I have a simple test for measuring the IQ of a city. Just put all its restaurants under the microscope and evaluate them for evidence of wit. Wackier the names, smarter the city. Given this premise, one must admit that Chennai is way superior to its peers in the sheer cleverness of its spread.
OCD is a starter with which, I’d like to make my case. It’s the name of a little bakery in Shenoy Nagar. In case, you didn’t get it, it’s meant for people with the ‘Oreo Compulsive Disorder’. Cut to ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ in RA Puram. It’s a cool-sounding lounge bar inspired by the children’s classic written by Margery Williams about a stuffed rabbit that yearns to get real.
Then there’s ‘Craveyard Café’ at Adyar showcasing its deadly dishes with a touch of dark humour. ‘Wrapsody’, the joint on ECR that specialises in wraps, is as good with its wordplay. ‘Fusilli Reasons’, the pasta place at Kilpauk, however tops the punster’s charts, by giving you a whimsy excuse for trying their food.
‘Jonah’s Bistro’, the brainchild of entrepreneur Sam Paul ostensibly named after his son Jonah, has rolled out a series of restaurants that feel like adventure movie titles. ‘Jonah’s goes to Japan’, ‘Jonah’s meets Chef Willi’, ‘Jonah’s goes to West Coast’, and 'Jonah’s goes Fishing’ are some of his finely christened culinary sequels.
Among the ones that project an authentic aura is ‘Batlivala & Khanaboy’, a Parsi restaurant floated by a Non-Parsi. The acoustics of B&K conjure up the vision of a collaborative venture between two mad bawas.
Even celebrity restaurants here have a touch of imagination. ‘God-ka by Simran’ on ECR is a telling example. Instead of riding solely on her brand equity, she chose a fusion name. Godka is what one gets by mixing Gin and Vodka. Also God-ka is a Hinglish way of implying a divine taste.
The self-deprecatory ‘I Fake’ for an ‘almost authentic’ restaurant; the very sixties ‘Love Peace Karma’ for a hookah lounge; the in-your-face ‘Eggsclusive’ for a roadside eatery; the exotic ‘Bolizza’ for a snackery peddling the South Indian Boli; the catchy ‘Biri Biri’ for a biriyani joint; and the spoonerism ‘Bake My Day’, just go to prove that when it comes to ingenuity, Madras takes the cake.