Food Newly-opened Triana and Donut House offer a variety fare
After a lot of driving about in circles in Royapettah, we finally find Triana. A glistening tower of concrete and glass proudly announcing its ‘multi-cuisine menu: Indian, Chinese, Continental.' Yet another Jack of All Trades restaurants. Looks like Chennai can just never get enough of these.
Inside we're assaulted by the most frightening version of the Japanese Cherry tree we've ever seen. The restaurant is dark and cavernous, reminiscent of the recesses of an aquarium. The tree stands tall and proud in a corner, plastered with pink lights so blindingly bright we worry about whether we should reapply sun screen before we sit down.
In a burst of the kind of adventurous spirit that made Vasco Da Gama famous, we decide to eschew reliable Tandoori food and plunge into the Asian menu, which abounds with interesting choices: Beijing pepper steak, spinach green chilly chicken, sambal and Malaysian green ribbon noodles. Our meal begins with Dragon Chicken, which is refreshingly light, with plenty of thinly sliced garlic, onion and celery to add flavour topped with crisp slivers of cashewnuts. We also ask for pan-fried wantons, which arrive in one strangely shaped lump that needs to be separated. Nevertheless, they're tasty, especially the carefully crisped edges.
The main course, a green curry, arrives wobbling gently — a strangely glutinous mass of spices cradling generous slices of lamb. To be fair, it's green. It's a curry. But, unfortunately, it's far too chaotic with randomly combined spices, including handfuls of garlic, to be a green curry.
On the bright side, we're in a great position to vanquish vampires given the fumes of garlic that lovingly wrap us as we leave. In the mood for dessert we head to the newly opened Donut House and plaster our noses against their cool, tempting counters laden with a rainbow of doughnuts.
The café's chic and welcoming, done up in white to maximise the impact of their display kitchen, crammed with slinky machinery and two serious men injecting cream into doughnuts with surgical precision.
Overwhelmed by the number of choices, we start pointing and ordering wildly. The waitress, however, is impassable — perhaps she's mentally composing a novella or plotting how to become a reality TV star. (C'mon. Don't pretend you've never done that at work!) Fortunately alert Bhuvanesh steps in and puts together our box of doughnuts while telling us how the café got started.
As it turns out, he owns Donut House with his brother, Dineshkumar Subarayan, who used to work for EBay in Australia. Tired of the corporate life, Dineshkumar decided to come home, along with some Australian doughnut making equipment.
While my friend likes the triple chocolate, covered and oozing with the good stuff, I prefer the less creamy dark chocolate version. There's a sweeter milk chocolate version, which is nice too. I find the strawberry doughnut, filled with a jelly, rather synthetic and the mango covered in a white chocolate too sweet.
The actual doughnut, which is identical for all flavours, is fluffy and mellow — an ideal base. It's not melt-in-the-mouth Krispy Kream style but is more doughy, which I like because it's not overwhelmingly rich and you can eat a couple without feeling like you need to lie down in a dark room for an hour. I team mine with a cup of frothy cappuccino, one of the many beverage options besides hot chocolate, iced coffee and spritzers.
Although the Donut House is just a couple of weeks old, it's already got loyalists — many of whom come by to pick up bags of doughnuts while we're there. It helps that the packaging is neat and prices reasonable, at roughly Rs. 300 for half a dozen.
(Triana is on Avvai Shanmugam Salai, Gopalpuram. A meal for two costs about Rs. 600. Ph: 42179963)
Donut House is in Wellingdon Estates, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore. Ph: 42656426)