You don’t go to pub and expect great food. That’s just something you’ve always been told or convinced yourself about. But times-are-a-changing and restaurant/pub owners are basically very politely showing their middle finger to reviewers (like me) around the world. Rules are meant to be broken and some people break them with such style — you’re left wonderfully mind-blown.

Score — The Sports Bar & Grill is one such food destination in Chennai that is out to get you. The menu features many thoughtfully curated dishes that will catch you by your tongue and yank appreciation out of you whether you like it or not. Rest assured, I mean the food here is great and this isn’t some new ‘exotic’ food destination that is also into vanilla BDSM. Don’t Google that unless you’re 18+.

So, here’s a pub in a well-located five-star property (Holiday Inn, OMR, Chennai). It’s got some great ambience. You’d love the place if you were 30+ and enjoyed drinking the night away with your gang of boys. The seating is comfortable and in the evenings the sunlight seeps into the pub refracting playfully to create dreamy song sequence-like situations. I was half expecting a Bollywood heroine to emerge out of somewhere shimmying to some random Bappi Lahiri track as theatrical smoke doused-out all sense of reality. But I diverge.

Score is fancy. I could repeat it ten times. It’s fancy in that kind of ‘fancy’ fancy way. Get my drift? But what makes it fancier is the menu. And no, I’m not just saying this. They aren’t paying me for this review. Just saying. The menu is playful. It celebrates a whole bunch of cuisines. And that is what drew my attention to this pub (bar and grill). Not one to give up a chance at eating delicious food, I was ordering my picks before the waiter could even fill my glass with chilled water.

I have this rule for reviews. Do not ask the chef what they would recommend. Use your familiarity or challenge your sense of adventure and have a ball. How else will you ever know how good or bad a menu is? Using this very steadfast law of reviewing food, I went ahead and ordered the following: Pollaachi Oorgaai Kuzhi Paniyaaram, Kung Pao Tofu, Indonesian Satay Ayaam, Karuvépillai Meen Varuval, Classic Fish and Chips and Pan Grilled Cottage Cheese Steaks. And to wash them down, a random mix of the cocktails and mocktails the establishment serves: The Bouncer, The In-Swinger, The Stadia Kickoff and The Honey Ryder.

The Pollaachi Oorgaai Kuzhi Paniyaaram, true to its name, was a paniyaaram cooked to perfection and the extra hint of pickle (oorgaai) worked wonders too. Paired with The Bouncer (whisky, peach, cinnamon and lime), the spiciness in each of them worked like magic for my palate.

The Kung Pao Tofu was predictable but definitely not disappointing. The texture of the tofu left me wanting, but that just breaks down to what tofu one likes: hard or soft. Most people hate soft tofu and I absolutely love it — that said, this dish paired beautifully with The In-Swinger (dark rum, lime, angostura bitters and ginger ale) and its Asian spicy notes.

The Indonesian Satay Ayam was interesting. One should pat the back of a chef who can pique your interest in a dish as simple as this Indonesian staple. I loved the peanut sauce and washing these beautiful pieces of well-spiced chicken down with The Honey Ryder (fruity decadence) took me to a corner of food paradise I didn’t want to leave in a hurry. The Karuvépillai Meen Varuval was on-point and I would have ordered another serving of this for its sheer brilliance and bite, had I not been reviewing and under immense pressure to taste more from the menu. I paired this with The Stadia Kickoff (lime, ginger, mint leaves, blue curacao and sprite) and it was a marriage made in heaven.

The Classic Fish and Chips, my staple to judge a chef’s continental expertise (when it comes to fast food) was an absolute winner too. The crumb-fried fish served with tartar sauce and French fries is one of my favourites and I always pair it with coffee. The boring old me did the same, and the fish and chips entered my tummy paired beautifully with sips of piping hot filter coffee go ahead, judge me!

The Pan Grilled Cottage Cheese Steaks was the last dish I had the space in my tummy for and while like the Kung Pao Tofu, this was beautifully grilled and high-on-flavour, it was the texture of the paneer that let me down. That said, I do not expect a chef to understand that I like soft paneer if I don’t inform them and since I didn’t — this one was completely on me.

Wonderfully satiated, I downed a few more cups of coffee as the sun set and let the ambience transport me to food-induced coma of sorts. When I finally gained full consciousness (I exaggerate), it was night already and Score had transformed into an absolutely new place. It was unrecognisable. But maybe more on that in
a later review?

Go there for the great ambience, yummy food and absolutely great ambience. Score also has a private screening space that can house 8-10 people and that’s definitely where I’m going to host a film-screening party soon. You should check it out too.

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