There is a lot to cheer about in the city. The slight nip in the air and festivities around call for some great food. 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. This year, make plans to visit these sabha canteens:

Mint Padmanabhan, The Music Academy, TTK Road

Piping hot cauliflower rasam, comforting carrot raitha, crispy vazhakai chips and rich fruit milk cake was a part of the menu on Wednesday as we walked into the The Music Academy sabha canteen. The menu changes every day, and is put together in the wee hours of the morning. The place is a popular haunt of music rasikas and artistes along with food aficionados. The crowd is made up of elegant elderly women in Kancheevarams, tussars and chanderies, families, old friends sipping on hot Bournvita, coffee, soft podi idlis and plates of vadai and grandpas sporting half sweaters, mufflers and looking out for crispy dosais and fresh oothapams. The layout constitutes of seven to eight ballroom tables in the front and three to four long tables at the rear. Food is quickly served and tables are waited upon by agile waiters.

Lunch time is 12 pm to 2 pm and costs around Rs 250

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

Surakkai Thayir Pachadi, Methi Keerai Kozhambu, Karamani Coconut Curry, Avarakkai and Red Pumpkin Sambhar and Aval Saffron Pal Payasama were the part of the elaborate menu at Mountbatten Mani Iyer’s canteen at the Parthasarathy Sabha in Mylapore on Wednesday. This menu also changes on a daily basis and is absolutely delicious. 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.

Lunch is open 11 am onwards and is priced at Rs 367

Sastha Catering, Brahma Gana Sabha, Mylapore

In terms of sabha canteens, Sastha Catering is a relatively new player. Although, the catering service is pretty well-known in the city’s circles and has been a top choice for muhuratham and other social functions. The sabha canteen has 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. We tried out the badam halwa, adai with ginger chutney, pesarattu stuffed with rava, piping hot sambhar and ended the meal with some delicious masala paal. Every item is nominally priced on the menu and tastes delicious. Do try it out!

Lunch is open 12pm onwards and costs Rs 220

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 aromas of food 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 2016, 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.

Open from 6.30 am to 10 pm

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.

 Open from 11 am to 9 pm