Today half the world is familiar with
South Indian food -- paper dosas, idlis,
medu wadas, pappadams. Or so they believe.
A trip to Madras will change that notion entirely. Madras
is the place to sample the real delights of South Indian
food that most have not set eyes on. It is the city where
one can go on a real eating holiday and never miss having
not seen a church or a temple. The umpteen types of dosas.
The trillion types of pulaos. The crunchy raitas.
Spicy preparations of unheard of vegetables. And the meat
cusine -- prawn drumstick curries, the mutton biryanis.
- Amravati, Cathedral Road: Excellent, inexpensive
food in the Andhra tradition. The biryanis are
worth the eating.
- Imperial, 6, Gandhi Irwin Road, opposite
Egmore railway station: North Indian food, and steaks.
Rather run to seed of late, but still worth a checkout
if you are in the area.
- Maharaja, 307, Triplicane High Road: Popular
with the budget traveller. North Indian dishes a speciality
of the house. Better value for money is the set meal.
Open till midnight, which in early-to-bed Madras counts
- Karaikudi, near Music Academy: Spicy south
Indian food in the Chettinad tradition.
- Palmgrove, 5, Kodambakkam High Road, tel
# 8271881: Two vegetarian restaurants in one. Oorvasi
specialises in tandoor dishes, Menaka serves
up great lunch-platters (thalis, in local parlance).
- Saravana Bhavan, 77, Usman Road, T Nagar,
near Mambalam railway station: Very popular for authentic
south Indian vegetarian food. The ground floor is inexpensive,
and serves up the food on plantain leaves, the first
floor extension is more upmarket but very affordable.
Tip: the food comes out of a common kitchen, so your
choice is between affordability and comfort.
- Woodlands Drive-In, 30, Cathedral Road: Vegetarian
snacks, in a garden setting. Patronised by the mobile
- and we mean bikes and scooters - teen crowd, though
there is a table section for walk-in diners as well.
- Woodlands, Cathedral Road: The home of traditional
South Indian vegetarian fare inclusive of the famous
sappad replete with sambar, rasam, applams
- AVM Dasa, Mount Road: This restaurant, run
jointly by a movie mogul (AVM Studio) and a famous hotelier
(Dasaprakash), offers authentic dosa, sambar
and chutney to the discerning along with a host
of continental vegetarian fare and an assortment of
- Taj Connemara, Binny Road, tel # 860123:
Superb buffet at the Verandah coffee shop, stiffish
price. A catchall menu features vegetarian and non-vegetarian,
continental and Indian. The Rain Tree restaurant,
an outdoorsy place, specialises in the highly spiced
Chettinad cuisine and is recommended for non-vegetarian
food. Live classical music performances and Bharat Natyam
recitals add to the ambience.
- Ambassador Pallava, 53, Montieth Road, near
Egmore: The Other Room features north Indian
cuisine with a live band in attendance, and a dance
floor for the fiddle-footed. The buffet, at a shade
under Rs 200, recommended value for money.
- Taj Coromandel, 17, Nungambakkam High Road,
tel # 8272827: Mysore restaurant recommended
for connoisseurs of Indian cuisine. Golden Dragon
for some almost-authentic Chinese cuisine. The
Patio for its continental food. The Pavilion
coffee shop for its buffet breakfast.
- Welcomgroup Chola Sheraton, 10, Cathedral
Road, tel # 8280101: The Peshawari restaurant
serves food from the North Western Frontier Province,
and costs a bomb. The rooftop Sagari restaurant
caters to Chinese-food freaks, and is good and expensive.
- Welcomgroup Park Sheraton, 132, TTK Road,
tel # 452525: The Residency is great for Indian,
Western and Chinese food. The Khyber is for
the non-veg foodie, and the poolside barbecue is worth
the stiffish tab.
Dakshin is the best of the
restaurants, and offers great, unusual veg and non-veg
dishes to the accompaniment of live Carnatic music.
- Trident Hotel, 1/24 Grand Southern Trunk
Road, tel # 2344747: Worth the 20-minute drive from
the city centre, if only for some toothsome Thai food.