Not on a Roll

Not on a Roll

A restaurant in Defence Colony promises to redefine the kathi roll. Unfortunately it doesn’t.

Full disclosure: Defence Colony has long been one of our favourite markets in the city,what with lemon tarts from Defence Bakery,Mysore masala dosa from Sagar Ratna,and of course,the inimitable-y cheap beer and Chinese food from 4S. So upon espying a window promisingly bedecked with that indispensible tool of indignant housewives,the belan,under a neon yellow sign emblazoned with the word “Rollmaal”,we were elated at the thought of a new dining destination in our habitue.

Upon entering,like Dante,we face two paths. A descending staircase leads to a seating area,while an ascending staircase leads to the order counter,with “Self Service” firmly etched above it. The landing in between is adorned with a massive,garlanded picture of “Bade Rollu saab”,evidently the restaurant’s fictitious patron (one can almost hear the sobbing of a bevy of female relatives and a funeral dirge playing in the background). The menu covers an entire maal-offering options such as “First Class Maal”,“Make Your Own Rolls”,and “Doosri Maal”.

We select a pre-made Bombay Chicken Franky and make three of our own rolls. We select an Andhra Mutton in a Malabar Parantha,Multani Chicken Tikka in a Flaky Lacha-style parantha and a Murg Tikka Masala in an Ulte Tawa ka parantha. After we place our orders we’re handed a pager-like device which we’re told will light up and buzz when our order is ready.

Suitably impressed by the “so old,it’s new” concept we retire downstairs,sitting amid artfully tarnished mirrors and walls and dustbins covered in flattened casings of oil drums (a la dhaba dining). In a surprisingly short time,our beeper goes off and we rush upstairs,all agog. Ironically,our ascent is marked by an immediate lowering of spirits (further manifestations of The Divine Comedy?). The rolls are in a word,insipid. We’d like to leave the description at that,much like we left the majority of our rolls.

The one bright spark is the Andhra Mutton,redolent with the flavour of pepper and curry leaves,but that taste in drowned by whatever roti it is that’s masquerading as a malabar parantha. We don’t know which part of Mumbai,or even Maharashtra,the franky was from,but we’ve resolved never to visit there if we can help it. The tikka rolls resemble nothing more than an oily khichdi of chicken,a confusion of spices and varying amounts of onions. The paranthas are also in varying degrees of thickness and flavourlessness. The one bright spark in this entire sorry affair,rather like Virgil’s lamp,is the extremely reasonable bill. Well,reasonable being a relative term in this case. We recommend the chefs take a round of the myriad hawker stalls in the city and see how it’s done.

Meal for Two: Rs 400 (including taxes)

Address: 28 A,below Cafe Mocha,Defence Colony Market

Contact: 30146022 ext:957