The 600-room luxury hotel, ITC Grand Chola makes its entry into the Chennai cityscape and while the staggering structure may leave you feeling intimidated, once inside you feel otherwise. Preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Chola dynasty and laying emphasis on South Indian tradition ITC Grand Chola brings you luxury with a generous serving of history.

We are greeted by the enthusiastic staff at the hotel lobby with a dash of red tikka on the forehead that makes you realise that they take the ‘traditional’ tag seriously. My trigger-happy photographer, Amith Krishnan, soon forgets that we are here to review the Madras Pavilion, the hotel’s all-day restaurant, and is caught capturing the hotel’s stunning interiors. The Madras Pavilion sports a comprehensive menu – from a sushi bar to traditional Indian fare, you are spoilt for choice. Although, the collection of cheeses and cold cuts is impressive, the Indian fare comprising of the usual suspects of fried chicken and biryani paled in comparison.“We know that the city has a large vegetarian population and made sure we included a good variety in our menu for them,” says Ajit Bangera, senior executive chef, the man behind the scrumptious spread. "The buffet has a special focus on the cuisines of the southern peninsula, with a separate counter for delicacies from the five kitchens of the south," he adds.

The South Asian fare includes ribbon noodles teamed with fresh garnishing, that provide a clean palate. And, the live counters dish out kebabs and prawn tempura made to perfection. The spread might be too much to take all at once, but the resourceful staff will make sure that you are served at the table. Buffets normally tend to tire you out, but at the Madras Pavilion all your senses are constantly excited – the live counters certainly are a feast to the eye. Tucked below a beautiful lotus-shaped dome, they hold the restaurant together.

As I make my way to the dessert station, I notice a bunch of children crowding around it, this is always a good sign. The ice cream sundaes are a must-try, they transport you right back to the time when desserts were simple and fuss-free.

ITC Grand Chola Chennai, is on 63 Mount Road, Guindy.

(This article was published on November 27, 2012)
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