Dining out

There is more to South than Dosa

1:57 PM

Ask anybody to name a South Indian dish and they will come with the unoriginal Dosa, some will even speak of idli or vada, and it stops there. Of course there is the "South Indian meal" which has a lot of rice, the oh so classic sambar and rassam (and I might add oh so boring after a week on this diet) and a few side dishes of vegetable curries more or less loaded with green chillies.

And the sad fact is that I resigned myself to a vegetarian southern cuisine, and imagined that all these beautiful States had to offer was what the "shiv sagar" "sukh sagar" and other "shanti sagar" had to showel down my throat. Don't get me wrong those South Indian lunch joints are all nice if you aren't looking for a particularly excellent meal, they do the job at filling your stomach.

DH and I decided to try a new restaurant yesterday called "bonSouth" simply because a friend told us he hear it was a good one. DH not being a fan of South Indian cuisine (like many he got fed up of what his office canteen was offering) I asked him if it was ok for him, as I myself have nothing wrong with it, and a higher end restaurant might even mean I could get a non-veg meal.

Well, simply put, bonSouth exceeded ALL my expectations. The experience started at the door, where we stepped on a simple grey stone porch with small water basins on the side, once the glass door passed the simple minimalistic look continued with a few basins here and there and a soft lightening leading to a modern looking interior and small floating candles on the tables. On the wall, nice modern representation of South Indian traditional arts making you feel like you stepped in a Modern Art Gallery Lounge rather than a South Indian restaurant, the soft relaxation music played at a volume high enough to be heard and low enough to be pleasant and hold a conversation, contributing to the cosy atmosphere.
The the waiter brought us a huge menu which turned out to be just for the drinks, and for the first time ever in a "posh" Indian restaurant do I see such an extensive wine list with both local and international wines, local and imported beers and liquors as well as a mineral waters choice and several interesting mocktails and cocktails. The European in me told me that if a Restaurant bothered having a good wine list meant they were in for more than the traditional curries which would murder the subtle taste of wine.
In the end though we decided to pass on the alcohol and we both picked up mocktails instead. Along with the drinks they brought us the food menu, and a complementary basket of square shaped "papads" and a tray of chutney, the coconut chutney and coriander chutney were AWESOME for once there was no green chillies in those but a subtle aroma instead, so much that we went through 3 bowls of coconut chutney.
The food menu is very interesting in the way that they sorted the food items not only in the non-vegetarian and vegetarian categories, but also according to their State of origin : Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
For our starter, we picked a Kerala dish of fried chicken and coconut, which DH said was good but not amazing, and which I found excellent, the fact that it was yet again not tossed in too many green chillies letting the chance to other spices with a more subtle aroma to play on my tongue and wow me over.
We then moved to the main course, and this time I picked an Andhra Pradesh dish of chicken which came in a cashew nut gravy flavoured with freshly ground pepper, on the side we each picked Appams, mine being crab flavoured, DH's being masala flavoured. The dishes that came our way were a real treat for the senses : artfully presented, with a subtle smell to tease us, and of course a taste to die for, once again the dish was cooked in a way to tease our taste buds without burning them, the chicken was the softest I ever had, and the gravy was smooth and flavoured with black pepper, the crab appam was just perfect to mop the extra gravy and we didn't let any of it go to waste as the thick cream sauce was just letting itself be eaten.
We passed on the desserts as we were quite full.
But for the first time ever in an Indian restaurant, we were asked whether we wanted coffee or tea to top or meal, and I was surprised, because this is normally a European custom. DH took the filter coffee which is a South Indian classic, I went for a tea. Both were served in traditional stainless steel tumbler and bowl, and the waiter came to mix our sugar in it by pouring the content of the goblet in the bowl and pouring back again in the glass several time resulting in a foamy drink which was just the perfect way to end the meal. The bill might have been a bit high, but not overpriced considering the quantity and quality of the food, and yes I've seen North Indian restaurant with a higher price list than this one. All in all it was a fair price.

We stepped out our bellies full with only praises to be sang about the place (and yes even the service was perfect), what we didn't expect though was that the experience didn't stop at the door, the person who greeted us from the porch on our way in was there to bid us farewell right beside a table of complimentary mouth freshener and paans, and a cute little potted plant for me (a gift to all ladies guest). The plant looks like this : 

On one side of the small pot you get the website of the restaurant, the care instruction for your plant and the fact that it helps clean the air. and on the other this very nice text :

This isn't just a thank you not for visiting
our restaurant. This is a note you can pass to
Mother Earth to thank her for giving us
a truly beautiful planet to live in.
This is a small gesture that will surely make a big
difference to our future.


  1. Anonymous5:20 AM

    prices are high!. but i've to visit.


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