Home Chennai A Taste of the Balkans

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    Basil With A Twist, the newest Mediterranean address in town, offers everything from the Cevapi to a mean steak

    Authentic cuisine from around the Adriatic sea and the Balkan region — this is what Bogdan promises at his restaurant Basil With A Twist. Located on Habibullah Road, with close to 60 covers, you can tell that a lot of effort has been put into Basil both by the Serbian who is only known by his first name, and his partner from Pondicherry, Bhagheerathi. The former, a supply chain expert, is on the move during our visit, greeting every customer and stopping at tables to discuss the menu or laugh about the weather. The latter, a former HR professional, is not as outgoing, choosing instead to keep a close watch on the goings on from a strategic corner in the kitchen. Together, they don’t seem to miss a single detail.

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    Beyond the pastas
    Now we really don’t care about terms like authentic, considering every dish ever made has many a variation. Our visit is to watch the two expat chefs manning Basil’s large show kitchen in action (and see why this week-old restaurant is receiving full five star reviews on the online guide, Zomato). Chefs Jovan and Goran, also from Serbia (Belgrade), are men of few words — they barely interact even with each other (when they do, it’s mostly in Serbian) — but they make sure all eyes are on them, creating occasional flames that go up so high, you think the roof is on fire. Bogdan hands us a no-fuss menu he is proud of — salads, soups, pizzas, risottos, pastas, etc, all kept under six each, with only the mains occupying a whole page. “We are not just about pastas or risottos. We have them on the menu, yes. But there is more to our cuisine that we would like guests to explore,” he says, nodding in agreement to our choice of steak, cevapi and a platter of starters.

    Pitter platter
    The focaccia (baked in-house) arrives with tapenade and urnebes. And as if the addictive Serbian dips are not enough, there are also wedges of a rather sharp (and heady, if not smelly) goat cheese from France, an imported cheddar and my favourite, a blue cheese from New Delhi. A camembert from Pondicherry may join this list soon, we’re told. Already high on blue cheese, we avoid the gorgonzola and choose a creamy mushroom sauce for our beef steak (a sizeable cut that could compete with the offering at On The Rocks). As for the cevapi, the minced lamb and mutton sausages (again, home made) are cooked and dressed in their own juices, accompanied by herbed, roasted baby potatoes. Thanks to their generous portions, we’ll have to come back to try the sach (slow cooked meat) and fish chowder. For now, we’ll leave them with two thumbs up; after all, we just got to taste their first serving of sticky, syrup-soaked baklava in all its nutty goodness, that if you’re lucky, will soon be on the menu.
    Three course meal for two at approximately `2,000. Details: 42613613

    — Ryan Peppin

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