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At first bite

india Updated: Feb 02, 2009 20:24 IST
Highlight Story

'Chaat Lo' looks and feels fabulous but the food is disappointing...

When DJ Vivek Bhardwaj decided to open a restaurant he didn’t have to go searching for ideas. He looked no further than his mother Usha and her cooking. And Chaat Lo was born.. a restaurant that specialises in ghar ka khaana from north India.

A heavy, framed Rajasthani door, lanterns in niches and a distinctive sign set the rural mood in Mumbai Central.

Rustic delight
Once inside, the ambience travels from the havelis of Rajasthan to Lal Quila in this 16-cover restaurant. The quasi dhabba-like interiors — mud-coated walls, Rajasthani-style wooden jharokhas, puppets and rustic furniture — are not spectacular but pleasantly comforting.

Embroidered cushions in red, blue, green and yellow make a canopy. A hand-written letter by the owner welcomes guests and introduces them to the cuisine.. you can’t help but be impressed.

As I waited, the matchbox-sized dining room slowly filled up. The soft hum of people talking mingled with the clinking of plates and spoons and the aromas wafted from the kitchen.

But the truth unfolded with the very first bite. The restaurant promises much but fails to live up to expectations. It’s certainly not the place you want to go if you are looking for authentic north Indian food.

The Delhi’s Chaat (Rs 55), a bastardised version of the capital’s signature street-food was a mix of curd, chutney and chunks of tomatoes on bread croutons in place of puris.. enough to make any Delhiite worth his papdi cringe.

Health plus
For health fanatics, there are plenty of local options in the Healthy Lo section. But the Bajra Besan ke Cheele (Rs 70) came to the table burnt and had to be sent back. As for the Pani Puri (Rs 45), the less said the better.

The Chole Bhature (Rs 75) was salty, lacking the tang of anardana and a medley of spices that tickle the tongue. But it had a very homely taste.

On the upside was the Imliana (Rs 50), a piquant drink of tamarind and spices. A must try. The plump Malpuas (Rs 55), served with thick and creamy rabdi.

The service is still rusty and in urgent need for some training in basics. The prices are in keeping with the location and the food. Two people can be fed well in just Rs 500. The restaurant has spark which sadly doesn’t translate into its cuisine.