Synck has a sprawling cafe offering progressive, vegetarian menus. And cocktails with a Chennai soul
Spaces is a unique Chennai luxury. Set beside popular Besant Nagar beach, the graceful venue, wild with flowers and vibrant with the scent of the sea, is a democratic breathing space for art, theatre and experimental performances.
How do you fuse a café into a space that is so individualistic, and so fiercely loved?
“Very thoughtfully,” says soft-spoken architect-hotelier-dancer Krithika Subrahmanian, who is perhaps the ideal person for the job with her ambitious vision for the space, supported by a meticulous attention to detail and personal history with the neighbourhood.
At the entrance to her just-launched venue, Synck, she explains how she grew up in the plot next door, “sitting on the balcony with my grandparents and a constant stream of visitors, listening to the music from performances at Spaces”.
Now, she has merged both properties, building a sprawling café, bar and restaurant besides the performance space, without altering its energy and setting. And, in the tradition of legendary dancer-choreographer Chandralekha who envisioned and created Spaces, Krithika hopes Synck will grow beside it, into a welcoming, creative community venue. “I want to invite artists… I want guests to mingle, and have conversations,” she says, adding, after a pause, “Of course, some of that can only happen in a post-COVID world.”
Nevertheless, Synck has launched with an ambitious mandate. Comprising multiple ideas and moods that flow into each other, it includes a relaxed outdoor café Svah, an intimate fine dining restaurant called Svasa and a soon-to-launch speakeasy bar, in addition to a compact theatre.
As Krithika walks through the café, pointing out the art it houses, traditional and digital, she explains why she chose to showcase progressive, vegetarian food in different formats across the property.
“We want to focus on taste and nutrition,” she says, adding that the team is building on its strengths, leaning on experience. (She also runs award-winning hotel Svatma in Thanjavur, set in a century-old building, popular for its luxurious vegetarian menus.)
The large alfresco café, an alluring refuge for pandemic-weary open space seekers, serves fairly adventurous “glocal” cuisine, in addition to café classics, from Himalayan pink salt lattes to saffron affogatos. Advertised with contemporary Wellness’ favourite buzzwords, the menu promises food that is “organic, artisanal, progressive and inclusive”.
Fortunately, along with the gimmicky frills (including dal served in dinky jugs), the cooking has a serious backbone.
At Svasa, dinner opens with creamy plantain stem soup, topped with crisp slices of airfried paintain tempura. The playful menu features stuffed brinjal served with Indianised arancini and enveloped in a rich velvety curry; a unique take on bisi bele bath served with a kodumpuli tart; and for dessert, a heady scoop of jasmine icecream.
The Awadhi mussalam stars bright, springy broccoli instead of meat, stuffed generously with nuts. It is laced with a clingy gravy, the flavours deepened with patiently toasted onions and garlic pods caramelised to a pleasing, earthy sweetness. While the kitchen brandishes a plethora of molecular gastronomy skills and showy plating, it is the old-fashioned sincerity with which they execute the food that will be Synck’s strength: their careful sourcing, and respectful treatment of produce.
The highlight, however, will always be the unique proximity to Chandraleka’s iconic open air theatre, and joy of soaking in strains of a concert in an eddy of sea breeze.
Synck is at 42, 35th Street, Besant Nagar. For more details, contact 99445 70908.