Pub fare at Watson's


Food at pubs is usually a tame affair - nothing out of the ordinary, nothing sensational and mostly fried. However, newer pubs and gastro pubs are taking the trouble of coming up with food menus that can put those of standalone restaurants in the shade. Twists on comfort food ranks high on that list.

Watson's The Grub Pub is at T'Nagar. Renovations are going on and except for the name board at the entrance to the driveway, there was no signage to show where one was supposed to go. Even the open foyer was deserted but at that exact moment, a friend showed up and saved the day.

String art

The pub is on the 5th floor, a framed string art ship hangs on the wall; it's been so long since I've seen one of these. Sepia tinted prints hang on the wall, giving a vintage feel to the foyer. 

Watson's bar

There's seating around the bar counter; since we were there for a review, we went upstairs to the mezzanine floor. Where the stairs begin, there's a cosy corner with a sofa and books in the bookshelf - good place for a private chat.

Cosy nook 

Corporate Chef Ashley D'Souza

Ashley D'Souza, Corporate Chef of Shilton Hospitality was on hand to welcome us. While Watson's has a presence in both Goa and Bangalore, it opened in Chennai only earlier this year.

Watson's has a huge appetiser menu. The original menu had something like 150 items, in the new one, it's been whittled down to about 115 dishes. They have retained around 15% of the original menu and for review purposes, they were going to serve us about two dozen!

Spicy podi idli; Schezwan sauce idli 

They've taken the humble idli and turned it around on its head with 2 variations. The podi idli was spicy, fried crisp, redolent with the flavour of ghee and served with a wonderful chutney while the other, with a Schezwan twist, was not as impressive.

Spicy mayo rock prawns; charcoal grilled prawns - easy to shell and the prawns were juicy...yum!

Pastry perfect - Kerala beef triangles; galangal chicken patties; mince samosa. Galangal patties were a standout.
There's bruschetta and then there's chicken ghee roast bruschetta - a winning combo with the chunky, spicy pieces of meat

Tawa grilled chicken

Pull-apart bread with sauteed mushrooms and cheese. Needs to be eaten hot!
Cheesy chilli bhajis - simply yum!

Cutlet for the vegetarians

Beef teriyaki - didn't taste of teriyaki though the meat was tender

Thai golgappa with a Thai-spiced filling and lemongrass infused tamarind sauce. Nice fusion.

Ribs vindaloo - tender pork rib with a yummy marinade

Watson's chilli fish. Stunning!

Mediterranean flavours - hummus, baba ganoush and pita bread
Pomme Tini; Martini de Paan

Sitting in a bar and no sign of a cocktail? Watsons does have a few interesting ones. Pomme Tini with vodka, apple and rose petals looked inviting in its simplicity but was disappointing - the rose flavour was  too dominant. Martini de Paan, on the other hand, was vodka-based, delicious, fragrant and could well pass off as the liquid version of paan, complete with gulkand, dates and vark. They use natural syrups in the cocktails and the drinks are mixed with fresh fruit juices, not the packaged variety.

A variety of flatbreads

Laal maas & onion flatbread

Some folk find comfort in eating bread and Watson's flatbread and pizza will fit the bill perfectly. My favourite was the laal maas flatbread with onion and coriander which had a thin crust, was  packed with spicy mince and onion rings and delightfully cheesy.

Main courses - biryani and rice with Thai veg curry

Main courses included  an aromatic, moist biryani served with raita. Also, steamed rice with a Thai veg curry, somewhat lacking in Thai flavours.

While Watson's menu is certainly enthusiastic, some of the flavours, while familiar, need to be amped up. The variety is mind-boggling, justifying the gastro pub tag and it's pocket friendly. 

Watsons is at 90, Gopathi Narayana Chetty Road, T. Nagar.

Masterclass by Delta Nutritives


Delta Nutritives is one of my favourite vendors. Merely going through their brochure is a rather dicey job for me because they have stuff in it that makes me forget my baking ingredient budget. So when I received an invite for a masterclass by Delta and that too at the newly-opened Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa, I grabbed the opportunity - I would have been some kind of a nut to turn it down!

Art installation

It's a pastoral scene that greets visitors as they enter the portico of the new property on the ECR - there's a group of 3 buffaloes that are a-laying around. Beyond this art installation is a walkway and beyond that, the blue waters of the bay.

Focaccia before and after baking

I had booked for the afternoon session which was to be a demo on a variety of breads using premixes. However, there was a mix up between schedules and I was just in time to see the last of the breads - a batch of focaccia - going into the oven.


Well, no harm done because the chefs were slicing up the breads they had baked earlier and they were passed around for us to taste. Dee-li-cious!

Fillings and chocolates by Delta Nutritives

While the preparation for the next session was going on, I browsed through Delta's display stall. Single origin chocolates, 5 kg chocolate bars, bags of chocolate callets, canned fruits, cake and confectionery fillings, sauces, bread mixes and so much more. Yup, it did look like I would overshoot my budget for the month :(

On the other side of the hall, the competition for GO Cheese Indian Chef awards were going on. Competing chefs were busy cooking up yummy dishes at their stations and the aromas that arose from their cooking pots filled the room.

Back at the demo area, Chef Satish cleaned up his workspace and started to temper chocolate. He then proceeded to fill a piping bag with the chocolate and piped the chocolate into previously filled moulds. He also used the tempered chocolate to make chocolate shells. Well-tempered chocolate sets with a glossy finish and breaks with a sharp snap.

Piping chocolate into the moulds

Finishing touches

Chocolate shells
Irresistible - shiny chocolate bonbons
Squares of frozen mousse ready to be coated in red velvet glaze
Red velvet glaze

The eggless red velvet entremets had been made ahead - cream cheese mousse that enclosed two thin layers of red velvet cake. Red velvet glaze was poured over it and it was decorated with chocolate beetles and flowers.

Eggless red velvet entremets
The inside story

Shells and mousse for chocolate banoffee tart

"Tart Revisited" was a chocolate banoffee tart. The pastry shells had been baked ahead, the mousse filling was also ready and well frozen. Slices of banana were cooked and laid over the tart shells, a chocolate glaze was poured on top and carefully placed over the shell. The only adornment they needed were crispearls and chocolate flowers.

Chocolate banoffee tarts

An afternoon of desserts

The chefs and their creations

What an amazing show by Chef Satish and his talented team. And yes - the glazes, chocolates, fillings and decor are available at Delta Nutritives.

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