This Chennai restobar has unicorn fish on the menu and lifeboats for décor
The sliding doors are like the ones from an episode of Star Trek. Although we’re sure Captain Picard never had an LED-lit DMX dance floor on his ship.
We’re at a new watering hole in town. And from the name — Lower Deck — it’s no surprise that this expansive 8,000 square foot space is located in the basement of hotel Park Elanza. And, as one can chance a guess — it’s designed like a ship — with elements of décor including lifeboats on the wall, porthole-style windows and the wheel aptly placed in front of the man steering the playlist, the DJ!
New year, new look
With a complete revamp — both look and menus through the hotel, courtesy the JPRI Group — this is just one of the three sections in the hotel to get a makeover. The other two are La Cabana (a rooftop bar and grill) and Tepin Chilli (a multi-cuisine restaurant) — all not more than a week old.
Devanand Balaji, the man behind the venture takes us on a quick tour of the dimly lit interiors which include a state-of-the-art sound system — we count 17 speakers, including one thoughtfully built into the smoking section. “This way you don’t feel the sound levels go down whichever corner of the space you might be in,” says Balaji who has a background in events, hospitality and a recently sold microbrewery business in Kampala, Africa.
Other impressive features of the space include laser beams, a 60 sq foot LED wall for screenings (look out for one outside the hotel as well, promoting new events) and the aforementioned 650 sq foot dance floor with tiles that light up to the tempo.
Cocktail buckets: These will not be on the menu but announced by the hour instead. Each bucket has the capacity of a litre and-a-half. Rs 500 to Rs 600.
■ Spirits on auction: Now you could win a five-star pub priced Rs 10,000 bottle of Jim Beam at as low as Rs 4,000.
■ Bottom’s up: While pubs all over the city serve by the peg, this space offers alcohol by the bottle at 180 ml and 375 ml.
As crab lollipops make their way around the table (claw intact which might be unnerving to some) — we are told there is plenty of “crazy” seafare in the works, in theme with the restobar’s ship theme. These include Swordfish wrapped with golden-fried prawns, seafood stuffed calamari and a double-ended fish sandwich. Balaji tells us that contrary to what we are used to in most restaurants, which stick to varieties like sear fish and basa, “There will be a number of lesser-known varieties to look forward to like parrot fish and unicorn fish — which is good for steaks.”
Crab lollipops & unicorn fish
With the promise of it all being available in 10 days or so, we settle for some tried-and-tested staples on a pub menu like Chilli Chicken, Corn and Cheese nuggets and a delicious Kheema matar that arrives later. If you’re looking for some crunch with a hit of heat, we recommend the Roomali pappad — served with a topping of onion chop with chaat masala. This one makes for a good shared plate because of it’s impressive size. Wash it down with a swig of beer or in our case, a refreshing mango mocktail and it makes for the perfect party starter.
Unexpectedly, our favourite dish of the night turns out to be a stuffed chilli that isn’t spicy at all! We’re talking about barbecued jalapeños with a filling of diced mushrooms and cornflakes — making for a not-so-chilli hot bite of a chilli on a chilly evening in December.
Price for two Rs 899 (exclusive of spirits).
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