Shraddha Srinath just invested in Per Se, a new salad bar at Phoenix MarketCity in Chennai
Expect hydroponic lettuce, innovative dressings and delicious freshly roasted coffee
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.