Bihari Cuisine, now what the hell is that? All I knew was that they eat lot of Dal Chawal and off late I got to know about Litti Chokha and that is the extent of my knowledge about Bihari Food. For past few weeks, name of ‘The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe And Kitchen’ had popped up a few times, and them serving Bihari cuisine managed to spike up major interest. So as usual, one Saturday night, a bunch of us got together and decided to raid the place.
As we were about to enter, a lady who is from FED was getting out, and she is from Bihar. She told us that food was good, and she tried Veg Pakodas and Shrimps and can definitely recommend them. Her feedback added to our excitement levels and we eagerly climbed the four floors. Third floor was kitchen, and then the rooftop which is the dining area.
|The 'Rooftop' Cafe|
|The 'Rooftop' Cafe|
|FEDs waiting to be served|
The first reaction as we saw the restaurant was “Where is the rooftop?”, “Why are there full height walls and a roof on the rooftop?” What me and others thought rooftop restaurant meant was an open dining area, with only atmosphere separating you and the sky. But alas, Potbelly is a rooftop with a roof, not a partial roof, but roofs and wall that would make it a hall. It does have huge windows and I am sure in afternoons would offer great views too. Coming to décor, the first words that hit my mind was Chic and now common. It instantly reminded me of few other places that I am regular too. Very acceptable for a café, but in these times, nothing out of the ordinary.
Now it was time to start ordering, and as we were waiting for few other people to join in, we decided to have a look at the drinks menu. Avoiding the shakes, for the sake of our appetites, we ordered Apple Lemonades and Mirch Masala Lemonades. Apple lemonade was brilliant to say the least, which small chunks of apple and mint leaves to it. Thankfully there was no artificial flavor added to it, and the chunks of apple gave it the subtlety that we appreciated. The Mirch Masala Lemonade though reminded us of Jalzeera and Gol Gappe ka paani. Before we move from the drinks part, here it needs to be mentioned that in later stages of out meal, we also ordered a shake, which was never served. Why? No Clue.
For starters we ordered a Pakora Basket, Parontha Basket (Rs.120 each) and Phish Phingers (Rs.260). Pakoras were quite good, well spiced, well fried. Paronthas were standard and gave no reason to complain, however first surprise of the evening came in fish fingers (Phish Fingers), though as suggested by my non vegetarian friends, it was well done, however the quantity left a LOT to be desired. Apparently no one expected it to have 5 sticks (fingers) only with similar number of potato chips. And honestly that set the tone for the evening.
|The Phish Phinger Platte|
When it came to main courses, 7 of us ordered 3 platters of Litti Chokha, 2 vegetarian platters, 2 non-vegetarian platters and one seafood platter (more like a starter it was). We ordered:
- Litti Chokha (Rs. 210) – 3 Portions
- Makhana Thali (Rs. 230)
- Maithili Masala Thali (Rs. 230)
- Gol Mirch Chicken (Rs. 260)
- Mutton Chaamp (Rs.260)
- Dehati Fish’n’Chips (Rs.290)
- Jhinga Machhli (Rs.290)
And just to complete the list, I am also adding the starters from before.
- Pakora Basket (Rs.120)
- Parontha Basket (Rs.120)
- Phish Phingers (Rs. 260)
PHEW! That looks like a lot of food in 7 people.
Surprise! Even after having all that food, almost all of us were looking to go out and eat some paranthas at moolchand or IIFT Dhabhas to fill ourselves up. Yup, that is how small the portions were and that is how unsatisfied we all felt.
No one actually liking what they ate does not even matter here because we hardly have any knowledge about Bihari food, and lack of appreciation can be attributed to lack of palette. However I doubt they eat such small portions. I cannot even start to describe the reaction we had when we were seeing the portions and servings. Dehati fish seemed like a pakoda, okay, in finer words fish coated with batter and fried. However people can only appreciate finer flavors of batter and fish, if they ever stopped looking for the fish inside the batter shell.
|Jhinga Machhli |
|Gol Mirch Chicken|
Vegetarians faired a bit better, mind you only a bit. Before I started writing this, I was planning on recommending Litti Chokha and concluding that I would visit the place again for the same. However I was under the impression that it was priced at Rs.120 per serving. But now when I look at the menu I realize that I was under the wrong impression, and I doubt if would recommend that as well.
But giving credit where it is due, the Aubergine mashes which were served to us with Litti, paronthas and other dishes were quite amazing. They had brilliant flavors and were done very well. The Chana Dal they served with Litti was mind blowing and was highlight of the evening. I wish they would use that dal with other things as well. Litti was well baked, however I feel that it was quite dry from inside and could have definitely used a longer dip in the ghee. On the other hand Maithali Masala thali which had Paneer-mushroom-peas dish served with puris, had so much oil it in, and that it numbed my senses for a while. The fact that puris themselves were quite oily, did not help my cause at all.
|Maithili Masala Thali|
Have already mentioned the shake that was never served but that was not our only disappointment from service, which was found considerably lacking. Towards the end someone who seemed to be incharge (owner?) came up to us, asked about our feedback and offered apologies for bad service. He said they were new, learning the ropes and short staffed. This was quite understood and appreciated by our group. However after admitting to lousy service you do not charge the 10% service charge, and that too when the group was evidently not happy.
And the final nail, our bill was Rs.3762 with 10% service charge. Since there was a service charge, I was not looking to leave a tip. I left Rs.3800 in cash and kept waiting at my table for balance, which never came.
Oh! And they did not have any desserts at 9:30 pm on a Saturday evening.
I understand being new and upcoming, however at those prices, you better have your act together before you take the order.