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    Place To Bee offers contrast, with Italian cuisine and the local fare of Ooty sharing space on the menu

    Save for places like  Nahar Hotel and The Culinarium, you’re not likely to find wood fired pizzas in Ooty. So rejoice that Place To Bee — a restaurant by Ooty-based Last Forest, an NGO that works with local beekeepers and communities for eco-development — is also on that list. The week-old restaurant is located inside their Bee Museum, where diners can spot posters bearing information about the history of bees and their ecological importance. With an a la carte menu dominated by Italian cuisine, this restaurant also serves local fare made with recipes donated by the native communities (Kotas, Kurumbas, Todas and Irullas) in Ooty. They also plan to start a bed and breakfast for tourists soon.
    Local connect
    The local fare here is categorised as slow food (cooked with ingredients sourced locally). Of them, a couple belong to the Ark of Taste category, an international catalogue of endangered foods maintained by the global Slow Food movement. Aritra Bose, the GM of Place To Bee, has ensured that his slow dishes (think honey-glazed chicken wings with mustard sauce, and avarai beans salad) bear the hallmark of local flavours. “All the dishes in our menu, including the non vegetarian ones, are organic,” Bose says, adding that he stuck to just chicken as that was the only organic meat he could safely procure. The kitchen is supervised by head chef Abhijeet Majhi, who has previously worked at Barefoot Resort and Welcome Restaurant in the Andamans and Tanto Pizzeria in Pondicherry. And with mineral water priced at Rs 50 here, Bose explains, “We want to discourage customers from drinking from plastic bottles. Instead, they can have the water at the restaurant which is filtered in a UV filter.”
    Testing, tasting
    At the table, we start with chicken fingers served with French fries and tartare sauce, before switching over to naatu kozhi curry with flavoured little millet. The chicken steak with green pepper sauce that comes next is near perfect and the wood fired pizza (the oven was constructed by Antonio Scirocco, an expert from Auroville) arrives, with jalapenos, tomatoes, zucchini and onions. We leave with a nibble of information too — the pie takes around three minutes in the oven in Ooty, but just 90 seconds elsewhere.
    Meal for two from around Rs 600 onwards.
    Details: 0423 2449464

    Karan Pillai

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