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Tuesday, Feb 10, 2004

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Fun and food

More than the food it's the ambience that beckons you to the ECR Dhaba

THE CLAMOUR about the Chennai Fest, which turned the East Coast Road into a 50-mile-long `Funtastic Highway', may have died down but the Shyam Group of Restaurants, better known for the Savera Hotel, is just getting its act together to add one more spot to the list of fun.

It's located about 15 minutes from the tollgate and though it goes by the name "ECR Dhaba", the menu has a sprinkling of Chettinad, South Indian and Chinese food, apart from Punjabi and Kabul dabha fare. Guests can choose from a variety of well-known dishes such as paneer makhani, veral meen and kadai vegetables as well as the more exotic sounding lasne kebab and malmaishe kabab. An added attraction is the live lobster station, where diners can choose their seafood as well as the method of preparation.

The food is definitely not the most exciting part. That's reserved for the ambience and activities that the place offers. Apart from getting to feel like Tarzan of the jungle while dining in a tree house, patrons can choose to eat their dinner inside a truck, an old car or atop a catamaran. To add a little zest to the dining experience, the hotel has set tables into these vehicles, which, in case you were wondering, cannot be driven around.

If you fancy some gambling after dinner, hit the gaming tables which are set up with traditional games such as pallankuzhi, parama padam and aadu puli aatam — games that would have children and grown-ups challenging each other and vying for a turn at the tables.

There's a mini aquarium and a park full of unusual birds from all over the world for Nature lovers. A cascade and a man-made lake play home to Malay ducks, geese and other waterfowl. A children's play area with swings, slides and miniature merry-go-rounds complete the entertainment zone — but just for the present.

The promoters have plans to set up a crafts village over the next few months, where people can learn to make traditional arts and crafts as well as buy handicrafts and knick-knacks.

Also on the cards are a zoo for children and a party area for private get-togethers and family celebrations. The ECR Dhaba is spread over 15 acres and is set beside the backwaters, where the hotel plans to begin a boating facility.


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