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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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