Sunday, 4 September 2011

4 September 2011: Happy Father's Day @ Masala Restaurant

Oh yeah! Father's Day!

The restaurant was carefully selected because:
1. a subset of 'we' had lunched here three times previously,
2. we wanted to try the Banquet menu,
3. I was keen on the poppadums.

We turned up at our appointed time and as advised, carrying baby.

The waitress seated us shortly at a table for 7 people. Person Seven sat at the 'head' of the table, which was in the direct path of the service to the balcony. Literally. There was barely sufficient gap between the seat and the table behind it to accommodate a plated wait-person.

Aside: there were several wait-persons on the floor. The restaurant was busy emptying of paid diners after the main lunch crowd.

As experienced diners we didn't want to make a fuss. Taking an executive decision, we moved the table slightly away from the balcony service path so that Person Seven was less apprehensive about food dropping onto him from behind.

The menus were delivered: several lunch menus, one normal menu, one drinks menu.

We had to share the normal menu so all could discuss the Banquet option.

A prolonged discussion was held, whereupon agreed - one Vegetarian Banquet, one Masala Banquet, peshwari naan, two lunch specials. We congratulated ourselves on arriving at this decision.

And we waited for our order to be taken. And we waited.

Person Seven eventually flagged down a waitress. She took our drinks order easily enough (beers and mango lassis) but we stumped her with the food order.

Twice stumped. Something about the banquet menu being for two people. Or possibly "one banquet per table". She asked us to wait while she referred to a higher authority.

And we waited.

The higher authority smoothly approached and discussed our order. I was at the other end of the table and heard faint traces. Something about "not sharing banquet". Or "not sharing entrees".

Talk about a mood spoiler.

After much communication we got what we wanted - one vege banquet for two people, one masala banquet for two people, peshwari naan, two lunch specials.

And we sat and waited to get what we wanted. Beer was served, fruit juices were served, mango lassis was served...

oops. One mango lassi downed the back of Person Four. Mango yoghurt sloshed down the back of her top and trousers and on her chair.

Kerfuffle ensued! Clean up attempted!

Person Four exited to a private area to clean up. Distraught glass taken away. Chair cleaned up and swapped with one from an adjacent empty table.

Banquet entrees served!

Can I taste the Masala Banquet as well as the Vegetarian? I am still unclear.

Person Four returned with a make-nice smile on her face. What a good sport.

But where is my mango lassi? My mood is deteriorating. I flag the first wait-person I see and demand my mango lassi.

And it was served. It was a nice mango lassi, taking the edge off my irritability.

Taking my time, I half-finish my lassi. My water glass was still dry and emptied. I asked Person Five to flag a wait-person to get water for the table.

Yay! we got water.

Empty entree plates were removed, as were our utensils and paper napkins. Fresh utensils and paper napkins were put in place. Nice.

And we waited. And watched other tables with lunch specials being served.

Aside: there were maybe three other occupied tables in our area.

And we waited.

Person Seven flagged the wait-person wandering past to enquire the status of our mains.

Without consulting the kitchen, she automatically said, "It will be ready in five minutes."

I advised Person Seven to start the countdown. This was rejected.

After uncounted minutes, mains arrived - lunch specials (poppadums inclusive), vegetarian banquet, masala banquet, peshwari naan.

The more pricey peshwari naan was quite burnt on the base. Staying with my precept of not eating burned food, I removed the badly burnt areas. Person One and Four were also doing the same. We ended up with a good collection in one of the naan baskets. Another side result was that the peshwari stuffing scattered everywhere. Ah well - the peshwari naan was religious anyway. As in, the stuffing fell out of the burned holes. The bits I ate of the naan was nothing to rave about. Such a disappointment to my palate which had been educated by pashwari naan from Oh Calcutta.

I tasted the curries. Uhm. Given that the curries overlapped on the seasoning (variously: korma, paneer, butter, etc) it doesn't disguise the fact the lumps of mains (variously: vegetable, cottage cheese, prawn, chicken, beef) had not absorbed the flavours of their respective curries.

I ate seconds anyway because I was very hungry. I confirmed my first impression. I didn't have thirds.

The plain standard naan bread was very nice. Burned flakes on the base, but at least I didn't need to deal with scattering dessicated coconut, and random red and green preserved fruit.

By this time baby had had enough.
Aside: no high chair had been offered to seat baby. (Note: we did bring a capsule. However in other eateries, e.g. Cafe Melba in Ellerslie, we were still offered the option of a high chair.)

I reminded the bill-payers to check we were only charged for two mango lassis. The reminder was opportune as a third had been added to the bill.

The diners went our separate ways.

At this end of day, I realise we hadn't even had the end of the meal: Tea/Coffee.

Neither do I know whether the restaurant offered a discount for the meal as a sop for parts of our unpleasant experience:
* prolonged wait to place an order,
* mango lassi downer,
* need to clean Person Four's clothing,
* prolonged wait for arrival of mains,
* burnt naans that equated to half of what Person One, Two, Four were served. (Persons Five, Six and Seven are less food-anxious.)

Verdict: poppadums delicious. I recommend this restaurant for it's $10 lunch special. Nothing else. I wouldn't choose to dine here again.

Addendum: Reviews for Masala Indian Restaurant

Aside: Sorry Daddy but the experience is too weird to not note it. We'll have a better day next year. Luv, S&P

10 Sep 2011 Update:
1. yes, we were not supposed to share the banquets;
2. after some discussion with the cashier, we received the 3rd mango lassi for free (note: the mango downer happened in full view of the bar/cashier area);
3. no sops were proffered to compensate for the poor service, 1/2 basket of burnt naans.

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