Phone: 044 48611182, +91 9710321941
Address: 25, Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Time: 12 Noon to 4 PM, 7 PM to 11 PM
Meals for two: Rs. 1,000
Cuisines: Street Food
Facilities: Vegetarian Only, No Alcohol Available, Serves Jain Food, Valet Parking Available, Table reservation required
Desi Klub, Chetpet, Chennai: Decor
In recent times, a lot of restaurants are situated on the first floor. Some use their stairs to an advantage, like Desi Klub. And the entrance is dark, so I go from darkness to light. Inside this large Bombay franchise restaurant, I choose the bright side… and like what I see. It has quirk overload. Quite fun, actually: Bombay station signs, actual black records with their jackets, etc. The most striking, colorful piece of kitsch art adorns one wall. Large and bold, it says, ‘Horn OK Please’, under a small logo of the place.
Desi Klub, Chetpet, Chennai: Food
First of all, they bake their own bread. Which is why the baked vada pav seems like an idea, because it looks like there’s no vada, only pav. Surprise, surprise, the vada is actually baked inside the pav without any besan coating. Not an iota of the taste has gone missing, thanks to the tossing in pure Amul butter and that drizzle of peanut-garlic chutney.
On ordinary days, the pani puri shots arrive rather dramatically, making a full-on visual impact: the paani in a miniature red tanker. Unfortunately (for me), those tankers have gone for maintenance, and I get my paani in a hipflask kind of curved glass bottle, which needs a vigorous shake so the settled flavors get unsettled before I pour. Result: it lacks a bit of the normal pungent tang of the roadside when the paani puri wala briskly stirs up the paani with his stainless-steel ladle before dunking your puri in it!
Impressive, the papad bhel arrives in an inverted paper cone on a miniature cart, with instructions to lift off the cone. I send up a prayer as I lift it, and am happy to say it stays. The papad remains crisp for longer and it adds a different element to plain, old bhel. The khichiya papad — made using rice flour — is crumbled and tossed in the different chutneys. Pomegranate bursts in the mouth with its juicy sweetness. Peanuts, fried channa dal, sev, boiled potato and minced raw mango make interesting eating.
I manage to leave a little space for chic choc, and I’m glad I did. It is a large triangle mountain of pure decadence. Eggless chocolate cake surrounds vanilla ice cream, and the entire thing is surrounded by chocolate mousse. If that’s not enough, there are these little golden yellow caramel balls and bits of butterscotch. Before I figure out how I’m going to eat it, I find that I’ve managed very well indeed.
Desi Klub, Chetpet, Chennai: Plus & Minus
While some dishes stand out because of their innovation, presentation and flavors, some others do by sticking to tradition. A few, like the aloo tikki chaat, need to taste as good as they look.