Restobar: Garrison in Chennai takes us back to yesteryear England and its menu is full of surprises
If you’re a Peaky Blinders fan, you will be happy to discover that Chennai now has its own ‘Garrison’ restobar. Although, it is a touch more modern than the one in the show — we like the royal blue interiors and tidbits from history like a framed announcement ahead of the Titanic setting sail on one wall. Owner Kiran Adithya (28) has a handful of cloud kitchens that were opened last year but this 118-seater at The King’s Hotel in Egmore is his first brick and mortar space. And he tells us, much care has gone into its planning — be it sourcing lamb from New Zealand or crafting “seamlessly shape-shifting interiors” as he puts it, that take you from restobar to café to fine dining restaurant.
Our exclusive luncheon tasting happens before opening day (earlier this week), so we get treated to plush sofa chairs with chandeliers overhead in the private dining room. And over Caesar Salad packed with chicken and Romaine lettuce, we find ourselves poring over the rest of the menu — which reveals sushi, pasta, Pan Asian classics like a Spicy Sambal Prawn and much to our surprise, Thanjavur-style Goat Spleen Varuval tossed with the goodness of Thalassery pepper and cow ghee. The latter, we are told by head of kitchen and operations, Arjun Maravan, is part of the kitchen’s effort to revive traditional remedies to boost immunity. “Goat spleen is not easy to source, so we only get a handful a week,” he says. Sadly, it is unavailable on the day of our tasting, so we opt for a Pepper Crushed Chicken Breast instead. Expect succulent strips of chicken that pack a heady hit of heat, courtesy pepper pods — sourced from Thalassery, Kolli Hills and Figaro, Spain. This might be just what the doctor ordered for sore throats and sniffles, that has been doing the rounds lately...
To this end of indigenous and local remedies, Arjun points to an empty section at the entrance that will soon be stocked with ‘forest honey’ sourced from free-range hives across the Eastern and Western Ghats. “This will be used in our menu with dishes like Caramelised Phyllo Pastries and Lotus Stems, and will also be available by the bottle,” he shares. We ask him to save one for us as we mull over rediscovering long-forgotten remedies for good health at a restobar of all places, alongside bottles of 18-year-old Johnnie Walker and Japanese single malts!
Salmon, share with me?
Our main is an exquisite platter of Grilled Norwegian Salmon which arrives on a soft bed of quinoa, baby spinach and a drizzle of lemon butter sauce. Although, if you prefer a dish that is less mild and dare we say ‘dynamite’ — you might want to try the Siamese pan-fried chicken loaded up with chilli pulp and basil instead. We wrap up with a generous block of Tiramisu made with Kahlua and Bacardi Ocho Rum. Apparently, the test for perfectly set tiramisu is you hold the spoon vertically and the dessert should stay put on the spoon Ours slides right off, perhaps due to a slight excess of spirits, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Meal for two at INR 2,750, not including beverages.