Address: Maharaja Surya Road, Venus Colony, Alwarpet.
The Maratha's and Maharastra region owns an endless history that speaks about their lifestyle, heritage, etc., but my focus stays only with food. My train travels via Maharastra were enjoyable with the hot misal pavs, sabudana vada and vada pavs. And lately, there are many food-joints at Chennai that serve tasty pavs and vadas. But the Maharastian cuisine doesn't end with these few delights and to showcase some more famous dishes there's Meena Tai's, exclusive Maharastian Cuisine located at the same building of Batlivala & Khanabhoy.
The beats of some classic old songs along with neat & simple artefacts lights up the ambience. And I was disheartened seeing the menu; as I hardly knew any classic dishes of Maharastra except for Sabudana Vade. The menu-card is designed well as the brief description of each dish helps and guides to choose the food. I visited the restaurant for a tasting session so left the food choice to the hotelier. And the dishes started walking down our table; first came the pink lady "Kokum Soda". The dried kokum's (a fruit; dried kokum is used as a souring agent similar to Tamarind used at South-India) acquired tartness could be sensed at each sip; the aroma of chat masala (that's my guess) along with soda works as an energizer. Anyways, it isn't a drink that will please everyone's palate. The Karuk-muruk (snacks) to bite along for the soda is something I loved.
Disclaimer: On-the-house Bloggers invite for tasting session.
After much wait, the Starters finally started lining up on the table. I loved the dips more than the starters; the Lasuni Chutney, Ghee and Thecha was exceptional. The chickpea and coriander vada - Kothimbir Vadi, similar to the Masal Vadai, was light and tasty. As it was shallow fry they weren't as crispy as the deep-fried vadas. Without the mint chutney, the chickpea flavour starts to overpower.
My favorite, Sabudana Vade was almost flawless. A pinch of salt would have made it perfect but no-complaints when you taste them with yogurt and peanut dip.
A common house-hold preparation of South-Indians came on a plate with the name Surnaache Kaap. The shallow fried yam slices marinated in spices and coasted with semolina couldn't go wrong in taste. Could be more spicy.
After three mouth-watering veg starters it was time for Non-veg!
Koli Masala Kolambi Fry - Even in my wildest dreams, I can't guess this as a Prawn with the tag 'Koli' (as I thought that's how Maharastians spell Chicken). Again a learning here about the Koli cuisine, where they use an authentic masala powder which they address as "Koli Masala". The prawn preparation was a delight to taste; the prawns were juicy and moist like a fish. The spice and crispy semolina crust were wonderful. The dish I loved the most!
|Koli Masala Prawn|
The Chicken and Mutton dishes, Kombdi Hirve Sukke and Pathare Prabhu Mutton Chops. The chicken dish with green masala was spicy with unique flavour combination; a well-cooked chicken but I felt masala wasn't entirely absorbed in the chicken. Pathare Prabhu Mutton Chops, loved how the dish was presented. More potato masala and small portion of mutton; for mutton fans that would be a disappointment. Though I enjoyed it as I wasn't keen biting into the mutton chunk.
|Chicken - Kombdi|
And then it was time for some real food. And starters made me more curious to explore the flavours integrated in the Mains.
Anything with aubergines would make me happy; and the Bharli Vaangi, which reminded me Ennai Kathirikai fry (a southy delight I say). I enjoyed the flavour ride - a bit of everything (sweet, spicy and tangy). Thought the aubergines could have been cooked a little longer as they were hard to cut-through. And the aubergines were perfect for the Tondli Masala Bhaat. Rice dish made with ivy gourd, cashews, raisins and their house special masalas. Without a curry the rice seems plain as the masala didn't add a strong flavour.
Bajra Bhakri, the roti's were light and felt like a healthier option with the curries. The chickpea curry, Pithla, is like a dal preparation with gram flour. Taste and curry-consistency I loved, it was ideal for the roti. And the mutton curry, Saoji Mutton. Finally, a spicy mutton curry for the rice & roti's - tasted great. As I was hoping for a dish with strong masala flavours so loved it.
|Pithla, Rice & Brinjal|
|Naaral Bhaat, Mutton Gravy, Roti, Curd|
Kombdi - Naaral Bhaat, looked like Biriyani but taste-wise it's no-way near. As they say, the rice and chicken are cooked together in a masala. So apart from the looks I hardly could taste any spiciness or flavours. Supposed to taste so? I am not sure but wasn't a favourite of mine. Taste the rice with curd as it truly saves the dish.
Ending with a sweet note is must, so the Desserts - Piyush, Kharvas and Chirote. Chirote, was my personal favourite. A sweet flaky fried cookie; a bite of them with a hot cup of tea would have been more perfect. Still, I loved them!
Piyush, except for the texture & consistency this dish tasted and looked like shrikhand, perfect way to end the meal. But then we had one more to taste, Kharvas. A milk pudding infused with cardamom & saffron was a slice of pleasure.
|Piyush & Kharvas|
After the number of dishes I ate I needed a shot of Sol Kadhi, as it helps digestion. And it was one sore glass, as the ingredients used have their own acquired taste which wouldn't be pleasant until you really like them. Try at your own risk.
They present some unique dishes from the Maharastian cuisine. I felt the flavours stayed true and different from the usual North-Indian food I taste at Chennai.
Breaking Down Points
Location & Parking: Positive. Posh area with space to park. No valet parking yet.
Ambience: Positive. Simple & Elegant.
Food Variety: Good. Unique line-up of dishes from the Maharastian cuisine. Almost equal veg and non-veg dishes.
Taste: Good. Loved most of dishes I tasted. But wish for more strong flavours.
Quality: Good. Presentation - Tick. Food & Ingredients -Tick.
Quantity: Average. The portion size isn't big. But having a glance at price it seems fine.
Service: Ok. One thing they have to work on! But friendly staffs.
Pricing: NA. My paid visit will cover this. But glancing through the menu, it is 'Expensive'.
My Favourites: Sabudana Vade, Koli Masala Kolambi Fry, Bharli Vaangi, Bajra Bhakri, Chirote, Kharvas.
So my Verdict!
Meena Tai's, an exclusive Maharastian cuisine restaurant at Chennai. Ambience, food variety and quality are remarkable. Authentic in Taste? Not sure. But the collection of dishes they propose increases the curiosity to taste. They are almost there when it comes to Taste; but I would love stronger flavours. Quantity and price are par with the fine-diners. Loved the friendly service but can be faster. Let's eat like the Maratha kings!
P.S. This write-up is based on my food palate & dining experience during my visit. On-the-house tasting session. Remember, no two person's palate can be same.
Walk Down the Maharastian Kingdom - Meena Tai's - Restaurant - Bloggers Meet Reviewed by Divya Srinivasan on 16:44 Rating: