Rajinikanth walks into South Side Cafe and declares that some jokes cracked on him are in bad taste, much like a lot of the food here. He pouts and gets up on the wall, preferring to remain a caricature, while diners settle on wooden benches below him at this new South Indian cafe in Bandra. They sip on free “welcome” bowls of rasam, which lack tamarind and feature an all-too generous hand of pepper that irritates the throat. To be fair, Rajinikanth did tell them to “mind it” on several occasions.
Ferment To Be
South Side Cafe inhabits a cute space that could well be someone’s walk-in closet, but manages to fit in three wooden tables and one long bar-like platform with high chairs. Perhaps their version of the hip community table? We visited last night to find cool signage, fun wall art and the company of a lovely writer friend, originally from Chennai but now a part-time Bangalore resident, who’d come to offer her persnickety pearls to this review.
The menu is short and fuss-free, featuring a small variety of idli and dosa, along with a couple of rice dishes and a mini meal. A bunch of specialties like the set dosa are native to Bangalore, as is the chef, we were told.
So it seemed natural to start with the set dosa (Rs 80), a plate of two fluffy dosas that our fellow diner told us should be slightly sweet and buttery. Ours were neither, tasting instead a bit sour. The masala idli (Rs 60) came next, dry and stuffed with green chilies, served with disappointing Shiv Sagar-like sambhar and chutney. So we weren’t expecting Cafe Madras-caliber cuisine, but we did hope for Dakshinayan-level taste and presentation (read a yum variety of chutneys served at the table), especially considering South Side Cafe's design packaging that promises plenty. Good or bad, we did find people from the neighbourhood stopping by for a quick, cheap meal.
For mains we got the Mysore Masala dosa (Rs 85) that was way too thick and slathered on the inside with green chutney reminiscent of a street-side grilled sandwich. We thought the mini meal thalis (Rs 150) might be more interesting, but what we got instead was a mound of rice in a small white plastic plate, with three separate bowls of dal, cabbage-moong sabzi and a gravy of black eyed peas. While the first two were passable, the last with a slightly coconut-y vibe was tasty, especially when paired with yum curd rice that we ordered separately. Could things be looking up?
We hate ending with clichés but in this case, we must say that the best was indeed saved for last. A dessert bowl of kesari bath (Rs 50), soft delicious sheera that despite being cooked in tons of ghee, wasn’t overwhelmingly heavy or sweet. It would do us good to notice however, that right by Rajni on the wall is an image of an elephant, a gentle reminder that the rich kesari bath should be reserved for special occasions only.
Getting there: South Side Cafe, shop no 7, Silver Croft, 16th Road, Bandra (W), call 65252503, free home delivery in the area, Rs 300 for a meal for two.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
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