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Good decor, tasty food

Gauri Nivas, at Medical College Junction, offers diverse fare at reasonable rates.

TWO THINGS - small, yet significant - take you by surprise as you enter Sri Gauri Nivas Restaurant and Lodge. One, it has managed to overcome the limitations of proximity to the Medical College and Hospital. It's given that clouds of depression weighing down upon hospital complexes spare none in the vicinity, but Gauri Nivas somehow distances you from the painful things in life. Second, though a regular vegetarian restaurant, it does boast of an ambience, what with spacious interiors, tiled and marble flooring and walls, and most importantly, good lighting.

The owners too are visibly proud of their efforts. Says partner Radhakrishnan, "The restaurant will be a year old on October 25."

Gauri Nivas has two separate restaurants - air-conditioned and non-air conditioned. The doorway leads directly to the non-air conditioned segment that has tables lined along the two walls. Diffused lighting heightens the ambience of the air-conditioned restaurant. The décor is simple. Reproductions of Ravi Varma paintings adorn the walls. If privacy is what you want, head for the tables with the neatly-done wooden partitions. The tables can seat both small and large groups. Tiled walls and marble tabletops give the room a chic look.

And if you are in a hurry, there is even a takeaway counter for you at Gauri Nivas.

That's not all. Sticklers for cleanliness can see how the kitchen here looks from the inside. Says partner Kannan, "Even the kitchen at our homes will not be this neat. And we handle up to 1,500 customers a day. All equipment, including counter tops and washing sinks, are made of steel to facilitate cleanliness. Electric chimneys have been provided to absorb all the heat generated during cooking."

Kannan attributes this foresight to the experience gained from having been in this business for decades. They run two other hotels in the area.

So much for the looks. Coming to the other important aspect, food, the menu at Gauri Nivas is exhaustive and includes Indian and Chinese cuisine. But the highlight is the variety of chaats available in the evening. It, probably, is the only eatery in this part of the city to have a chaat counter. You can choose from vegetable samosa (Rs. 7), dahi samosa (Rs. 12), samosa chana (Rs. 14), pav bhaaji (Rs. 17), fruit bhel puri (Rs. 22), mixed chaat (Rs. 17), aloo poori, sev poori (both Rs. 12) and bread chana chaat (Rs. 14).

Says Kannan, "We opened the chaat corner a month ago because our clientele comprises Technopark employees, engineering students, bachelors and Air Force personnel from Akkulam, most of whom are north Indians."

The cooks, he says, are Bengalis and Assamese. And if you aren't sure what difference that makes, try digging into shahi paneer topped with tutti-frutti and you will know!

Apart from the usual dosas and pooris, Kerala meals (Rs. 20) and special meals (it includes soup, chappati, fruit salad with ice cream, and sweets), a Punjabi thali will soon find its way into the menu. For those put off by the sight of large meals, Chinese mini-meals are available in the afternoons. There's a different menu each day and the package comes for Rs. 25 or Rs. 30.

Salads and raitas are priced at Rs. 15. In the category of subzis, you have the staple fare of paneer dishes (Rs. 30 to Rs. 35) and dishes such as baby corn masala (Rs. 35) and ginger gobhi (Rs. 30).

A variety of breads -- naan, kulcha, roti, and keema paratha -- are also available. The Chinese section included dishes such as baby corn and dragon gobhi (both Rs. 35). The rice and noodles segment includes vegetable biryani (Rs. 22), peas fried rice, and chopsuey (Rs. 35) and noodles (Rs. 30). Soups available include mushroom (Rs. 25) and vegetable clear (Rs. 20).

Those indulging in three or five-course meals can top it all with fresh juice, shakes or ice creams such as gel gel (rose petals with honey and banana) or Triveni Sangamam (a layer each of vanilla ice cream, a sweet made of saffron, and fruit salad), which are delicious. Then there are the sweets such as white apple, dates laddu, suryakala and badam burfi.

So, drop in at Gauri Nivas the next time you want to have a meal that tastes good and is not too heavy on the pocket.


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