Spoiler Alert: There will be an inordinate amount of drooling and slurping.
Marlon Brando gives you his sinister smile as you walk in and Marilyn Monroe pouts her stuff from across the room. 5 Senses does justice to its tagline of 'Contemporary Mediterranean' with skill and style. One of easiest fine dining experiences in Chennai, it appeals to the aesthetics and the taste buds craving excellent food.
So first things first, the place is huge. like really big. and very nicely done. With both indoor and outdoorsy-but-with-a-roof seating arrangements. Tastefully done, we get a peek into the yester years with the black and white posters of vintage Hollywood biggies that cover every wall. Their sense of style transcends the décor. The menu book is a fun and interactive thing with vignettes and quotes from popular icons. To appeal to the IPL fans, they earn brownie points for screening the matches on the projector.
We were joined by Chef Jiten and our host for the evening, and we willingly submitted our appetites/orders into the very able hands of the Chef. We started with the Spanakopita and the Chef recommended Panka Crumbed Jalapeno. The Spanakopita is a combination of fresh and crisp phyllo with a light but flavorful cheese filling and served with a dip. The Panka Crumbed jalapenos as the name suggests was this amazingly crisp and no-nonsense dish of jalapeno peppers with two types of cream piped onto it. Delish and a popper (do not bother trying to cut it into half et al), it is to be consumed as whole, with just a splash of the interesting dip that comes along with it.
There were some interesting and delicious mocktails doing the rounds and i think i'd be happy to drink up pitchers of their Midusmmer though i'd specify a little less sugar next time. It's a concoction of mint, crushed ice, strawberry and a spritz of lemon . Other fun things on the table were the Iced cookies, Watermelon & habanero tea and Hot chocolate, all worthy of the 'Ooohs' and 'Aaahs'.
We were served the yummiest, and i kid you not, the softest, the springiest Focaccia ever. Drizzle some of the olive oil, some cheese flakes and you are in an Italian heaven of food.
We moved onto the more hard core stuff: The Chef's Non Veg Sampler and the Tapas Platter. You look at that and you know that they are very serious about their food. Chic and with substance to match, those platters are everything it promise to be. It's got something for everybody; chicken wings, lamb, pork chop, crumb fried fish, prawn, vegetables and oodles of style. My favorite was the asparagus wrapped salmon with a drizzle of sauce. The mushroom and the crumb fried fish came a close second. In all honesty, all the dishes were delish in their own right and had clean and unique flavors that shone.
In the midst of all this came a dish of the stuffed mushrooms. Drizzle some of that unique chutney that you get onto the mushrooms and pop one. The taste is quite unique, not like something i have tried before. The mushrooms are juicy, soft and seasoned perfectly and the sauce lends a very unique flavor.
I was of course waiting for the pizza and was not disappointed: Perfect prosciutto, tangy sauce, cheese just right and green apple slices paired with an awesome thin crust and voilà, you have the pizza made in heaven.
Another dish we tried was the Smoked Salmon on Fusilli which was also one of my many favorite dishes of the day. I
like love their quirky combination of the smoked salmon with pasta. The fusilli is cooked perfectly and the smoked salmon enhances the flavor beautifully. The Chicken skewers and Pasta was an interesting dish as well. I mean, would you expect chicken skewers perched daintily on a twirl of pasta? (Psst! Do you notice something? They go all out and try and surprise you every dish of the way! with good results too!)
The Pork chops was one of the favs at the table. I'm not a big fan of the meat but this was good, tender, juicy and bang on with the flavor. I was a bigger fan of the couscous that was served as the side: perfectly seasoned couscous with chunks of fresh mango.
The Lamb chops was tender and full of flavor too is what i heard, i did not try it though.
The Lamb Tajine was another unique dish that came in. The Tajine/Tagine is a North African dish cooked in a heavy earthenware pot with a conical top and that is called the same. The specialty is the unique way in which it is cooked - all the steam aids the cooking. General opinion was that the Lamb Tajine was indeed very tender and cooked in very earthy flavors. It was served with couscous though people at the table were not overly fond of the flavors of the lamb.
It goes without saying we were all saving space for dessert. The chef ordered an Alphonso Crème Brulée that was a creamy mango infused custard but without the signature burnt caramelized top that cracks when attacked with the spoon. Lack of burnt caramel notwithstanding, the dish did work wonders, it was served with a quirky white coffee granita that was, for lack of better words, unique, twisted in a fun way and plain yum. It left us wondering (and the curiosity was only spiked by the Chef saying it was a secret recipe) how you can manage a pristine white colored coffee granita with the smoothest flavors. The masterpiece was topped with a decorative chocolate tuile.
The Callebaut Crostata and Bailey's Gelato was from a different end of the spectrum altogether-warm, gooey molten chocolate oozing out of a soft shell, a smattering of chocolate in the shape of coffee beans and paired with a scoop of the creamiest Bailey's gelato. There were people at the table attacking it with much gusto to get to the rich Callebaut; i found it a tad too overpowering but was more than happy with the Bailey's gelato.
What i think: 5 Senses goes way beyond your regular Mediterranean meal. On the whole, i loved the food and I am definitely going back because i liked being surprised by their flavors and combinations. The portions were increased as per previous feedback and it showed. They can boast of their versatile menu and rightly so. The restaurant offers fuss-free fine dining and i think that is their trump card. and it is better still because they serve food that makes you want to go back for more.
5 Senses is at Oyster, #9, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Chennai - 600 006