Lunch at The Rain Tree’s coffee shop

My wife and I recently celebrated our (umpteenth!) wedding anniversary on a Sunday and decided to go out for a celebratory lunch. After much discussion, we decided to check out the new Raintree Hotel, reputed to be Chennai’s only five star ecotel. It’s on St Mary’s Road, a nice quiet location not far from the Park Sheraton. So we drove over after church on the Sunday of our anniversary to the hotel without knowing what to expect or where to eat. Into the drive way and up and away from the road, parked and got out. A valet immediately rushed forward, greeted us and took the keys so we were free to enter the hotel. The hotel’s porch was green with palms and other plants, and a long water curtain that separated the porch from the road cooled the air around us, and dampened the sounds of traffic with its ‘sussssssh’ sound. It was such a nice touch that we immediately looked forward to what we’d find inside.

The lobby was nicely appointed, if a trifle small, with the lounge bar and coffee shop leading off it. A lobby manager rose from her desk as we walked in, greeted us warmly, and asked us what we were looking for. So we told her we were in for lunch, and indicating to the sign announcing a far eastern restaurant, asked if it was open for lunch. She explained, suitably apologetically, that the restaurant was opening in a few days time, and the only place open for lunch was the coffee shop. The staff were warm and friendly, and you felt good in this place. At any rate, we decided to check out the coffee shop for lunch.

It was done very well in a minimalist, muted sort of decor, and had a terrific looking buffet. We were led to a table for two by the window (overlooking a quiet side street with no traffic) and given a choice of the buffet or a la carte. We opted for the buffet which set us back Rs 590 each, but included taxes and a drink of our choice. We thought that was pretty good value for the kind of hotel it is, and the choice on the buffet, and opted for it. Abha ordered a mocktail, a combination of mango and other juices, which, going by her very satisfied ‘ummmmms and aaaaahs’ was very satisfying and enjoyable! I chose the Sand Piper beer which was offered as an option to a mocktail. Must say it went down rather well too!

We were served almond soup at the table (delicious!), and having fortified ourselves thus, sallied forth to examine the buffet. There was a very good salad section, with a variety of veg and non-veg salads, a choice of main course in Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine, staples as in rice, noodles, bakes, breads, and an extensive dessert buffet. Ho boy, this is when you realize how difficult it is to exercise personal discipline! We did, starting with a selection of salads in small helpings which we polished off in no time. The main course followed, Abha opting for Continental while I, patriotic Indian that I am, chose Indian. The food was quite good, with the chicken curry being especially good. I believe the Continental food too was very good.

We arose, sated with good food, mocktail and beer, and headed out to the dessert counter, well aware of the excess we were about to be indulged in. We chose carefully, conscious of the calories, more for taste, in practically homeopathic doses! The different kinds of mousse were a disappointment, the Indian sweets good and the fruit trifle heavenly (despite being a very common dish). Perhaps we were just too full to enjoy the delicate flavours of the mousse? Never the less, it was a very good lunch, one worth repeating when the occasion demands! (Alas, my trusty camera’s batteries had run out and I had no spares with me. Else I would have provided visual evidence!)

There was a pretty nice crowd there too. Far Eastern long staying guests of the hotel, some with family (Japanese it seemed). Some Westerners sitting alone, laptops open in front of them into which they peered intently with glazed eyes (give me a break -on a Sunday?)! Some young couples and a table full of young IT types celebrating the birthday of one of their colleagues ( Do these guys work Sundays too?). The service was good, with attentive stewards who attended to your needs without having to frantically catch their attention for anything. As we left, the maitre’d met us and asked us if our experience had been satisfactory? Would we visit the hotel again? Did we enjoy the meal? We assured him we would, and that yes, we did enjoy the meal.

You will too, if you choose to go. It’s a great place for an occasion, and value for money. Enjoy!

2 Comments so far

  1. R.S.Mani (unregistered) on June 15th, 2006 @ 12:48 am

    David Appasamy you are lucky – But I had very bad experience at BR Mathsya at Thanikachalm Road ,T.Nagar, this evening. I invited a newly wedded couple for a Dinner with me and as pure vegetarian we opted for Mathsya. We very much disappointed.The Sambar Bonda offerred in Buffet is half boiled, as like this the Medhu Bakoda is also a half bakened one. The manager recommended a sweetish budding and according to him it is the tastiest and a best mingled receiopie of Udipi and Gujarati; But we could not consume even the only one spooon we tasted. Master of all these is the pulav and baby corn dish ordered by our guest, the newly married couple is not at all ready even after an hours time and the couples are in a mood to return home early we canclled the ordered items and checked out. At home finally we prepared some dosa and vathal kuzhambu with the help of our grandma and served the same to our guest. This is our experience of the day at the BR Mathsya at T.Nagar and when we narrted the experience to one of my friends he has drawn our attention to the write up given in your column sometimes back about this eat out.

  2. david (unregistered) on June 15th, 2006 @ 6:52 am

    dear mani, i’m sorry to hear to about your experience at br mathsya. incidentally, the review of that restaurant was by chenthil nathan in april. the experience at any restaurant is subjective, and depends so much on the calibre & capability of the staff at that point of time. perhaps the cooks changed, or were new, from the sound of it. never the less, i hope your next experience with a restaurant is an occasion for joy and satisfaction!

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