While the decor and service is spot on, Adupadis kitchen offerings leave much room for improvement. Navya DSouza comes back wishing that the restaurant spiced things up, the Chettinad way, for real.
A step into Adupadis environs is a step back into a simpler time, enriched with rustic motifs. Dont go looking for hi-tech city interiors, instead be prepared to treat your eyes to Chettinad-inspired decor starting with the imposing, ornate door to the dark-chocolate hued pillars, carved out of wood and reaching out to the wooden ceiling and the wicker- woven chairs that give the large steel plates company.
Strains of Carnatic music mingle freely with the non-stop banter of a crowded restaurant, whilst the staff helps you find a table. A menu quickly makes its way into your hands and you are introduced to the many unpronounceable offerings of Chettinad cuisine.
Thankfully, Adupadis menu includes detailed descriptions of all its dishes. But you will not need to be a pro in Tamil to realise that Chettinad cuisine is benevolent to the non-vegetarian palate. Still, Adupadi does reserve a generous space for the greens, but only after the mutton and chicken and fish and egg delights.
Whether you choose meats or greens, starters on Adupadis menu come with standard suffixes like masala, varuval, roast or sukha. The Naatu Koli Sukha Varuval (Rs 170) is country chicken stir-fried in pepper, dotted with golden flakes of garlic, cumin, onions and tomatoes. The rather generous dose of pepper wakes your taste buds up without scalding your tongue and is a great showcase of the spice-infused fare that Chettinad cuisine is synonymous with.
Vanjaram Fry or Seer Fish Fry (Rs 170) looks like it take can take the spice quotient up by a notch or two, what with its predominantly red-chilly marinade. And while it is fried to delicious crisp, the spices fail to register and leave you wishing that the fish had spent some more time in the marinade.
With the mains, Adupadi offers a host of curries that can be coupled with Chettinad staples like rice, parotas, appams and idiyapams. The Chicken Kotthu Parota (Rs 130) was strangely over-stuffed with egg and very little parota. The steamed rice (Rs 50) came piping hot with a generous sprinkling of ghee. But the Adupadi Chicken Gravy (Rs 180), termed as a house speciality, was a mere repeat of the familiar pepper-dominant creations that came before.
Seafood-lovers might find themselves disappointed with the Adupadis Meen Kulambu (Rs 180). Its a watered-down dish that acutely lacks the tang of the tamarind that induces satisfied slurping. You might even deem that neighbouring restaurant, Chettiars, produces a better version of the dish and for a lot cheaper too!
The mediocrity of Adupadis main fare is made up (somewhat) by its stellar desserts. For all of you who are under the impression that South Indian sweets cant hold their own against North Indian desserts ought to give Adupadi a try. The Kavani Arisi (Rs 80), a warm black rice pudding laced with cardamom, sugar, ghee and garnished with coconut deserves a thumbs-up. The crunch of the coconut stands in delicious contrast to the soft texture of the black rice, and will have you lapping it up. Equally commendable is the Elanir Payassam (Rs 85) with its subtle flavours that refresh you and has a pleasant cooling effect on your palate.
Impeccable service, eye-pleasing decor and delicious desserts, aside, Adupadis main menu could do with a spice-mastery tutorial, especially since their prices are steep for the average fare they dish out.
Meal for Two: Rs. 800
Must Try: Kavani Arasi