It’s been a while since I stepped into a Star Hotel for a meal. Chennai’s food scene is changing so fast with amazing stand-alone restaurants cropping up everywhere that you have so many other options to explore. However, when it is a some special occasion, you still look for something more than just the food – the ambience, the service and overall, the whole package. When such is the requirement, what better option than ITC Grand Chola in Guindy!!
It was wifey’s birthday and wanted to take the family out to a nice place, something special. Decided on ITC Grand Chola, also because it was the closest to us. Choosing which restaurant to dine in, was a bit confusing. There are so many restaurants serving different cuisines in this hotel. Peshawri, Royal Vega, Ottimo, Madras Pavilion, and a few others too. Finally it came down to two of them – Peshawri and Madras Pavilion. I chose the latter because they had a buffet while the menu in Peshawri seemed to be very limited. Probably they make the best kebabs and tikkas from the North-West Frontier province, but somehow I felt limited by choice. Finally, Madras Pavilion it was!
As we entered, we couldn’t help but appreciate the grandeur of this place! I’ve been here a couple of times to meet a friend, though not for a meal, I was familiar with the place. My family loved the amazing interiors. We walked in to the restaurant and the maitre d’ checked our name on the reservation list and promptly escorted us to our table and we slowly settled down. I had called earlier and reserved the table for 19:30Hrs and also informed them that it was my wife’s birthday and I would like a small cake-cutting ceremony before the dinner!
They brought a nice cute cake to the table and a small candle was lit! The cake was a surprise to my wife and kids 🙂 They loved it !!! We all had a small piece of the cake, and it was very yummy, and asked the rest of it to be packed so we wouldn’t feel full even before starting to eat!
Now coming to the food, we were told starters would be served on the table. The first starter to come was Paneer Tikka, nice flavour, but was certainly not as soft as I expected. Sorry for drawing a comparison, but the paneer at Pind would beat this hands down any day. Prawns came next, quite big in size, and looked quite reddish with a lot of masala. Since I dont eat seafood, waited for a feedback from my wife. I was told it was very spicy and in fact had to stop my daughter from eating that. Grilled fish was good it seems, as usual, I dont know. Then came the chicken starter, it was decent, nice flavour and soft, but not anything close to a wow experience ! Our experience at this stage was average, and left us wondering why none of the dishes had the wow factor. Meanwhile I went around to have a look at the dishes on the buffet, spotted three different soups, well two I would say 😛 Elumichchai Rasam was also a soup, of course. I took a little of Cream of Chicken and Leek soup and Burmese Khowsuey. I tasted a bit of both and they were good. I liked Burmese Khowsuey, with coconut milk, lemongrass and a typical thai yellow curry kinda flavor. Nibbled on some bread, soup sticks and finally decided to proceed to something different.
That’s when I thought there must be something interesting in a restaurant as grand as this, and decided to have a glass of Red Wine. 😉 Looked at the Wine collection and needless to say, they were pretty expensive. I wanted something very basic. I ordered a glass of Merlot and checked out some interesting food on display. I would have liked the wine a bit cooler, but to me it looked like it was served in room temperature and not the recommended 15-18 degrees. The interesting stuff on display was pretty much like the stuff from Master Chef Australia 😉 Small portions, neatly plated, and was more like a pairing of food items. Some of them I tasted were – Watermelon with Balsamic Feta, Peach with Gorgonzola, Marinated asparagus with roasted bell pepper, and Tomato with herbed Pesto and so on. I stuck to vegetarian as the next section was cold cuts, Salmon, Shrimp and so on. Stayed decently away from them 🙂 Sipping a glass of wine, tasted these one by one and they were very different, and I liked all of them except the Gorgonzola cheese balls, it was too strong for my pallete. With a great difficulty, managed to eat one. Meanwhile asked for a Paneer and a Chicken starter again, just to see if it was any different this time, but it wasnt. Paneer was still not soft enough for me and Chicken was good. Now I wanted some beer to have with the chicken, ordered for a pint of Kingfisher. Together, it was wonderful, a very familiar combo. 😉
Wife and kids tasted a bit of Hakka Noodles, Grilled fish, Grilled Chicken and Oriental Stir Fried Veggies and seemed to enjoy it. Daughter wanted curd rice with pickle 🙂 Overall, they felt everything was good, but nothing very impressive. I went to get some selective dishes, took a little vegetable Dum Biryani and Chicken Dum Biryani, A small spoon of Paneer Makhani, and Raita. I liked this paneer the best, softer than the other one, but still far away from what I had in mind. Chicken Biryani was nice with a flavor of saffron. Loved that !
Finally, we were quite full but there’s always a separate compartment in the stomach for the desserts 😉 Decided to taste some of them, and headed to the counter. It was quite elaborate with muffins, tarts, brownies, mousse, cheesecakes and some Indian sweets like Khubani ka Meeta, Rice Kheer, Bengali sugar sweet Chum Chum, Gaajar Halwa, and a few others. I tasted a White Chocolate Mousse with rose Jelly, a Baked Cheese cake with some berry compote, Gaajar Halwa, and all of them were awesome. I was curious to taste Khubani ka Meeta but didn’t like it very much. I don’t distinctly remember how apricots taste and had no idea about this either. A small bite of the red velvet cupcake was also good!
Thus far and no further!!! We were quite stuffed by now and I asked for the check. The dinner set us back by about 7.5K rupees including the drinks, and it was quite expected in a place like this. The whole experience was wonderful, the time was enjoyable, wife had a lovely Birthday and she was very happy, the service was pretty good and the waiter asked me more than twice if everything was all right, and all the staff were welcoming and pleasant. If at all there was something to pin point – forget the normal restaurants, in a place like this, the wireless swiping machine did not work !!!! I was asked to come to enter the PIN. This was very surprising ! Since we badly needed the walk, I didn’t mind. Otherwise I wouldn’t be too pleased.
After all the nice experience, if you ask me as a foodie, did something just WOW me this evening, I would say NO !!! Everything was good, but not the best that I’ve eaten. Of course the finer stuff like the MasterChef Australia ones, was brilliant and I enjoyed that, the rest of the items failed to woo me. For the variety we tasted, 2K per head is nothing to complain, especially when it includes everything around the food – the ambience, service, etc.
I wouldn’t be too keen to visit the same place again, but would like to try out other restaurants in ITC Grand Chola which are probably even better than this one!
If you enjoyed reading my experience, feel free to share it! 🙂