A few weeks back, I decided to go on a road trip with the family (and what a character building experience that was!). Of course, visiting another city always means new places for my blog. As a part of this pursuit I dragged Johnny along, early in the morning to visit Ratna Cafe (After a traumatic beach walk where we were chased by a 'Cujo'esque dog). Ratna Cafe is a small little South Indian breakfast and tiffin joint with branches in Triplicane and T Nagar. The ambiance is nothing great but the food rumouredly is. Its recent popularity has ensured more crowds and higher prices.
I ordered the uttappam (Rs.26, I think) and Johnny ordered a plate of idli (Rs.21). The idlis were HUGE. Quite different from the ones in Bangalore. I don't think they were the softest or nicest but they were pretty decent. But what you must watch out for is
their superlative sambar. Thick, tasty and slightly spicy: it was totally yummy. It's only when you taste that, that you can discern the difference between the Kannada sambar and the Tamil Sambar. The former always has a bit of jaggery in it, slightly sweet and angry red in colour. The latter is thicker and spicier. The uttappam I had was quite good. They doused it liberally with molga podi and I loved the spice in the dish. Of course, team this with the sambar (actually, team anything with the sambar) and it's quite heavenly. We also packed a plate of poori-sagu (Rs.30) but if you visit this place, I recommend that you try something with the sambar. Everything else is more or less normal fare that you can obtain at a gazillion outlets across South India.
Unfortunately, they didn't have anything sweet so I ordered a coffee instead. There are very few places that go wrong with filter coffee in Madras and Ratna Cafe isn't one of them.
Strong and hot filter coffee might not be the best option to beat the heat but it sure does wake you up. (Incidentally, this is the only 'dish' that we got a photo off since we were so hungry we just pounced on the rest.)
Service is efficient and fast like most of these idli-vada places. I do think the place is a tad pricey. Rs21 for a plate of idlis (no matter how big) seems a little high. But I suppose such things are inevitable when an establishment becomes famous. While the original branch is in Triplicane, I visited the one in T-Nagar and this review stands only for that branch.
Location: Venkatanarayana Road, Next to TTD Devasthanam, T Nagar
Pricing: A meal for two here shouldn't cost you more than Rs.100 (at most)