Contributed by Sandeep Srinivasa[singlepic id=1727 w=80 h=92 float=left]The first thing that attracted me to the notion of a dinner at Spice Water Trail was an offer at one of the myriad daily deal sites; the Indian subsidiary of the 800lb gorilla of daily deals. What was interesting about the offer was the spread it promised for 2 people at the overly reasonable cost of a thousand bucks. The spread held the promise of several atypical south indian dishes, I had never or seldom heard of.
Now the first problem is that though Spice Water Trail is owned by the behemoth, Alchemist Group, they pay very very little attention to their facebook or indeed any other method of social media. Not helping things was the fact that the deal page had missing images (with the X-marked empty image placeholder in place of them), so it didnt exactly inspire confidence.
What promised to be a glorious evening had its beginning in my carelessness; I forgot to take a printout of our offer. But everything was set right by the manager – Gaurav, who assured us that we needn’t worry about it and why don’t we just come over? When we reached there, the manager was waiting for us and brought his laptop over, proceeding to make sure it didnt worry us a bit.
Now let me digress a bit into why this is such a big deal. This is certainly not the first time that I have bought a discounted deal online. Previous experiences however were inevitably accompanied by clueless managers, hugely embarassing experiences where restaurant staff could not figure out what to bill where and so on. So, when the manager does this for us – I get very impressed.
We kicked off with two cocktails (again a pleasant surprise – part of the package) a kokum/vodka cocktail and a kodampalli [not sure about the spelling] cocktail garnished with a green chilli. Very interesting and out of the way. The complimentary munchies served with the drinks were poppadams with 4 chutneys – coriander, tomato+gunpowder, raw mango and coconut. A far, far cry from the watery mint chutney with onions served at several other south indian restaurants.
Now, we wanted to try stuff over and above what was part of our dinner deal. So we ordered mini idly smothered with gunpowder, mutton sukka and gongura chicken for starters. The mutton sukka was definitely the star of the whole evening for me; I would’nt think twice of going in there and getting a plate of mutton sukka with appams as a quick dinner. The mini idly with gunpowder was good but nothing special. The gongura chicken had the potential to be my personal kryptonite (for a full blooded Andhra boy, nothing makes you go weak than having gongura meat), but it was an interesting and tasty take on boneless chicken cooked in a curry which had gongura pickle – very good, but not exactly what I was expecting.[nggallery id=154]
For our soups, we had pineapple rasam and kokum rasam – just to clarify, these rasams were not like anything you get in one of the several south indian places that dot the city. These had much more elaborate spices as well as preparation (pineapple chopped not much larger than mustard seeds).
For our main course, we had appams, tamarind rice (which they accidentally substituted for lemon rice – Gaurav was duly apologetic about that, but we were too full by then to ask for a change), avial, beans thoran, prawns in raw mango curry, dalcha (dal+chicken preparation). The beans thoran prepared with coconut was fabulous and light. The avial was very good; other than the drumstick, carrots and potatoes, I think I could make out plaintain and a kind of south indian sweet potato in there. The prawns in raw mango curry was a very interesting preparation – the prawns were cooked perfectly. The dalcha was alright and not worth mentioning – suprisingly, it was marked as an Andhra dish.
All through our meal, Gaurav was at hand to talk about the food and its preparation. As he claimed, most dishes came from rural south India and are not commonly found in restaurants or even homes. Our dessert – gud payasam – was nothing to write home about. But by then we were stuffed to the gills, so we really couldnt do justice to anything. Thankfully, we got a nice doggy bag packed.
Now Gaurav has actually promised that we dont need to go through the previously mentioned daily deals site to get the discounted experience – you can call ahead and have him prepare a menu specially for you. If I was you, I would jump at the offer.