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Apr 16, 2012 01:56 AM

Chennai, India - Chettinad Lunch at the Raintree, Taj Connemara

The Raintree offered fiery Chettinad food (the cuisine of the wealthy Chettiar merchant class in Tamil Nadu) popular with Chennai’s middle-class dining crowd. The best part about the restaurant was actually the getting there: that long walk past lush greenery (tropical rainforest trees) to the beautiful glass-enclosed dining hall, with trickling water features down the middle of the restaurant, and skylight from the glassed panels on the ceiling.

Started off with Vasantha Neer – a refreshing drink made up of chilled coconut water, honey ,lime juice and mint.
Rice crackers were provided next, together with a variety of chutneys served from an impressive trolley.

Competently turned out dishes included:
Spicy chicken “rasam”, which seemed to be a ubiquitous soup to start a meal with here in Chennai;
The Thali platter was delightful: lentil-vegetable stew, grated coconut-string beans, Chettinad-style curried chicken, prawns, fish and lamb, scented rice, and a Chettinad-style fried fish. Chettinad cooking seemed spicier than the usual Tamil fare I‘d tried.

Appam, parotta, and flavored rice served were delicious.

Dessert were a coconut payasam with rice, strawberry ice-cream (Amul’s?) and a hyper-sweet halwa guaranteed to give one an insulin attack.

Quite a satisfactory meal, though certainly *nowhere* near the class of Southern Spice ( and Dakshin ( The chef at the Raintree also had quite a heavy hand with the salt.

Address details
The Raintree
Taj Connemara
Binny Road
Tel: +91-66000000

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  1. How does "posh Chettinad" here compare with the more common "middle-class Chettinad" at Ponnusamy's?

    1 Reply
    1. re: M_Gomez

      The flavors were pretty much the same, Martha. I'd definitely do Ponnusamy's, or others of its ilk in Chennai, e.g. Sangeetha, etc. Which offered good food at prices which suits the middle-class there. But for ambience, etc, of course you'll need to go to the big hotels.

    2. What is that refreshing looking drink? My favorite has always been a sweet lime soda. BTW, I keep hearing the pizza at Park Hotel is great. Supposedly thin crust & guessing not as cheesy as here in the States. Just an fyi in case you get a craving for something totally different.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ceekskat

        The drink's Vasantha Neer - chilled coconut water flavored with honey, lime & chopped mint leaves.

        I'd not tried the pizzas at Park Hotel - it's my home during my Chennai stay, and I normally opt to eat out since I breakfasted at 601 Cafe each morning. The service at the Park Hotel was very, very bad though, probably the worst I'd ever encountered anywhere - I attributed that to poor F&B management. Front office desk service was super-snooty - I think Park Hotel live doff its reputation of being built on the site of the old Gemini Film Studios, which chruned out Tamil movies during the golde n era of Kollywood, with stars like Sivaji Ganesan, aka Gemini Ganesan. The hotel corridors and rooms were all adorned with old movie posters produced by Gemini.

        The only time I had dinner at 601 (as I got back from work very late that evening), I had a Coorg pork curry with idiyapams - it was very good.

      2. The only meal that did not sit well with me in my tummy later in my whole 3 weeks by trains around India that was without incident - the RainTree buffet. Sorry. They did not handle their food well here - large tour groups, temperatures kept too low and perhaps casual sanitation control. This was about 5 years ago, but I expected better.