We decide we’re getting old and boring. We’ve spent too many Saturday nights in pyjamas, watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s clearly time to glam up.
As we leave work, my colleagues discuss where to head in the evening. The big problem, as always, is finding a bar we agree on. One person hates “that awful din-chic, din-chic music”. Another says she will not go to a crowded night club because she hates being “squashed by sweaty people”. The glamour girls among us say they don’t particularly care, as long as they can wear high heels.
Nobody wants to drive too far. But they agree that the bar must be buzzing, and filled with beautiful people.
Unfortunately, I’m the group’s decision maker. Mostly because they enjoy pointing fingers at me when things go wrong. I finally choose Chipstead at Taj Coromandel. It’s heaving with people on Saturday night, so seven of us end up at a table for four, with our elbows in each others faces. The crowds’ very grown up. Which doesn’t go down too well with the guys, who were hoping for a teeny-bopper scene. I’m accused of picking the place so I can find myself a millionaire boyfriend. Nevertheless, we order Long Island iced teas and gossip over crisp baby corn dusted with masala. And no, I don’t find that elusive millionaire. Instead we head to our traditional post-party hangout, Mathsya, for Aasai dosas slathered with an addictive mix of ginger and jaggery.
Of course the first thing you need to dive into the party scene is a chic wardrobe. Which is how I find myself at the mall browsing through Hervé L. Leroux inspired bandage dresses, blustering with zips. “Maybe we’ll fit into it if we never eat again,” says the diva wistfully, holding up a brilliant blue version. There’s a thoughtful pause. “Or,” she says, “Let’s eat butter dosas.”
We’re at the new Kapila Dasa before you can say ‘cellulite’. After all, we argue, this is the ideal place to begin a reinvention. Look at how it has been transformed. If you’ve lived in Chennai for more than a decade, you probably remember the butter dosas at the original Dasaprakash, a city landmark, which opened in the 1930s.
This massive new restaurant is described as a ‘unit of the Dasaprakash family’. It’s clearly not sentimental about the past. Instead of the expected sepia-toned nostalgia, it’s fairly contemporary. While the interiors are admittedly unmemorable, they are neat and crowd-friendly. The theme seems to be Chennai’s beaches, with a boat dramatically hanging at the entrance, and a wall covered with pictures of catamarans, fishing nets and sea foam.
Inexplicably, the waiters are in a sort of Hawaii-meets-lounge bar get up, with screen-saver bright shirts and swaggers to match. Everyone’s shimmering to Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ when we enter. “I don’t know if it’s entirely appropriate,” hisses the diva. A sweet old couple eating onion uttapams at the table beside us looks askance, as Shakira trills, “Oh boy, I can see your body moving/ Half animal, half man/ I don’t, don’t really know what I’m doing/ But you seem to have a plan…”
I begin with a ‘Purely butterly Mysore masala dosa’. It arrives like a hip hop star, with a hefty entourage. The dosa is small, but delicious. Postively dripping with butter, and carefully smeared with a grainy barely-spicy podi. So tasty it needs no accompaniments. Which is a good thing — because the chutneys are unremarkable, the sambar is watery and the potato masala, served in a generous old-fashioned hot-tiffin, is fairly average. The diva orders a crunchy rava dosa. Crisp, lacy and delicate, it’s like a designer ball gown. We end with paneer cutlets, hot and crisp, with melting interiors, served with surprisingly soggy potato chips.
Right now, Kapila Dasa seems to be all about the dosas. Fortunately, they are great dosas. (And a good thing too considering they come at a whopping price tag of Rs. 150 each.) The diva gives her highest compliment, as we break off the last buttery pieces. “This may even be better than a millionaire.”
Kapila Dasa is at Express Avenue, 3rd Floor. For details call 2846 4642 / 2846 4643.