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Variety vegetarian fare

Classy veggie food and a room with a view - that's what Akshatha offers

A SPECTACULAR view of a darkening evening sky and the dark green canopied trees lining the bustling Avinashi Road greet the eye as you make yourself comfortable in this third floor restaurant. Tucking into a filling vegetarian meal to the accompaniment of olden-day Hindi tunes, for a minute you forget you are still inside the city.

Akshatha, located near the Lakshmi Mills junction, is strictly veg and offers Indian, Chinese and continental (for dinner only) cuisines. The ambience is good, but what truly sets it apart is the concept of open kitchen. Order your food and you can see the cooks getting to work in a jiffy. Mixing a variety of condiments, they bring you your platter in a jiffy. And, the speed of service is consistent (Never for a minute did we have to keep staring at each other and the empty plates).

We start with Chinese lung fung, cream of tomato and green peas soups. Lung fung, a combination of assorted vegetables, mushroom and Chinese stock, is delicious, but bland like Chinese food is wont to be. The tomato soup is different in that it has more `tomato' in it. The aroma of green peas soup reaches you long before the bowl. An aromatic combination of green peas puree, veg stock and roux (butter and maida mixture), it leaves a sweet aftertaste.

There are too many starters to choose from. We go in for the jelly-like corn bites. Bite into the soft exterior and what greets you is crisp-fried baby corn. The cauliflower will be thrilled at the treatment it gets in this eatery. Sans the blood red colour that has become the trademark of a Manchurian dish, this one looks happy and is low on spice. Cauliflower is enveloped in a thin jacket of maida and corn flour before being fried and tossed in sauce. Because the jacket is thin, you get to really taste the cauliflower.

Next comes Paneer kolivada resembling a paneer bajji and the must-try Hara bara kebab, a combination of spinach, green peas and herbs. They give you an option on this, you can either have it fried or roasted in a tandoor.

"Our USP is `authentic' food. We stick to the original method of preparation," Venkatachalam, one of the partners of Akshatha, says.

In the main course, try the aloo parathas (made here using maida), served with pickle and curd. Next came the feathery stuffed kulchas garnished with a roasted til and rotis accompanied by a rich malai kofta and paneer capsicum gravy. The koftas were great. And, the capsicum dish scored on presentation. Scooped out capsicum is stuffed with paneer and fried, before being quartered and served in a thick gravy. As each petal was unfurled and served, you could see the creamy paneer heart. A word about the paneer, it is soft and firm and simply delicious. Apparently, the eatery sources it from someone who makes it the traditional way.

Those of you who love spice, try the Szechwan fried rice. The hot flavour of red chilli paste comes through and is enjoyable even without any accompaniments. The best part is that no dish has been Indianised. Subramanian, another partner, says: "Chinese food is usually quite bland. But, it is not necessary to add Indian spices to add taste. It can be done even with Chinese spices."

The 58-cover eatery also has a private dining space. By August, the list of continental dishes on offer will cross 40, the partners say.

You can also choose from mocktails and value-added ice-creams for dessert. Try the refreshing Dunston Sails (an apple drink with mint and lemonade) and Queen's Topaz (Vannila ice cream with tinned peach and honey).

Akshatha is right in the middle of the city, but you could just miss out this place if you don't get your directions right. And, this is not a rooftop restaurant (Many think so and turn away, the partners rue). If you're in the mood to eat vegetarian fare without fear that the stock could've been spiked with meat, visit Akshatha. You won't be disappointed. A meal for two will cost about Rs. 400. Call 2214779 and 5575240 for bookings.


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