COMBINING Pondicherry’s three great culinary loves — seafood, meat and liquor — Le Dupleix brings us one intoxicating meal in its week-long special ‘Drunken Meats’ menu.“It was actually an accident,” chuckles executive chef Sathish Rajasekaran, while I dig into the tarty tiger prawns soaked in vermouth, between scoops of buttery mashed potatoes.
“I was cooking prawn biryani when I ran out of water. But there were four cans of beer in the fridge,” Rajasekaran grins. “I substituted the beer for the water, my colleagues lapped up the biryani and we thought why not introduce alcohol infused foods in our menu,” he concludes, adding the dishes are inspired by Western cuisine, where summer heralds a blend of beer and barbeque.
The meats are marinated in the selected spirit for 12 hours to ensure the alcohol seeps in but does not overpower the taste. The pork chops are surprisingly tender though there is barely a hint of the promised whisky, which is drowned by a sticky sweet maple syrup. I skip the beer soaked steak in favour of the drunken chicken which turns out to be a delight — the lemon gives it a lively zest and the tequila, the right zing.
Mediterranean dishes cooked in wine, including snappers swimming in white wine or coq au vin — shredded chicken and mushrooms soaked in red wine — are staples in most restaurants serving French food like Rendezvous, Dis Dis and L’Orient. La Plancha has a selection of beer battered foods including fried calamari and crispy onion rings while Umami Kitchen’s pastas can be paired with a white wine sauce. If sizzlers are right up your street, Spice Route’s chicken and vodka, prawn and tequila pairings are intriguing. Satsanga holds its own for peppery steaks marinated in beer or white wine. Seafood lovers will relish Palais de Mahe’s white wine soaked grilled prawns served with couscous and papaya salad. For an inebriating sweet note, there are plenty of picks right from a vodka spiked lemon sorbet at Villa Shanti to a warm rum wrapped banana flambe at Le Club. At Le Dupleix however, the exquisite red-wine ice-cream , true to its name, gets headier with every scoop, providing a perfect final note.
From April 19 to 24, between 7 and 11 pm. Meal for two costs Rs 2,000 approx. Reservations: 0413 2226999
— Olympia Shilpa Gerald