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    From speciality restaurants to drinks by the pool — what to expect at the fourth Zone by The Park in the country

    IBAZAAR RESTAURANT IN ZONE HOTEL FOR INDULGE. EXPRESS/ PRAKASH CHELLAMUTHUf you’ve been to Zone by The Park in Coimbatore, you know that this business class hotel boasts of a certain quirkiness that might be a huge draw for tourists. And proof of this is the colourfully painted auto stationed just outside the lobby. Converted into a display for merchandise, it even has us Chennaiites stopping to pose for a selfie. The hotel on Outer Ring Road, currently operates just an all-day diner (Bazaar), and a rooftop Indian restaurant (Urban Spice Box or USB) that opens up for dinner. Launching soon are an Oriental restaurant (yet-to-be-named), bar (Z Bar) and a pool side bar (Playa) that will offer special cocktails to sip on while you sunbathe. But that might take a while, considering the hotel’s liquor license is yet to arrive.

    Time to choosechicken-reshmi-kabab

    On a pleasant Friday night, we see no reason to stay indoors and opt to dine at USB, though the buffet at Bazaar is inviting, with live counters, a pizzeria and distracting display of yesteryear products like 777 soap bars. But the rooftop setting is not exactly what we expect. The compact space is walled on all four sides (with windows offering views of the highway below) like a regular restaurant, except the architect forgot to put the roof on here. My companion who feels a little cheated is given the seat with the view, while I enjoy watching the action in the open kitchen. Executive chef Gaurav Agarwal, who is city hopping and launching the hotel’s new properties (Mahabalipuram is coming up soon), explains the concept. “You choose between the menu and a served buffet,” he says. And as we scroll through digital menus handed to us, he points out, “The dishes are categorised based on the equipment in which they are cooked.” Our choices include the tawa, tandoor, lagan, sigree, grill and even stone, but Agarwal helps by steering us towards the signatures.

    20150823_143829Tasting notes

    After nibbling on paapads, we move on to the tikkas and tandoori kebabs, before Agarwal’s house special arrives — the chicken kasturi kebab finished with a thick coating of egg. Mains is an assortment of Indian breads with dal and nalli nihari that slides off the bone. But Agarwal saves the best for last. A dessert platter that echoes quirk. There’s a shrikand cheesecake served in a pressure cooker no bigger than my thumb, a caramelised bibinca that fails to impress, an elaneer payasam in a miniature clay pot that could do without its vermicelli garnish and a star anise chocolate mousse that has us asking for more. Served buffet at Rs 1,000 plus tax. Details: 71816000

    — Ryan Peppin

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