Lunch at Dhaba Express on Cenotaph Road

Last Sunday we decided to treat ourselves to a nice North Indian dhaba meal after church. As we worship at the St Andrew’s Kirk in Egmore and have a long trek back to Perungudi, we decided on Dhaba Express on Cenotaph Road. Abha and I had been there a year ago, and had thoroughly enjoyed the food. So, salivating gently in anticipation, we headed to Dhaba Express.

There was valet parking right at the gate! That’s because you couldn’t go in as they’ve expanded and added a great many more places outside, including a Budget Express along the side. We went into the original restaurant portion, and were ushered to table. First impression? Kind of rundown, the worse for wear and even the table didn’t seem very clean. Nevertheless, we ordered, confident that the food would be good.

We ordered Chicken Tikka Masala, Mutton Rogan Josh, Tandoori Aloo (starter), naans and roomali rotis. The Mutton Rogan Josh was all right, some of the pieces of Chicken Tikka were under done, and the roomalis were more like chappathis in thickness. The naans were good. We then ordered matka kulfis for dessert. What a mistake that was.
They are re-using the matkas, washing them and resetting kulfi in them.Matkas are porous, and the milk solids in the pores turn rancid after a while, imparting an awful taste and smell to the kulfi. Suffice to say it was inedible. They replaced it with regular kulfi, but I don’t think we are going there for a meal in a hurry!

The service was indifferent, took time, required follow up, and was in all quite disappointing. In fact Chitra and I were served the kulfi, and we had to follow up three times before Abha was served hers. Only to find the whole thing inedible!

The overall experience was quite disappointing, and in sharp contrast to our last experience of over a year ago. Perhaps they’ve grown too fast and very popular, and have a reached a pint where many short cuts are being taken. Like matkas being washed after use, and then being reset with kulfi. That’s the first time I’ve ever come across such a thing.

5 Comments so far

  1. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 8th, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

    David – we were there at the Cenotaph Dhaba a month ago and the steward refused to accept that he had forgotten my order of extra romalis. He argued and insisted that we never ordered more. After waiting for half an hour for the extra romali we were quite annoyed.

    I was surprised that the Dhaba was detriorating. And your mention about the matkas is very surprising.

  2. Chenthil (unregistered) on July 9th, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

    Though it is very close to my home, we don’t go there anymore. The service is indifferent, food is just about average. Me thinks they have become too cocky because of their success

  3. Ravi (unregistered) on July 11th, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

    When I first arrived in Chennai 4 years ago, I used to frequent this place on Saturdays for its buffet meals. After reading your post, David, am not sure if I will ever visit the place again! For some good kulfi, have you ever visited Aangan opposite Stella Maris College on Cathedral Road?

  4. Tom (unregistered) on July 11th, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

    Since I’m living at the Adyar Gate hotel these days, this Dhaba Express is a mainstay for me. I go at least once a week and the service has been fine. The food is solid though not spectactular.

  5. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 11th, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

    However the Sachin ka Dhaba in Mahalingapuram still seems fine.

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