Varieties of tea apart, there's enough to choose from starters, main course and desserts at Kettle

You can't deny a Bengali her evening chai. And you can't deny a Punjabi the accompaniments that go with the chai. I, of course, need both. So one evening when I am stuck in Anna Nagar, half past my tea time, I grouchily scour for a place that will satiate my tea and snack fix, and stumble upon Kettle.

Up a flight of steps and into the cosy little space I am greeted by the all too familiar sound of brewing tea which at this point sounds like Adele's music to my ears. The restaurant has a separate section dedicated to tea with around 20 varieties of tea leaves. There's Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Assam, jasmine tea… and unfamiliar ones such as organic hari talwar and hari muskaan, organic kala zulph... This sure feels like a haven for tea enthusiasts. My foodie accomplice joins me shortly. We pour over the elaborate tea menu and finally settle for a lemon basil iced tea for me and a green tea for her. The usually drab green makes a rather dramatic entrance. It comes like a princess, seated in a mesh inside a tea pot and is escorted by a timer. The boiling point for green tea is 85 degrees so when it's ready the timer lets out an exasperated trrring and that's when you are supposed to pour it into your cup and daintily or slurpily, depending on your style, sip on it. My refreshing ice tea comes minus all the frills. Thankfully it doesn't contain synthetic flavoured syrup and that's why the subtle flavour of the tea isn't drowned out.

Meanwhile a plate of BBQ chicken strips and paneer land on our table. The friend has been useful and ordered some food. She grins and sticks her fork into the paneer. “Try this unusual combination. It's paneer with a mushroom and date paste,” she says. I pucker my lips, turn my nose up at her weird choice of food. “Try it,” she persists. One bite and the paneer has got me wrapped around its finger like a love-struck puppy. It's delicious with an interesting burst of flavours that come from its exotic blend of ingredients. And before the friend can help herself to the last piece on the plate, I distract her and hurriedly polish it off.

That makes us take notice of the BBQ chicken strips. The tender slivers of chicken seem to have issues deciding on its nationality. The taste oscillates between Chinese and American. It comes doused in a delectably tangy, peppery sauce and is light on the palette. We flip through the menu which has a mix of popular cuisine. There is pasta, (which earlier only made guest appearances on certain menus but now finds its way into almost every café menu much like an item number in movies) sandwiches, Panini… We settle for Thai curry rice which is a new introduction. It's mildly spiced but lacks character and fades in comparison to the starters.

The good news is that we mostly enjoyed what we ate, the bad news is we are so stuffed that the desserts have to be given a miss. Just as we walk out, the dessert counter laden with colourful, gooey pastries, fudge brownies, apple crumble, baked yoghurt catches our attention. The Tiramisu sit on a plate proudly displaying its name, like an endearing pet with a dog tag. We really can't ignore it now can we? Maybe we'll share. Next thing you know, we are sitting in silence wolfing down tiramisu. The flavour is tame compared to tiramisus elsewhere but that still doesn't stop us from ordering one each for ourselves. Sharing? Who ever said anything about that?

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Priyadarshini PaitandyJune 28, 2012