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Tang from the coast

MARIEN MATHEWMARIEN MATHEW

Hotel Crescent on the Valluvar High Road, Nungambakkam, has an interesting range of cuisines to offer, including some seafood.


I WAS on a coconut oil trail this past week. It all began with the name, Hotel Crescent coming up during a conversation. It was recommended for "very nice Mallu food."

The location was familiar, but I had never noticed the place before. The mystery was solved when we reached the Hotel Crescent (ph:28257038) on the Valluvar High Road, Nungambakkam. It is one of those ubiquitous restaurants that open out to the road. There is nothing Malayali about the ambiance or the name. Inside there is a small a/c section.

The menu is a meaty one. You wade through pages of Chinese, tandoori, Chettinad and Malayali dishes to come to a small section of vegetarian dishes, that too all North Indian. Faithful as we were to the traditional home fare, none of the other attractions tempted us. By the way if you are a seafood lover, there is a wide variety of it here, even mussels.

Prawns golden fried (Rs.54) and maththi or sardines fried (Rs.18) were the starters. The prawns were neither golden nor Mallu. It was more a prawn 65 with a Chettinad twist. The aniseeds in the batter were a dead give away. The fish too was disappointing and had no particular identity. The rest of the fare was more distinct.

Breathing in the coconut oil aroma of the Kerala chicken fry (Rs.60), I knew I was finally at home. The strong coriander flavour, abundance of curry leaves and the oil made it enjoyable. Mutton curry (Rs.44) again had Chettinad origin, just like the mutton chops, but it was simply yummy and made a fabulous combination with puttu (Rs.13) and the soft, almost silky appam (Rs.5). A word about the puttu, what you find here is no bland snow white, but the real mc coy made with unpolished boiled rice. The faint nuttiness of the rice was lovely. The parotta (Rs.5) and Malabar chapathi (Rs.13) that was more like a plain paratha, too were nice. Chicken biriyani (Rs.43) had nothing much going for it.

The desserts are limited to only ice creams. One cannot crib about the economics part of it, but Hotel Crescent can do a lot better by sticking to the authentic fare.

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