Dim lighting, music that sets the mood and a setting that is befitting for those special occasions. In Chennai, there’s also another element in the mix which few other metros can boast of – the beach. Many of Chennai’s favourite romantic dining venues dot the East coast road that stretches all the way to Pondicherry and hugs the Bay of Bengal. But there’s an equal number of rooftop venues with views and intimate indoor venues, so that you’re never short of options for that special dinner date.
1. Bay View, Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove
Few dinner venues in India can compete with Bay View’s backdrop – the Ocean. This is beach side dining at its unadulterated best and the closest you will get to a luxurious beach shack. No fancy furniture or props; just sweeping views of the Bay of Bengal and rustic tables. It’s not just the views, the seafood menu is built almost entirely on fresh catch of the day.
Address: Covelong Beach, East Coast Road.
2. Wharf, Radisson Temple Bay
You’re on the edge of the ocean with stunning views and yet you’re ensconced within the comfort of an elegant restaurant under a thatched roof that merges with the beach. The Wharf might be a longish drive from the city but the views of Mamallapuram’s historic Shore Temple and a great blend of seafood and grills make it well worth it.
Address: 57, Kovalam Road, Mahabalipuram
3. Up North, Raintree Hotel Anna Salai
There are many places you can order a butter naan and a Dal Makhni in Chennai but it’s unlikely these restaurants will be able to match Up North’s dining experience. It largely stems from this cleverly named restaurant’s location – in the heart of Chennai with uncluttered views of the city lights. The menu stays in a predictable zone; sometimes it’s nice to be on a romantic date and dig into comfort food.
Address: 636, Anna Salai.
4. China XO, the Leela Palace
The Leela is the only luxury hotel within the city that is perched close to the Bay of Bengal. The hotel’s signature Chinese restaurant has a few outdoor cabanas (during the cooler months) but it’s the indoor dining experience that wins our vote. Dark wood, generous splashes of red and tables that are not clustered together. The food keeps up and so does the service; the wait staff stay in the background and magically appear just when you need them.
Address: Adyar Sea Face, M.R.C Nagar.
5. Sunset Grill, the Westin Chennai Velachery
Combines two somewhat rare elements in the Chennai fine dining scene – an outdoor restaurant without an ocean view and a largely ‘grills only restaurant’. The views are a surprise and offer panoramas of the new Chennai, away from the city centre while the International grills are top notch. All you need is a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and candle light that are both available handy.
Address: 154, Velachery Main Road.
6. Kipling Café
One of the most popular venues along the East coast road but is not on the beach. Kipling’s serene garden seating area with a clutch of intimate cabanas more than makes up for the beach. It’s three distinct dining experiences and settings with menus that round up everything from European to Thai to Indian cuisine.
Address: 6, L Jey Avenue, Akkarai, East Coast Road.
7. The Dining room, Park Hyatt
This all-day dining restaurant might not enjoy the same attention as the hotel’s immensely popular Flying Elephant but packs inimitable charm. Part of this charm comes from being located next to a serene lily pond in the heart of the hotel – the restaurant also offers outdoor seating. Equally, it’s the restaurant’s unhurried vibe that almost replicates the experience of a special meal in the comfort of your own dining room.
Address: 39, Velachery Road, Near Raj Bhavan.
8. On the Rocks, Crowne Plaza Chennai, Adyar Park
The focus has always been on the restaurant’s culinary credentials and the exotic dishes (and grills) on its menu. But more than the food it’s the restaurant’s intimate dining experience that merits serious attention. The attention to detail and service is terrific while the mood lighting and impressive wine list add to the restaurant’s allure.
Address: 132, TTK Road, Alwarpet.
9. Azzuri Bay
Views of the Adyar river joining the Bay of Bengal in the distance and tucked away in one of Chennai’s serene residential nooks. Azzuri Bay offers a blend of cosy outdoor and indoor seating options. The rooftop has the slight edge on a pleasant evening thanks to the views and the menu – that features Italian and Thai signatures, has more hits than misses.
Address: 13, 1st Crescent Park Road, Gandhi Nagar, Adyar
10. Aqua, The Park Chennai
A downtown location, a shimmering pool and cabanas that are almost a world unto themselves. The Aqua has long been one of Chennai’s ‘go to’ outdoor dining options with its laid back vibe. And just in case you want a change of scene, A2, the restaurant’s indoor twin is a few steps away and a world apart. Distress Chic and an eclectic menu that includes an assortment of Sushi Rolls.
Address: 601, Anna Salai.