Home Chennai Mojitos, Art and Bánh mi

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    The new Opus 8 lounge offers an eclectic ambience with signature cocktails and Vietnamese fare

    Even if you have 20 minutes in a day to spare, you must be able to fill it with comfort, aesthetic ambience and food for the soul,” says Dominique Rachel Sardell, the owner of Neelam Kural Atelier du Fil (art gallery), who recently opened Opus 8 cafe and lounge on Capitaine Marius Xavier road. The name, referring to a ‘musical composition’, is the perfect coming together of a painter-designer (Sardell), a trained mixologist (her son David) from England, a barista (Mellisa Zerdow) from Australia and a chef (Nikola Fuster)  from Paris. “I wanted art, books, music, a cafe and a lounge all under the same roof, so people can simply let go. It was a detour from my art gallery, but in a logical way,” shares Sardell. Armed with a specialised degree in art restoration from Paris, she took over an old two-storey Tamil style house last year and hand painted it with silver filigree on the walls and gold detailing on the floors. The rooftop lounge has a traditional catamaran,which she picked up from the East Coast. With comfy cushions strewn around and bathed in blue lighting,then is   their dogs, George and Opus, who greet guests at the door.
    From the shaker
    With 24 unique cocktails on offer, David’s latest addition is the cafe cocktail—a blend of coffee and cognac. “Besides the classics, the popular ones include the honey dew and cucumber gin martini and the strawberry and mint daiquiri,” says Sardell. They complement Opus 8’s global cuisine, with Thai and Vietnamese influences, especially the Bánh mi sandwich, roasted honey and chicken camembert, chicken tajine and caprese salad with rice pilaf. “We have pork and chicken sausages, butter grilled onions and baby potatoes in Samuraï (mayonnaise with harissa) sauce,” adds the 62-year-old. Playing reggae and jazz, their Wednesday Mojito nights (buy one get one free) are a hot favourite with young corporates and college goers, she adds. “It is an intimate crowd and we build a personal rapport with all our guests. What I like to see are women coming alone, to have a drink and unwind. We always watch over them and ensure they are safely sent off in cabs too,” Sardell concludes.
    Open from 6 pm. Meal for two at Rs 1,000. Cocktails start from Rs 300 onwards. Details: 0413 420 0383

    Cafe update
    Adorned with abstract paintings (done by Sardell), Kashmiri carpets and papier-mâché pots, the cafe on the first floor has collectibles she’s picked up from Orissa and Kashmir while on her India tour in 2009. The bright airy room, with a panelled library on one side and a computer station on the other, opens as early as 7.30 am, and serves all-day breakfasts and brunches. Their breakfast includes beans, toast and eggs, eggs Benedict, and muesli in yoghurt besides ham and bacon sandwich platters served with coffee. Barista Zerdow goes the extra mile by packing coffee blends in little thermos flasks for take-away orders. The cafe regularly hosts Sunday brunches, serving popular hits like roast turkey, pan bagnat and organic chocolates from Maison & Co, Auroville. Their poultry, meat, eggs and vgetables are sourced from organic farms in Pondicherry.

    Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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