Restobar: The Living Room in Chennai serves up snazzy interiors and fab flavours
The Living Room looks much like an opulent version of that room in your house. For starters, you enter via a wooden door that could well lead to someone’s apartment. The other thing is it has couches smack in front of a flat-screen TV with the India-Australia match on. Neon signage, plush couches and a gold embossed tin sheet to highlight the bar are some of the jazzier elements of Chennai’s newest restobar in Anna Nagar.
We get a hint of the sentiment behind the 3,800 sq feet of decor from N Velu Ammaiyappah, one of the partners in the venture. “I want this to be a space where the focus is bringing your friends or your family and enjoying yourself, not about turning up the volume and partying... ” he tells us. This is reflected in the mellow decibel level that eases us into a relaxed sense of ease, with Pretty Woman playing in the background. Velu who is in the construction biz co-runs the space with partners P Kamalakanan, K KrishnaVijay and AN Raghuram and has collaborated with brand consultant Arasu Dennis who has previously set up bars such as Off The Record and BOATS.
As for the menu, expect a mix of South Indian, tandoor and Continental, with Pan Asian round follow in a few months, we are told. “I have a different speciality chef consulting for each cuisine,” Arasu tells us. Today, we meet Chef Kamal Kannan S — a specialist in South Indian and coastal flavours. And we get our socks knocked off right away by the peppery Nenjelumbu Charu (tender lamb rib stock infused with whole spices). Great for a rainy day and even better if you are feeling under the weather, it is the perfect pick-me-up to start our meal with. And there is almost no wait time as a bevy if other appetisers arrive at our table. Our favourites include the crisp Vazhaipoo cutlet dipped in a sweet beet sauce, a pillowy Olive Malai Paneer Tikka and a succulent Mutton Green Roast tossed with a curry leaf paste and butter. We sip on a tall glass of light rum and sweet vermouth (Mask) with a splash of house-made almond milk, and that rum cuts right through. For a more subtle choice, we recommend the gin and apricot -infused Morris Chair.
A special mention must be made of the fall-off-the-bone lamb dishes on offer — whether it is a small plate of Tender Lamb Pasand served with a side of salad or the Nalli Milagu Pirattal (lamb shanks slow-cooked with stone-ground masala) as part of the mains. Other highlights include a juicy beef burger with a bull’s eye for extra goodness, packed between focaccia buns and a flakey Malabar paratha that we recommend with a Karaikudi Kozhi Kozhambu. But the unexpected piece de resistance turns out to be a humble banana leaf-wrapped biryani packing in generous chunks of mutton and deep pockets of flavour. Dessert is an innovative platter of crisp spring rolls packing in texture and sweetness from a filling of gajjar halwa and a side of rabdi.
Meal for two INR 1,500 (including beverages).
Look out for mechanised parking in the basement and an al fresco dining option with seating for 65 people on the fourth floor. The latter is a good option fo those more comfortable with open-air spaces due to the pandemic.