Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cafe Satsanga and Cafe Rendezvous: Pondi Series Part I

Atrocious Service, nice ambience, average food, snooty waiters, and sky high prices: apparently these are the ingredients to a well renowned eating place in Pondicherry (Did I mention the awful service). Cafe Satsang came highly recommended but as you have probably surmised it was one HUMONGOUS let down.

Let me quickly sum up the good points about this place: The ambiance is stunning. Old world decor, quaint little courtyard in the middle, beautiful lighting. Someone very imaginative and skilled wrote the menu. And that is where the good news stops.

We walked into a fairly crowded, gorgeous cafe which others had given rave reviews to. There was a huge waiting line and the group before us left because the head waiter was rude to them (In retrospect I wish we had followed their lead). We were finally given a table but with an insufficient number of chairs. Left to arrange our own seating, we pounced upon chairs just as soon as there was space between the previous customer's bottom and the chair. There were times when we even took the chair of patrons who had gone to the loo, unsuspecting souls who returned to find their chairs missing and a pack of girls giggling uncontrollably. With the much applauded departure of an old European couple we were all finally seated and then began the long process of getting the waiter's eye. Twenty minutes later we finally got our menu and another twenty minutes later he deigned to take our order.

If you are wondering why we stuck it out this long, we were under the illusion that the food was good, an illusion which was soon to be shattered. The complimentary bread they gave us was awful. It was brown, home made, neither warm nor toasted! No wonder its complementary, nobody in their right mind would pay money for this. When our food finally arrived we were told that none of the sides we ordered were available, gave us a big plate of fries and asked us to make do with that (What sort of restaurant runs out of mashed potatoes?!!) I ordered the fried eggplants in walnut sauce along with mashed potatoes. Of course, there were no mashed potatoes. My dish was very interesting. The walnut sauce was slightly sweet but had a nice flavour. The eggplants were fried nicely but the stuffing in them was non descript. This dish definitely requires a little more flavour and spice. They also served it with some sort of zucchini and red sauce mix which was pretty decent. The dish wasn't great but if you're looking to try something new, then this is right up your alley. Ganje orderedthe mushroom and veg kabab which was just about OK. It was bland and the mushrooms were a little chewy. The shallots steak was toooooo chewy and had no real taste of its own. Rads ordered the steak with garlic and parsley, the lemon chicken (I imagine this is what the much mocked dish in Everybody Loves Raymond must have tasted like) and a mushroom dish. The only reason I'm not describing each dish is because it was all incredibly average, had nothing of specific note, no noteworthy flavour and remembering it adds to the disappointment each time.

Please be aware that we were incredibly hungry before this meal and at the point where even mildly good food would have tasted like corden bleu.

The quantities are sufficient I suppose, because there is only so much of average food that one can stomach. The prices are steep. A meal for two could easily cost Rs. 1000.

I largely recommend that you give this place the miss. I have never seen such atrocious service in my life and a place that cannot inculcate basic manners, is never worth the trouble. I must also mention the head waiter who just walked around the whole time being inexcusably rude. There are other, incredibly lovely establishments in Pondicherry that serve you great food and which seem mildly pleased (at the least) to have your patronage.

Cafe Rendezvous: I am making a small mention within the main review since we never got around to ordering any food here. We waited and waited for the waiter to take our order but apparently there are only two waiters who are designated the incredibly difficult task of taking the order. Incidentally, these two waiters also felt the need to exchange life histories at each table they went to. Having been burned by the Satsang experience we decided to walk out and save ourself the bother (Thank God!)


Shruthi said...

I completely agree with you shru. I had a similar experience.

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Simply Life said...

great to know about your time there -thanks for the info!

Pam said...

Congrats on the foodie blogroll!


Unknown said...

Yeah there were ants in my port wine at Satsanga. I remember the service at Rendezvous was a problem but the food was excellent. Madame Shanthe's in my experience has been the best place to go for food, but I was told you guys didn't go there. And of course there's Baker's Street :D

Sonal Sher said...

i hate that place. beautiful place and horrid food!!! and costed me a bomb...Someone actually tried to convince me that my taste was not good enough and maybe the food was good but i am not used to it.. PLEASE!!!

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