Abhinandan, Hotel Ashoka
47, Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai
Phone: 044 28553377
Ashoka Hotel, which opened in 1974, was Chennai’s favourite destination for the matrimonially inclined. The name itself made half of it possible. With its forest of trees, the pond at the entrance filled with carp recalled the sylvan retreat of Ramayana’s heroine. To begin with, Abhinandan, as it is now called, was just known as the dining room. What they did best was to serve food that would rival the better-known Udipi restaurants by serving a pan-Indian menu. It had to appeal to the foreign-returned groom in search of a life partner. “Cutlet!” That was the first word that a reasonably well-educated young man uttered when meeting his prospective bride. If she approved, she replied, “Ketchup!” Both sets of parents sat at a nearby table and watched. Weddings took place in the nearby garden grotto and were followed by the sumptuous leaf sappads, as the feasts used to be known.