This is a quick impression, since I didn't get a chance to try too many dishes. And a second even bigger qualification is that place specializes in seafood and I only tried vegetarian items. But I was on Charlotte Street Sunday evening, in need of a quick dinner with friends, so in I went.
The menu is unconventional -- they truly focus on the Kerala food -- no saag, mater, malai kofta, or paneer in sight. One of the starters was a basket of crisp snacks (murukku, banana chips, batter fried papads, and achappam). I normally associate the first two with teatime rather than dinner, but no matter, it has been a while since I had murukku (which we call chakli in my part of the country) and I was pleased. The second starter was the banana boli (plantain fritters), which were ok: my palate craved some chutney (and for that matter a cup of tea) with them, but they fit the need for a less spicy starter for my friends and weren't bad, just a little light on the spice.
For dinner, we had the following:
- cheera paripu curry: toor dal with spinach. It was not too oily (good!), but again a little under-spiced for me. But still, nice to have a good yellow dal with dinner.
- moru kachiathu: sweet mangoes (never saw them) and green banana cooked in yogurt with chillies and ginger. This was very nice, again a less spicy item, but in this case the flavors didn't crave more spice -- it tasted just right, a bit of richness from the yogurt but also a bit of sour to offset it along with the light spices. It reminded me of a Gujarati kadhi, which goes beautifully with rice.
- pachakkari thoran was another success: stir fried vegetables. You've probably heard me (Howler, other Indians) complain that when we eat at home our vegetables are lightly cooked, and are typically not floating in creamy/ oily sauces. Well this is a fine example. The vegetables were crisp and the the spices light, but pretty good.
- Lemon rice: good.
One can't really come to a bottom line on this place without trying the seafood, which I leave to others. But I was pleased with my meal: nothing my mother or at least 3 of my aunts couldn't surpass, but good, unfussy, light. I walked away without a brick in my stomach, and actually managed to get a few items that one doesn't find on the typical menu.