One afternoon at Sandy's


A few years ago, my niece and I went to Sandy's Chocolate Laboratory in RA Puram. It was a tiny place with two or three tables. There was a display case that ran along the width of the room and in it, some really interesting chocolate desserts on show. We were in a hurry to finish our main course just so we could try out the desserts. And we were not disappointed.

Sandy's now occupies prime space at Chennai's tony neighbourhood- Wallace Gardens. An invitation from Sandesh to visit the restaurant was an unexpected surprise.

 

I love clean well lit interiors and that is exactly what I walked into. And like a magnet, I was drawn to the display case. Sandesh has certainly been a busy chef, the results of many more laboratory experiments now filled the case.

True to its name, the desserts at Sandy's Chocolate Laboratory are all chocolate based. Maybe not the cheesecake, or maybe the cheesecake base is made with chocolate biscuits. But if you want to see chocolate at its best in Chennai, this is the place.

An assortment of petit fours

Blueberry cheesecake with the original cheese
 
Can anyone ever od on chocolate? 
Anything but tiny- That Really Tiny Chocolate Cake!
Another experiment with Nutella-  the absolutely sinful  Nutella Chocolate bar

Lucky me- while chatting with Sandesh, a glass of ice cold coffee materialised on the table. Great coffee with no frills. Very refreshing...and not in some lab equipment but in a proper glass. Then, one of these:

L- Chocolate peanut butter tart, C-Chocolate caramel tart. R- close up of the choc peanut tart

Silly me-too busy admiring the beautifully plated dessert, I forgot to click a picture of the chocolate peanut tart. Let me try and do justice to it thus- lines of crunchy praline and molten chocolate sauce drawn straight across the platter. In the middle, in a tart shell, a limpid pool of chocolate and peanut butter ganache. Beside it, a single scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream with flecks of vanilla caviar. The tart shell was tender and chocolaty, the chocolate and peanut flavours of the filling combining seamlessly and even when the pastry was cut into, the filling did not ooze out. Definitely major chemistry at work!!


I was invited into the kitchen. As restaurants kitchens go, this was smallish but the work flow area is well defined. And this is only one of the three kitchens that cater to Sandy's. Needless to say, it was very clean. Personally, I was thrilled to see lettuce being washed so thoroughly.

Then a look see into a room where meat is prepared  before cooking. Clean work tables, and some really mean knives that lined the wall. I also got a lesson on honing a knife.

The kitchen was a busy place- a cheeseburger being constructed,  an order for takeaway fish steaks and another, a dine in order for pasta with mushroom and broccoli in a cheese sauce. Quick, practiced hands at work and in a couple of minutes, the dishes were ready to be served.

Another room housed the deck oven. Sandesh showed a sous chef how to hand roll dough into a pizza base. A quick spread of pizza sauce, some spinach, meat sauce, potatoes and cheese and lo and behold- the meat and potato pizza.


This one had a thin crust and was absolutely delicious. Every flavour was balanced and there is no greater pleasure than eating a slice of pizza that has come straight out of the oven.

At Sandy's there is no compromise on quality. Lasagna sheets are made with the best flour, so also the pizza dough. One can't separate Sandy's from Sandesh, the man is knowledgeable about food, cooking methods, ingredients and willing to experiment to take flavour and presentation to the next level. It all shows in the food and the way the staff is treated.

Remember a while ago, deconstructed food was the rage? Thankfully, that phase is now over and we can all go back to seeing a finished product on a plate, admire the plating and enjoy food as it is meant to be.  

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