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thereluctant GOURMET

Whip up excitement

SHONALI MUTHALALY

Cold stone ice-creams are here. Choose from a variety of fillings to perk up your sundaes

Photo: V. Ganesan

MAKE YOUR CHOICE At Cream and Fudge

The waiter sneers at us. He curls his lip. He upturns his nose. He snorts gently, like a haughty racehorse.

Perhaps he expects us to retreat to a corner table and quietly cry into our milkshakes. Because he looks genuinely surprised when we stand our ground: Envision a lion tamer who's been bitten by a passing lamb. We're at Kiwi Kiss, a former favourite thanks to its low-fat frozen yoghurt. However, as the yoghurt is slightly off and the fruit isn't great, our mango milkshake tastes like a sweaty summer day.

Of course this happens at restaurants. Unwavering perfection in the food business is impossible. What makes a difference is the service. Unfortunately, that's where city restaurants seem to be failing. When we politely point out that our milkshake is ghastly, we're told, “this is how it is” (with an accompanying eye roll).

At the new Coffee Day Lounge on Khader Nawaz Khan Road, when we're brought vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate in our cold coffee, we point it out to the waiter. He snaps, “That's how it is,” and then increases the volume of the pumping music to drown out any more protest. (It looks like Justin Timberlake works every single time.)

At the newly opened Cream and Fudge next door, I battle a long queue to place an order and find myself facing a modern-day Hamlet, world-weary and tragic. He looks at me impatiently as I fumble nervously through the order (which involves multiple choices at every level). More eye rolling. Apparently waffle cones have no place in this world filled with sadness and tragedy.

Is there a lesson here? Well, yes. I eat out far too often, for starters. Perhaps if I stayed home I'd be judged less often. But seriously, over the past year restaurant prices have soared. We've never paid so much before. On the bright side, we've never had this many choices either. Restaurants in every street corner, world cuisines, plush designer luxury cobbled together from all over the globe.

Yet, the service seems to be getting worse as prices go up. Especially at the mid-range restaurants. While it's a given that the Five Stars tend to have good service, we're also lucky to have the dosa joints with their fabulously warm waiters. At Sangeetha, Ethiraj Salai, we eat dosas and bask in the affection. They smile. They chat. They ask about our family. Yes, the dosas are excellent.

Though I must admit, despite its staff's Greek tragedy leanings, Cream and Fudge does know how to churn out a pretty good sundae. Since it's currently rather crowded perhaps you could leave experimenting for a later date, when you have the luxury of time to make your choices. We choose pre-designed desserts straight off the menu. Chocolate Lovers, darkly decadent. And Strawberry Shortcake. Both are rich, creamy and indulgent. These are cold stone ice creams, which means they're blended in front of you on a frozen marble slab. You can choose your fillings: candied fruits, cookies, berry pie fillings, nuts, fudge, brownies, even Ferrero Rocher. Although the guys at the cold stone are still learning the ropes and thus not moving as fast as they should to keep the ice cream at optimum temperature — essential to preserve the texture — the end result is a fun blend of flavours and textures. Our Chocolate Lovers is studded with dark chocolate chips, brownie chunks and fudge. The Strawberry Shortcake is much sweeter, with vanilla sponge, strawberry pie filling and little pools of caramel. They come in a freshly made waffle cone.

Their big advantage is the range of flavours they offer: Green Apple, Bubble Gum and Cookie Dough to name a few. Add the ability to create your own blend with Apple Pie filling, Red Cherry pie filling, Gummy Bears and lots of roasted nuts, fudge and syrups and the possibilities are endless.

If only the staff looked a little happier.

Cream And Fudge is opposite Evoluzione on Khader Nawaz Khan Road. About Rs. 200 for two. Call 4213 7267 for more details.

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