Sunday Brunch at The Residency


The Sunday brunch at The Residency, Crowne Plaza Chennai has a lot on offer - 55 dishes and 5 live cooking stations. As you enter the restaurant, it's the dessert counters that catch your eyes. One other thing you can't miss is the activity area for kids.

The Residency

The usual cuisines are all there - Indian, pan-Asian, Western and shawarmas, salads and appetisers. Executive Chef Deva came over to explain the specialties in each section. We asked him why it was called a brunch when it starts at 12.30 in the afternoon. He laughed and then told us that that they need to find a new name. Most restaurants do start their brunch service at that time anyway.

The restaurant has a semi-formal setting. The pleasing colour scheme and wooden furniture add a touch of class. There's live entertainment and the sultry voice of the singer adds to the atmosphere.

Chaats, veg tempura and fried prawns
Dahi vada 

Three kinds of chaat were served at the table and they were seriously good. The fried components like papdi and sev were very fresh and the  contrast of piquant, sweet and spicy flavours were in sync. The veg tempura was also very nice but the fried prawns stole the show. Fresh and fried just right, the tangy chilli dip was all it needed to have us all almost licking the plate clean.

Salad with feta

Prawns and chillies

Chef Deva told us he'd send across a salad. What landed up was this plate of the most beautiful colours made up of lettuce, peppers, orange segments, beetroot and feta cheese tossed in a light dressing. This was followed by prawns and chillies and that was another yummy dish.


Laksa for me is a bowl of noodles, sprouts, slices of egg and prawn cake ...ok, just prawns at least. What I was served was a really good laksa sauce with a couple of pieces of fish. I could have sworn that I did taste prawns as well!

Tandoori platter 

The galouti kebab in the tandoori platter had a crisp crust but it was melt-in-the-mouth tender. The paneer was a little sour but everything else had been well marinated and cooked to tandoor perfection.


Selection of pre-plated appetisers

Pan-Asian section

The pan-Asian section looked inviting but the contents were the usual fried rice and noodles though the Thai curry was quite nice.

At the shawarma corner, the chef was deftly making the rolls. They tasted rather flat and the roll kept unrolling. I think I figured out why a sheet of butter paper is usually rolled around them.

Baked veg at the Western station
Copper pots at the Indian section

Vegetarian specials - avial; porial; dal; brinji; paneer; methi mutter chaman

Mutton biryani with zafrani murgh; veg biryani with dal bukhara

Mutton milagu curry; kozhi idiappam biryani

It's not at all difficult to figure out where the Indian station was. Gleaming copper handis held biryani while skillets held dals, paneer, a mean brinji and veg gravies.

Dessert table for young guests 

Selection of desserts. That chocolate cake is divine!

Popcorn and cotton candy station share 

Oh yes, you'll be spoilt for choice at dessert time. There's a good mix of Indian and Western desserts but the stand out is definitely the chocolate cake.

There's plenty of variety at The Residency's buffet, the pan-Asian could do with an overhaul while the Indian section was what most guests made a beeline for. The idiappam biryani was a crowd favourite. They have a good mix of vegetarian and non-veg dishes but what stood out was the freshness of the food.

Activity zone for kids

We had a cutie patootie with us and she was quite occupied at the kids' zone. She strung herself a bead chain and got a tattoo on her hand while the man with the balloons made her a few shapes. Her menu was customised and she too enjoyed her afternoon. 

The Residency's lunch buffet is priced at 1800/++ per head and 900/++ per head for kids.

Do call 044 24994101 for reservations.

From Ayna to the Coast of Malabar


At Ayna, the napkins had been folded into little boats and that was in sync with our reason for being there - a food festival titled "Coast of Malabar". Ayna is, of course, the pan-Indian restaurant at the Hilton, Chennai.

Ayna at Hilton

A napkin boat!
Moplah cuisine is what the region is most famous and of course, Tellicherry biryani needs no introduction. Spices, chillies, tamarind, pepper and coconut are integral to the flavour of Malabar food. All we ate that evening was redolent in these ingredients.

Tender coconut water

Chips, pappadam & pachadis

Thirst-quenching tender coconut water was served in mud glasses. The table had been laid with little brass containers that held pappadams, potato and jackfruit chips and jaggery coated banana chips that signified the start of a traditional Kerala meal. On another tray, there were pachadis - cooked vegetables mixed in yoghurt, a tamarind chutney and tender mango pickle. No meal in Kerala is complete without these elements.

Top: Syrian beef fry; Malabar duck roast
Karimeen pollichathu

Kozhi porichathu
Chef Anuj Mathur, Sous Chef at Ayna has done a lot of research on the cuisine. One of the starters is the Syrian beef fry, a slightly different version from the one made further South. The Malabar duck roast was dark and heavy with spices. This was a deliciously boneless version but no matter how thick the spice coating on the cubes of meat, the slightly fishy taste eventually came through. The kozhi porichathu (fried chicken) was more like the Indo-Chinese version complete with the red colour but the masala on the karimeen pollichathu was spot on. For ease of eating, it had been filleted (there were a couple of bones in it). All the spices had been made in-house and they tasted fresh. 

Top: squid pepper fry; chemeen (prawn) roast

Chemeen roast was a dish of large prawns, tails intact and coated with a thick blanket of masala that included ground coconut. It was absolutely yummy, so also the squid pepper fry that was delightful.

