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Monday, Jun 17, 2002

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Cheerful ambience

At `Sage and Onion', the new restaurant in Besant Nagar, there's a standard Continental and Indian fare to choose from.

WHAT'S WITH Besant Nagar, Second Avenue that restaurants open almost every six months? That small stretch of road ought to be renamed Gourmet Avenue or `Suvai Salai' as a tribute to the local people's pursuit of culinary excellence.

The latest eatery to open there is the Sage and Onion, above Cake Walk, the dessert shop. `Family casual dining', reads the board and you get what you read. The ambience is all about bold colours, smart furniture and tasteful paintings. The result is a cheerful atmosphere, full of pep.

The menu offers non-fussy, standard Continental and Indian food. Since it is difficult mix dal tadka with cauliflower fusilli, we stuck to the Continental fare.

Orange blossom (Rs. 50) on the mocktail list had enough zing to make you finish it to the last drop. The cheese delight (Rs. 60) was tasty, though not what we expected. Breaded cottage cheese on the menu finally became plain grilled open mozzarella cheese sandwich. The American salad (Rs. 60) and cream of mushroom soup (Rs. 50) more than made up for the remiss. The salad, a mix of lettuce, sweet corn, celery, mushroom and Cheddar strips and croutons, was simple and lip smacking.

Various textures and tastes combined and complemented each other well. The soup was lovely. Among the main dishes, the chicken in wine sauce (Rs. 120) was undoubtedly the best. The meat was done to perfection. The cauliflower fusilli (Rs.90) didn't disappoint the taste buds though the pasta served was penne. It was the fish, king fish steak (Rs.120) that marred the fare.

When seafood preparation goes wrong, the reason is almost always the same — superannuated fish. By the way, we didn't have to pay for it, as it was returned unfinished.

Finally, one got to eat an apple pie (Rs.70) with apple in it! One was beginning to give up after several encounters with the cakey, doughy stuff that passed off as apple pie. Needless to say, the chocolate truffle pastry with ice cream (Rs.70) was a definite second choice. Besides, the pastry could have been a little moister.

MARIEN MATHEW

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