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    Is Chennai’s first and much awaited  Hard Rock Cafe worth the trek to Velachery?

    Surely you don’t need us to explain why news of Hard Rock Cafe having finally opened in Phoenix Market City was music to our ears. With 150 covers, a merchandise store and a world of memorabilia from ace musicians across the globe to gape at, they’ve certainly opened with a bang. However, you should know that with their liquor licence pending, you get mocktails for now. But that didn’t stop us — and the rest of the city judging by their perennially occupied tables — from paying them a visit.

    What’s in store
    Before heading to the cafe, we make a quick stop at the Rock Shop where a selection of T-shirts, mugs and other accessories are ripe for the taking. But it’s their display that draws the most attention — a camera used by John Lennon, boots worn by the King of Pop and a mean bass guitar courtesy Kiss. We follow this trail all the way to the cafe on top (there’s an elevator dedicated to this, just in case you’re extra hungry…or thirsty), where plenty more await. The staff, gung ho with a contagious energy, are happy to take guests on a guided tour, explaining the story behind each of the precious things on display. For instance, there’s a guitar with faint signatures of the members of U2, which an unsuspecting employee wiped up while in storage. And at the entrance, a suit that belonged to the man who started it all — Eric Clapton.

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    Chennai special
    With rock music from across the ages playing in the background, we browse their menu. Amid favourites like the hickory-smoked chicken, are sections titled ‘Namma Chennai’ with local specials like Southern spiced chicken curry, Keralian fish curry, paneer makhani and paneer kathi rolls. As we polish off our chicken wings and lime sodas, we’re told that the live performances start on January 9. It’s city-based bands like Skrat and Blues Conscience who are kicking things off. So what if Chennai was not built on rock and roll, there’s plenty of time to rebuild it.

    Meal for two at approximately Rs 1,000. Details: 30083777

    — Ryan Peppin

    Pics: Albin Mathew

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