Restaurant Review: Southside Cafe
At month-old Bandra restaurant Southside Café, the sights and sounds that we associate with quick service south Indian eateries such as the ravenous din of queuing customers, the wafting aroma of filter coffee, and the sizzle of butter on a hot plate, are conspicuously absent. Instead, the air-conditioned 20-cover restaurant, which features a dining counter and leather upholstered seats, is closer to the likes of Banana Leaf, the mid-priced south Indian restaurant in Versova. Here, unlike at an Udupi, customers aren’t exposed to the view of cooks perspiring over dosa pans or frying fragrant wadas, because the kitchen is cordoned off by an impermeable door. The decor at Southside Café could even be called subtle in comparison; the monotony of the white and brown colour palette is broken only by a black, white and neon green mural with a caricature of acting superstar Rajnikant, a drawing of an elephant, and silhouettes of men in mundus.
The menu at Southside Cafe, however, is neither as extensive as the one served at Banana Leaf, nor as much of a mishmash of cuisines as those of Shiv Sagar and its ilk. The restaurant is helmed by a chef from Bangalore, who offers a selection of about 20 standard south Indian dishes including idlis, dosas, wadas, and different rice preparations. We were cheered by the inclusion in the menu of a set dosa (Rs80), a dish for which we make frequent trips to Matunga’s famed Café Madras. Our pair of thick and fluffy pancake-sized dosas with a buttery sheen was perfectly enjoyable, but not better than the set dosa at the Matunga eatery, where it is accompanied by delectable white butter and addictive milagai podi (fiery spice mix) with ghee. Southside Café’s Mysore masala dosa (Rs85) was flawless. The crispy, buttery dosa, which was generously filled with turmeric-tinged potatoes, had a thick and spongy inner wall smeared with a pungent garlic and coconut chutney made in-house. We learned from the staff that the thickness is achieved via a 4cms thick hot plate commonly used in Bangalore’s south Indian joints.
Their piping hot bisi bele bhath (Rs80), a lip-smacking blend of rice, lentils, peas, French beans, carrots and peanuts in a tangy sambar flavoured with tamarind and spiked with an aromatic whole spices blend, was comfort food at its best. However, the cumin-flecked turmeric-yellow Kanjivaram idlis (Rs60) were not soft and crumbly and consequently left us cold. Apart from the rice preparations, all the savoury dishes at Southside Cafe come with spicy sambar or sagu (a curry of assorted vegetables blended with coconut powder), and thick coconut chutney garnished with mustard seeds spluttered in hot oil. The sole dessert on the menu was a passable saffron-yellow semolina sheera called kesari bhath (Rs50), which was sweetened with sugar and raisins. While it might not match up to Matunga’s best, Bandra folks seeking an alternative to Shiv Sagar will find that the similarly-priced Southside Cafe, for now at least, boasts the rare luxury of allowing you to linger over your meal in a south Indian fast food restaurant.
This review was conducted anonymously.Tags: Restaurants, Southside Cafe
Near Khane Khas
HoursTuesday to Sunday, 9am to 11pm. Monday closed