A friend recommended trying CholaNad, so today we went there for dinner.
I arrived first and the bartender made me feel very welcome, friendly and low-key. I liked the atmosphere, enough that I would've stayed there alone to eat at the bar. Unbeknownst to me when we made dinner plans, Thursdays the restaurant has a beer special, any kind for $2 - bonus!
Once my pal showed up we shared an app of Kuzhi Paniyaram, little steamed rice balls that come with a mild tomato chutney for dipping. For my main I picked the soft shell crab with a dosa, and she had a dosa roll stuffed with chicken. The sauce/gravy for my crab was fantastic, and the giant dosa worked well in picking it up. The dosa was crisp at the edges and crisper on one side than the other, so you could fold it and roll it up but it still had some body and wouldn't collapse when picking up the gravy.
The chef came out of the kitchen several times to talk to the tables. I was all fired up for the crab, but my friend had quite a discussion with him about which dish to try. Service was very attentive, almost too much at the beginning when there weren't many people (we ate early), but then the restaurant filled up and the attentiveness level went to 'really good but not too much'.
We both finished with coffee (and sweet lassi for me), and I had carrot halva for dessert. The plate had a somewhat artistic presentation with two squiggles of some kind of syrup on one side, which I usually ignore but I tried it. The squiggles were actually delicious! One was flavored with cinnamon, and the other, a white one, I couldn't decipher. The chef told us it's white chocolate with marshmallow, interesting and somehow not overly sweet, kind of vaguely coconutty.
I swear I don't usually get excited about the random decorative squiggles on dessert plates. But that's because they're usually just chocolate or blueberry.
We had a great time and will definitely be back. I'm collecting local restaurants to take my parents to when they visit from Toronto, and this is definitely one of them.