Beyond Madras @ Citibank Restaurant Week India

I've been talking about how it is slowly becoming cheaper to eat out at fancy places compared to stand alone, but sometimes this can be really ridiculous. Imagine, a five star meal for 750 plus tax, which comes to about Rs. 900! And that includes super premium places like Prego @ Taj Coromandel, which by the way is booked out! Citibank's Restaurant Week India, promoted as RWI makes this possible. While Citibank card holders have first peek and option to make the bookings, it is now open to all! The list of the restaurants are fabulous this time, considering that this is only the second time they are doing it in Chennai. All the good restaurants in Bangalore are booked out!

Last time, I went on the last day as I didn't know, but this time, I went on the first day. And at these prices, I will going a couple of times. The aim of this week is essentially to showcase the three course meals at most places at a fraction of the cost. So while I was going through all the menus, Beyond Madras stood out. One, I have not heard of this restaurant and two the menu was elaborate. A little google showed nothing at all and only after I went there was I told that the restaurant was launched along with the RWI. No wonder. So, there are some undue advantages here. No 3 course meal, their full daily menu on offer at 750 bucks. This has to be illegal!

So, Beyond Madras is the alter ego of their day restaurant, the Dining Room. By 7 pm everyday, the restaurant gets a make over and becomes all ethnic. I was fascinated to hear that Chef Balaji, the wonderful chef whose passion I saw during one of the Masters of Food and Wine, heads this restaurant. The chef comes to every table and explains the menu and talks to you about how he created this, which includes spending a week at Karaikudi to learn from grandmoms!!! Nice!

So, this a sit down buffet type place. The counters are all live and you get to see what is being cooked, but you don't really have to move from your table. There is a choice of sherbet, three starters, six gravies, four (they call it breads, but I wouldn't) stuff like idiyappam, rice, dosa and appam from the live counters and four desserts and the menu changes every week. Beautiful white table cloth with a nice white roof to bounce flash really helps too!!! Their price is 1350+ but for this week if you book through the RWI, its just 750 bucks.

My friend and me were just too happy with everything. We had a super nice gooseberry sherbet to start, but their appetiser bread was stunner. Now, we only think of focaccia and croissant and all of that when we think of breads and Indian breads usually mean just naan and paratha and stuff like that, but here the bread was fully South Indian flavour served with chutney. Loved the concept and the flavours.

Then we had a succulent lamb, a kambu paniyaram that was alright and a fantastic vazhakai varuval to start off. Most of the main courses come with the 'healthy' tag, so there is ragi dosa, ragi idiyappam, appam and such stuff. Don't let the tag put you off, because they were all fantastic. The fact that you have six gravies to mix and match makes this so much more exciting. Out of the six, the claypot meen manga (fish mango gravy) was the stand out!!!!

And then desserts! Wah. Filter coffee ice cream. Can't get more South Indian than that!!!! This with vattalappam, elaneer payasam and a super fantastic black rice with cardamom and sugar that was awesome. Chef Balaji also said that some of his dishes have been inspired by the outrageously talented but late Chef Jakob, so..........

I know the restaurant is new and so the full team is going great guns and really hope they can maintain this standard of food. You can't complain about the price but this week, at 750 bucks (okay, 900 bucks) this is a steal really!!!

You can make the bookings at to get the price. Prego and Golden Dragon are both in waiting list, but most other restaurants are available. Looks like not too many people know about this!!!