Star hotel chefs are of two kinds -- one who turns adventurous at the request of a guest who says he is game for new dishes, and the other who does not like to veer away from the restaurant's menu card. At the newly opened Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa near here, one encounters chefs of the former kind.Interesting and innovative food at The Reef restaurant and a nice four hands body massage at the spa makes for a blissful experience which the chefs and the body therapists serve well at this beach resort.Rasam and Pongal are the two typical South Indian dishes that may look simple to make but are difficult to get right. If a chef can get these right, then he/she can get any South Indian dish right.The chefs at The Reef surely get these two dishes right. And the mere mention that I was game for their gastronomic experiments brought bright smiles to their faces.Serving the mushroom soup, Senior Chef Saroj Kumar Muduli told IANS: "Beach resort guests are open to experimenting with food. They want their stay to be an unforgettable experience -- of which food is an integral part."The soup was yummy and adding to the pleasant experience were the gliding storks seen through the restaurant's glass wall.
Meanwhile, Chef Jagadeesh Karuppaiah brought the ragi banana pancake with maple syrup -- his own "idea dish". It is a healthy option with a local touch and quite nice on its own -- though honey may have been a better dip for it than maple syrup.On his part, Chef T. Suresh served wheat banana dosa, which tasted good even without any dips.When asked for an apple omelette -- with a small amount of finely cut apple and good amount of finely cut green chilli to balance apple's sweetness -- Suresh whipped up the yummy item.It was followed by stir-fried prawns and honey chilli lotus stem. The prawns and the lotus stem rolled down the throat fast.It was time for the main course and Muduli brought to the table an aromatic salmon fish dish made with mustard paste, ginger, garlic, pan seared potato, tomato and some vegetables.It can be a meal by itself if one opts for a full portion and small quantity of rice.Muduli followed it up with lobster curry and ponni steamed rice. The curry was of the right spice levels and its taste lingered in the mouth for a long time.It was interesting to see good number of Jain dishes -- starters and mains -- on the restaurant buffet. However, the segregation of the buffet food counters could be improved considerably for a smooth flow, as also to provide comfort to vegetarians.The fig halwa was great and is not to be missed if it is on the buffet.
The rasmalai milk, however, needed further condensing as the sweetness was slightly on the higher side."We have special nutritional food that is light on the stomach for our spa guests. However, we have not paired the spa menu with the kind of massage treatment a guest takes," Muduli remarked on parting.A couple of hours later it was time for the session at the Shine Spa."Body therapists are now gaining societal acceptance and respect," Kenyusole Magh, an executive at the spa, told IANS.Queried about customers misbehaving, she said: "The therapists are trained to take care of themselves. Each room has an emergency button which the therapist can press to alert others."Be that as it may, the medium pressure applied by the two therapists in tandem worked magic on the body."We don't apply much pressure on the instep or the mid foot or the arched part of the foot as it is connected to various vital organs. Different massage styles have different strokes," Magh added.Heading back home may be a depressing thought if the next day is Monday, but the silver lining is that you will feel light as a feather.
What: New restaurant The Reef
Where: Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa on East Coast Road
When: Lunch (12 noon to 3 pm) and Dinner (7 to 11 pm)
Cost for two: About Rs.3,000 plus taxes ala carte menu.