This newly opened Chennai restobar is serving thayir sadam arancini balls and we're loving it
From Indian-inspired arancini trios to green chilly spiced hummus, Gourmet Bar’s menu of short eats offers fusion food at its best
Serving up arancini balls with an Indian twist — think kadhi chawal, rajmah chawal and thayir sadam replacing the usual rice-and-cheese filling — Gourmet Bar, Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road’s lobby bar promises a different experience. Walking into the swank space, we notice the huge mirrors adorning the walls, which play tricks on our mind, making the 74 cover restaurant seem larger. The furniture is a mix of plush sofas and wooden tables, with the tables at the bar paired with high bar stools. The colour palette is a mix of warm yellows, soft browns, cool blues and greys, with their orange plates and blue bowls adding a pop of colour. What catches our eye instantly is the inviting dessert display counter, with its high heels and lipstick-shaped chocolates being the centrepiece, among an array of cakes and pies.
The separate menus for lunch and dinner intrigue us, considering the bar is open from 11 am to 11 pm. Shweta Gupta, a mother of three and in the hotel industry for the first time (she has, in the past, dabbled with her family’s fashion retailing business), clarifies. “The core concept was to have a café style menu, served in a lounge-like atmosphere, for our business travellers. Come evening and the lights will get dimmer, the music louder, and the menu is designed in a way that there are more short eats and small plates to compliment the beverage menu,” she says, as Executive Chef Kalaiarasan, who has curated the menu with helpful inputs from Shweta, encourages us to order.
Finger lickin’ food
The bar is awaiting its liquor license, so we make do with mocktails. Lady Marmalade arrives in all her glory, a fruity mix of orange juice, ginger ale, lemon and marmalade, and we almost don’t miss the alcohol in this one. The Chilly Garlic Hummus served with Crispy Bran Pita is delicious as far as hummus’ go, with the heat from the green chillies coming through after a few spoonfuls. The Diminutive Greek Salad takes a new avatar here — rather than the veggies being tossed in dressing, bite-sized portions of crunchy, hollowed cucumbers are stuffed with veggies and topped with finely chopped olives and cheese. But what has our attention is the Baked Spinach & Feta Crust, with its crispy filo pastry being the perfect accompaniment for the cheesy spinach.
Thrice as nice
We are ready to try their much-talked-about Arancini Trio, but another mocktail arrives — the Frozen Berry Margarita — a slurry of strawberry and banana, that serves as a palate cleanser more than anything else. The Trio of Indian Inspired Arancini, with fillings of kadhi chawal, rajmah chawal and thayir sadam makes its way to our table, and like Shweta promises, is nothing like we’ve ever had. Crunchy on the outside, with the subtle flavours of the different rice mixes coming through, it tastes best when had with a dash of the accompanying dips. The BBQ Pulled Pork on Toast comes topped with caramelised onions and packs a punch in terms of flavour. The Bhuna Gosht and Warqui Paratha meanwhile, are cute-as-a-button sized paratha and lamb gosht combo, rife with Indian flavours. For a sweet touch at the end, we opt for the Warm Apple Pie, cinnamon-dusted cooked apples in a crumbling pastry, served with some cold vanilla ice cream. What more could we ask for?
Meal for two: Rs 2,000+ taxes.