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    Velachery Restaurants and Pub

    Diff 42 is Velacherya��s answer for those seeking a complete meal with their favourite poison

    Walking into Diff 42 – Resto lounge, Velacherya��s newest pub, we get the vibe that this place is going to be all about the booze. Therea��s extra dim lighting, an island bar counter, thumping music and even a makeshift dance floor. But imagine our surprise when owner Mohan Raj, a former business man who a�?always wanted to start a restaurant,a�? tells us that his focus is primarily food. a�?I want to make the brand a franchisee in the future,a�? he says, as we find a merry mix of Oriental, Indian and Continental food on the menu. Their chef, Malai Swamy, hails from Madurai but comes with experience from Scotland. He has created Continental and Indian combos (approximately `249 plus tax) for the many corporate guests they have been attracting since opening in December.
    Before our combos arrive, Swamy serves us his signatures, while their operations manager, Kishore Kumar, shakes and stirs our cocktails at the bar. His fresh passion fruit mojito and Mandarin berry prijosika (Mandarin vodka with orange and strawberry pulp) are a bit alcohol-heavy but soon forgotten when the food arrives. The Arabian jumbo lollipops (smokey, tender and delicately charred on the edges), spicy sweet corn fritters (a combo of deep fried mince corn balls topped with mint mayo and juicy, sugar coated fried corn kernels) and cheese fritters, prove that Raj and his team are indeed focusing on the food.
    As we finally get to work on our Continental and Indian combos, Kumar shares plans for the future. a�?Wea��ll be starting themed nights during the week a�� like Boozy Brunch on Sunday and Corporate nights on Monday and Tuesday,a�? he says, as we clean up our bell pepper spiced chicken stroganoff (paired with rice, sautA�ed veggies) and sweetish chicken tikka masala with naan. But the best news hea��s given us this evening, is that Diff 42 will be screening football, among other sports.
    Approximately Rs 1,000 per head. Details: 43216667
    Ryan Peppin

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    Mix it up
    Tomorrow evening Skyye presents
    Jerome Isma-ae, a German progressive house deejay and producer, known for
    having one of the most unique progressive sounds. The driving force behind the well-known record label Jee Productions,
    his beats promise to build up a healthy
    tension on the dance floor. 9 pm onwards.
    At UB City. Details: 49090000

    His and hers
    Valentinea��s week starts early, with this
    Love Redefined party at The Gateway Hotel. Going on for a whopping 12 hours (from 1 pm to 1 am) the event promises shooters galore, a midnight buffet, special offers on drinks and music from DJ Rohit, DJ Sumeet (from Mumbai) and MC Singh. At Residency Road. `1,000 per person. Details: 8971960888

    East meets west
    Indian-German dancefloor experts
    DASO and DJ Pawas will be taking over
    the decks at Warehouse tomorrow evening. Dasoa��s live set will move from house over rave up to stony techno, while DJ Pawas will play intelligent house with his signature melodies and music, influenced by his early training in Indian classical music. 9 pm onwards. At 80 Feet Road, Indiranagar. Details: 41261114

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      Bangalore-based Habanero brings their brand of Tex-Mex to Chennai at Phoenix Market City

      Carne-AsadaThe popular Bangalore-based Tex-Mex restaurant Habanero just opened in Phoenix Market City and fans should be pleased. a�?a�?You should open in Chennai!a�� is a comment wea��ve heard for years in Bangalore. Travellers, business people, and other restaurant guests with ties to the city have encouraged us to come here,a�? Elizabeth Bowden-David, of the husband-wife duo behind the brand, explains. Billed as authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, Habanero offers a warm atmosphere and friendly menu that introduces newbies to the cuisine.

      Big beginnings
      We wander in on a Tuesday afternoon and meet Gopal, restaurant manager and Sajad, their chef. Between the two of them, they ensure we partake of what feels like half the food in the kitchen, but hopefully isna��t. The salsa (three kinds a�� spicy, mild and seasonal fruit-based) comes first, accompanied by nachos. As we dip in, the duo tell us of the Chennai-specific additions to the menu, namely in the form of chicken and vegetable options to some of the dishes. Gopal recommends we start out with a mini-platter of their popular Muchos Nachos (nothing mini about it, Rs.325). The scrumptious pile of cheese, chicken, salsa, guacamole, sour cream goes down well with the Virgin Mary (Rs.165) and Tamarind Margarita (Rs.170, non-alcoholic) we order. The Virgin Mary in particular is delicious, packing a distinctive punch (that leaves my companion spluttering towards the end of the drink a�� in a good way).

