Review Chennai

A peek at Black Orchid, the new resto-bar in Chennai

The tavern-esque Black Orchid lends an old Hollywood charm to RA Puram’s night life

‘I want to know what love is,’ sings Eighties band Foreigner as I step into the recently opened Black Orchid. With a bevy of staff dancing attendance, I am about to find out.

Music bounces off its deep leather sofas, black walls and orange-hue lamps that lend it the feel of an upmarket tavern. It serenades the ladies who lunch by the restaurant’s yawning, bright windows, and the mosquitoes that buzz along in time, uninvited.

Choose the armchair-style seating on the first floor. It has a view to a thrill — an unusual bar with eclectic bottles of liquor standing cheek by jowl — that has birthed a 10-page drinks menu co-created by its owner, banker-turned-restaurateur Sanjeev Verma.

The room has been pared down to a soothing green. Giant orbs of light on the ceiling make the lower floor seem poised and en pointe — much like the cuisine. Or the chef behind the perfectly-plated sushi, seafood, North Indian and Italian food that Black Orchid serves. Like Sophia Loren in the eponymous film, everything is coffee-table-book-pretty with an air of mystique.

The first to arrive are maki rolls with a choice of vegetables, and crisp California sushi with crab stick, carrot and avocado. This is sushi with a western edge but the touch of wasabi and the soft crunch of rice and seafood lend it a pronounced Asian accent.

A mixed platter of cottage cheese tostadas and mushroom crostinis appears next. Each sliver of cottage cheese is velveteen with a little fire of spices; the mushroom can be mistaken for coarse minced meat. Which is not a bad thing; my companion and I shovel these little eats straight off the platter.

Since there has been a glut of savoury, Chef Fabian Ravi — who built a career helming Patio at Taj Coromandel — suggests a Japan-inspired salad. The lettuce is translucent and the flavour umami-rich, but I am not one of those who warm up to greens readily and nit-pick at it.

We are saved by Jagan Jack, the mixologist, who serves cocktail glasses of Rooty Salty — a vetiver vodka served with frozen blood orange puree — and Zu Zu Li — floral gin with jasmine vodka and lemon juice. Since they are infusions, there is the headiness of alcohol without the burn of it.

The beef teriyaki has slim waves of fat and muscle the colour of plum. It is laid out like a fan, like artwork in a gallery. A tough contender for first place that afternoon is the pan-tossed garlic and cheese marinated prawns that have the comfort of home.

A close second is the beef with kaffir lime and lotus stem. The slices lie nestled like commas, ready to fall apart with a touch of the fork. A distant last comes the mutton sukka tortilla — over-spiced, it is the proverbial dish from hell. An attempt to fuse flavours from India with the Hispanic, the dish seems to have lost its way, though a less fiery version may have let it breathe better.

Anyway, it is time for dessert and Chef suggests a serving of the signature Black Orchid cheesecake and the chocolate and hazelnut delice. The former is serious and dark; it has been worked on for hours but tastes over-engineered.

Black Orchid
  • 105, Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar Road, RA Puram
  • Hits: Beef teriyaki, Rooty salty, Chocolate and hazelnut delice
  • Misses: Mutton sukka tortilla, Mushroom crostini, abundant mosquitoes
  • Meal for two: ₹3,200
  • 9176477647

As for the delice? The chocolate is perfectly flavoured, the avocados tickle the back of your throat and, suddenly, you are a kindred spirit with the glamorous Sophia Loren under a Tuscan sun.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:16:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-peek-into-black-orchid-the-new-resto-bar-in-chennai/article30990926.ece

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