Tea With The Terns
The Leela Palace, M.R.C. Nagar, Chennai 600 028
Tel: 044 3366 1234
Meal for two:?Rs 1,200
Watch the birds while sipping a cup of Oolong at the tea lounge of the Leela Palace, Chennai. It’s like sinking down into the serene world of a Merchant-Ivory film. The Lobby Lounge at the Leela Palace hovers between sea and sky. Large picture windows frame spectacular views of Chennai’s fabled Coromandel Coast.
On one side, the Adyar threads its way through sand bars that shelter a variety of marine life and colonies of birds. On the other, an ancient fishing village clings to its own way of life.
The English tea served at the Lobby Lounge is a perfect reminder of the past that has all but vanished from recent memory in a city that was built by them. Just looking at the list of the varieties of tea on offer, from Earl Grey to Darjeeling and Nilgiris, transports you back in time. There are sections devoted to green teas, designer coffees and, of course, Massala Chai.
“To tell you the truth, some of our guests would prefer a plate of fried vadas and strong masala tea,” executive chef Dharmen Makwana says with a smile.
We settle for the Alice in Wonderland style ‘Hi Tea’ that comes in a three-tiered tray stand, each carting small morsels of exquisite delights. On the first, finger sandwiches, mimosa eggs, cream cheese studded with chives, salmon and pale tomato slices, a mini-boat bun filled with tiny shrimps doused in a Marie Rose sauce, floating in the midst of crunchy salad leaves, drizzeld with truffle oil. The second tier has a selection of pastries and macaroons and tiny tartlets filled with slivers of fruit. The best comes last. Real farm-style scones with pots of whipped cream, golden lemon curd and mashed strawberry jam.