Chennai Restaurant Reviews

Thambi Vilas, T. Nagar

Thambi Vilas, a name that has been making a lot of noise in food circles. I’ve been waiting to visit this place for quite sometime now. Decided to take the family out for a Sunday lunch.

I’ve seen the pics of the place earlier and knew what to expect. Bright yellow interiors, wooden chairs with a mesh and the old type switches that reminded me of those days at my grandma’s place. The place was done up very nicely and was very vibrant when we entered. It was packed on a Sunday afternoon and we had to wait for about 10 minutes to get a table. I am not sure if advance reservations are accepted, didn’t try.
As soon as we settled down in the first floor, we got a menu and it didn’t take us very long to decide what we were going to eat. A couple of Egg Biryanis, a plain Biryani, Thambi Vilas Chicken Biryani, Chicken Sukka, Era Varuval, Thambi Vilas Chicken Roast, Egg Omelette was what we ordered. Just to while away some time, and to show kids how a goli soda bottle was, ordered a Panneer Goli Soda, Thaen Mittai and Kammar Kat. Son was quite excited with Goli Soda bottle, he opened it himself and it was quite good. Thaen Mittai was a tad dry in the center, have had better ones sold in packets in Nilgiris or similar stores, Kammar kat was quite hard, but tasty.
The starters arrived in about 10-15 minutes, and the biryanis were yet to be served. First look, the prawns were definitely not ‘varuval’ as it was named, looked more like a thokku. We did ask the waiter if the dish was wrongly brought, but he confirmed it was varuval and that’s how it is made. Thambi Vilas chicken roast was tawa-fried chicken and looked appealing initially, but I was surprised with the water in the bowl below the chicken, The portion beneath was wet and soggy, not very impressive. We had to leave more than half of it. When you have a dish named after the place, more like a signature item, they better make sure it is really good! Chicken Sukka was big pieces of boneless chicken and it was as bland as it looked, masala barely getting into the chicken, it was just okayish! One good thing amidst the very spicy prawns and chicken roast, this was good for the kids. Egg Omelette was good, just as how it should be. Three of the four starters were average and no sign of biryani yet! When we aksed them again, plates were brought to the table and five minutes later, Biryanis came in the plates too, so I had to ask them to remove the plates already laid. Not sure why, there was a bit of confusion throughout!
Chicken Biryani was the savior, it didn’t look like basmati, or seeragasamba, but the rice was good and very flavorsome. The chicken Biryani had no egg, Egg Biryanis had just one, and plain biryani had quite a few pieces of chicken. 🙂 I presumed that the guy handling the deksa wasn’t as experienced as the ones I’ve seen in a few other places. By the time biryanis came and we started to eat, we were short of sides as we ate them earlier :/ Ordered one chicken 65 boneless and it was okay, but failed to impress again. Overall, the food was more like home-made and lacked the restaurant-ish feel to the food, be it the taste or masalas.
We decided to try a couple of desserts and share it among ourselves, ordered one filter coffee, one Elaneer Payasam, one Panneer Goli Soda and a Kulfi. 😛 Yeah, coffee after biryani is weird, but don’t know why, I wanted to have it. Filter Coffee and Elaneer payasam came first. Elaneer payasam was very thin in consistency and I could taste more of copra, than elaneer :/ (Copra is the dried kernel of coconut, used to make coconut oil), tasted okay, Filter Coffee was a rude shock ! No sugar, and extremely strong and dark, and not hot enough. I did realize it was dark when I transferred it into the davara, but didn’t expect it to be so bad, had to ask them to change it. That’s when a waiter was polite enough to mention that sugar was to be added separately. When I asked him where was the sugar, it took him a good 10 minutes to find it. This repaired coffee was better, but still not as hot as I would have liked it. Goli Soda came after a couple of reminders and Kulfi took forever to come. Finally after two three reminders, a kulfi stick came to the table. I couldn’t make out why they would need so much time to serve this?!?!
The waiters were polite and more than willing to help, they just didn’t know how. There’s a difference between bad attitude and bad training, and this, I presume is the latter. Food was just above average and failed to impress me! The only positive was the nice ambience and the pricing. It was very nominally priced and we paid about 1.3K for all that we ate.
I wouldn’t be too keen to recommend this place as it failed to make an impression in my mind. Not comparing at all, but the satisfaction of having good food at Junior Kuppanna or Courtallam Border Rahmath Kadai was nowhere to be seen here !

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