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    From crisp calamaris to Alfredo pasta with fresh cream, Fishlion has something for everyone.

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    SURF-WORTHY waves and a sandy beach have been the sole attractions of Thandirayankuppam. But Serenity Beach, as it is popularly known, is gradually seeing guest houses, boutiques and cafes mushrooming. The just-opened Fishlion could give visitors another reason to dawdle in the area.
    Located inside Hotel Serenity, the restaurant is barely two minutes from the beach. “Initially, we hope to attract travellers who stay at the many guest houses around here, but have to drive to Pondicherry or Auroville for lunch or dinner,” says manager/director Victor Paschal.
    Setting the scene
    The restaurant tries to marry thatched roofs, bamboo poles and straw mats with whiteboard floors, spotless linen and gleaming cutlery. The result is a sterile-looking space with glass panels on one side that allow a peek into the kitchen. “We have pulled off quite a transformation on the dilapidated gazebo that stood here earlier, but we still need to work on the decor,” admits Jean-Michel Robert, the Italian who co-owns (with wife Patrizia) JMP Robert Hospitality Pvt Ltd, which has taken over the hotel. The small but breezy alfresco space outside is ideal for a quick bite.
    The menu features a mix of Indian—the usual suspects like dal fry, gobi manchurian and fish curry—along with basic Italian. For those who love everything deep fried, the range of appetisers, from buffalo wings to tempura shrimps, are a bonus. The batter-fried calamari, crisp and tender, are lip-smacking when dipped in the accompanying sweet and spicy sauce. We overlook the grills and steaks in favour of some Alfredo pasta slathered with thick fresh cream. Our disappointment over the choice of cold beverages on a sultry night disappears when the chef sends in his special chocolate cake — an airy, nut-strewed confection coated with a sticky ganache.
    Up next
    The decision to open during the off-season is like a test-drive says Paschal, who has plans to turn the hotel into a weekend hotspot with karaoke, live music and dancing. The property, which is adding a new wing, will have seven rooms in a week’s time, including one that is sea-facing.

    Open between 12 pm and 3 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm. A meal for two at around Rs 1,000. Details: 0413 6501555

    — Olympia Shilpa Gerald

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