      Our verdict
      Gopal brings on an array of starters: Jalapeno poppers (Rs.275, oddly dough-y), a delightful pork green chilli stew (Rs.225) that melds a raw fire with subtle creaminess and a vegetarian habanero fiesta salad with quesadilla (Rs.250) that my companion enjoys (I am not a fan of salads with mayo). For mains, squelched, my companion has the beef burger (Rs.325) that is juicy and hits the spot. I try the chicken fajitas (Rs.425): Assembly is idiot-proof and satisfaction is guaranteed. For dessert, Gopal and Sajad intimidate us with a sample of four of their best: We love the milk-soaked tres leche cake but I would give the caramel cheesecake a pass (Rs.225). Habanero has introduced an eggless dessert in the form of a snickers-chimichanga (Rs.225) that we are served with ice cream. I find it terrifying as a concept, but my companion has no such qualms and enjoys it. The restaurant is looking into offering home deliveries (yay!) and will soon have live salsa and guacamole counters, Gopal says. Details: 42791314

      a�� Ranjitha Gunasekaran

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        All you need to know about the Christmas feasts that are not to be missed this year

         

        Gingerbread-House---EstHilton
        At Vascoa��s, therea��s a Christmas Eve dinner (RS.1,999 plus tax) and Christmas brunch (Rs.2,250 plus tax onwards) featuring specials like roast turkey with chestnut and bread stuffing, tenderloin wellingtons, braised lamb shanks, chicken ballotine with port jus, pumpkin spinach mousse and more. And at Est, in addition to creating personalised hampers (from Rs.999 plus tax onwards), enjoy an afternoon tea (Rs.800) with short eats and mulled wine. Details: 22255555

         

        Savera Hotel
        If your Christmas Eve dinner is for two, you might find The Piano, Savera Hotel to be the right place. Enjoy a buffet that will include blackberry balsamic glazed meat, crispy crumbled parmesan king fish, and stuffed turkey with wine sauce, at `1,350 per person. For some spice, head to their newest restaurant, Curry Town. Details: 28114700

        ss1d52_stollenThe Park
        In addition to dinner and brunch (Rs.1,900 onwards plus tax) spreads featuring honey and mustard glazed ham, flambA� plum pudding, cordon bleu of chicken and whole baked snapper, The Park has Christmas special desserts and goodies on pre-order and off the counter. Highlights include desserts like Baileys centred Yule logs, whole roasted butterball turkey (Rs.2,200), roast chicken and mustard and honey glazed ham. Therea��s also mincemeat pies, Dresden fruit stollen, dundee cake and more. Details: 42676000

         

         

        Taj Coromandel
        Prego has a five-course Italian meal with turkey and a select bar. The specials include prawn tortellini, onion jam and creme fraiche and caramelised winter squash with modena balsamic. From `4,500 onwards. Details: 66002827

        E-Hotel
        With chestnut veloute, new England pot pie, Shanghai chow mein, Mongolian veg balls and Lahori malai tikki on their menu, we think E-Hotel has everyone covered. At Rs.525 plus tax, for dinner on December 24 and lunch on December 25. Details: 28463333

        Sheraton Parkmaurice-amon-mulled-win
        Roasted chestnuts, linzer stars, spiced chocolate and rum balls and Cake Shop hampers a�� grab these at the ongoing Christmas Market. There ares buffets too, with Cappuccino hosting a Christmas Eve dinner (Rs.2,799) and Christmas brunch with mulled wine and sangria. Specials include melange of Californian wine and cheese, roast, roulade of turkey, mixed berry jello, confit of brussels sprouts, homemade Callebaut liquor and steamed Christmas pudding with wine sabayon. Details: 24994101

        The Residency Towers
        Santa plans to surprise diners at Main Street while they indulge in a Christmas dinner buffet with specials like Mediterranean shrimp, zucchini and thyme chicken and tenderloin beef and brandy. They also promise interactive stations and a magician. At Rs.1,444 per person. Details: 28156363

        The Leela Palace
        Fans of Chinese food must try China Xoa��s pre-fixed menu featuring specials from the regions of Canton and Sichuan. Expect spicy Szechuan beef, Cantonese chicken, Beijing style noodles and plenty of dim sums at the Chinese specialty restaurant. At Rs.2,999 (including alcohol) and Rs.1,500 for kids. For a more lavish spread, head to Spectra for a Christmas brunch with cuisines from across the globe. Details: 33661234

        Vivanta by Taj-Connemara

        The Verandah is the venue for Christmas feasting at Taj Connemara. Santa awaits with an elaborate brunch priced at `2,000 without alcohol, Rs.2,500 with select alcohol and Rs.1,200 per child (up to 12 years). Details: 66000000

