If you are a thorough-bred Chennaiite, you would surely agree that December 2018 is a cold month. This time it is not about just a nip in air but rather low temperatures that is actually making you feel cold. The need to savour hot and delicious food is at its peak this season, what with a general festive air and of course, the December music festival month! If you have been following the music season in Chennai for last few years, you would know that apart from brilliant performances by top artistes, it is the sabha canteen food that is much looked forward to. They dish out authentic and delicious dishes prepared by top caterers in the city. The tiffin items served from 4 pm onwards are a rage. This year, make plans to visit these sabha canteens:

Sri Sasthalaya Catering, Narada Gana Sabha, Alwarpet

Last year, when we had walked into the sabha canteen, everything around was so inviting. Right from the waiters, who are warm and attentive to the aroma of food prepared in ghee and coffee doing the rounds. This year is no different. Sri Sasthalaya Catering is back at Narada Gana Sabha. They start serving breakfast as early as 6.30 am and it is open for dinner till about 10 am. In the past years, they created a sensation with their Gova jhangiri, Arcot makkan peda, vazhai poo vadai, pidi kozhukattai, thattu idly and spl kara dosai along with filter coffee. This year we are waiting to try out their fare.

Location : Address and Map Location

Sastha Catering, Brahma Gana Sabha, Sivagami Petachi Auditorium, MCTM School, Mylapore

In terms of sabha canteens, Sastha Catering is a relatively new player. The catering service is pretty well-known though in the circles and has been a top choice for muhuratham and other social functions. Their sabha canteen has been received a rousing response. And when we tried it out in person, we realised that the food speaks for itself. The place was almost full when we stepped in at 7.30 pm on a weekday evening. This year their signature dish is the Vethalai Bhajji, in which the Vethalai (betel leaf) is added in the bajji maavu. Every item is nominally priced on the menu and tastes delicious. Do try it out!

Location : Address and Map Location

LV Patappa of Patappa Catering,The Music Academy, TTK Road, Alwarpet

The Music Academy is known for catering by Mint Padmanabhan for years. This year the reigns of the sabha canteen has been taken over by another celebrated cook, LV Pattappa. The seating style is slightly varied with soothing white canopy and round table seating in the evening. There are the usual favourites like dosa, vadai, idly, semiya upma and filter coffee

Pattappa’s focus is more on traditional lunches served on banana leaves   priced at INR 300 and this has been the talk of town. Even on weekdays, one might have to wait for 20 minutes to just get a seat. We suggest you head out early! The menu changes every day but there is one constant and that is their unique seppankizhangu (taro) roast.  Their variety rice served with puli inji is also drawing lot of people. For health freaks there are dosas, upma and payasam made with millets and ragi.

Location : Address and Map Location

Mountbatten Mani Iyer, Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Vidya Bharathi Kalyana Mandapam,  Mylapore

Mount Sreenivasan of Mountbatten Mani Iyer’s canteen is immensely passionate about food and it comes across in his offerings. Every season, he plays around with choices and comes up with novel dishes like his watermelon rasam was a crowd puller in one season. Another year they came up with innovative millet-based options like barley idlis and thinai pongal owing to the increasing craze for healthy food ingredients. This year too expect a lot of new items on the menu.

Gnanambika Caterers, Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Vani Mahal, T Nagar

Gnanambika Catering Service has been setting up canteen in the music season at the Vani Mahal for more than a decade now. Their food is delicious and has been a royal favourite among foodies. The rava pongal, sweet kesari, kasi halwa, keera vadai, poori-masala, dosai and coffee are their signature dishes. For lunch, the South Indian thali with rice, sambar and kootu is always in high demand. Other star dishes include keera vadai and carrot halwa. The canteen bustles with rasikas and artistes, dressed in silk saris and dhotis during the evenings.