Avartana: The Best Restaurant in Chennai?

Avartana amuse bouche


The Newest Restaurant inside the ITC Grand Chola

I had the privilege of being one of the first to try Avartana in its first week of opening. The concept is South Indian fine dining served European style, taking inspiration from the cooking and presentation techniques more commonly found in London or New York. It’s definitely an interesting way to introduce South Indian cuisine to the many expats that pass through the city and hotel, as well as showcase European cooking to the locals.


Avartana featured


Located inside the luxurious ITC Grand Chola Hotel, Executive Chef Ajit Bangera spent more than two years preparing the concept. He is supported by Harish Rao, who frequented our table to personally explain the food and their story.


Avartana fish

“Fish in Chips”


Having already eaten at the ITC Grand Chola’s nine other restaurants, first impressions of Avartana put it in a class of its own. The lighting and decor set an atmosphere of elegance and opulence, fitting for a place that aims to be the best restaurant in Chennai.


Avartana decor


Choose from four tasting menus

There are four different vegetarian and non-vegetarian set menus to choose from, starting with the six-course Maya to the twelve course Tara. I chose the Bela menu and particularly enjoyed watching the hesitation among my Greek friends when served the lamb brain fritters.


Avartana Menus


Notably, the way Chef Ajit experiments with Southern Indian flavours is indeed unique. For example, tomato rasam, a typical South Indian soup. To serve, the soup is first poured from a hot teapot into a coffee filter to infuse with fresh herbs. And after a few minutes, poured into a martini glass for sipping.


Avartana rasam


Another example is the sago and yoghurt, which came with a poppadom on top and test tube sauce. The instructions are to crunch the poppadom inside the pot and then pour over the chili sauce to eat.


Avartana curd rice

Sago and Yoghurt


So, is it the best restaurant in Chennai? That’s the question I asked myself towards the end of the meal. While the concept is definitely original and the food well executed, it felt a little like presentation over substance. Some of the stand-out dishes include the spicy pork dumplings, pan-fried cod, succulent lamb masala chops and sal leaf-wrapped chicken rice with aubergine pachadi. However, for me, the top spot has to go to another of ITC’s restaurants, Peshawri. Less frills, and much more flavour.


Bela Tasting Menu

Avartana lamb brain

Lamb Brain Fritter

Avartana fried chicken

Stir Fried Chicken

Avartana cod

Pan Fried Cod

Avartana chops

Coconut Masala Chops

Avartana Sorbet

Carrot Ice Cream, Black Rice Pudding

Avartana betel

Betel Leaf


Lara Olivia
Lara Olivia

Freelance writer and blogger obsessed with food, travel and good stories.

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  1. 18 January 2018 / 3:13 pm

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    • 18 January 2018 / 5:22 pm

      Thank you! There are a lot of great resources online to help get you started. Paying or not depends on your financial position, whether it’s an investment or outlay you’d be prepared to make. There are a lot of great free options to get you started, where you can always transition to a paid site at a later date. Hope that helps and best of luck!

  2. Jane
    20 April 2017 / 10:39 pm

    Contemporary South Indian cuisine sounds delicious, would be very interested to try!

  3. Maren Sviland
    20 April 2017 / 6:34 pm

    WOW !!! What interesting and amazing photos. Food looks really good.

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