Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trysts in the rain.

I know I haven't blogged in a while. My day job is famous for its crappy hours, pitiful pay and hard work the likes of which will only make us sicker than the patients we treat. And to get there, you have a fun (!) obstacle course in the form of the Post-Graduate Entrance Exams. Think TNPCEE times 100. IIT-JEE times 20. USMLE times 10. The only thing I can say about it is that it's a joke, and it's over. Whee.

I've hit the kitchen with the vengeance (how I wish I could say the same about my EFX). The backlog of places I've eaten at keeps growing. It's going to be an interesting week here. Get ready for plenty of Mmms.

I must be out of my mind for posting this on a Tuesday. ECR is reserved for the weekends (for most people), no? Before you get to your destination, ECR can be a little 80's looking; more rural than suburban. And the rain might force you to stop driving. Worse, you may not have eaten in two whole hours. Somewhere I'd recommend you to stop is at Tryst Cafe at Neelankarai.

A Gatsby iniative, Tryst Cafe is tucked away at a nook behind the store. Walking in (running in, actually, seeking refuge from the rain), I couldn't help letting out a little self-pleased "Oooh!" I love discovering new places that are good; how rare those instances are.

The cafe is lit up softly, furnished classy-without-being-posh-ly (they also sell furniture in another cranny of Gatsbyland) and has a couple of counter-tops with amazing, AMAZING looking pastry. Cakes, macarons (macarons at Madras!), mille-feuille, baguettes, all of them French and formidable, lest you call them a bakery. This is a patisserie if there could be such a thing at Madras.

And while being surrounded by pastry is the best possible (and sometimes the only) way to be, we chose to sit out in the rain. Rain, in Madras, sometimes even trumps chocolate. At least, it did before the Freakish Astonishing Winter/Monsoon of 2010. See for yourself.

That's the view from where we sat. Omar Sait, a part of the Gatsby family, happened to be at the cafe that day, and he very kindly obliged, setting up a little sidewalk-style table. "You can't expect everybody to pander to your whims," W complained. Well, it was my birthday weekend. Enough said.

Birthday weekend it being, I'd overindulged in cake(tiramisu!); cake instead of breakfast, cake at 3:00 AM, and plenty of times in between. The rain demanded hearty, hot food with the obligatory mug of coffee.

The burger we had was called the Nawabi burger; an amazing concoction of galouti-type lamb kebab, with a side of THE best wedges I've had here. When you have lamb mince instead of a cutlet as a burger patty, you thank God for small mercies. Especially when they're served with wedges that are chunky, have a crisp skin outside and are tossed in grains of salt. It cost either 120 or 140 bucks. I would have paid more, sans complaints.

The baguette sandwich was a chicken Caesar salad stuffed between an in-house baked loaf of french bread. Chunks of tender chicken and the lettuce I loved, the crusty bread worth becoming fat for, but the mayonnaise overload, eh. Mayo-fiends would give it a double thumbs-up I'm sure, but it's not easy to convert a buttermilk-ranch girl.

And the coffee. I'm from Madras. We don't serve bad coffee even to our 'til-death enemies. We are who we are, and all that.

The coffee I had there, I'd gladly serve to all the lovely people who visit and say the nicest things about the blog (and I didn't even have to pay them in food!). It did all the things a good brew does on a rainy evening. Strong, scalding, the bitterness cut with a little swirl of chocolate sauce. I only said I was tired of cake.

I haven't been to the Gatsby patisserie opposite Citi Centre, on R.K.Salai, but a visit is in order; those Parisian macarons look divine. But if it's a tryst that needs to work in your favour, summon the rain gods and drive down the East Coast.


  1. One of the best outings we've done. I remember not being too fond of the burger, but the wedges were awe-freaking-some.

  2. Definitely, one of the best.

    And you only cribbed about the burger because you have access to Shammi kebabs and their like at home, unlike the rest of us!