Saturday, June 25, 2011
Pondicherri in West Ave (Kirby/Westheimer)
As I wait for my lunchmate, Oscar, we're having a late lunch, 2pm-ish, I'm checking out the place. I definitely like the decor. A very ecclectic, bold colors, casual atmosphere, industrial looking, counter service type of place. I go ahead and decide to talk to the clerk about popular food items and ask for his recommendations. He recommends doing one of the sampler platters to get an idea of the different styles of meats and dishes. They have 3 options, a veggie, meats (chicken, lamb, beef), fish, $12, $16, and $22, respectively. He highly recommends the Rancher Thali, which includes the "Butter Chicken", which he says is so good. Anytime anyone uses "so good", I'm sold. So, I order that and the Butter Chicken salad, because he did insist it was so good and that it's his favorite. He takes my order, then a few seconds after I sign my receipt he gets word they are "86 Chicken". Hm...that's an interesting thing to be out of. With great disappointment, I still order the Rancher Thali, but with an additional portion of Lamb and get the Mushroom Burger at his suggestion. He said it taste just like meat, which it didn't.
The Rancher Thali was interesting. I thought it was tasty, good spicy flavors, I thought the size of Naan wasn't sufficient for the food. We ordered another Naan and it cost $2. It was a bigger size. The burger was tasty, kind of subdued flavors, took a little getting used to. The fries were fat, coated in some flour-like texture, deep fried, and fairly good. They had this homemade kind of ketchup. Everything was ok. To me, everything here just felt like I was in a foreign country and all the food items and condiments I'm used to, they don't have. So it's like some weird almost ketchup tasting concoction, almost burger tasting burger, almost cookie, etc.
The owner came and we chatted with her a bit. She was pleasant, but not the most exhuberant person. Oscar tried to chat it up with her, and Oscar can chat up anyone. He told her the food tasted just like it did in Hyderbad. She didn't even flinch, not even a wink. How often do people visit Hyderbad, India? She just went over that comment like 2 week old road kill. I thought that conversation was weird and anticlimactic. We did talk about the fact that she had beef options. Oscar says the cows are considered sacred, which I have heard. He described a time an Indian coworker had a smidgeon of beef accidentally enter his mouth and almost faint. She basically says it's the old mentality. We live in America, so she alters her food. She also dispelled the perception we have of Indians and their attitudes toward cows and says most have tried it at some point in their lives...I'm thinking that's probably more like American Indians, I don't know.
On leaving, the guy at the cashier was very excitable when the mention of desserts came up and specifically talked of the cookies and that I must have it. So, of course I do. I asked which is the best, he suggested the Oatmeal and warned me it was a little spicy. Said everybody loves the Oatmeal cookie. I was so full, I was going into a food coma. It's like the food settles in your stomach and I was literally full the rest of the day, but I saved my cookie and didn't eat it till the next day. My roommate Diana tried it first. I didn't mention a thing, she said it was good...and spicy. I tried it later, I really liked how chocolatey it was and it wasn't very sweet. It was a little spicy, my mom ate the rest later. She told me not to eat stuff like that, "you'll get fat"...and like most moms, like a garage disposal, got rid of it for me by eating it herself.
I think my overall dining exeperience was ok. I thought the food was fairly good, but I'm wondering if it's just because I don't have a whole lot of experience with Indian food. When I went to Whole Foods Market Montrose, I was craving something with spice and wanted a kick of flavor and I actually got a portion of Indian food, which I thought was very good, so I don't know. Maybe I'll go visit again, maybe I won't.