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Get high on kebabs

Go "On Board" not just for food but wholesome experience

Photo: K. Ganesan

Delectable Dishing out delicacy

YOU DON'T need a ticket to ride this journey. Yet you can be on board to freeze one of the most eye-appealing frames of the Temple City by night while digging into luscious kebabs or sipping your favourite drink.

Scenic locale

The scenic locale is Hotel Taj Garden Retreat's new offer to those who bemoan the chaos that engulfs the city and wish to escape to tranquility.

You can spend a quiet evening with business partners or family members while indulging in simple and cosy dinner, good and soft music and splendid drinks. Welcome aboard "On Board" then, the open air restaurant aptly named for a new dining experience. The name, the elevated location on a green landscape and the barbecue menu, which matches the mood and the ambience, all combine to take you on a high here.

As General Manager Ravi Khandige justifies : "Nothing else moves above us here, other than the Jet aircraft.!"

"On Board" is all about its open air ambience, stylish but casual dining, ethnic informal dιcor and the mood-enhancing feel-good cool breeze, if you are lucky. Small thatched hut roofs with hanging lanterns over cushioned seats along the wall unveil an eclectic view of a lit-up Madurai.

On menu is not just delicacies but the whole experience of eating out. With diet recipes ruling peoples' mind and going by the grab-a-snack syndrome, On Board offers "grillers-n-fillers". The Chef has worked out two types of vegetarian (Rs.350/per person) and non-vegetarian platter (Rs.500) alternately offered each day before a total overhaul every fortnight.

Walk up a flight of steps on to a nicely manicured green carpet, you are greeted by the young staff and some soft music (like Brian Silus on the piano) played on the tape. Drink in the awesome view of Goddess Meenakshi's heartland and settle for your choice of drink from cocktails to fresh juices. Don't bother about selecting from long menus as the chef makes the job easy.

Delectable dishes

Lemon rasam arrives in big cups along with vegetable crudity (raw seasonal vegetables) with yoghurt dip. Under the dim candle-lit lantern, munch the starters next — either the "paneer tikka haryali", "Tandoori aloo-gobi" or "vegetarian shikhampuri", a delightful kebab from the kitchens of Avadh. The Bread Basket contains, cheese straws, cumin bread twist or the "lavash", assorted Goan breads flavoured with cumin, chilli or black pepper. Dip them in mint or kubanir (apricot and dates) chutney for the twang. Go for the main course consisting of "bharawan khumb", mushrooms shashlik with a filling of green peas, babycorn and onion paste or the "hara bhara kebab", an all-time favourite shammi kebab made of lentils and green peas with traditional spices.

Add ons are crispy cheesy corns, grilled vegetable wantons served with rumali rotis or phulkas and dal makhani.Non-vegetarians have the choice of starting with corresponding "mutton shikampuri kebabs" or the "tangadi shiraj", deboned Chiken drumsticks stuffed with exotic cottage cheese, marinated with white rich cashew and yogurt and charcoal grilled.

Also included are "Oriental grilled fish", grilled tender fillets of fish marinated with ethnic oriental sauces and served with exotic vegetables, or "ajwaini fish tikka".When you buy the main course either with Basil flavoured grilled lamb chops and prawns with red wine juice or spicy ethnic masala grilled lamb chops and prawns, you will be hooked. Even if you don't have a sweet tooth don't miss the dessert — cut fruits with carrot halwa tart and fudge sauce. It is yummy. The whole meal is.

On Board is a spot of haute dining. Service is deliberately slow. "We want our customers to unwind and relax here", says F&B Manager Devendra Ratnawat. He quips that average spending of a guest goes up here because "he enjoys differently". The limited menu and prices may keep the locals away but it is worth taking the "flight" once in a while when you have the time and are in search of an ambient eatery. On Board opens only after dusk, from 7-30 to 10-30 p.m.

SOMA BASU

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