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.


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