The respite from a tropical sun does not last long in Chennai, where winter only stretches from mid-December to February. It is quite beautiful though and opens up the city’s open areas to frolic. Spend an afternoon at the beach, picnic next to the casuarinas on ECR or maybe laze away the day munching under the sun. Here are our Top 7 open-air restaurants to enjoy the dip in the mercury.
The city’s only premium Mediterranean restaurant, Kefi is gorgeously styled like a Greek tavern. It is even more beautiful at night, when the rooftop cabanas are candlelit and you can lounge on the pool deck. Choose from a range of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Fare, but its hard to go wrong with their Mezze Platter, Grilled Lamb Chops and Spanakopitas.
This quaint little eatery is straight out of Alice in the Wonderland. The garden is creatively inspired, but not kiddish. You could sit under the shade with a book in hand and a pot of tea for hours, the service is friendly and unintrusive. They also make a delicious and homely Roast Chicken when hunger strikes.
Overlooking the Adyar River, Azzurri Bay has been a standard fixture for airy nights and twinkling stars. Now enjoy the sight of the river from this scenic roof-top restaurant. The vast menu features many Asian offerings, but I have enjoyed its European plates the most. I like their no-fuss Steaks, Lamb Chops, Steamed Sole Fish. End with Tres Leche or an Apple Pie.
Chenna’s de-facto ‘catch-up’ spot. Amethyst is a bit of a garden resort, bang in the middle of Express Estate. This iconic garden café is full of vintage decor, fountains and a vast garden to lounge forever. It often hosts book-readings, fashion pop-ups and there is a boutique inside too. The food seems slightly less memorable in comparison, but you are very unlikely to grumble about Amethyst's all day breakfast, Thin-Crust Pizzas, Classic Sandwiches over a pot of tea or a cafetière of coffee.
To be candid, I do not really like anything with chocolate at Sandys. I go there for the superb food. Terrific Wasabi Prawns, Hamburgers and Eggs Benedict. But what I end up ordering most of the time is their Medium Rare 8 Oz Royal Meat Filet Steak and Pork Belly In Beer Caramel sauce. You are free to make your own choices at their sunny garden location on Cenotaph Road
For years now, Kipling has been the premier dining and drinking spot on the Chennai stretch of the ECR. It is a massive bungalow in Akkarai, its uppermost floors overlook the Bay of Bengal and house the brand’s Italian offering, Firenze. Downstairs a huge garden is divided into Kipling Cocktail Bar, the Indian restaurant Kipling Masala and the original, Cabana-romantic Kipling Cafe, with great Oriental food. I usually go for their Thai fare.
A lush garden next to the seashore is what these lists are meant for. One of Chennai’s hidden gems is this family-run Iranian restaurant on the ECR. While Parsi food has taken off around the country and Irani Cafes makeup Mumbai and Hyderabad daily life, authentic Iranian food is hard to come by. Make the most of it at Shiraz with Gormeh Sabzi, Zereshk Pulao, Fesenjoon. Their minty Shiraz Tea and Guava-Basil Slush are highly recommended, with grass under your toes and the sea in your eyes.
A self proclaimed food geek and coffee nerd, Amit Patnaik enjoys his time in the kitchen as much as he loves dining out. He runs the food blog Pursuit of Yummyness and contributes to The Hindu in Chennai.