An evening at Sky Terrace, Fortune Select Grand Chennai


It was a long drive from the ECR to Singaperumal Koil near Maraimalai Nagar. Traffic was heavy at that time of the evening but I had interesting company. Even after living in Chennai for so many years, many of the localities we passed were ones I had only read about. Soon enough, the imposing Fortune Select Grand was before us. The lawns of the property are beautifully manicured and the lights glowed their welcome.

Fortune Select Grand Chennai is an upscale 5 star business hotel with 171 rooms, 4 restaurants and 6 banquet halls. It's the only such starred property in the area which is a hub for the IT and automobile industries and an upcoming retail and recreational destination. We were greeted with shell necklaces and a refreshing drink. F&B Manager, Karunakaran and Executive Chef Sarafath took us on a quick tour of the property.

Orchid - the all day diner

Executive Chef Sarafath Khan

Desserts at Orchid

Neptune Bar

The serene pool and Aqua Grill in the background

Fortune Select Grand has the advantage of space and it is this spaciousness that adds to its charm and elegance. Orchid, the all-day diner, serves a multi cuisine menu, both buffet style and à la carte. The restaurant was packed and of course, I couldn't resist having a peek at the desserts on display. We also checked out the split level Neptune Bar & Lounge where there's a DJ on weekends. Aqua Grill with its poolside barbeque area is a lovely space that promises a romantic setting for a dinner date with that special someone.

Sky Lounge

Live teppan counter at the  Fair Weather section 
Open Terrace that's perfect for open air dining

Finally, we were at the Sky Terrace, the rooftop restaurant. It's a 4 part area that comprises the Sky Lounge, Fine Dining, Fair Weather and Open Terrace which, as the name indicates, is open to the sky. The first, furnished with dark leather and dim lighting, is perfect for a quiet drink before dinner. The Terrace was so breezy but because it too was dimly lit, we opted to sit in the Fair Weather dining area.

Apple Tonic

Onion rings; dahi ki kebab; dal ki shammi; satay

Open from 6pm to midnight, the restaurant is stylish and the floral upholstery is so pleasing to the eye. We were welcomed with Apple Tonics. The first of our starters was batter-coated onion rings threaded onto skewers. They stayed crisp even after we had spent time photographing them, the batter was light and allowed the onion to shine through. Both dahi ki kebab and dal ki shammi were all about textures, one soft and the other crisp; hung curd and yoghurt mint chutneys were perfect to dip them into. The chicken satay was tender and the aroma of lemongrass was enticing while the peanut dip tasted quite raw and too smooth. Not a problem as the satay was moist enough to be had by itself.

Mixed meat sizzler

A platter of mixed meats sizzled its way across the room. It held chicken, fish, jumbo prawns and lamb. Marinated in Indian spices, it was a delicious dish where each protein had been beautifully cooked, even the prawns remained succulent after their stint in the tandoor. Attention to detail was very evident.
Prawn tempura

Sky Terrace serves global cuisine that includes Japanese, Thai, Mid-Eastern and Indian, of course. If you opt for Japanese, you could sit in front of the teppan and watch your meal being prepared. Our prawn tempura was perfectly done, the prawns were fresh and the batter crisp. The soy dipping sauce had very well balanced flavours.

Burnt garlic chicken dumpling soup

Grilled veg salad

Tiny little dumplings and bright colourful vegetables made up the burnt garlic soup. The soup was light, the garlic flavour mild and just delicious. The grilled vegetable salad was full of colourful veggies, a mildly spiced and tangy dressing would have made it a more interesting combination.

Mongolian lamb with fried rice

Mongolian lamb had strips of tender lamb cooked with peppers and onion slices. It was a tasty dish but steamed white rice would have been a better accompaniment than the fried rice.

There was also an aromatic Awadh-style biryani. Partially cooked biryani is stuffed into a length of bamboo and it gets baked for another 45 minutes. The foil cover was opened at the table and the aroma of the biryani wafted around. Topped with nuts, it's a wonderful blend of rice, meat and spices.

Garlic naan; dal makhani; lachha paratha

If there was one dish that wowed us that night, it was for sure the dal makhni. It was the perfect marriage of lentils, spices and aromatics that resulted in a chocolate brown, thick, fragrant, mellow yet hearty dish. The combination of the dal and lachha paratha was simply mind blowing.

F& B Manager Karunakaran and Exec Chef Sarafath

Ice cream with tender coconut; rasmalai

Secretly, I was glad that they had kept the desserts simple - vanilla ice cream with nuts and chocolate sauce. It was served in a coconut shell which accounted for the diced tender coconut, a nice twist. The soft and spongy rasmalai, another in-house creation, was delish.

The team of chefs at the hotel have ensured that the food they serve, across cuisines, is memorable. Probably that accounts for the fact that as we were leaving, a large group of visitors were trooping into Orchid for a late night meal.

