Our hunger pangs were at its peak post the fun outing on Saturday at the Nehru Planetarium. Among various food joints that were at our disposal in CP area, it was my son who made the final selection. “Papa…Idli is what I want”. And lo…we landed up at Saravana Bhawan at Janpath. I am aware of the popularity this chain enjoys and hence, was little apprehensive about the wait time. My fears came true as we waited patiently for 20-minutes outside the entrance, ignoring all my better senses to try out the new McSpicy burger at McDonald just 10 steps away. Finally we got our place and immediately ordered few plates of Idli (Rs 60) and a mini Tiffin (Rs 85) which had combo of mini Dosa, mini Idlis, Rava Khichdi & Kesari Bath. The restaurant was clean but the replays of Michael Jackson song “remember the time” at near loud volume was very irritating. One would normally expect some Carnatic music to enjoy the soulful South-Indian meal.
Our order looked nice and inviting. The Idlis were soft, Chutneys were tangy, Dosa was crisp and light, and Kesari Bath was fresh and tasted as good. What really let the whole experience fall dramatically was their Sambhar, which resembled a thick yellow Dal dish. It wasn’t anything closer to actual Sambhar that I have been so used to in all my visits to Tamil Nadu and other similar places. The floor manager couldn’t help as he wasn’t comfortable speaking in English or Hindi. I expressed my displeasure on handing out such quality of Sambhar to the outlet manager. He relented immediately that they were experimenting with some new spices and recipe and that they shall go back to original one shortly. Hungry souls…what to do… we ended our meals on chutneys. Well, at least we ate the authentic way as many in south eat idlis with chutneys and no sambhar. Our meal ended on a happy note with their famous Milk Mysore Pak which just melted in the mouth leaving milky, buttery sweet taste in our mouth. I am hoping that next visit to Saravana treats me with it’s original Sambhar along with southern delicacies.
Editor: We visited the restaurant again on 15th Aug’11 and would widely agree with Dhiraj’s view. Some of our observations are that service is pathetic. Every time they served us spoons and plates which had water left after washing the utensils. No one cares to bother to make an eye contact or explain you the dishes. Butter Masala Roast Dosa (95) had some amazing flavours, crisp, and was served with the best chutneys available though the potato masala was too less was such big dosas & some of the potatoes were slightly raw, but eatable. Kesari Halwa (Rs 60) was no where closer to the original and Badam Halwa (Rs 30) had only ghee and sugar with hardly any flavor of almonds. I guess at this price they can not afford anything better. Fixed Thali at Rs 140 had some items with too much salt, and were finally left unconsumed. Lastly we could not understand that if they serve Medhu Vada (Vada and sambhar served separately) for Rs80, then why do they charge Rs90 for Sambhar Vada (Vada dipped in Sambhar). All in all the dosas and vadas were fresh and nice, ambience clean (though loud with people’s conversation), and service no where acceptable. Stick to the normal fare of Dosas and Vadas, and you will come out as a happy soul.