There was a time when Chennai foodscape was all about three ladies and three gentlemen – Sangeetha, Vasantha, Ratna, Saravana, Ponnusamy, and Velu Military! Then things changed a wee bit.
The Northies got their odd Dhaba. Mallus were blessed with Kalpaka, Andhraities thanked heavens for their Amaravati. Gujjus struck gold with Gujarati Mandal. And the rest had to make do with the Data Udupi type hotels, the Kaiyendi Bhavans, the neighbourhood cafes and the overpriced food joints in overhyped locales.
Jump cut to 2014. Things look a lot different. The depth of culinary delights on offer now can be judged by the breadth of variety in restaurant naming. Leading the pack is the self-deprecating ‘I Fake’. Located in Egattur village on OMR, the restaurant’s speciality is mock meats. If you’re a vegetarian who wants to vicariously gorge on non-veg without going ‘shiva shiva’, this could be your Mount Kailash.
Perchance, if you’re in the mood for bacon, sausages and ratatouille for breakfast, hop over to RA Puram and walk into the French bistro ‘L’Amandier’ (meaning: Almond Tree). Chances are you’ll end up saying, ‘c'est delicieux’.
Off RK Salai, there’s even a prison-themed restaurant called ‘Kaidi Kitchen’ where jailbirds will be served yummy Indian and Chinese food in a cell-like ambience with handcuffs and all, by prison wardens who promise you a treat with an arresting taste.
Talking of multi-cuisine joints, there are plenty to choose from in the city. Among the new kids on the block is ‘DiMoRa’ whose signature dish is wood fire pizzas. DiMoRa is a portmanteau of three seasoned foodies: Dinesh, Murugaananthan and Ram. Dimora, by the way, means ‘abode’ in Italian.
‘Avenue 195’, near Khader Nawaz Khan Road, also offers continental fare that straddles Indian, Italian, Chinese and everything in between. Apparently the 195 is a nod to the 195 countries that make up the United Nations!
For those want a whiff of the Irish, there’s the Somerset Maughamesque ‘Moon And The Sixpence’ at Hablis; Mediterranean buffs can look forward to ‘Lavash’ (Armenian flat bread) in Nungambakkam; world street food lovers can flock to ‘Spoonbill’ (the bird with the spoon shaped beak) on TTK Road; brownie and cupcake worshippers have the cleverly named ‘Mind over Batter’ in Besant Nagar; Punjabis have ‘Pind’ (village) in Velachery, and Bongs have ‘Petuk’ (foodie) in Thoraipakkam. All in all, everyone has a nice excuse to go ‘sappda vaanga’ (come, let’s eat)!