That 70s place…

Do you sometimes go to places to recreate other people’s memories? Perhaps to glimpse the sparkle in their eyes as they talk about a favourite bench or dish? Then do you feel that what you see and what they see are two different places? Maybe a few moments later when your favourite part of the flashback has been narrated for the umpteenth time, your eyes reflect the sparkle too…musty interiors – sofas with faded upholstery, rickety chairs, a gaping hole in the wall from which you think a rat may jump out any moment, jaded waiters who walk out eerily from a darkened room behind, all of these cease to matter…

I go to Hotel Dasaprakash’s coffee parlour to get in touch with the college years of my father, who along with his friends, had a nightly practice of walking from Kilpauk Medical College to Dasaprakash to eat Masala Dosai and Idli. Appa had other items on the menu that he favoured – bread kurma which was served with the softest cubes of fresh bread coated with white butter and a vegetable kurma that had a mild, delicious flavour. Then there was veg pulav and kurma which tasted so homely that you could eat it everyday. But the best of all was the mango melba ice cream from Dasaprakash’s own parlour, chunks of mango and ice-cream topped with cream, ovaltine, jelly and secret sprinkles of heaven. Ah!

For years now, I have been going to this coffee parlour with my folks, each time prodding Appa to tell me his stories as I tucked into yummy bread kurma. As far as I remember, the whole place has not changed one bit since my first visit. The dark parlour with a perpetually stale smell can be quite a deterrent to visiting this place. But the quality of food more than makes up for it. I’d recommend Vegetable Soup, Bread Kurma, Kadubu, Veg Pulav, Peach / Mango Melba ice-cream. Totally Yum. Their dosas are good too.

The standard rating stuff:
Ambience: 2/10
Service: 2/10 (except for one sharp waiter; if you are lucky to be at his table, he will serve you promptly, with a smile and tell you interesting stories too)
Food: 6/10
Price: 4/10 (for that ambience it is quite steeply priced)

Some extras:
-Dasaprakash has a circular courtyard with lots of benches – chipped tiles and authentic 70s feel. Don’t miss sitting there for a few minutes. The speed of life actually slows down!

-Check out the wall panelling of the main building – all beautifully polished wood

-Though the coffee parlour smells musty it is not dirty. You just get the feeling it is dirty!

-The coffee parlour is open till the wee hours and serves hot idlis through the night

-For the new- to-Chennai folks, Hotel Dasaprakash is on Poonamallee Road, a few signals away from Central Station.

3 Comments so far

  1. vinod (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 12:04 am

    May be the service and ambience have dropped big time but I still think the food is quite good. My fav are the Chilli Cheese toast and the Veg. Cutlet.

    And I should thank you for reminding me. Haven’t been there for over a month now.

  2. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

    How could I forget the chilli cheese toast? :O I want to go right now!

    Btw, on a related note, Dasaprakash opened a restaurant in Ooty’s Charing Cross a few months ago. This place serves all the usual Dasaprakash fare with the same quality. The ambience is pretty good too. If you are wondering what happened to the old Dasaprakash above the Race Course, that still exists, but I heard it is outsourced. Your mention of chilli cheese toast triggered this memory.

  3. Rasaraka (unregistered) on July 25th, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

    Thanks for bringing back old memories. I had just started my career as a programmer in 1973 working for a data center in Egmore. Late night shifts (mostly payroll-running nights) were incomplete without a trip to Dasaparakash parlour for idly, vadai, masal dosai and coffee. I will ask my daughter to drive me there one of these nights.

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