20 Feb 2013
Included below is a restaurant review I contributed to Yelp.com back in 2010.
This den of vegetarian confoundery provided Yours Truly with one of the most disappointing dining experiences this side of the Magellanic Cloud, which was, frankly, FANTASTIC (if you’re a fan of bad reviews).
Not since the Great Hairy Bread Expedition of 1873 have I been as excited to relate my experiences about a slop hall as I am now with Madras Saravana Bhavan, located Nor’Noreast of Decatarrrr, Georgia.
I arrived to find my dining companions, Dwight and Barbara, studiously wading through two large and sticky color catalogs filled with images of food with exotic names like Tug and Bandr and Prath and yes, of course I’m making these names up because the REAL names are so bloody exotic that they flew out of my mind as soon as I read them out of those filthy (yet colorful) menus which served as our passport to the world of vegetarian Indian cuisine.
“I’m afraid to drink the water,” announced Barbara, eyeing the tepid pitcher with a wrinkled nose.
“Barbara,” I scolded, “may I remind you that you’re in Decatarrr, not India?”
Her eyes said “You sure about that Buster?”
After 20 minutes of anxious waiting a man with a notepad ambled by our prominent corner booth, muttering something under his breath which sounded suspiciously like “You are here and I am here, and I could bring you food but if you do not tell me what it is that you would wish to be eating I will skulk away, not to return for a period of time greater than or equal to your ability to politely pretend that I did not in fact move to Buenos Aires.”
But it came out “Buh. Mugga Wug. Buh.”
More or less. He may have even sighed.
I have to admit that I felt bad for the poor fellow, standing there in his blue jeans and plaid shirt, loathing our very presence. Wait, not loathing… what’s that other word that means that you wouldn’t give a fig if a 5 gigaton mega-hippo landed on your head?
Walter was all about that word. (I’d named him Walter, quietly, to myself)
Walter was probably just grumpy and hot. He had to be hot because it was obvious that the owners of this particular Burma railway had, in a bid to replicate various regions of the Indian subcontinent during the summer doldrums, shut down the air-conditioning system entirely. More likely, they’d sold it for parts in order to pay for the magnificently colored (yet sticky) menu system that was currently bedeviling us all.
Before Walter could escape back to wherever it was that he normally hid, we shouted out orders in rapid succession. In a monotone drone Walter repeated our orders back to us, though he could have just as easily been reading from the Bombay railway timetables… we just moved our heads in that circular motion which is neither a yes or a no, but the intergalactic sign of utter bewilderment when you don’t understand someone but think that you’d best pretend you do.
For the next 45 minutes food came out to our table in dribs and drabs, delivered by a man who would announce the dish’s title as:
Whereupon he would lurch off toward the kitchen like a man whose 2-story cow has just washed away in a flood, leaving him cowless.
We, of course, would take turns guessing who the dish belonged to because our waiters certainly didn’t seem to know.
Dwight decided that the very first dish to arrive was his (mostly, I suspect because he was hungrier than Barbara or me) and so munched away happily at a grotty little doughnut surrounded by spoonfuls of strange sauces with names like “bright green” and “lumpy yellow”. 15 minutes later he and Barbara decided that he had, in fact, been eating one of HER orders at which point he promptly slid the depleted platter over to her so that she could enjoy picking through the remains.
Meanwhile, BOTH of Barbara’s orders arrived, leading she and Dwight to conclude that the original mystery dish had in fact been intended for ME. Barbara gamely tried to freshen the sad platter up as she pushed it in my direction, but I was already deep into a curried bowl of vegetables and astrally projecting myself into a Krystal’s burger hut, 200 yards farther up the highway.
Meanwhile, the food continued to arrive with guttural mumblings from skulking waiters.
After lunch we lingered another 20 minutes, not because we were enjoying the ambience but because we were waiting for our sodding BILL!
We finally gave up and went to the register where we encountered a sad little fellow who obviously did not wish us to engage him in conversation.
When Barbara did inquire with him regarding the possibility of obtaining a to-go box, the little fellow stared at her as if she’d sprouted an additional Crown Prince of Liechtenstein from her forehead (you know, to balance the one he already seemed to think was growing there).
I also had the percussive poopsies later on, in the privacy of my own poopdeck.
An authentic experience indeed.