Lucknowi Hospitality Arrives in Chennai

My favourite flowers are orchids. The Rothschild's Slipper Orchid, also called Gold of Kinabalu Orchid, is one the most highly sought after rare orchids in the world. Black orchids are the most expensively cultivated flowers world over. Black and gold! These are classy colours that need to be subtly combined to give the effect of timeless elegance, good taste and finesse. The Black Orchid, people of Chennai, will take you through the same rich experience. It is the best place I have dined in Chennai. It lives up to its "Sixth Sense Hospitality".

The artist who has done up the interiors for the newly-opened swanky fine dining space called Black Orchid has done a fantastic job of ensuring it is just that. I drove by the place in the daytime and paused for a few seconds to take a look at it. Of course, I found my way there with a friend and my daughter the next evening on the opening night.

You have got to experience it to know what I am talking about. Step in and you will know what I mean. Black marble table-top, beautiful chippendale leather upholstery, comfortable seating, perfect lighting; nothing loud about this place.

The bar is distinctive in its decor with a few things that complement the dining space and the basement private dining area. Unique and yet blended somehow. This is a place designed with a lot of love and passion and we can see it.

The theme is black and gold and there is beautiful art work that holds your attention from the word 'Go!' - I am not talking of gaudy gold here. I can't stand that! This is dusty gold sprinkled in just the right shade of sheer elegance.

We were greeted by the AGM Linden Yu at the entrance. Once inside, Srinath and Prakash took over attending to us in turns. I will get to that in a bit. Since the place had opened up that day, we were taken for a tour of the place. It is a three-floor delight.

The bar upstairs has beautiful cosy corners and also enough space for those who prefer the high chairs. It is a perfect venue to have an evening gathering for cocktails. It has a seating capacity of seventy (yes, you heard that right) and a comfortable 100 can hang out on that floor. For those who look for the spirits watering holes, this is the place to be. The bar opens next week! If I have to go by the mock-tails we were served (we left the selection for them to decide) this place is going to have cocktails to die for.

Let me tell you about the mock-tails we had. My favourite was the Carribean Mango, uniquely blended mix of mango juice, pineapple juice and bell peppers. Yes, bell peppers. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L - all I need is a large Old Monk poured into it! That will happen, trust me! The Berry and Basil was light, with subtle flavours and my daughter, who seldom picks a drink like that, had that. She is fussy about food and drinks. The third drink was the Black Orchid Exotica - a blend of watermelon and pomegranate juice and gotta have this. These are refreshing flavours that completely complemented the food we had.

Getting on with it...

We wanted to be surprised and left the selection of dishes to the Chef. For the pure vegetarians, do try out the mango sushi. I have never associated sushi with vegetarian things until I had them at another place in Delhi for the first time (I'll talk about that some other day) but this, beautifullyserved in slate slabs was a visual delight and tasted absolutely smashing; sweet sour and the flavours burst in your mouth with thin slivers of ginger and the wasabi that explodes in your mouth. Go easy on the wasabi. It is fresh and can really overpower you - a sure sign of its freshness. The mango sushi was prepared with local fresh ingredients which is what sushi is all about anyway. My daughter has recommended it to her Japanese sensei. Yes. That good.

Another great vegetarian starter was the Cassava Croquettes served with fresh chipotle sauce. Crunchy on the outside and mushy tapioca on the inside. Perfect! We also then got to taste the melt-in-the-mouth galauti kebab. Served with green mint chutney they were deliciously soft and had the right grill on the outside. I am not a chili person and I know the chili can be toned down a little. We did share that feedback and it has been noted. I am definitely ordering the galauti kebab again.

We had a leisurely dining experience and skipped the main course because there is no way we could do justice to it. I did not want to do that. I had already had a great high tea (another post on that later) elsewhere and I felt the main course should have the attention that the palate deserves to give it.

There was space now only for dessert! There are very few places that you can leave the decision to someone else and have the best of things ever to be served to you. Black Orchid is that place.

Linden Yu picked a selection we absolutely loved. He was a tad disappointed we skipped the main course. We promised him we will be back for a visit to try out the main course. I know we are going to be back to try out the cocktails and the main course especially...and soon!

You have got to experience it to know what I am talking about. Step in and you will know what I mean. Black marble table-top, beautiful chippendale leather upholstery, comfortable seating, perfect lighting, nothing loud about this place. Try out the Indian, Oriental and the Continental. I am looking forward to it and a good second visit for a perfect raan biryani (Wishful thinking, that is not on the menu yet, but hey, a girl can dream!). The place has set new standards for excellent mindful service, delicious food and amazing ambience.

Sanjeev Varma, the face of Black Orchid spoke about his dream venture with well-placed pride. He insists he will not compromise with what upscale, fine dining experience is all about. I believe him and wish him the best. He brings the mehmaan nawaazi (hospitality) of Lucknow with him. The Black Orchid people has arrived. Located at the posh Chamiers Road, this space say, "Move aside Chennai, let me show you what upscale fine dining is all about". And I agree!

(Picture Courtesy: Meghtusha Suri/Yours Truly) All rights reserved.


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