Blogging for Patch.com certainly has its perks. Today I was invitied to sample the culinary selections at Madras Chettinaad, an Indian restaurant located at 4305 State Bridge Road, although it's not really on State Bridge, but rather Old Milton Parkway next to the big Publix in Alpharetta on the Johns Creek border. The owner, Narendra Patel, greets me with a smile and warm welcome.
Narendra, like many other people, has settled here in Atlanta. He is originally from Bombay, India. He left his home, bound for New York (yea!) in 1992, with only a pocket full of hope and $20.
His skills in India included a career, or lack of career, in chemistry. With more of a desire to become a culinary entrepreneur, he made his way through culinary college in Mumbai and then on to the United States. It seems a brave thing to do. Alex and I have been talking about moving abroad and seriously looked at places in Italy last year, but the thought of leaving my kids, family and friends keeps us here for now. I admire Narendra's courage.
The menu at Madras Chettinaad is full of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Lunch, which I feasted on today, is a beautiful buffet of both hot and cold specialties. One of the most popular dishes is Chicken Chettinaad Curry. Not eating that, you know, I don't eat chicken, I went on to the vegetarian dishes. I enjoyed the Spinach Pakora, a deep-fried onion, spinach and chickpea fritter. Fried, I know, but I only had one to taste it. Yummy! My main dish was Chettinaad Fish Curry, delicious. It is made with a slightly spicy sauce with onions and seasonings, you know, the customary cumin (Jeera), curry, cayenne pepper, garlic (Lassan), etc. Alex tried the restaurant's signature dish, Chicken Chettinaad and told me it was amazing. The name Chettinaad, Narendra told me, is a sect of people in India, sort of business class people and also a type of cuisine. Madras is also the name of a city in southern India and therefore has its own culinary treats. Narendra's explanation of the diffferent areas of India reminds me of the different types of people we have here in Johns Creek and Atlanta. Some from the southern region, some from the north, some from the far east, some from the west and a whole mixture of diversity melded into one community. I love it.
Sweet and savory dishes are available for both lunch and dinner. The buffet is only served at lunchtime, so I am looking forward to returning with friends to sample the dinner menu.
The restaurant is a large space with a separate area for private meetings, which seats about 70 people. The walls are filled with old black-and-white photos of Bombay, which I thought were wonderful because, in all my travels, I have never visited India. I will have to put it on my to-do list since it looks like an amazing place and the food is certainly so.
Madras Chettinaad is a wonderful eclectic collection of Indian cuisine with a diverse clientele. I love that we are getting all these great individually, family owned restaurants. It is a nice change from the, well, you know, usual Johns Creek spots!
Bon Appetit, or in India they say "ap ka khana svadista ho" – Enjoy your meal!