There have been two threads on this place over the past six or so months. Driving down Devon last night, looking for a place to eat, I thought I recalled that they were fairly positive reviews. About midway through our meal, I decided I must have been mistaken, and that the posts I recalled must have been more of a mixed bag. Now seeing that previous reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I am compelled to add my two cents, mostly about the atmosphere but also, of course, the food.
Zim had warned:
"the room/ambiance leaves some to be desired as they only had turned on 1/3 of the lights and most of the room was darker than it should gave been and the tables were jammed together. And like many places on devon at brunch on the weekend kids were running around -these things don't really bother me, but some might want to be aware of the info."
That severely underplays what our entire party found to be an extremely distracting atmosphere. The lighting was checkered, and what lights were on reflected their flourescent glare off the white papered tables. The walls were mostly bare and painted the color of an elementary school washroom, a scheme which doesn't exactly complement lighting. The service, though only two other parties were there, was too lacking to even be called poor. We entered after seeing a menu posted on the window. We were immediately pointed to a group of tables by one of the workers, indicating that we could sit where we liked. No menu was given, and the worker said many words, I think, one of which was buffet, none of the rest of which were intelligible. He then disappeared with nary a word for the rest of the evening. Now really I don't expect much service at a buffet, but a little courtesy can go a long way.
Assumning that the buffet was the only offering (it was about 5:30 on a Saturday evening, by the way), we began filling up. (I'll get to the food later.) The surly 17-year-old girl who cleared our plates did so without so much as a smile or any gesture of acknowledgment that we were sitting at the table. When I asked her what some pancake-looking items with peppers and onions were, as she was flipping on the griddle, she said simply without looking up, "pancakes."
All this might have been tolerable, atmosphere-wise, but for the music. Oh the music! No, it is not Indian music here that I complain of. We were fed a steady diet of cheesy pop hits, sprinkling songs originally sung by Backstreet Boy and Christina Aguilera types, along with their predecessors from previous generations...but sung by other people! Perhaps this is a common phenomenon with which I am unfamiliar. Thank goodness that I had avoided it until now. It was a karaoke nightmare.
Finally, the food. It was actually good. I don't know enough about Indian food to recognize the southern Indian specialties or to have noticed what on the buffet was particularly unusual, so it didn't earn points from me on that count. The curries were enjoyable, esp. the lamb and fish. I liked the tomato dal and the tomato lentil soup. I thought the dough balls were perfectly enjoyable. The battered chilis were pretty bland. But really nothing stood out. Even had the place been enjoyable, atmosphere-wise, it's hard to imagine that any of the dishes would have cried out for a return visit. Then again, a return visit isn't something I really even want to imagine.