When I was told that I would have to go to a wine dinner, my reaction was something similar to “absolutely not”. It is not that I do not like to eat good food, but I do not take alcohol of any kind and my going there would be a waste of some good drinks.
As luck would not have it, I had to go attend the dinner that saw a grand six-course meal presented to those who turned up. That is some heavy night food.
But before the dinner started, there were four live counters that had paniyaram, but with goat cheese, then there was a bread counter, another one with oysters and prawns and one more with different meat.
The theme here was to incorporate western ingredients into Indian food and the counters were designed deliberately to bring in the flavours of India and Europe together.
After drinking my share of mocktails while others were filling themselves with wine from Fratelli, time came for me to try the six-course meal and what a meal it was!
For appetiser, I had garlic prawn with evoo and black garlic butter ciabatta.
More main course than a starter in size, the prawns were cooked deliciously. Seared the right amount and boasting a reddish golden look. Juicy on the inside, the prawns were soft and the white bread went perfectly with it. For some reason, I liked the overpowering garlic because it lifted the dish’s taste altogether.
There was smoked cottage cheese rolls with basil and sun-dried tomato chutney for those who did not want to eat some seafood.
Next came the signature dishes. Whoever designed the menu and incorporated the sous vide chicken rollatini must be given a pat on his/her back.
It was designed to look like normal chicken on a platter but had black rice in it and mushrooms and apricot jam. For some, it might look like a mixture of things thrown in together. But the beauty of the dish was that all of the ingredients complemented each other, with the chicken standing out. It was well cooked, had nice texture to it and, more importantly, the plate had good colour, making it a visual treat.
For those who went for seafood, there was chilli tamarind lobster with raw papaya and coriander. I could see people eating it to their heart’s content, taking every bite slowly, enjoying the dish.
The mains were accompanied by grilled vegetable steak with black truffle and parmesan, to knock people over.
To complete the sumptuous meal, there was, of course, the dessert. Waiting to further tickle one’s taste buds was the ‘Golden Poached Pear Frangipani’ tart with fresh berries and coulis. I think it speaks for itself.
Ah, I must mention about the elephant in the room. There were five wines, three red and two white, for people to taste and get excited about.
While the food was excellent, the service exceeded normal standards. Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa is a place with magnificence in itself, and the place where the dinner was hosted was named the Pelican Deck. Rather than have a separate sitting place for those who came to dine, the organisers had arranged a single long table.
The reason? It was simple. They wanted people to make new friends and go home having a great experience.
Chef Pramit, under the guidance of Chef Mukesh Sharma, the executive chef at the property, had curated the flamboyant international preparations with authentic flavours.
Asked if it was a deliberate decision to mix all the cuisines to give a different experience, he said, “Yes”. Pramit explained that he wanted to keep Indian flavours intact but by using foreign ingredients. A tough ask and a tough task and I can report that he had pulled it of with elegance.
Having dinner at a wonderful place during Chennai’s mixed July weather with the sea just a few minutes away and with the sound of waves constantly being sonorous, it would take some beating to best the wine dinner.