Casa Picola

A great joint to either have a quick lunch, an evening out with friends, a place for a good first date or to even have a business meeting over lunch.

The place started out serving only European dishes, did not do well, but like most good organizations learnt the Chennai market and adapted well to cater to both the average meal eater AND the clients who come looking for the 'old' Casa serving close to authentic Euro foods. There are three seating areas-the one on the first floor, a outside terrace that has about 2 tables and the roof top with cane chairs, sofas in a nice relaxed atmosphere (no points for guessing that its open for service only after the sun stops beating the water out of your body). The roof top is a good place to go for a date or to just chill out with friends. You also get to smoke hookahs in a variety of flavors here.

The starters were not great, but some of the soups and salads are extremely good. The beef soup is something to die for. Nice soft chunks of beef in a nice orange broth flavoured with the right kind and amount of herbs and spices. Extremely well made. Some of the salads are very good too, the best being chicken pasta salad. Nice chunks of chicken with penne or pasta dressed with mayo or ranch. What stands out in this place is that both in the soup and salads, the meat pieces are nice chunks and not lean bits and pieces. This adds credibility to the dishes and the prices. However Casa has now come up with a new menu that has some excellent starters, the best among them being Chicken Balls, Beef Chops and Stuffed Chillies. Chicken balls is a plate of 8 decent sized minced chicken balls in a great sauce-its just brilliant. The beef chops are like the chilly fried beef that we get in most good Chinese restaurants, just that this comes dipped in a nice tangy sauce-crisp outside, soft inside in a great sauce is a great recipe. The stuffed chillies are like the road side molaga bajji, where in the molaga (the chilly) is stuffed with mayo and herbs- the right blend of roadside food with rich mayo!!!

The main course has a wide variety of options ranging from sandwiches to pizza to entrees. I would personally stay away from the pizzas and sandwiches because, one, they are not great and two, the entrees and the steak are simply superb and quite filling. So I would rather not waste stomach space on pizzas that you should be eating at Bella Ciao or sandwiches elsewhere.

The oriental chicken steak is a personal favourite. Served with garlic bread, some vegetables, rice and either mashed potatoes or french fries (your choice), this dish simply stands out as a complete meal by itself. The spicy chicken entree is served in a slightly gravy consistency and is also pretty good, though not as great as the dry steak. The other dish that is worth every penny is the beef steak-served with the same accompaniments as the chicken steak, this is dressed with mushroom sauce (or you can pick your choice of sauces) and is mouth watering. I prefer it well done, but some the hard core steak guys prefer it light done. A couple of my friends have tried the chicken parmigiana and say that its as good as it should be. Their prawns are pretty good too and you can have them with our without the shell. The sea food platter is a new addition to the menu. Its a set of 3 fantastic crab cakes, 4 pieces of fried fish cutlets and 4 small prawns served on a base of tomato rice, boiled vegetables, fries and a tomato stuffed with herbed mayo. Its a meal by itself and a good one at that!

The desserts are just brilliant here. My favourite is the marble cake with ice cream. Its normally served with vanilla ice cream,but I suggest you try it with chocolate ice cream.Cheese cake is alright and they are now introducing a profiterole (I can't get the spelling right) which I have heard is very good too. They also have a very good walnut cake that is worth a try. The brownie and ice cream are like how it is in most places around the earth! Nothing special! Though you could have the chocolate gateaux with chocolate ice cream on top! That is worth a try!

Service is alright, nothing great, nothing bad. The price is worth what you get, but you will land up with a 12% hike that includes a variety of taxes and charges (which now happens in most places). This place has somehow managed to blend the restaurant with a coffee shop atmosphere almost perfectly.

Food 7/10

Service 5/10

Ambiance 7/10

Casa is located on Khader Nawaz Khan road, Nungambakkam above the Bang and Olufsen showroom near the Barista outlet

Also read the review on Casa Picola's Express Lunch