I DON’T like mushrooms. But that changes when I visit the Flavours of Lalgudi restaurant in Alwarpet. Their delicious grilled button mushrooms, stuffed with cheese and chillies, are addictive and I’m now a convert. While I find their paneer tikkas (in malai, pudina and achari variants) tender and delicious, the fungi is the star of the meal. After polishing off the starters, I sample a mild lime-coriander soup, while V Deepak, the owner, explains why he opened this branch. “We started our first outlet on ECR six months ago, but the crowd didn’t turn up as expected. So we decided to open another one in the heart of the city, with a new menu inspired by lesser-known recipes from around the country,” says the restaurateur, who formerly owned the Italian restaurant, Sirocco, in Neelankarai.
Among the mains, I try one of their bestsellers, the vathu kulambu rice. Flavourful and sharp on the tongue (thanks to the masalas and sundakai vathal), it doesn’t take me long to understand why it is a hit. I then try their cheese capsicum dosa (quite filling) and the crispy cheese pineapple (fried and laced with hot garlic sauce).
The engineer, who admits to having been inspired by his mother to cook from a very young age, travels across the country to find new dishes for his menu. “I have included a version of the Kolkata paneer roll, prepared with a softer chapati,” he says, adding that their garlic naan, inspired by the version served at a restaurant in Aurangabad, is best had with their dahi mirch paneer. But having already finished my meal with a delightful glass of mango lassi, I decide to keep that for another day.
Rs 400 onwards for two.
— Karan Pillai