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South Indies, Bengaluru, a one-off experience

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

A friend who dropped down from the USA to Bengaluru, wanted to meet up with me and another pal, at a ’decent’ restaurant where we could spend some time chatting away. We were thinking of the usual Ebony Restaurant at Barton Centre, MG Road, when one of them pointed me out to South Indies, at Indiranagar 100’ Road. The idea appealed to me as it was South Indian food, and they also had a menu that looked like a travelogue which highlighted important aspects of the four southern states of India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh)

So after having a concurrence from all friends, I booked a table (this is a very important step to get there!) at 7pm (early dinner!) and we reached there. Though there was valet parking, I hated to give the keys of my Swift VDi (rocket as I call it) to anyone in Bengaluru to handle. I hated the concept of valet parking as the last time I did it in church street, I ended up having a scracth on my precious asset - my car. Luckily since I was one of the earliest to reach there, I found a good parking place (which are at premiums these days in the city) and settled down to have food. The rest of this post is about South Indies and my experience there.

In my opinion, the rates are horribly expensive. The food varieties are minimal and there are no deviations possible. Certain food items are procured based on an analysis of estimated orders and hence no customizations will be done for you even on request. The food presented there does not present the true picture of the four southern states. I have eaten Chettinad food at the Curry Leaf (which unfortunately is no more!) restaturant in Koramangala, and I would bet any day that the food there is much more authentic and tasty compared to South Indies. Having the benefit of knowing about Tamil food and also being a Kannadiga, I have no qualms in saying what I just did about South Indies. I have eaten some tasty Mangaluru (Mangalore) food at my office and that was anyday much better than the tastiness here.

The ambience of South Indies is good, and architecturally the building has been spruced up to the best extent. But I believe strongly in the weakest link - the link to my stomach! If that is not good, no matter what amount of ambience is provided, I dont feel like I had the best. I had a soup (which was basically sambar in our terms - I still dont know how they call anything and everything soup), Uralakazhangu poriyal (spiced potato sliced thin), brinjal gravy, curd rice,one neer dosa and steamed rice. Even if each of these costed Rs.100 the worst case, my bill should have been 600 bucks, but I ended up with a bill of Rs.750 which is why I said this hotel was horrendously expensive for simple items. Lets be practical, everyone earns a lot, everyone likes ambience and magazine styled menu cards, and coat-clad waiters and valet parking, but no one will tolerate improper food or dish selections for that price.

I dont intend to always play down their food selections, but I expected better when smaller restaurants from the southern region operating out of Bangalore are more focussed in what they do delivering quality.

One another thing you pay for is for the waiters holding PDA’s to take orders. I dont understand this fancy of hotels asking waiters to use PDAs, tablet PCs, mobile phones, pagers and what not to take orders. I however appreciated Coffee Day’s scheme of using a wi-fi enabled order machine which would bill your order then and there. Just using a PDA for no reason isnt exactly style!

So at the end of it, I went home and told my mom about the dishes I ate, and the price of Rs.750 and she said she could feed me for atleast a fortnight with much more tasty food at the same price and same southern authenticity! In one statement this sums up south indies for me - horrendously expensive, not much variety, you pay for ambience, valet parking, and technology, not for food.

South Indies - thanks, but no thanks, not again.

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