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A railway fare

It's Chennai Central Station, all right, but sterilised. Treat yourself to the magic of vadai-chutney, bread-omelet and instant noodles at Radisson GRT Hotel's Garden Café. On till February 9.

THINK OF Chennai Central Station. What are the images that come to mind? People milling about, their smells and noises, may be, but definitely not food. It is difficult to think of food at a place that showcases our civic sense more than anything else.

To recreate the magic of vadai-chutney, bread-omelet and instant noodles, the Radisson GRT Hotel (ph: 22310101) has recreated a sterilised Central Station ambience at the Garden Café. The coffee shop is done up with cutouts, fake rails, TV showing Tamil movies, post box, waiters wearing red and white coolie uniforms and if that is not enough, there are constant announcements of departure and arrivals of trains and the accompanying din. The hot stations at the buffet are managed by boys in pantry car staff garb. It is slumming in style.

Though the theme is named Central Station, the Radisson Express doesn't stop at Chennai. It covers the whole country. So there is vada pav from Mumbai, khaman dhokla from Gujarat, chole/Kanpur luchai batura from U.P. and guddu biriyani or egg biriyani from Vijayawada.

The executive chef, Rajesh Gopalakrishnan, says the idea is to bring out the regional specialties in railway fare. And if Indian Railways dish up food like these, the flight kitchens would soon be out of business.

The beauty of the spread is that even the humble peanut is a star here. The whole roasted groundnut was delicious. There is nothing novel or outstanding in the menu, yet the old familiars are exceedingly yummy. The simple toasted sandwich, Mumbai regular, with cucumber, tomato and mint chutney, was good.

It's like holding your favourite blanket after a long time. You know exactly how and what it is, still there is a new delight when you feel and hold it.

The idli-chutney, appam-paya, puliyodharai-beans poriyal and thayir vadai did the trick. Nostalgia rode even higher with the superb Tirunelveli halwa. Rewri, sesame coated sugar candy of U.P. and the Lonavala chikki will make you wish that the ride will never end. This is the most delicious `gravy' train I have ever been on.

Go on and give it a try. The train leaves at night and the ticket costs Rs.300 plus tax per person. The ride is on till February 9.


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