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Tuesday, Apr 16, 2002

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Fine art and fine food


IF FIRST impressions are the best, then "The Artz" strives to get it right. While the menu follows the usual Indian-Chinese-Continental formula, this eatery sandwiched between Komala's on its left and Annamalai on its right at No.9, Kodambakkam High Road, sets higher standards for itself in terms of décor and service. A foyer, done up in Chettinadu designs leads to a rectangular room. This space in turn is treated to different styles, the predominant being Italian, Egyptian and Anglo-Saxon. The last is evident in the secluded family room, which can seat about 18 people.

The lighting is normally kept at twilight levels, but does not prevent one from seeing what one eats. Add to this, soft instrumental music and the ambience is agreeably romantic. The waiters are attentive without being obtrusive and one course follows another, without undue rush or annoying delays. An attractive menu card offers a good selection. The Baby Corn and Mushroom Pepper Salt starter (Rs.95) is delicious. Cooked to perfection, the corns retain their crunchiness as do the mushrooms their tenderness. And they are garnished with just the right amount of gold brown onions, spring onions, well sautéed tomatoes and shreds of garlic and ginger. This more than whets an appetite for the rest to follow. The Lung Fung Vegetable Soup (Rs.55) has a little difficulty in living up to the starter. The Kadai Panneer (Rs.105) stole the show in combination with the incredibly soft Rumali Roti (Rs. 25). The Dal Makhni (Rs.50) was however a disappointment.

Other choices like the Nuts Pulao with a sweet tinge (Rs.90), crisp Szechwan Fried Rice (Rs.105) and heavenly Vegetable Balls in Garlic Sauce (Rs.100) all make for sumptuous dining. A word of caution here. Portions are generous. So watch how much you order.The variety is vast for non-vegetarians as well. The Alleppey Fish Curry (Rs.145) is much sought-after. The Golden Fried Prawn (Rs. 240) and the Chicken Pepper Fry (Rs.135) are also favourites. Sliced Lamb in Sesame Sauce (Rs.145) appeals to select palates given its unusual amalgamation.

The mocktails are hard to resist. Orange Blossom (orange juice and orange squash blended with whipped cream) makes for a delicious cooler. As does Noorjahan (Rooh Afzah mixed with honey and crushed spices and topped with soda). They are priced at Rs.60 and Rs.75. The dessert section has its own rewards. While the Italian Kiss (scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream dressed in nuts and fruits) priced at Rs.75 is enjoyable, the Carrot Halwa (Rs.50) falls short of the mark. Apart from the food, another highlight of "The Artz" is that some of the paintings and ornamental objets d' art on display are for sale. "The Artz" is open from 12.30 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. till midnight.

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