Madras Saravana Bhavan used to be a veritable culinary institution in Georgia. People thronged the restaurant for its super-crisp dosas, excellent sambar and chutneys, and South Indian tiffin and snack items. Regular North Indian fare was also served. Then the restaurant had a change of management (and probably owners as well). A new name, changed decor, modified menu… Saravana Bhavan came to Atlanta. Many South Indians are familiar with this name. As I understand, this chain of restaurants was started in 1981 in South India and now has branches all over the world.
While growing up, Mom would be mortified at the idea of going out to eat South Indian food. Why would you do that when you get the best of its kind at home itself? No debating with that! Even my friends can vouch for the sheer deliciousness that is Mummy’s cooking. “As soft as flowers” is how my grandfather used to describe the idlis she made. Maybe I had scant appreciation for her cooking back then but now I can only fantasize about our wonderful Sunday mornings spent with steaming hot idlis and coconut chutney, coffee, Sunday Mid-Day and TV. Mmmm, that’s the kind of stuff awesome childhood memories are made up of.
But I digress! So, Saravana Bhavan does a decent job of the South Indian dishes on the menu. They also have a thali option that serves rice, pooris, and an array of South Indian curries and vegetable preparations. I have always wanted to order the thali but my stomach quails at the idea of the stupor that’d follow after the meal. Maybe one day, I’ll steel myself to go ahead and order it.
So yesterday, P and I went over for lunch. We happened to be in the neighborhood and both of us wanted to have something light and easy. I ordered a plate of Rasa Vada which basically comprises of two Medu Vadas submerged in a bowl of Tomato Rasam. P liked the dish although I found it a tad too salty for my taste. The Rasam comes with a liberal garnish of coriander leaves (or cilantro, as it’s called here in the United States). The Vadas were fairly okay. I found them a little bland but overall, it was a good start to the meal.
I wanted to steer clear of potatoes, and so I ordered the plain Rava Dosa. This is a great dish to order if you are in the mood for something relatively light. The dosa is made of semolina (anyone wish to confirm that for me?) and it’s served with an array of chutneyssambar. The dosa was very crisp; it literally cracked on the plate! It’s a fairly large-sized dosa too. P ordered the Biryani. I have ordered it before and I really like how they make it. What we were served yesterday was milder on spice. I do like the spicier version, though. It comes with vegetable raita that is a great accompaniment to biryani always!
All in all, a satisfactory meal that would have been perfect had I ordered a glass of the South Indian coffee but I forgot… Dessert would have been a great finish also but they only had three desserts – Gulab Jamun, Paayasam and Rava Kesari. Hmmm, not for me.
Go to Saravana Bhavan, really. They do a nice job of South Indian snacks and tiffin items. Service is good too.