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As I pried through the skin of my cherubic Pork Dimsum-Kozhukattai, the next table seemed to explode with gasps. I peeked over to see three genuinely entertained Madras gentlemen gushing over Avartana’s signature Tender coconut ‘Egg in a nest’. What’s remarkable is that the gasps came after an evening of approving hums and yays. Avartana is conspicuous in a clutch of modern-Indian restaurants. Chef Harish Rao (formerly with Dakshin) and Chef Ajit Bangera bend their backs extracting intense traditional flavours and then playfully nudging plates with measured creativity. The Tellicherry pepper grasps your palate as you bite into Pepper chicken. And then, a peck of Mace and Cinnamon meringue cleverly rounds off the sizzle. French-pressing an infusion of Rasam with herbs into a Martini glass may seem a bit pointless but then again it was as good a Rasam as any in Chennai. Avartana’s bankable flavours inspire confidence to play along in even the most dogged diners. A real treat awaits if you do.