Odd lunch today at the Palace of Jaipur in South Plainfield. I can't tell if they're struggling or if I just went at the wrong time.
When I pulled into the parking lot it was deserted except for me and one other car, which was parked in a corner and may have been abandoned. I was mildly surprised to find the front door open, but I walked in and found myself alone in the place. It's a medium-large banquet-hall style building, starting to show signs of mild shabbiness. Someone eventually came out of the kitchen and tried to talk to me, but only managed to pronounce every 5th word correctly. After some number of words were sort of exchanged, he went back to the kitchen and was replaced by a guy who got every 3rd word right.
I had my choice of spots and sat in the "semi-outside" area, under glass. I asked about the buffet and was told by the guy (waiter? busboy? squatter?) it was not available, but I would order from the kitchen and it would be the same as a buffet, except different. This confused me as the buffet trays were clearly visible but I suppose had no food. This was at 1:00 on a Wednesday. He allowed me to choose one meat and one vegetable without looking at the menu, which he held the whole time. The meat was easy, as he gave me the options "lamb" and "chicken". For the veg, he just waited for me to guess but I scored with my first attempt: "spinach".
Eventually the food arrived and was decent, except for the rubbery paneer:
crisp bread appetizer with 3 dips
chicken in some red sauce
yellow lentil stuff (mandatory?)
The room was nice except for the aforementioned shabbiness creeping in. I noticed silverware and trash still on the floor, which I guess the staff was too busy to deal with or maybe had stopped caring when the people stopped coming.
I felt like a millionaire eating alone in my lightly-decrepit palatial home, with discreet foreign servants doing just enough to not get fired. I thought feeling rich would be more fun.
I guess I'll go back when the economy improves or if I see the parking lot occupied.
Palace of Jaipur
2991 Hamilton Blvd, South Plainfield, NJ 07080