Soul food on Warden Road
With painted nails and perfect hairdos, a group of ladies drifts in to conduct an impromptu reconnaissance. This could be a good venue for a kitty lunch — cosy cottage decor with an exposed red brick wall and gorgeous pine wood accents, moderate prices (most appetisers were for under Rs 350 and a Budweiser’s cost was Rs 200) and, best of all, it’s brand new. As they make their whispered enquiries, their anxious kohl-lined eyes keep darting towards the balcony that overlooks the entrance. They leave.
In the time it takes us to decide our orders, this scene plays out several times with different actors. For close to three decades now, this street has been lined almost exclusively with boutiques. A mid-range restaurant like this is a welcome addition and the neighbours are understandably curious. Those who live beyond will be glad to learn that the restaurant offers valet parking, a pre-requisite at this busy junction.
We place our order — the first draft. The server returns with recommended edits. “There’s no beef,” he says. In the kitchen? In the city? In the European Union? A budding Mitt Romney, he offers no specifics but gives us the famous Indian head bobble — the answer floats somewhere in the cosmos. Thus, a sizeable part of the menu is crossed off. When we consider ordering a Pepperoni Pizza, our server has a more definite response — “We don’t have that,” he says. “It says here that you do,” we show him the menu. “It does?” The server peeks. Well, what do you know!
Of the dishes we finally sampled, only the Pan-Seared Basa (Rs 425) and the Margherita Pizza (Rs 295) were worthy of mention. Clearly, prepared ahead of time and frozen, the Jalapeño Poppers (Rs 225) were not nearly as hot as they should have been and their filling was consequently grainy; lamb meatballs (which appeared on our bill as, “Beef Burger with Cheese”, (Rs 375) were burnt. Prepared with booze, though the server initially refuted this, a Chocolate Mud Pie (Rs 250) was bearable, but the Mojito Cupcake (Rs 90) that sounded and looked so promising tasted like something you’d pick up at an out-of-town food stall on the highway.
There’s clearly a will to offer variety though — they open at 8 am with a breakfast menu that includes Eggs Florentine and Pancakes as well — and the interiors have been done tastefully. It’s evident that this venture is here to stay. Now, if they just tweak their recipes a tad, perhaps diners would too.
At: Chinoy Mansion, ground floor, opposite St Stephen’s Church, Warden Road.
Vicinia didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.