Chennai’s new ‘party land’ features a cocktail bar, local ingredients and modernist techniques

3 months ago 22

The iconic Green Meadows has been updated with a bar and will soon feature a restaurant serving Middle Eastern cuisine

In the middle of nowhere, Party Land thrived. Launched in the ‘80s, it slowly evolved through the ‘90s, and was then rebranded as Green Meadows in 2010. Meanwhile, as the city grew, engulfing it, the venue became more than just a Saturday night destination.

Over the decades the three-acre property in Palavakkam, lush with trees and vivid with flowers, was enhanced with banqueting halls, rooms, a restaurant and bar as it began hosting everything from weddings to office team-building lunches.

Now, it has had its most dramatic facelift yet.

Replacing the dated neon Grasshopper ‘restobar,’ reminiscent of Cher, crop tops and syrupy cosmopolitans (in short: good times), stands Origin, a chic cocktail bar. The old Hoppers Kitchen, exulting in lacy Kerala appams, will be replaced with Bayroot, offering Middle Eastern food next. And that is not all.

Japtej Ahluwalia, Nikesh Lamba and Vikram Mohan of Pricol Gourmet, who run a host of popular restaurants including Double Roti, Savya Rasa and Soy Soi, have added the property to their portfolio, with a focus on turning it into an entertainment destination, complete with rooms, a pool and sprawling banquet halls for parties. And though the Green Meadows brand seems dated, they have decided to build on the past instead of tearing it down, thus capitalising on rose-tinted memories of a generation that grew up attending parties here, even as they set out to create a contemporary space that also appeals to a younger, more globalised audience.

Origin is a fluid fusion of garden and glass, sparkling with sunshine and jazz. The grass and stone-striped open air dining space, crowned with a DJ console, is flanked by two air-conditioned wings of the bar, enabling intimate seating pockets.

Its clean design is echoed in the cocktail menu, offering classics and shooters in addition to a line-up of drinks fusing local ingredients, dehydrated fruit, alcohol and imagination. “Balance is key,” states Kathiravan Govindaraj, from the Pricol team, whose many years as a sommelier in luxury hotels has clearly had an impact on the bar.

The classic Pinacolada, for instance, is spiked with an in-house pandan tincture, and woven with flavours of hazelnut, banana and coconut, in addition to pineapple, dark and light rum, then served in generously plump pineapple-shaped glasses. If you want something more adventurous try the No Name, presented as a set of test tubes containing extracts of blue pea flower, lemon grass, elderflower, lime and gin.

Chennai’s new ‘party land’ features a cocktail bar, local ingredients and modernist techniques

Harnessing molecular gastronomy’s favourite gadgets, the team uses spherification, dehydration, smoking and foams, but does so judiciously, to enhance flavour and add playful textures instead of simply showing off technique.

Hibiscus from the garden finds its way into a very pink PG&T, boasting pomegranate, tonic, litchi and gin. The Grapefruit Coconut G&T bobs with tender coconut caviar, while the Old Fashioned features bourbon spiked with smoky orange zest. Try the Margarita, heady with tequila, orange liquor and lime. Or ask Jay Suyal, Origin’s lead bartender, to pour you a spicy, refreshing chilli gin, generously flecked with fresh coriander.

Chennai’s new ‘party land’ features a cocktail bar, local ingredients and modernist techniques

Explaining that the food is “tapas style,” featuring small plates, Japtej introduces their executive Chef Gopalsamy Mani, who has worked with leading hotels chains, most recently in West Asia. To provide something for everyone, without descending into a generic “multi cuisine” kitchen, Origin offers abbreviated versions of popular classics, attempting to pack each plate with a chorus of familiar flavours. Creamy galouti kebabs, for instance, balanced on corn meal coins. Or prawn moilee, dusted with dehydrated curry leaves and served on appam blinis.

Chennai’s new ‘party land’ features a cocktail bar, local ingredients and modernist techniques

Vegetarians: try the fiery Guntur mini idlis and the creamy malai broccoli. As with the cocktails, there is an appealing simplicity to the dishes that belies the work behind the scenes: tender squiggles of stir fried squid, for example, resplendent in just salt and pepper.

The property currently has two halls, lawns and a mandapam, and the team is gearing up to host events. A health club is in the works. And in a few weeks, the Middle-Eastern restaurant, Bayroot, will be up and running.

Evidently, party land is here again.

Origin is at 364 A, Anna Salai Road, Palavakkam Kuppam, Palavakkam. For details, call 7824876503.

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