Monday, October 5, 2009

Cream Centre, RA Puram, Chennai

It was vegetarian season, thanks to an upcoming trip to Sabarimala. We had been frequenting the usual idli-dosa places, and wanted to try something different, but also particular that it had to be a full and only vegetarian restaurant. While Cream Centre was one of the options that night, i wasnt quite sure where it is located. Well, we found it without any difficulty. We were also lucky, we were early, in by 7pm, and managed to find a table within about 5-10 mins. As we entered, i was wondering where we had come, since it seemed decent but rather ordinary.

All that changed when we were seated and presented the menu. For once, the waiter at our table, gave us an extra menu, meaning more than the usual 2 or 3 normally provided at a table at restaurants. I wonder if we should start ranking restaurants based on ratio of menus to guests at a table. By that category, i would give this place a four star rating - "****". Anyway, the menu presented, was breathtaking, mind-blowing, and fantastic....(please insert any other accolades possible). The pictures, the presentation, the sampling provided, simply amazing. An appropriate movie dialogue would be from Jerry Macquire, "you had me at hello".

It soon turned into another problem. What to order.... or for the first time, in recent history, what not to order? It was tough choice to pick something and leave out another. It was like you were doing great injustice to the Onion Rings, by picking the Cheeseballs. But finally we did pick the cheeseballs and falafel as starters, lahori sizzlers (based on the my waiter's advice), veg panner sizzler, penne pasta and quesadilla (thats case-a-diya, not kusad-illa !!). Ordering out of the way, we settled for the usual long wait for food to arrive. Only to be surprised. The food came fast to the table, but in the wrong order and one at a time.

We had the Penne Pasta first, immediately followed by the falafel sandwich. In a few mins, just enough for the solitary falafel sandwich to go around the table, for a measly bite each, we had the cheeseballs and the quesadilla. So two dinners and the two starters. The quesdilla looked more like a starter, as we were waiting for the sizzler, we decided we must augment the order. And we ordered an aloo methi parantha!. The penne pasta was still be worked by my kid, but everything else had disappeared from the table. We were then presented the veg panneer sizzler. It is now that the waiter had realized that he was missing something, he soon came and apologized for the missing sizzler. I guess there is a reason why i am the butt of all the jokes, thanks to my blog. That was my sizzler, and my mouth that had watered at the menu stage was soon going dry. Still waiting for the sizzler, we received the parantha. I was done eating, or my appetite was gone. I had half the mind to cancel the order. Everyone else had finished their meal, and the parantha was like an extra filling and making its rounds.

Well, i did get my sizzler, all steaming and hot. I was hungry and so i swallowed my pride along with some of the hot steamy food. The sizzler was good, but i may have given it raving ratings, if it had come sooner. Now it was just too hot, and had to be transferred to another plate from the iron skillet, and seemed more messier than it should have been. All this wait and some extra food, ate into empty space for dessert. So it was left to me to slowly work my way through the sizzler, while others watched. A nearby table had a very similar problem, all but one order had reached the table. We exchanged glances, but i guess they too were in a similar state, one person hungry and still waiting for food.

In summary, it was a good place, good food, a tad bit expensive, but the service like most other places was just about average. In all this mess up, my waiter, was friendly, but his manager or bosses didnt make their appearance or even make apologies. I was tempted have a small chat, and cancel, but i had not eaten, and i kept wondering if this poor chappy's salary would be docked because of some mistake in the kitchen. I only wish people in the service business took some more care. It would help attract and retain customers.

But then who really cares. We finished our meal, paid up, with a decent tip (in-spite of the small mess up) and walked outside into a sea of people. From madi-sarai mammis to noisy children to english speaking tamil-girls to kurtha-pyjama daddies and many of the usual all-veggie desi crowd. At that point the wait would have been anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. What the hell, why would anyone care about attracting customers and more importantly retaining them!. In an country of a billion people, where almost 30% have all the money to spend, and fewer places to spend them in, you cant expect great service. Demand is always higher than supply.

Oh by the way, before i sign-off, a place that charges about Rs. 100 for small starter, can afford to have more than one bathroom per gender accessible.

1 comment:

Krish said...

I just looooove that place! Also Hotel The Park in Chennai has started Take-Away Service @ The Park. Hope you enjoy the service!