Kallumakkai fry

Kallumakkai arikadukka - mussels stuffed with rice powder and spices, is one of the delicacies from these parts and it's quite a laborious job to make it. We did have mussels, albeit a kallumakkai fry that had been sautéed with ginger and garlic. Not a fan of molluscs, I did try a piece and it was nice.

Tellicherry biryani; kadala curry; beef kaya; tapioca; adipoli mutton; Kerala fish curry; porotta

Main courses were porotta with beef kaya (raw banana) curry and a stand-out kadala (horsegram) curry, cubes of cooked and seasoned tapioca that accompanied a deliciously tangy Kerala fish curry and Tellicherry chicken biryani. The biryani, mildly flavoured and made with kaima rice was quite different from what I've had in Kerala but adipoli mutton, made according to the chef's secret recipe was yummy. The porotta too was thinner and less flaky than its Kerala counterpart, not that that stopped us from tucking in.

Egg appam

We were served egg appams but we opted for the plain ones. It had such a distinctive taste and after a bit of probing, Chef Mathur revealed that the batter had been fermented naturally. No wonder it tasted quite like sourdough, it was crisp and had the typical earthiness of freshly baked bread crust.

Top: elaneer payasam; pazham pori

The menu is a rotational one, on the day we went, dessert was elaneer payasam and pazham pori. The payasam was very thin and the bits of tender coconut had been cut into such tiny dices. It had been flavoured with cardamom, almond and pistachios too. Secretly, I was quite glad to see the batter coated banana fritters as I don't eat bananas (and was rather stuffed by then) but my friends seemed to have quite enjoyed them so they must have been awesome. To end the meal, make your own paan from the d-i-y- platter but what I did miss was a glass of sulaimani tea!

Coast of Malabar at Ayna will end on November 19th. Do reserve your seats at 044 2225 5555 before this boat sails away!

An evening with Chivas Regal 18


An 18 year old Scotch with 85 flavour notes that include diverse things like orange, spices (but of course), licorice, chocolate and even tarry rope!

Flavour notes!

Tarry rope
It's the annual Whisky Appreciation Month all month at 365 A.S., Hyatt Regency Chennai; as part of the promotion, I was invited to a Sit Down dinner at Focaccia that featured Chivas Regal 18, a fine blended whisky from Scotland. At the front of the restaurant was a table on which sat jars and bottles of ingredients which represented all the aromas contained within a bottle of the Scotch. 

Chocolate, marzipan, nutmeg, ginger and a whole lot of other flavours in Chivas Regal 18  

85 unique flavour notes and these are only some of them

Table setting at Focaccia 

Focaccia was beautifully decked up for the occasion. The dim lighting, formally dressed waitstaff and flowers on each table set the mood for an elegant evening of food and whisky.

Alan Clark; Chef Mauro Ferrari

A well-attended dinner, we were welcomed by Madhav Sehgal, GM of the hotel and then, Alan Clark, Brand Ambassador for Chivas in India and a true-blue Scot spoke to us about the attributes of this award winning brand of blended whisky; Chef Mauro Ferrari who's worked at Michelin-starred Pomeroeu Ristorante Soranno talked to us about the menu he had specially curated for the evening, a menu that took him all of 20 minutes to draw up!

Aromatic Old Fashioned and Chivas Regal neat

Cocktails were served first and the Old Fashioned was a conversation starter. Unadorned, the flavours of orange and cinnamon syrup smoothened out the stronger notes of the whisky.

Melted Brie on toast, grilled pineapple & fig, micro-green salad. Pretty as a picture!

Chef Mauro's first course was melted Brie cheese toast with grilled pineapple and fig, caramelised hazelnut and a micro-green and flower salad. Beautifully presented, the creamy cheese on the toasted slice of baguette was the perfect complement to the slices of lightly charred fruit while the Chivas jelly perked up the taste of the components.

Simon on the sax

Bread baskets

Pink grapefruit risotto with chocolate; salmon conchiglie with Chivas essence

The vegetarian entreé was a pink grapefruit risotto topped with dark chocolate drop. I tasted a spoonful; the combination of flavours was amazing. For the rest of us, it was fresh and smoked salmon conchiglie with Chivas essence and ginger sauce. The shells held within their curves bits of sauce and fish, toasted strips of seaweed repeated that whiff in the whisky. 

Mains for veggies - savoury autumn vegetable tart with barley, baby carrots, snow peas, basil mayo
Plating the main course

Australian lamb loin, mint chutney sauce, vanlla smoked potato & barley

Australian lamb loin, pink in the middle and melt in the mouth tender was the main course. It rested on a bed of barley risotto and surrounded by smoked vanilla baby potatoes and a yummy mint chutney sauce. Accompanied by Chivas 18 served neat, the combination was surprising in its ability to marry all the flavours.

Scotch on the rocks

Dessert line up

Chivas banana caramel frozen smoothie; lime cinnamon pear frangipane tart; fig prune compote & brandy snap curl

Chivas Regal on the rocks was easy on the nose, the ice broke up the flavours and I thought it was infinitely more palatable. Dessert was a play of textures with a generosity of flavour. Loved the buttery tart with its dense, nutty filling, the crisp brandy snap and the moreish compote which was the absolute stand out.

For me, to know that whisky can be paired with a meal was food for thought.

Whilst the Chivas Regal dinner is over, there are more whisky offerings throughout the month. Do call 91 44 6100 1234 to know more; do remember to drink responsibly.


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