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    With patrons flocking for a table at Kumar Mess, we get in line as well

    It’s been over a week since Madurai Kumar Mess opened its first branch in Chennai and the wait list only seems to be getting longer. The management at the Vadapalani-based restaurant seems to be having a situation on their hands, with some guests even getting agitated that it takes about 15 minutes to land a table. They still wait. Clearly a sign of great things to come, we say to ourselves, as we anticipate our first meal at the 25-year-old chain that started in Madurai in 1991. Soon, we’re seated, ridiculously large banana leaves are laid in front of us and we begin salivating at the sight of fried fish and crab masala making its way to the table next to us. Our salivating continues for a while as the restaurant seems to be on some sort of shortage of menu cards. Incidentally, it’s not just the menu cards that are in short supply.
    Turning pages
    Our waiter informs us that not everything on the menu is available as they are still streamlining operations. So no biryani tonight. Nevertheless, we peruse the menu that’s as thick as a children’s book, to find equal importance given to both South Indian and Chinese cuisine. So from the options we’re given (dosas, parottas and starters like chicken 65, mutton chukka and kola urundai) we decide upon one each of their special chicken, mutton, prawn and crab dosas. We don’t mind the steep price tag of approximately Rs 250 each as we assume this way we’re trying a little of everything. But when the waiter places what look like small oothapams on our leaves, my companion exclaims, “where’s the rest of the dosa?”
    Our verdict
    Needless to say, the small discs vanish in no time and all we’re left with is the generous helping of chutneys and mutton kurma that are served as sides. The soft, flavourful crab masala certainly elevates a humble dosa (or in this case, oothapam), but at Rs 280, one does not appreciate having to pull out stray shards of crab shell from ones teeth. The mutton masala does equal wonders to the dosa that it is smeared on, at least until we reach a large portion of under cooked flour. Thankfully at least the prawn dosa leaves us with no complaints. Here’s hoping that on our next visit they’ll get either the quality or the quantity right.
    Meal for two at approximately Rs 1,000. Details: 7373744575

    Ryan Peppin

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