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 🙂

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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.

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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:

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  • 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.

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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

 

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!

Do the “Spice Route”


Do you have a recipe that calls for a particular spice you haven’t heard of? You google it and know what it does but have no clue where to find it…It is not available at the local super market, leaving you lost on how you can get the perfect taste with your recipe.

The spice route located at Express Mall – Chennai, might just have the solution for you. Pure, fresh and rare spices like tomato, onion and garlic powders can be easily scooped off their spice jars and into your recipes. Once you taste their garam masala you will start trading it in for your regular off the shelf masala! Adding a teaspoon of this magic powder to your vegetables or gravies leaves the dish with a twist in terms of fragrance and freshness. The color of their Kashmiri mirch will leave you with a longing to immediately taste “Dum Aloo” with this spice thrown in while their chilli flakes might want you to use them on something other than pizza! They also have the usual spices likes turmeric and coriander powders and their own concoction of sambar and rasam powders, chutney podis etc.,They also stock an impressive collection of dry fruits like California raisins, normal and roasted cashews, almonds, pistachios, apricots, pine nuts and more along with fragrant whole spices such as cinnamon barks, cloves, bay leaves, start anise etc.,

The store has something for every chef. Spanish and desi saffron fight for the attention of gourmet chefs while the vanilla beans inspire you to create an original desert recipe. The cold bar with stuffed olives and sweets tempt the quintessential foodie while the sheer variety of green teas draw in the health buffs and yoga fans.  The store’s interesting collection of food books might just help budding chefs discover the gourmand in them.

The spices are categorized properly and well laid out. This coupled with good lighting gives the store the perfect ambience. The sales folks at the store are polite and helpful and also offer you a whiff of any spice that might interest you. They even offer recipe tips for some of the spices. Here is one: the next time you run out of tomatoes when want to prepare tomato rice you just need to bring out your secret stash of tomato powder.

The products at the store are a bit expensive. But that is the price you pay for good quality, great taste and shopping at Express Avenue! But hopefully you won’t be disappointed….

The store is located next to Max at the Express Avenue Mall, Chennai

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