Sunday, September 7, 2008

Zameendar, Shanthi Colony, Anna Nagar, Chennai

Shanthi Colony, today, bears no resembleance of how it existed 2 decades ago, or even about 10 years ago. And Zameendar restaurant, bang on the main road, built on what used to be HIG flats is only a reflection of the same. I had first heard about this from an office colleague, but didnt get a chance to stop and try until recently. I had passed the place a while back and for some reason the signs outside didnt seem very appealing.

I visited Zameendar last saturday, for a late lunch. It must have been a little after 2. We were greeted by friendly people and seated quickly without a fuss. After some carefull consideration of the state of the stomach and the many different options provided by the menu, the quickest and fastest bet seemed the meals. We ordered meals and few dishes to actually make it a non-vegeterian fare. The meals arrived promptly as expected, may be a tad-bit slow for our growling stomach. Of course while waiting we had all the time to chow down on the vadams that were placed in front of us. They even replaced the dish continously through out the meal.

After 2 rounds of vadams, thali plate covered with a banana leaf and nice small 'katori' of sides including sambar, rasam etc, arrived. The friendly waiters were quick to notice that food was drying up on the plate, be it the chappatis served at the start or the rice served subsequently. There were just enough of them to look after the tables under their domain and were effecient and friendly, a nice welcoming change from a lot of restaurants. When we were stuffed with all the food we could eat, the head waiter did ask us, if we wanted to order any desserts before closing and making the bill. We had to say no, although i intend to go back and try out a less gluttonous fare, to be able to sample the menu better.

The meal was tasty and good. All the side dishes bore some true south-indian flavours. I particularly liked their sambar and another curry (tough to name) that were served in the meals thali. One of the chicken dish we ordered was not up to the mark. I even forget the name of this, because it was the waiter's recommendation for a boneless dry chicken. In any case, i attribute even this unpleastness to our need to stuff ourselves with some real carbs or rice. Again, this happens once in a while, when the palette demands only a particular kind of food and any other accompaniments may not add any flavour and sometimes even turn-off the taste buds in those moments.

A small note of possibilities tho'. The door man and waiters are attired in ethnic clothes. I guess these were first ordered when the restaurant started out. Given that the restaurant is open seven days a week, it is possible that there is little time left to wash and clean these. However, the management can do well to take care of these clothes, if they do feel it is important to the ambience. It was a small mental note made, while waiting for food to arrive. I guess another options is to somehow automatically determine the hunger level of arriving patrons and then keep feed them quickly and appropriately that they fail to notice these small and subtle things.

Another important note, and much appreciated by me in particular. The bathroom was clean, altho' a little smelly. But it was nice to observe that the place was cleaned recently and spacious enough. The bathroom in most indian restaurants used to be a hole in the backyard, with a bucket and a mug nearby. These days it is refershing to note that some resturants in the city and elsewhere seem to pay particular attention to this.