I don't know about you, but I have had a tough time finding a specialty sea food restaurant in Chennai. And the very few around are not places I would recommend. It's sad that Chennai being a costal city has a dearth of specialty sea food. Yes, there are a few places that serve good seafood, but for great seafood, I will have to drive to Mahabs!
Hopefully, with Marina, the scenario should change. An effort from the Mahadevan stable of restaurants, Marina is a concept seafood restaurant that promotes responsible fishing. They have adopted a fishing hamlet, given them boats, teach them hook fishing as supposed to net fishing, buy the produce from them and bring it straight to the restaurant.
Yeah, concept is nice et all, but nothing will work if they don't taste good. But there is another concept built inside. You pick the seafood of choice, pay for it by its weight and you can take them home! Of you can get it marinated for a fee and then take them home and cook them. Or even better, you can pay Rs. 250 per person and get it cooked as per your liking and have it there. So if four of you land there and buy a kg of prawns, a few hundred grams of fish and a big crab, you pay for the cost of the seafood at market price, pay another 1000 bucks for the four of you to have it cooked and eaten at the restaurant. Interesting concept.
So we were served a few dishes and they were outstanding. The mango fish gravy was excellent, just brilliant. I asked for a tiger prawn ( I am sure you saw that coming), grilled with lemon butter and it was done to perfection. The tandoori fish was another good dish, while the crab with its masala and the ghee rice was a kicker.
There were some not so good dishes too! The prawn Tom yum, was certainly not Tom yum by any stretch of imagination. Another fish preparation was not very good, but then, this is a place with some imagination. You can ask the chef to treat you or if you have some grandmom recipe that you want recreated, you can ask the chef to try or you can tell him what you feel like eating and he will try make it for you and so on, so the experience will depend on how you make it. The fact that you are charged only Rs. 250 for how many ever preparations you ask for, really helps (I wonder for how long they will be able to hold this offer).
Just to make sure that its not just a concept,but good food, they have three chefs, an oriental chef, a conti chef and an Indian chef, each hand picked from some of their other restaurants.
While the experience is not big enough to talk about, the concept is. There aren't too many like that in Chennai and Marina is a welcome to the Chennai Food Scene. If you have not guessed by now, there is no chicken or mutton or beef available, but if there is a vegetarian in your group, they are willing to make some gobi or paneer and some rice for your vegetarian friends!
I would rate this a 4/5, an experience better than most restaurants in Chennai!
Marina is located next to Pink Fitness, opp SBI on college road.
Thanks to Shadir for the photographs.
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