Chennai: Wish to hit the road home in a romantic mood, soothing the frazzled nerves at the end of a busy day's work? Munching good food under the open skies, watching the stars and the moon beside a water body is an option.
Targeting young executives here, Taj Club House of the five-star hotel, has taken dining alfresco (eating outdoors) to new heights - to its seventh floor roof top where there is a swimming pool.
Apart from the open air, calm surroundings and water body, Rooftop Alfresco offers the experience of hookah smoking with different flavours.
"We decided to put our roof top to better use following feedback and requests from our guests, who were surprised at the ambiance here," Ian Dubier, the general manager, said, while showing around the hotel's new offering.
Taj Club House already has a restaurant offering Mediterranean cuisine on its rooftop. And with little additional investments, Dubier decided to offer global food to cater to a new segment of clientele.
"We are trying out a new concept. People want to go out and grab good food in a calm environment before heading home," Dubier said, offering the yummy ricotta gnudi served with mushroom sauce, rosemary and pine nut.
The gentle breeze, bright blue skies and the absence of traffic noise - though the hotel is located just off the busy Anna Salai - and with the hand and mouth engaged in emptying the plate, it took a bit of an effort to listen to what Dubier was saying.
The only sound was from the pool where a man was swimming. What was missing was a beautiful mermaid on the poolside!
"We will also be offering a live band show when the Rooftop Alfresco is formally launched soon," Dubier said.
Five years ago, most of the hotels had live bands but the trend had changed in favour of DJs, he said.
"Now the live band is coming back into vogue, sort of resurrection of live bands in star hotels here," Dubier said, offering maxie wrap (buffalo mozzarella, pesto with plum tomatoes).
"The ambiance in the hotel, rooms, restaurants - polite service and other things are taken for granted by guests and are now standardised. The differentiating aspects are the offerings and the experience," Dubier said, citing the hookah.
One can get hooked-on-to the hookah as there are varied flavours available.
"When the apex court allowed hookahs we decided to offer the experience to our guests. Fascinated by the hookahs some of our guests have started trying it out," Dubier said.
By this time, flamed prawns with lots of garlic, parsley and chardonnay arrived at the table though the gentle breeze brought the aroma ahead to the nostrils.
The juicy prawns went down the throat quite fast.
The menu is elaborate and offers the likes of Caesar on the roof top (Romaine lettuce, caesar dressing, grissini, parmesan topped with grilled veggies/grilled chicken/grilled prawns/scottish smoked salmon) and the signature jacketed grouper (bacon wrapped grouper chunks, paprika mayo, arugula fennel salad and fries).
One can also go for the Lebanese kebab sampler (vegetable, fish, lamb and chicken) or the Ras el Hanout Pizza, Istanbul burger (pide buns, harissa, tzatziki) that comes with a choice of vegetables or lamb, served with softfeta and fries.
Round off this exotic meal experience with the delectable lime pie, Greek yoghurt cheese cake or a coffee and brownie.
The outlet is open in the evening between 5 p.m and 11.30 p.m.
The average price for two is around Rs.900, excluding liquor and the hookah.
The hookah experience that can last for 30-45 minutes is priced at Rs.800 to Rs.900.