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    The new Celine’s Kitchen impresses with tacos, coconut cake and its proximity to the beach

    Just off the Pondicherry beach, the recently-launched Celine’s Kitchen is already getting noticed. After all, with French, Chinese, Creole, Indian and Continental offerings aplenty in this tourist town, some Mexican can’t go amiss. Owned by entrepreneur Swapna Mathivanan, Celine’s Kitchen has tandoor, pizzas and pastas, but it’s their tacos, burritos, fajitas and Caribbean-style dishes that are creating a buzz. The 120-seater restaurant is open from 11 am to 11 pm, and things are just warming up during our visit. A glass of Coconut Sizzle—a blend of tender coconut water and lime juice—gets us off to a good start, before a menu that has just about everything lands on our table.
    A case for dips
    Sampling the bread (made in-house)—served with a dip of roasted eggplant, olives and cheese—we debate over the soups, starters, salads, pizzas, pastas and biryani, before general manager Panneerselvam Pillai takes matters into his own hands. That’s how the house specials make their way to our table. The Caribbean pepper pot soup (chicken, cinnamon and hot peppers) is comforting on the rather chilly December evening._MG_1984(1) A plate of tacos, with salsa and pink onion dip, complements the soup. The Mexican fare—both visually appetising and addictive—has been adapted to the Indian palate with paneer standing in for meat in the vegetarian version of the fajita. The burrito comes with a choice of meat or vegetables, and the chicken fajita is served with a side of tomato salsa and sour cream.
    From the oven
    If you can’t get by without a serving from the tandoor, the stuffed aloo, with a filling of carrots, beans, cashew and cheese (cottage and mozzarella). Also from the Indian kitchen, the Chicken Lajawab (an Indo-Pak curry) is sure to find takers. But it’s the soft, succulent grilled fish, served with herbed vegetables and polenta, that makes an impact. Their grilled chicken pizza, with a crispy base, is a great option for busy nights.
    The royal ending
    Dinner ends with the Coconut Cake, a fusion dessert created by chef Serapandiyan Murugasamy. The light layered cake with rich coconut cream stands head and shoulders above the standard brownie with ice cream and chocolate mousse.
    Meal for two from Rs.1,200 (including a beverage) onwards. At Rue Du Bazaar Saint Lauren.
    Details: 0413 4202323

    Text and pics: Archith K Sridhar

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