A Kommune-al cocktail party

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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, Commune'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

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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

Coffee

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

At the Celebration Bakes workshop

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A celebration bake is something everyone looks forward to. Not just cakes piled high with decor but even simpler ones can can grab eyeballs. And you know that it is the flavour of the cake that will shine through. 

At this workshop, here's what we did:

Chocolate topped citrus and almond cake 

Belgian chocolate tart 

Pistachio lime cake with chocolate drip

White chocolate mud cake with frosting

Another class will be scheduled shortly. Do message me if you'd like to attend.

Cheers!

Celebration Bakes - a workshop

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At last! A brand new workshop on bakes that add will add oomph to your celebrations.

On the menu - white chocolate mud cake with a dreamy white chocolate frosting, pistachio lime cake, Belgian chocolate tart and a scented citrus and almond cake.

On Saturday, June 15th, 10.30 am - 2.30 pm at Kottivakkam.

Pasar Senggol at Grand Hyatt Bali

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One of the nicest things about travelling is that you get to try local food. Driving around Bali, we passed several warungs - little family-owned stores that also function as eateries. We were tempted to try them out but our guide, Gustaaf, was not very keen on us doing that. Besides, being on a group tour, our lunches had already been prearranged at the places we were stopping at for sightseeing. Dinner one evening had been planned at Jimbaran Bay. It was a seafood barbeque and a very disappointing one. There were several other beach restaurants in the area and the place was rather crowded and even the breeze that blew in from the sea was hot. Smoke from all those grills made our eyes water, the meal was mediocre and we could not get out of there fast enough.

Besides restaurants at malls, the area around our hotel had many street stalls selling satay and other grilled foods. They usually wind up by about 9.30pm or earlier, if the food runs out. One evening, we walked across from our Kuta beach resort to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe. Nothing like chomping on a hamburger while watching people headbanging! The one dish that we hoped to try was babi guling - a whole suckling pig stuffed with greens, aromatics and spices and spit roasted. It's a dish that Bali is famous for.


Making ice cream rolls (above); a bowl of sambal noodles

Beautiful view of the ocean from Grand Hyatt Bali 

We shifted over to the Grand Hyatt Bali  halfway through our stay. This luxury resort is located within the gated area of Nusa Dua and is huge - more than 600 rooms spread over 4 quadrants, 5 restaurants that serve varied cuisines, 5 pools, including a lagoon-style one complete with water slides and other water features and several boutiques that are spread around. The open air reception area features cool marble floors, tiled roofs and the most spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. 

The lily pond that borders the reception area

One of the pools

White sands and blue water - the beautiful beach at Grand Hyatt Bali

Chef Greg

Chef Greg is the Executive Chef of Grand Hyatt Bali and an old friend from Chennai. On the day we reached, he sent across a hamper of tropical fruits and a platter of kueh to welcome us.

Delicious kueh2 to welcome us

Whenever we bumped into him, Chef would ask us where we had gone and what sights we had seen. When we told him about watching the kechak dance at Uluwatu, he invited us to experience Pasar Senggol.

Pasar Senggol is Bali in a nutshell. It is a buffet dinner theatre that features an open air night market and a performance area set up in the grounds of the resort. Every evening, makeshift stalls selling handicrafts are set up. There is a small amphitheatre in the middle and all around are food stalls serving a huge variety of Indonesian food - fried snacks, grills, salads, main courses and desserts. And a bar, of course.

The sheer variety of food is mind blowing. Chef Greg's assistant, Chef Sartika took us around to the various stalls, an activity that took about half an hour. It's impossible for anyone to eat something from each stall so we made a mental note of the dishes we absolutely could not afford to miss. And there was nothing that disappointed us. Every single dish we tried was remarkable.

Ketupat - rice dumplings wrapped in woven coconut leaf

Fried crackers - never knew such a variety even existed!

Wantans and fritters

Seafood ready for the grill

Babi guling

Rendang

Fried rice
Soup...with everything

Satays and salads
Grilled squid, roast meat and sambals

Dessert heaven 

Kechak performance

It was a dinner under the stars and the highlight of our meal was another kechak performance, the traditional Balinese dance drama. This one, of course, was on a smaller scale than the one at Uluwatu but just as engaging. Once again, the dancers, dressed in their beautiful costumes, entranced us with scenes from the Ramayana where Sita is abducted by Ravana and how she is rescued. For folks who want the essence of Bali compressed into an evening, Pasar Senggol is a wonderful way to experience the food and culture of the island.

Kechak performers and us

Chefs Greg and Sartika 

 
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