Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cooking Culture

This time, heard of this restaurant from just a bunch of people and depended mostly on a popular food site for an opinion.Though I don't really trust their reviews, just the attraction of a vegetarian restaurant was enough to draw me to Cooking Culture.
One look at the menu and I was floored! There was a wide array of Indian and International dishes on the  menu. I told myself, however much I order, I cannot taste all this and must come back with family to taste from each section. I ordered three items because I wanted to carry back half of everything for my family, wait for their verdict, and come back for more of the vegetarian stuff.
I braved the traffic, the one-way route and reached the place. Having skipped breakfast to have an early lunch, I requested the owner/manager to keep the starter ready as I wanted to have it as soon as I went there. I was told not to worry as it will get ready in 5-10 minutes' time. Taking his word for it, I asked for the Makhmali Paneer Tikka starter as soon as I was seated. It was a good twenty minutes before I got it. .
The dish does look attractive, doesn't it?

Makhmali Paneer Tikka

To their credit, this was the softest paneer I have ever eaten. I gobbled up the first one hungrily. But despite the ravenous hunger, I found a distinct lack of flavors with the second one. It was supposed to be marinated in cream, yogurt, cheese, green chilies etc.
I could only taste a thin layer of cream and yogurt. It was very bland otherwise. Once you wipe that thin layer away, it was just like eating plain paneer. It wasn't marinated at all. I had explicitly asked the waiter before ordering and he confirmed that it was indeed marinated.Moreover, the skewered capsicum and tomato were raw too.
My next order was the Thai green curry. Wanted to try their non-Indian food too. After the initial disappointment, I told the waiter that I look forward to a pure Thai experience and not an Indianized version. He assured that they would take care.

Thai Green Curry

The quantity served was okay but there was a highly skewed ratio of veg +gravy to the rice. The gravy should be at least twice the quantity of the rice. So ended up eating a very diluted form of the dish...that too with very less flavors from the condiments within, not even enough salt .But it was creamy and that saved the dish to some extent.
The third and last item was this Shahi Biryani.

When asked for Biryani selection, the waiter suggested their Mumbaiya biryani. I was in the mood to eat something subtler. The waiter cautioned me that the Shahi Dum Biryani would be sweet. I was okay with it. The word pilaf conjures up images of aromas...of a Kashmiri pulao like sweetness loaded with dry fruits, kismis etc.

What came was this! Never having been served this way, I was curios to see what lay underneath. 

Shahi Dum Biryani
Upon opening, I could see the  raw and under-cooked piece of roti reveal this: (Still wondering about the role of that roti cover)

Already skeptical by the lack of aromas, I hesitantly asked the waiter to serve a bit as I was already full. It was like eating plain colored rice. There was nothing in it. No promised mint flavors, no dry fruits, no sweetness, nothing! When I informed the waiter, he tried to scrape some 'gravy' from the midst of the dish. Another waiter/cashier came and said to the waiter, "we don't serve gravy in this dish, so what are you searching for?" No answer!
My advice:
If you want to serve dhaba style, bring on the strong flavors. If you want to serve the royal Shahi stuff, use delicate flavors which result in those aromas. We are more forgiving of dhaba fare as the prices and the expectations are low. But when you pretend class with all the wonderful dishes in the menu, the expectation is higher and the disappointment greater. 
I have had disastrous experiences in restaurants before but never met with such nonchalant attitude. Remember how ticked off we are when the customer care keeps saying 'sorry for the inconvenience caused' and does nothing about rectifying anything? I had the same feeling at the end, as despite giving constant feedback, I got only this as an answer.
To top it all, you are asked to come inside to a small space to get your card swiped instead of getting the machine to your table. Felt weird doing it.

Ambiance gets a 2/5; food gets a 1/5; service promptness a 2.5/5
Going back? No


raghu said...

I prefer you please revisit for the taste, to reconfirm on the opinion on the restaurant.