        Taj Club House

        While you can choose to dine under the stars with Mediterranean fare at Kefi, we suggest giving the four-course dinner at Beyond Indus a try. With single malts paired with each course, the dinner is priced at Rs.2,450 per person. Details: 66313131

         

        The Westin
        For a truly carnivorous feast, spend Christmas Eve at Sunset Grill. Featuring roast turkey, roasted beef with horse radish mash, railway mutton curry (Anglo Indian style), broccoli mimosa and a special seafood spread. At Rs.3,000 plus tax with seafood. Details: 22553366

         

        Hyatt Regency
        Spice Haat offers a western and Indian dinner on Christmas Eve, with specials like butter poached chicken sous vide, murgh tikka masala and roast turkey carving with sage, chestnut stuffing and cranberry juice (priced at Rs.2,299 plus tax per person).
        At Stix therea��s shredded lamb, stir fried chicken and more. Details: 61001234

         

        The Residency
        While Spice Jar hosts a buffet featuring dum biryani, moplah fish curry, fried squid and mussels and Thai red curry, The Residency has set up a Christmas Chalet offering plum cakes, puddings and hampers. For dinner on Christmas Eve, lunch and dinner on Christmas, at Rs.799 per person. Details: 28253434

        The Gateway Hotel
        If you like the sound of roast turkey with unlimited beer, Buzz is the place to be for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas brunch. Else, Chinese restaurant Sian is offering a set menu lunch and dinner on both days. Rs.999 plus tax and Rs.1,500 plus tax with alcohol. Details: 66802500

         

        Park Hyatt
        Expect treats like mince pies, stollen, Yule logs, cookies and plum cakes at the Christmas Confectionary. And if youa��re spending Christmas at The Flying Elephant, therea��s a brunch with roast turkey breast, honey and mustard roasted ham carving, and a seafood platter (lobster, prawns, sea bass and barramundi) to choose from. At Rs.2,095 plus taxes. Details: 71771234

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          Restaurateur Mukesh Kaushik says a�?Holaa�� at his new Italian-Mexican venture in Besant Nagar, that overlooks the Indian Ocean

          HOLLA1Ita��s their first day of trials and we end up at the rooftop al fresco section of Hola, on Besant Nagara��s 4th Main Road. While other diners under the white cabana a�� that has made its way from the UAE to Chennai a�� take turns at spotting ships through a telescope from the 1815s, we are rooted to our seats. Therea��s something intimidating about the ridiculously large table wea��re seated at, the near 10-page menu packed with information that would take an hour to peruse, and Mumbai-based restaurateur Mukesh Kaushik (walkie-talkie in hand) staring expectantly at us. Luckily, ita��s a tasting so we ask Kaushik to bring out his best before bombarding him with other pressing questions. Answering in quick succession, the former marketing professional, who now has 11 restaurants in three cities on his resume, reveals that Hola will open in Goa next week, while Chennai will get a second branch in Nungambakkam, next year. After that, taking his brand Delhi Highway, to London, NY and Dubai is priority, he says.

          HOLLA13Tasting session
          The 95-cover Hola serves a mix of Mexican, Italian and Continental cuisine (for breakfast too), with plenty of chicken, mutton and seafood to choose from. And believe it or not, Kaushik, 31, a vegetarian self-taught chef, has added his personal touch to 90 per cent of the menu, non vegetarian dishes included. a�?I cook non vegetarian and others taste,a�? he shrugs, as we scrape up every last drop of sauce from the spicy chipotle chicken. Wea��re now inspired to try as many dishes as we can, but underestimate the rich, thick, four-cheese pasta that leaves us with space for little. Thankfully, the thin crust pizzas here are so light that the whole 14-inches of fiery jalapeA�o, olive and tomato-laden goodness disappears in no time.

           

          Finishing touches
          Choosing a shrimp sizzler over stroganoff, lasagna, canelloni and so much more, we decide to call it a night. In a gravy of tomato, cheese and Mexican peppers, the shrimps and boiled veggies go well with a side of nachos. And we love that Holaa��s nachos are not drowning in cheese, ensuring they stay crunchy all through the meal. A frozen cheesecake later, Kaushik, who spends at least six days a month in the city (hea��s a regular at ITC Grand Chola and is currently taking cooking lessons from a customer in Mylapore, for an upcoming South Indian restaurant in New Delhi), takes us for a much-needed walk, to check out the posters of old movies and music concerts that adorn the walls of the restauranta��s indoor section.
          Meal for two at approximately Rs.1,500. Details: 45550260

          a�� Ryan Peppin

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