N R COLONY: The chutney, has finally got its due. At South Kitchen, a stand-up restaurant that opened last month in N R Colony, a kiosk with the word "Chutney" boldly inscribed on it, is dedicated to this spicy "side" dish. Manned by a waiter in chocolate brown livery, the counter replenishes the free-flowing coconut-coriander relish on to the waiting plates. South Kitchen may have modelled itself after the celebrated Brahmin's Coffee Bar in Shankarpuram, especially in its fare and even the chutney section, but it seems to have given the whole set-up, including the decor, a more formal, natty touch.
The portly, smiling, dhoti-clad chutney chap and his stool at Brahmin’s, are replaced by a formally-clad dispenser and his kiosk. Serious foodies justify giving the chutney this exalted status. For, the idli may steam with all its might, but it amounts to nothing without the chutney. It's this spicy, seasoned semi-liquid (or solid, depending on how you look at it), that facilitates its uneventful journey through the gullet, en route to its final destination.
It’s only the Kesari Bhath that can afford to thumb its nose at the chutney. Even the Khara Bhath and the vada need the chutney to gain acceptance. Nevertheless, the “main” items must be given their due. The idli is steaming and soft, the vada crisp and crunchy and the Khara Bhath vanishes quickly from the plate.
But there’s a more down-to-earth reason for the exclusive kiosk for the chutney. “We don’t want plates with half-eaten food in them to get back to the serving counter. Customers have to top up their chutney stock at the counter outside. Used plates get back into the wash area from the side of the restaurant,” says Sanjay Prabhakar, the young proprietor and son of R Prabhakar of J P Nagar’s famed Nammura Hotel, where food is dispensed by the kgs.
Sanjay doesn’t see Hotel Dwaraka down the lane affecting his foot-falls. “Dwaraka specializes in dosas. We have won over our customers with our specialties and service,” he says.
This is evident, for from 7 am to 12 noon and from 4 pm to 9 pm, diners are seen furiously digging into their plates with their spoons, allowing themselves to be distracted only to get another helping of the chutney. But the slightest delay in returning from the chutney kiosk means literally being elbowed out of your spot on the stainless steel dining platform. South Kitchen is open seven days a week.