Shraddha Srinath just invested in Per Se, a new salad bar at Phoenix MarketCity in Chennai
Salad bars and farmers aren’t often found in the same vicinity. In fact, can you picture an Indian farmer eating a salad? But times are changing...
Twenty three-year-old Akhil Nichani, the urban farmer behind the leafy greens at Per Sé, isn’t merely a vendor, but a partner. “I am curious to learn about how things work on the other side,” he tells us, over a chat that goes well beyond basil and butterhead lettuce. The latter, by the way, “is a variety you will find hard to get your hands on elsewhere, as it is only grown hydroponically,” he shares.
This hip new salad bar is strategically located a level below Club Crest’s gym and yoga studio in Phoenix MarketCity. Spread over 600 square feet, expect cosy dining pre or post-workout — whether that means pumping iron or a shopping marathon through the mall’s many branded stores.
The step-by-step of making a salad here is quite similar to the Subway experience — pick your base or lettuce, veggies, protein and dressing. Cordon Bleu, London-trained chef and partner Mathangi Kumar (31) walks us through a delicious Malai chicken option with carrots and corn, Romaine lettuce and a drizzle of honey and olive oil with sliced paprika, golden bits of fried garlic and the slightest hint of peanut butter. Delicious, healthy at a measured 150 calories and, we realise, minus the mayo!
An informal visit to Mathangi’s house to sample her newly-innovated salad dressings, we discover later, was one of the reasons that really sold actor Shraddha Srinath (29), who is also on board as a partner in the venture. And the portfolios of the continuing list of partners, we find out as we keep going — are as diverse as a mixed salad. Sample this: an automobile industry professional (Pratham Rustagi, 23), a coffee connoisseur (Viggnesh, 29) and an entrepreneur (David Aswathaman, 30).
The art of dressing
• Salad dressings: are all vegan. Don’t miss the creamy cashew sriracha and orange vinaigrette
• Add-ons: include imported parmesan or cheddar, garlic croutons and candied walnuts
• Off the shelf: pick up homemade granola (Happy Mix), cold pressed juices (Raw Pressery) and Indian-origin coffee beans and powder (Arrostire)
Lost in the dessert
By this time, our fully whet appetite has led us to more indulgent sections of the menu — like the Jalapeno Popper (a sandwich with rashes of bacon and stringy mozzarella). We also cannot stop raving about an icy blend of Nutella meets 100% Arabica coffee from Salawara estate, Chikmagalur (byArrostire). For something sweet, we are curious to try the ‘Dessert Grilled Cheese’ — which turns out to be a sandwich filled with Nutella for a chocolate-y base, sliced almonds for crunch, a hint of mascarpone for creamy decadence, cut through by a crimson and tart raspberry coulis.
Per Sé is located within Club Crest, but is open to all. A salad and a drink is INR 350 approx. Sandwiches range from INR 200 to INR 250. Open from 11 am to 10 pm.