Monday, October 26, 2009

Durga Park, AMS Raj Palace Sundar, Adyar

A last minute decision on sunday evening, caused us to get in the car, and drive to a restaurant for dinner. The day was almost over, getting ready for monday played on our minds, to pick a restaurant close by, but to avoid boredom, it had to be something new preferably. The choice was Kokum, which i had just located inside MRC Nagar that morning or the new Raj Palace Sundar. A quick left turn after crossing the Adyar bridge, brought us inside the erstwhile Andhra Mahila Sabha location, which is now the home for this hotel and its restaurant.

There is only restaurant, Durga Park, and is located in separate building. This was an old building tastefully converted into a restaurant. We entered into a small hall about 10x10, to be greeted by no one, but were able to see a buffet laid out to the left. A lot of men dressed in dark suits (mostly black or blue blazers) were standing in line, leading us to believe that maybe some party or marriage had taken over the place. Soon one of the waiters came up to us and directed us to another room to right, which we had seen earlier, but avoided because it looked like a hastily converted dining area. The table and chairs were not the usual restaurant chairs, but more like the marriage hall types. When questioned he indicated that the restaurant was booked. Ok. My question at this point should have been, why keep it open at all? Why not indicate that today it is closed to casual diners?

Well, not to make a big fuzz, we sat a table in the corner of the room. There were already another family seated at a larger table, with room for one more large family of about 6. Our table of four, seemed placed rather oddly in a corner, but was ok to seat children and two adults. He brought us a buffet menu, priced at Rs. 300 for an adult and 150 for a child, it seemed fair. But we were not in a mood for buffet. We were looking for just a couple of dishes to close out the night. He indicated al-a-carte menu also was available, and brought us the menus, he did bring one menu each (i guess since the rest of the crowd was not using the menu). The buffet, by the way, is regular for weekend dinners. The non-veg buffet, had only 3 non-veg dishes, one each for mutton, chicken and fish. I think based on your preference and liking, the chances of a win-win on the buffet is only 50-50 or less.

The menu was fully of all kinds of cuisine, southern, chinese, tandoor, punjabi etc, all fitted into about 4 pages. I was wondering why a restaurant which supposedly located in AMS would have any cuisine other than Andhra style. I reasoned that the guests at the hotel would probably want more options, and hence the only restaurant offered a mish-mash of everything. I tried specifically to stay away from chinese and north-indian. There are better restaurants for these kind of food.

We quickly ordered a starter chicken chat (i forget the exact title) and pappad, and the main course was kozhi varthathu (chettinad style), meen kozhambu, chicken biryani, pulkha, roti and some curd. The pappad (masala) was on the house. All of this cost us only about Rs. 500, inclusive of bottled water. Well the food arrived rather quickly. I found that a little strange, but who is to argue, and since we were hungry and tired, it was heaven sent. But the reason was apparent soon, the kozhi varthathu and meen kozhambu were based of the same gravy, same taste, same spice, well like i said 'same' gravy. It was good, no complaints there. The biryani was average, and no different from very many chicken biryanis available elsewhere. The roti and pulkha were pretty pathetic, not from a taste perspective, but from shape, form and style of cooking. You would think they would be dry and devoid of oil, well these seemed to be soft (more from wetness of oil or humidity). All in all the meal was not bad, but a big disappointment based on the expectation to eat Andhra sytle food.

When the food from the main course arrived, i asked the waiter about the starter. He said there was nothing on his list. Looking at the food in front of us, i figured this was more than enough, and said fine. As we began eating and made about 1/4th our way into the meal, a chappy came with our starter. I said thanks, but we are already eating our meal, so no thanks, and please take it away. Smart fella, he goes back and arrives about 4-5 minutes later with a small boxed meal indicating our starter was packed. I wanted to smile at his cheeky attitude or his manager disposition. But i said, boss, we are not going to take it, please cancel and take it back. Well, no major shakes, they didnt make a fuzz after this or about this. But we did get a visit from a 'manager' or someone who apparently seemed to have just worn his jacket to visit our dining area. I dont think he was visiting us on accord of this dispute, but must have suddenly realized that we and now two other guests in this room must be missing his warmth. He strode in adjusting and buttoning his jacket, and asked if everything was fine, and soon walked away, never to be seen again.

At two points during the visit, i was considering leaving this place, the first was when they had indicated the main dining area was booked, and the second was when we saw the menu devoid of any andhra specialty. I was seriously considering going to Kokum. In some sense it was good that i stayed on. We may have been tempted to visit this place at a later date, but now, i doubt if we will go back to this place, considering it doesnt have anything unique to offer. A few points to its credit, the place was new, and so had a very clean and fresh smelling bathroom (something that is rare even in larger and better restaurants). The waiters were not discourteous and tried their best to accommodate visitors and our wishes. The food was just better than average, but it may also be based on our choice of dishes. They are also priced modestly. However, i am disposed to not visiting the place, since my expectation was that this restaurant would offer a specific cuisine or atleast specialize in the andhra cuisine. This is a restaurant meant mainly to cater to the guests at the hotel.

No comments: