IT might sound generic, but The Permit Room does lure you in with its underground and grungy name. But underground it is not, and neither is it grungy. With due apologies to fans of UCB, the building on Commissariat Road is now home to three floors of food and alcohol. And that is good enough a reason for us to celebrate.
The menu, as I would like to put it simply, is experimental. But they haven’t really gone to town with it. So while it took me a while to adjust myself to the idli souffle with a dollop of reduced sambar on top, which looks like a perfect bull’s eye, and dehydrated ghee podi on the side, I must say that there was nothing really wrong with the flavours. We would have all liked some more sambar perhaps, to let us finish the idlis without panicking.
They have a full bar menu, but don’t expect craft beer here (The Permit Room has the same owners as Toit), and the mocktails aren’t much to write home about either.
The Kerala beef fry, served on a largish coin parota, however, is spot on. The meat is tender, fried well enough so that it cooks through and through, and even after it cools down, doesn’t become tough.
The brain dry fry — an interesting rendition of the Oriental money bags — is delicious too. Typically the dish comes with just a hint of sauce on the plate, which doesn’t work with the snack. But on request, the chef obliged us with a hot sauce he rustled up in the kitchen, and that made all the difference.
The gongura chicken winglet, with its delicious stuffing of gongura inside is batter fried. And while it’s not exactly how I would have liked it — I found it a bit too greasy — it works well as bar food.
The haleem samosa, is yet another decadent treat. I say decadent because you can literally feel the calories invade your system. But the casing is crispy, and the mutton haleem inside is done right, and frankly, that’s all we care about.
For main course, our eyes veered towards the potato and mango curry, and appams, and it was a good decision. The slightly sour curry, thickened with coconut milk, but not too much, is flavoured delightfully. And while we wiped the bowl clean, we wondered if we could have had prawns in the curry, instead of potatoes. Now that would be perfect.
There’s always room for dessert, even after going through multiple appetisers, which by the way are not small sized, and the South Indian flaky pastry ‘chiroti’ sandwich could not have been better. Served with a saffron basundi (dense sweet milk), mango milk, and vanilla ice cream, the deliciously crispy chiroti was what we called “a perfect way to end a night”.
Rs 2,000 approx (meal for two, with drinks). At Commissariat Road. Details: 9019113388
— Priyadarshini Nandy