Appam, dosa, podi masala, kerala paratha, payasam and more. When I think of food from the southern states of India, all these come to mind. Southindies had invited us to try out a new concept lunch for their afternoon buffet. As we walked in, the ambiance reminded us of restaurants along major highways serving buffet food. The manager, Mr Yogesh, came over to us to explain how the new concept of their buffet worked. He informed us that they would serve us starters at the table and later we could head to the buffet tables for the salads, mains and desserts.
They brought over glasses of steamy rasam, the favors of which were spot on. It was hot, peppery, with the right amount of tartness. They served us five starters. Keerai Kuzhipaniyaram, Mini Idlis tossed in Podi masala, Paneer coated in masala and crushed curry leaves, Adai and Chana dal wadas. These were served with two chutneys. The first chutney was curry leaf based and the other was regular coconut chutney. Both the chutneys were delicious! The Keerai Kuzhipaniyaram tasted quite like an Uttapam but was much more flavorsome. The mini Idlis were soft delightful morsels. The dal wadas were the best I’ve ever had. All five starters were superb!
They had a salad table laid out with curd rice, cabbage mayo, green salad and a delicious peanut salad. They also had a pickle bar with various kinds of pickles and podi masalas.
We headed to the main course laid out at the buffet tables. We tried Vendakai Kara Kuzhambu (Ladyfingers cooked in spicy gravy). They had gone a bit overboard with the tartness. We also had Cauliflower Pattani Kumura (Cauliflower cooked with green peas in cashew based gravy), Aloogada Vepudu (Potatoes cooked with coconut and dry South Indian masala) and Karamani Paal Curry (Long beans cooked with tomatoes and ginger). The potatoes were nice but the rest of the main course gravies don’t really deserve a mention. The highlights of the mains were the Mix Veg Sambar and the Lemon Rice, which were both very flavorful. No complaints there!
For dessert, we had sev payasam and mango payasam. They were perfect desserts for an afternoon lunch, light and delicious. They also served chopped fruits, sliced Brownies, Phirni and a bowl of mini Gulab Jamuns. The Brownies slices were dry. They felt stale in fact. The Gulab Jamuns were at room temperature, which is really not the way I like them. They did bring me hot Gulab Jamuns on request. After lunch we requested for filter coffee. I am more a tea person than a coffee person, but this was one of the best filter ‘kaapis’ I’ve ever had.
I noticed a few negatives in terms of ambiance and cleanliness. If you are serving food on white crockery then you need to ensure they are pristine white. Chipped crockery and dark shades around the edges of white crockery are a put off because they tend to imply they haven’t been handled and washed properly. Also, the top edges of most chair backrests were shabby and worn out.
The concept of this meal being semi-buffet somehow did not sit well with me. The dry starters were served at the table, whereas we were required to get up and serve ourselves at the buffet, balancing a plateful of heavy bowls because nearly all the mains were gravy based. This meal would have been a more pleasant experience had it been a sit-down, serve-on-the-table, as is with restaurants serving thalis.
The highlights of this meal were the two chutneys, the rasam, the five delicious starters and the payasams. And yes, they also served an excellent Virgin Mojito! The service was good! The servers were extremely polite and helpful. I did not only notice this at my table: I made this observation based on their performance at other tables as well.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 2.5 | Ambience: 2.5 | Service: 3.5 | Overall: 3.0
Meal for two: Rs.900 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes |
Address: 3rd Floor, 465 Ganesh Khind Road, Next to Pune Central – 2 , Shivaji Nagar, Pune.
Tel: 020 41057272