Strengthening their commitment to food and beverage, Sathyam Cinemas earlier this year announced their latest culinary foray - iD. Located on the first level of the multiplex (opposite the popular Magic Hat), iD abbreviates from Idli-Dosa, the name saying it all. iD has been around for about five months now. Launched as part of the line of outlets being rolled out by celebrated chef Mickael Besse, iD opened to much fanfare and full houses, much like the cinema it resides within.
While the name may conjure up a Murugan Idli competitor in our heads, boy it does compete and out-do it in certain aspects and how.
Interiors & Styling:Keeping with the standards set within the complex by the cinemas, Ecstasy and recently Blur, iD too comes with contemporary designer styling and furniture - a world apart from Murugan Idli and the best efforts of Hotel Saravana Bhavan. Set in pristine white with contrasting black linen, the snazziness of the interiors can be quite something to fathom.
The walls on either side have interesting potrayals of the solar system depicted by food shot at iD. A sequence of Idlis showcase the lunar cycle while a tight shot of a dosa seems to reflect the sun. Very quirky, shot on location by Sharad Haksar.
The incredibly expensive imported square shaped stainless steel plates (a friend of mine referred to them as prison plates!) add to the style quotient while throwing up question marks whether the company running it is interested in their bottom lines at all! To complement the plates are very designer and interestingly anguled cutlery - especially the chutney pick ups.
There's no doubting the effort and pains taken at getting the styling right for iD - the best of European furniture and tableware find their way to enhancing your idli-dosa experience.
Service Concept: Taking further the thought of a service concept, iD has interesting menu cards that are placed on each table with the waiter marking off your order on the card and using it as a base for your bill - neat and transparent, much like the rest of the place's theming.
Food: The menu is limited but sensibly at that. Instead of indulging in a hundred frivolous iterations of the unassuming dosa, the iD menu lists the following:
- Idli: Plain, Rava
- Dosa: Plain, Masala, Rava
- Vada: Medu, Keera, Masala
- Pongal: Ghee, Sweet
- Appam: with Coconut milk, Vegetable stew, Ullitheetu
- Beverages: Lassi, Buttermilk, Fresh juice, Coffee
- Dessert: Kasi Halwa, Semiya payasam, Sweet pongal
The food is very consistent. I have visited iD about 8 times in the months since it's been open and have enjoyed the same textures, spicing and temperature each time.
To be honest, none of the fare served has any character unique to itself - served in the ambience it is set in does make the food taste better than it really is. But that is not to say that the food isn't good - it's satiating for sure. Special mentions to the Keera vada and the Idlis. The sweet lassi or the buttermilk are good accompaniments.
Most of the food is accompanied by the usual suspects - Kaara (spicy) chutney, Mint chutney and Coconut chutney along with excellent sambar. While definitely not close to being amongst the best in the city (Mathsya and Ratna Cafe hold on to that crown for now atleast), this Sambar definitely has a unique spicing and taste to it and consumed at its hottest, is very tasty.
The desserts are excellent though terribly filling in themselves. Would recommend the payasam and the kasi halwa strongly.
The biggest shock of them all is the pricing, and pleasantly so. Average bill per person for an average meal is about Rs. 100! Even HSB costs you more!
Staff & Service: Clearly the achille's heel for this otherwise great experience, the service has definitely waned since iD's inception. There clearly seems to be something wrong internally since the bunch of boys have remained the same. Just that the same smiling, eager waiters are nowadays bereft of facial expression, rushed and not very forthcoming. Wait time for food too has gone up from about 3-4 minutes earlier to close to 7-10 minutes these days, well providing for crowds or their lack of, as the case may be.
Considering the variety of food brands now at their disposal and with most of the outlets not requiring knowledge of rocket science (except perhaps Ecstasy), the corporate team at Sathyam could explore rotating the staff around to ensure that the boys are always freshly challenged.
Most of us in Chennai do land up at Sathyam Cinemas every once in a while. Do plan to spend a little extra time, either before or after your next movie to experience iD - the entire experience is worth enjoying.
Facilities: Again, designer ware hand wash at the outlet itself. Toilets of the cinema are available for use.
Cost: Cheap. There's no better way to put it. Brilliant value for money.
Date: 15th August, 2009 (last visit)
Place: Chennai, India
Reviewed by: Harish Anand Thilakan
Must Order ?Keera vada, Sweet lassi, Appam-Coconut milk, Ghee Pongal, Kasi Halwa .
Average Cost per person - Rs. 100 (group of 3 and above)
Address- Sathyam Cinemas, Thiru-vi-ka Road, Royapettah, Chennai
Driving Directions - Off Mount Road, every one in Chennai knows Sathyam theater! (If your auto chappie feigns ignorance, try Sathyam they-ter.)