At Etc, shop, sample multi-cuisine fare and play a life-size game of snakes & ladders
When HK Ravoofa, Prathima Cuppala and Ramithra KM decided to open a restaurant, they knew that their love for Chennai would surface one way or the other. But on our tour of Etc, their 6,000 sq ft property that has a restaurant, cafe and boutique rolled into one package on 5th Street, Rutland Gate, we find more than just a few tributes to the city. Take for instance their tasting menu of the day. With dishes spanning from barwan paneer to Texas nachos and prawn in wonton sheet, there’s a happy mix of fare that would put a big smile on the face of any multi-cuisine buffet loving Chennaiite. “Our final menu has inputs from chefs whom we have worked with on our shows. We’ve ensured there’s something for everyone,” says Ravoofa, who, along with Cuppala, has directed TV shows like Samayal Samayal.
Boutique for company
Ravoofa is also the brain behind the many costumes worn by the contestants on Super Singer and used to run a boutique in Alsa Mall, that will soon be part of Etc. It should provide a good pre-meal distraction, besides offering all the apparel a city girl could want. “We will also have a selection for men,” Ravoofa clarifies, as I roll up Goan prawn vindaloo in a roti. Perhaps even the chefs here are doing their bit, tailoring the food to suit the regional palate. That’s why our meen moilee is not as coconut-heavy as it would be if from an ‘authentic’ Kerala kitchen and the vindaloo, though spicy, is not as fiery as the Goans serve it.
Post dinner, we discover more local elements (save for an out of place Italian scenery) in the restaurant’s outdoor section — old Bajaj scooter bodies and oil drums are reborn as chairs in one corner, while catamarans are transformed into couches in another. A metal milk can and bucket propped on a bicycle make up the wash basin, while a tea ‘master’ painted on a wall, seems to peep out from a 3D tea shop counter installation. Mostly made from upcycled scrap, the trio enlisted the help of art director Kiran (think Anegan, Ko, VIP, etc) for these unusual creations. And the quirk continues at the cafe upstairs, where we’re sure that like us, you too will not be able to leave without playing a game of snakes & ladders, on a wall that’s turned into a magnetic board, with giant 3D snakes, no less.
Etc launches in a few days. Meal for two from approximately Rs 1,000 plus tax onwards.