And as luck would have it I was well and truly starving by the time I reached the hallowed premises, child in tow, like those tug boats that go ahead of the huge steamers in order to clear the path for their arrival. Thus it was that the kid hopped, skipped and jumped before me into the restaurant and promptly, with unseemly enthusiasm one must admit, began investigating the contents of the buffet being laid out, getting in the way of waiters bearing hot coal sigris to be set into tables and tripping them and generally making a nuisance of himself.
It being 26th January and Republic Day and all that, I had been generally cheesy enough to coordinate my ensemble with the colours of the flag, orange fitted tee, layered with green tunic, worn with jeans and green shoes. I’m cheesy that way. I even poured the child into a green hoodie with a white tshirt and jeans, lucky for me that the child dont protest too much when it comes to hoodies which are like what his idol Justin Bieber garbs himself in. Thankfully, he doesnt warble Bieber songs to complee the illusion of being the desi Bieber or I would be pulling out the remaining strands of my hair in handfulls.
We sat at the designated table and attempted to make polite conversation, despite the aromas from the open kitchen hitting us slam dunk in our nostrils, me and the friend who had accompanied me, while we waited for the rest of the gang of lunchmates to arrive. The waiters hovered around. finally we gave up all pretence at being nice and courteous and minding our etiquette and waiting and told them waiters to get the starters moving. They arrived, bearing skewers of various carcasses marinated and grilled on them. Chicken. Fish. Mutton. Seekh Kabab. Prawns. Paneer. Mushroom. Baby potatoes. Broccoli. I dissolved into a puddle of drool right there at the table. The children squeaked for their share of the skewers and for a moment I was tempted, in most unmaternal fashion to shout, each man for himself. But better sense prevailed and the accusing eyes of other diners added their weight, and added to this was the clear and present danger of the kids putting their eyes out or branding themselves if they handled the hot skewers themselves which meant me serving them and once they were engrossed completely with the contents of their plates get to the real business of throwing edible stuff down my gullet.
The skewers kept coming, and they kept getting ingested at top speed. The folk gathered at the table. More chairs needed to be pulled up. The buffet was attacked, after a short recess which allowed the starters ingested to settle and coagulate and make space for what was to follow. Being a national holiday had put most people in a celebratory mood, and the buffet was all out war, poke elbow, bump plate against back, hover over shoulder, cut into line and all the wonderful things we tend to do at buffets for fear they will run out of food in the kitchen before they have their chance to reach the daals.
The lunch spread comprised Methi Chicken, Mandarin Crab, Nellore Fish Curry, Mutton Biryani, assorted salads, dals, some stray mixed veg and paneer stuff for the vegetarian folk amongst us who really felt shortchanged with the lack of choice available for them, and with good reason too. Dessert, which needed another short recess before it could be even attempted, was brownies, a sinful phirni, cheesecake, coconut cake and the mandatory fruits and icecream with chocolate sauce which the children couldnt get enough of. I of course, like any person who remembers the phirnis of distant childhood growing up in a Muslim household, attacked the phirni straight on, without pausing for air. By the time I finished the meal, I am sure I had food stains all over my face that people around were too polite to tell me about. The effort to haul oneself to one’s feet required assistance from able and willing hands of friends present, and I had to be helped down the stairs, so bloated was I with the sins of my gluttony. Dinner, needless to say, was skipped yesterday.
Two big minuses at Barbecue Nation, indifferent service. The waiters and the coated floor managers act like theyre doing you a favour, we had to wait for 15 minutes for one chair to be brought to the table, this after me telling them well in advance that we would need either a bigger table or more chairs before the guests arrived. One rude suited character who told me I cant help you please go outside and speak to the manager when I asked for a chair, and then took another fifteen minutes to organise an additional plate. Finally I was forced to stomp to the restaurant manager and do a stomping on the ground hissy fit Rumpelstiltskin tantrum to get one chair organised.
And the food selection for the veggies. Poor fare. Uncooked baby potatoes on the skewer and bland paneer. Steer clear if you are a veggie. For us carnovores of course, it was an afternoon in glutton’s paradise.