A meal for 2 at Sky Terrace would cost around 2200/ all inclusive.

Fortune Select Grand, Chennai
1, GST Road, SP Koil, Maraimalai Nagar
Chennai 603209.
044 67414243/ 044 27464646.

Paan in a cup

This was an invited review 

A Kommune-al cocktail party


Occupying real estate opposite the Accord Metropolitan Hotel on GN Chetty Road is Kommune, a new restopub. It's split level, three floors high and even has a soon-to-open rooftop space. Seating is a mix of tables with bar chairs and sofas with pouffes. The low tables hold a selection of crockery and cutlery which is such a neat idea. The bar is on the ground floor, as is the DJ's console. A projector screen covers an entire wall, all the way across 3 floors.

Cuba Libre; beer in a sleeve

Mohit, Kommune's bar manager, makes me a Cuba Libre. The cocktail menu is a condensed one, the bar is well stocked so it's good to let him make suggestions. I try sips of cocktails friends have ordered and find they are fine. The beer is a lot nicer and the bottles are fitted into sleeves to keep them cool and condensation free and that's another neat idea. However, it's the food that's a hit.

Comfy seating

View of the bar from above

Avocado fries, nuts and more nuts

I had been reading about avocado fries that day and that's exactly what I see on the menu.  When it's served, we are told that the fries don't like to be sitting around too long. They are really nice especially when dipped into the salsa; maybe coating them in panko would have made for better textures. Peanuts and cashews are served too. 

Volcano beef

Braised & slow cooked pork ribs

The food menu is impressive. We did have a tough time deciding what to order when we spied Volcano beef. Gently poached egg white formed a border around stir fried beef tossed in soy and oyster sauce. Braised pork ribs with red wine and demi glaze was brilliant. Slow cooked for 2 hours,  the meat just fell off the bone and the sauce was absolutely divine.

Salad of roasted beets, feta and walnuts

Panniyaram in Schezuan sauce

Kommune hasn't neglected the vegetarians. The salad platter of roasted and caramelised beetroot with feta and walnuts. The chef was generous with the beetroot and even though the dressing was sweet, the feta brought about balance. Panniyaram with a schezwan sauce is fusion with a twist. The dumplings were tossed through the spicy sauce and if spice is your thing, go for it!

Lemon garlic prawns

Peppery prawns

Prawn gyoza

Prawns tossed in lemon garlic sauce was yummy. Briny capers brought in lots of zestiness and those prawns were very succulent. Discs of peppery prawns were also very good and came with a serving of battered onion rings. We also ordered prawn gyoza and these looked more like star-shaped sui mai. But the bases were crisp which make them gyoza in a different avatar.

Shish taouk

Kommune serves a range of international cuisines and we had shish taouk from their Mid-Eastern section. Subtly spiced, the cubes of chicken had been well marinated and cooked to perfection.

This pub has great vibes and great food. It's a good place for a business lunch as well on weekday afternoons when you can get a starter, main course and a beverage for 349/++.

Kommune is at 60 & 62, GN Chetty Road, T'Nagar.
Do call 078688000777/ 044 48651119 for reservations.

Asian Sunday brunch at Va Pho


Kaya toast.

Do you like this staple Singaporean snack? If you do, there's one place that you can have this every Sunday and that's at Va Pho Asian Canteen.

Va Pho, the restaurant at Cathedral Road has started a buffet brunch service every Sunday and can you believe that it's a completely Asian menu? From porridge (congee) with sides to Asian-style salads to siu mai, noodles... yes, for brekkie... to a fabulous Vietnamese curry with buns, Chef Ram Kumar and his team have covered all the bases. There's even spicy sausages, an egg salad and chicken wings that we gorged on.

Veg salad with peanut dressing; fruit salad; fried egg salad

Chicken porridge with sides

Flavoursome porridge

Sui mai

Grilled sausages; chicken wings

Veg spring rolls; broccoli mushroom garlic stir fry
Chicken bao
A delightful platter of Asian eats

Veg soft noodles

Even egg fried rice

Vietnamese potato curry

Vietnamese chicken curry with buns

Toast & kaya

There was a noticeable buzz on the other side of the room where sweet dishes were being served. Everyone made a beeline for the kaya toast and it was really, really good. Kaya is a coconut jam flavoured with pandan leaves and Va Pho has got the texture and flavour spot on. All it now needs is salted butter to be slathered on the bread.

Apart from that, there were some other delightful eats:

Kuih keria - doughnuts made with sweet potato

Orange butter cake

Leche flan
Banana pancake; cut fruit

You can begin or end your meal with the cold iced Milo, coffee, tea or even iced black coffee.

Iced Milo


Va Pho's unlimited Sunday brunch is priced at 495/- all inclusive. What a deal!
Timings are from 10.30 - 3 pm.

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