Went to a very nice resto-bar called Zara for Sunday afternoon lunch. Zara is a Tapas restaurant (Tapas refers to Spanish appetizers) but it serves Chinese, Italian & Mexican food as well! The main course is mainly Continental but both the times that I've gone there we have stuffed ourselves with their spicy, delicious appetizers, skipped the main course (which you would get at any Continental resaurant) & jumped straight to the dessert, which are Oh-My-God-Heavenly!! It was my second visit to the restaurant & I'm beginning to think the people who work there have developed a liking for me (grin from ear to ear :)
The story goes somewhat like this...
The first time I went to Zara, they gave my friend & me an appetizer (a very nice one) on the house! I have no clue why!! The second time was even better (isn't it always? ;)
They make these awesome Strawberry Martinis. Basically, they add fresh strawberry juice to Vodka and leave it to ferment for a week, so the Vodka truly imbibes the taste of strawberries. They prepare this concoction in-house.
Fresh strawberries were not available in the market the first time I went there, so instead of using strawberry infused Vodka they made the martini by adding Vodka to strawberry puree. And it tasted divine. This time around when I went, they were back to making their original Strawberry Martinis. I ordered for one thinking it would be the same as last time (since I didn't know the difference), but when I got my martini I was quite disappointed as it didn't taste the same, and much to the waiter's displeasure I kept insisting it was not the same thing I had last time. The guy at the bar probably saw me sulking & before I knew it, there was another glass of Strawberry Martini infront of me, the way I had had it the first time! And it was ON THE HOUSE!!
I quite like the ambience & the food at Zara though not the decor so much. They've got three types of seating - couches where you can lounge, tables & chairs, and bar stools along the bar. The music played is good...on Saturday night they played Spanish music, followed by Retro, my eternal favorite. Yesterday too they were playing pretty enjoyable music though I don't remember what genre! I didn't notice!! But the best thing about the music at Zara is that it is not so loud that it is impossible to hold a conversation. It is a resto-bar afterall.
The best feature of Zara is undoubtedly their desserts. I've had a dessert on both my visits there. On my first visit I had the Dark Chocolate Mousse with Kahlua Cream (thick layer of it :) I'm sure I don't need to explain what it was in detail. The second time I had a Pancake Filled with Molten Chocolate & Served with Ice-Cream. The molten chocolate gave the entire thing a bittersweet taste, and the hotness of the pancake/chocolate contrasted well with the ice-cream.
The hi-point for eating-out enthusiasts...the waiters are polished, well spoken, conversant in English, know their dishes, can recommend good ones, are chilled out & always have a big smile on their faces. That makes a world of a difference at a restaurant. Nothing pisses me off more than dumb waiters at restaurants.
Zara has two outlets in Chennai. They've just opened in Pune & are planning to open in Delhi in February & Bombay in six months if things work out for them in terms of space. I hope they do, and you guys should head there for desserts as soon as they do! And for their strawberry martinis! And for the sweet people they are :)
PS: As you can clearly see, I can only think of food right now. That's because I'm on a self-imposed-diet-under-enormous-societal-pressure. And as anyone who has tried dieting will know, when you're on a diet food is all you can think of!!