Traditionally Gnocchi’s are dumplings made with flour, potato, cheese, herbs and other special herbs and served in an appropriate sauce. What was served was the run of mill small shell store pasta in white sauce simmered with dried herbs with no hint of dumplings or the flavor of potatoes. Being a lover of Italian food I was extremely disappointed and even explained this to the chef who was kind enough to listen to my rants on the subject and was gracious enough to have the pasta returned to the kitchen.

 The desert menu was ordinary with choices like carrot halwa, gulab jamoon, phirni, ice creams and brownie so we decided to call it a night! The food prices were not too exorbitant and quantities seemed just right. The service was slow but this was overlooked considering team Shaakahari is still young. The decor was pleasant with bright lighting and beautiful paintings gracing the walls, however the noise levels tend to rise further into the night so you may not to want to go here if you are planning to enjoy a romantic dinner with your special friend on a weekend. To round of my thoughts about this place: do go here if you are a vegetarian and love Indian food; experimenting with other cuisines may not be a good bet at La Shaakahari.

La Shaakahari is located on Pycrofts Garden Road, Nungambakkam , Chennai