Review: The Flying Elephant

The Flying Elephant takes fine dining in Chennai to a new high   

It can't be easy for a new hotel to find its niche in a city that has suddenly seen a slew of luxury hotel launches. The Park Hyatt has chosen the route of intimate luxury rather than opting for the 'in your face' opulence of some of the city's other hotels and is instead themed as a personal home. The hotel's new concept restaurant is supposed to be themed as a bachelor pad; more like an outhouse where a man with a taste for the good things in life can express himself - think Bruce Wayne's quarters!

Chennai might be changing but it always has one foot in the past and likes clinging to its conservative heart. The Flying Elephant's interiors reflect this ethos - it's largely contemporary and high-energy but you can't escape the odd classical touch. There's a wheel of an old railway engine that supports the dramatic reception counter and an old restored elevator that travels at the same speed as 'change' in Chennai. The brainchild of Internationally acclaimed hotel designer George Wong, the restaurant reflects his global portfolio that includes projects from Beijing to Bogota.

The Flying Elephant is spread on seven levels (not floors) that begin with an al-fresco deck area overlooking a shimmering water body and end with a private dining space at the top of the stairs that is cozy enough to qualify as the bedroom of Master Wayne's quarters. It's a brilliant mix of formal and informal spaces in a city where most people like to 'hang loose' even for a special occassion dinner.

The restaurant features five live stations - there's a Turkish grills section that churns out succulent meats and vegetables paired with piquant sauces, an Oriental counter that dishes out probably the finest Lamb Rendang west of Indonesia and a largely Italian Western counter with a wood fired oven. There's also an Indian live kitchen and a dessert counter that has some wicked recipes like an authentic Pavlova up its sleeve. It might be a guy's space but the boss of the restarant's kitchen is Megha the affable chef who provides the perfect foil to the hotel's soft spoken Norwegian Executive Chef. Aside from the live stations, The Flying Elephant also features two live bars that concot high energy cocktails and are the most vibrant spaces in the restaurant.

GQ recommends: pork belly, Chilean sea bass, grilled asparagus and the not so little chocolate cake.

Service: friendly and efficient

Innovation: Turkish grills

Snooty factor: High

Celeb-o-meter: Has attracted a lot of the city's expats and celebrities including actors like Dhanush and Madhavan.

Classic potential: High; the restaurant has been generating tremendous buzz and the experience doesn't dissapoint.

Vibe: perfect for an evening with the Wolf pack or a romantic dinner

Price: Rs 3500 for 2 (without alcohol)

#39, Velachery road, Chennai: 32, phone: (044) 7177-1234

-Ashwin Rajagopalan   You may also like:

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