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Disappointing fare

THIS PAST week on my plate was a vegetarian fare from two restaurants, one old and well-established, the other a fledgling which opened just last month.

Before I get to it, I would like to post a word of caution: what they say about truth being ugly can be true sometimes.

My first stop was Hotel Kanchi (phone: 8271100) on Ethiraj Salai. The most rewarding aspect of the evening was meeting Subramaniam, who has been waiting on the tables at the hotel for 33 years. Before we go further, here's some background. It was 21.40 hours by the time we sat down at Nandhee, the ground floor restaurant, as the roof top restaurant was under renovation.

We were the only people there except for two bandicoots, which were on a foraging mission. We were the only things that stood between them and the left over food on used plates piled in a basin on the floor. So it was not a happy situation for both the parties. Just as we got up to leave, in walked Subramaniam. After the total indifference we were treated to during the first seven to eight minutes, the old timer was like a breath of fresh air. From Kamaraj, who opened the original Geetha Lodge to Hotel Kanchi inaugurated by MGR in 1978, he has seen the ups and downs. His reminiscences were more interesting than the malai kofta (Rs.40) and paneer butter masala (Rs.40).

The restaurant and the food seemed to be caught in a time warp. In the times of dosa diners and cocktail idlis, Kanchi's dehydrated chappatis will need an extremely hard sell. May be the rooftop restaurant would have been a better bet.

The next stop was Bhavai, the Gujarati eatery on the Greenways Road, R. A. Puram (phone: 4620479). The restaurant, which is just a month old, has not progressed beyond thalis for lunch and dinner. An unlimited thali is priced Rs.80, and for children, it is Rs.60. There is not much of an ambience to talk about.

Last Wednesday it might have been the night of frugal fare. The subzis served were potato, a few pieces of lady's finger and gourd kootu. The diluted kadhi and dal didn't improve the situation.

What happened to the richness and variety of Gujarati food? Where are the famed sweets? We had to be satisfied with coconut burfi. More goodies are served only on Sundays, we were told. Still, a thali without even a piece of dhokla?

MARIEN MATHEW

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