New menu at Focaccia, HRC


I'm not sure what it is I like about Focaccia. It could be food - as Italian as it should be or maybe it's the ambiance of the restaurant or perhaps even the chef. So every time the menu undergoes a change, we are invited to try it out and we have Chef Mauro explain it to us. Of course, he never reveals the recipes.

Tartare di tonno, salsa ravigote, microgreens

One of the new appetisers is tuna tartare with ravigote sauce and microgreens. Tartare is always about the freshest of ingredients and tiny dices of fish are blush pink; the slightly tart dressing and drizzle of olive oil is all that is needed to round off the flavours.

Insalata di fichi e pomodorini con burrata fresca

Chef Mauro's salads are very simple, an alliance of as few ingredients as possible. The fig and cherry tomato salad with burrata is a good example; the creamy cheese needed only the sweetness of figs and cherry tomatoes and the acidity of balsamic vinegar to complete it. If it's crunch you need, the slice of toasted brioche provides it.

Flan di peperoni gialli, succo di pomodoro e bufala

Yellow capsicum flan, tomato juice and buffalo mozzarella is a flan unlike any other. It simply melts in the mouth with absolutely no evidence of having been made with a pepper. If you're looking for a vegetarian appetiser, you can't go wrong with this one. For me, a little more tartness in the tomato juice would have worked wonders.

Risotto ai gamberi e pepperoncino, avvolto nel branzino

Ravioli al brasato, burro salvia, fondo di carne e tartufo

Chef Mauro's pasta courses are always interesting. Prawn risotto wrapped in sea bass carpaccio had juicy prawns and rice cooked in a flavourful seafood stock. However, the braised lamb ravioli with sage butter and truffle wowed us completely. Silken pasta enclosed the most exquisitely braised lamb filling which was then drizzled with a luxuriant sage butter sauce. The medley of flavours and textures left us craving for more.
Pesce spada grigliato pesto rosso e zucchine grigliate.
Sundried tomato pesto is a perfect foil for the meaty swordfish.

Pollo dorato in salsa Villeroy, verdue allo scalogno, polenta al funghi

Breaded chicken breast Villeroy is the other dish that we absolutely loved. The chicken had been coated in a creamy sauce before being crumb fried. Moist and very tender, I'm sure there's more to the technique and it was truly divine. Mushroom polenta and mixed vegetables completed the dish.

From top: millefoglie al cioccolato e mousse al gianduja; salame di cioccolato; crème brûlée

Leave it to an Italian chef to make the most wickedly delectable desserts with nuts and chocolate - chocolate millefeuille and chocolate salami. The sugar crust on the orange and pistachio crème brûlée shattered with a single tap but the custard below could have done with a little more baking.

Millefoglie al cioccolato and how to eat it!

Chef Mauro 

Focaccia is at Hyatt Regency Chennai.
365, Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai.

Do call +91 44 61001234 for more information or reservations. 

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 

  • Bake Tales © 2012