Avartana, ITC Grand Chola, Guindy, Chennai - 2 Year Anniversary

When it comes to Fine Dine Indian Food, we immediately think about Kebabs and Dals and Naans. The Northern frontier takes precedence over the South Indian cuisine. But thanks to Avartana at ITC that is not the case. They have showcased the food of South Indian region with a twist and have put the dishes on the road map to stunning delicacies.

In the last two years, my recommendations for Avartana have been countess. It has stood as a symbol / showcase for Contemporary Progressive South Indian Food. Recommended for friends and family visiting from abroad. I was one of the first few to try out their menu when Avartana was about to launch about two years ago. I was awe stuck with Michelin Star like service. And once again I was  part of the  chosen few called to sample their new upgraded menu / 2.0 which has been launched recently, as a part of their second anniversary.

Things to understand about Avartana is you can't go here and order what you want off a menu. You choose a menu based on your preferences and it is served on the table, course after course.

We started the evenings proceedings with a Amuse Bouche which was a thinly sliced piece of carrot curled into a cone filled with yummy goodies. The taste was very much like a bhel puri , but refreshing.

 Next up was an appetizer. First to be served was the Cuttle Fish served on a bed of cauliflower and coconut chutney. This was the 1st time I have ever had a cuttle fish. It was soft and in similar consistency to squid. I do not seem to have a reference to this dish or it origins cause I have never had cuttle fish elsewhere.

Next up was Cracklings served with Mango Mush. The cracklings or cracker were made out of Lotus Stem, Corriander and Curry leaves and Gongura Leaves which need to dipped on the Mango Chutney which was served on nice looking black stone. Mango chutney was similar to the mango jam which we are all familiar with. Taking a simple papad or crispies and giving them a master chef makeover.

Next to be served was Sundried Tomato Tapioca. This dish looks like a brain on a bed of leaves with blood splattered around it. Very refreshing dish.

Crispy fried potato is a very familiar dish which is served with curd rice. The chefs here have taken the simple dish and conceptualized in a whole new way.  Enter Crispy Chilli Potato 2.0. It looks a lot like birds nest. The crispy chilli potato in the form of nest and the egg on top filled with pineapple and mint juice. It needs to be consumed as a whole. The egg breaks in your tongue and releases the juices. Its pure symphony in the mouth.

Next to be served was the Lemon Leaf Sorbet to cut the flavors of the starters before we indulged ourselves with the main course.

First of the mains was the Fried Sea Bass served on a bed of aubergines. Easily my favorite dish of the day. The fish had a crispy outer which made it yum!

Next to be served was Pan Seared Quail with Quail egg sunny side up and rice cake (neer dosa / appam consistency) was just wow! The quail was just spectacular.

Next was the Braised Lamb Cheeks served on a bed of Semolina (Upma). Mine was perfectly cooked and easy to cut and yummy to taste but some on the table had a slightly over cooked rendition which was up chewy alley.

How can a South Indian Feast end without rice? So we were served humble Tamrind Chicken Rice on a Banana Leaf  with Okra Yogurt. I just loved it. I definitely would not mind another portion of it. The yogurt cuts the tamrind flavor and is a delight.

To finish the main course proceedings we had Curd Vermicelli which was neat and a nice way to get done with the main course, something very similar to our Thairsadham.

We finished off this lip smacking meal with Almond Cremeux which was an almond mousse served with orange ice cream garnished with berry sauce. The berry sauce was a little strong for my liking but the ice cream and mousse was divine.

Meal here is a must have for people who are open to experimenting and for people in search of something new.

Common South Indian interiors but re- imagined. Carpets resembling banana leaves and wall motifs like Kerala Boats and finally an open kitchen - a first for a south Indian restaurant. The restaurant also has a private dining which can seat about 10 people at a time.

The restaurant does have restrictions on kids under 10 years of age, but they would not mind serving them a small special menu if we do land here with our kids without knowing about this.

Avartana offers tasting menus ranging from Rs 2000/- and upwards for a seven course meal.

Calling this experience 'mind-blowing' would be an understatement. Having a Master-chef style experience from a south Indian cuisine will have you raving. Avartana is here to redefine the food with simple and humble origin into Michelin experience.

Disclaimer : Invited Review

Avartana is located inside ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

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*A review about a place holds good only for 6 months as there can be a change in quality and quantity of the food, the service, and the staff, due to reasons best known only to them. So kindly consider these factors while visiting the places.

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