Curate with Chef Adhira at Crowne Plaza

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While it is probably Chennai's finest European Steakhouse, On The Rocks, at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, occasionally ups the game with guest chefs who dole out some brilliant meals. The last couple of times I was there, I can't think of a single dish going wrong, but the difference this time though, was that I've never heard of the chef. I've never heard of what she has done before, haven't dined at any of her restaurants, so to say that I was hoping my wonderful memories of guest chefs at OTR will stay intact, wouldn't be an understatement. To add to the suspense, I didn't have the menu, so if all we were getting was fancily plated rasam rice, I wouldn't have known beforehand. 



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I was a little early and so had the pleasure of interacting with Chef Adhira and she was successful in creating enough suspense that I was looking forward to the meal. Things like spending a few years (8 to be exact) trying to add one ingredient to make liver pate palatable for people who don't like it (read, me) and I was already looking forward to what she would do with her cooking. Also, the fact that the dessert wasn't the last course got me even more excited.

The first course wasn't very exciting to say the least! Maybe because OTR already has an excellent focaccia served with garlic roasted in olive oil, the bread with everything butter, the gazpacho and the bruschetta were a passe! The blue cheese stuffed dates saved this course from being a complete disaster. 

The average ended there! During plated dinners, I try not to allow my food preferences to get in the way and see if chefs can make me like things that I would normally avoid! So the chef pulled a fantastic duck out of her hat! With a pomegranate tinge in her balsamic dressing with whipped goat's cheese, I'm glad I didn't skip the duck course as I ended up finishing the plate clean. 

Why would you serve a puff pastry tart in the middle of a plated dinner? I guess if it so darn good as it was, you could even wake up someone at 3 am and serve it! This was a surprise course for me. While most chefs would send out a palate cleanser of sorts, Adhira decides that the palate needs no cleaning, while the soul could use some comfort food. And does it successfully! While unexpected, this is easily one of the best onion tart I've had in a long time!

This was followed by an excellent fish tartare. With some sour cream and walnut puree, another plate licked clean! And mentally I was getting ready for the main course, but the chef wasn't. She sent out a main course-ish casserole-ish looking dish! Hidden below the baked bread crumbs and cheese was a super light gnocchi, that the chef explains is the Hungarian version and not the classic Italian version. While I've not had the former, I was still able to finish the entire bowl of gnocchi with all of its cheese and ragu and still not feel heavy. Kudos for this. Finally the lamb with creamy mash comes out and by this time, anything the chef serves, we were ready to lap it up! 

Dessert course comes with 3 different dessert - two of which were mind blowing. A deconstructed s'more with dark chocolate mousse was excellent and competing with the super innovative burnt honey mousse served with ice cream. A superb take on the simple milk and honey, Chef Adhira wasn't finished. She sent out a post dessert course with 5 Indian cheeses, with marmalade and a fantastic Liver Pate with a tinge of orange. For someone who won't miss liver pate if it disappears from the face of the earth, I was in love with it. 

This meal wasn't a tasting portion of sorts, but eight courses came with multiple dishes within the courses and the portions were more than hearty, but just about right. So you don't need to look for another restaurant to go and fill up, but at the same time you don't need to be rolled home! In taking on the guests at a restaurant that already sets very high standards, very early in her career, Chef Adhira has announced herself to the Chennai food scene with aplomb and I can't wait to see what all this dynamic chef achieves! 

The 8 course meal is priced at Rs. 4250 and an extra Rs. 950++ for the wine pairing and is on till 26th September. 

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Grub Waz: Curate with Chef Adhira at Crowne Plaza
Curate with Chef Adhira at Crowne Plaza
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