Sunday, September 6, 2009
Trishna: Go Fish
When we want to give visitors a taste of Bombay, one of our top dinner options has always been Trishna. It's a pity the waiters there are crabbier than the menu. Last night, after a panel discussion at NCPA, I entered the restaurant slightly ahead of Jabeen and our friend Anindya.
Me: Table for three?
A steward pointed to one of four empty tables. As I headed there another called me back.
Steward: When will your friends arrive?
Me: In about ten minutes.
Steward: Please wait here till they come, sir.
Me: But I want a beer. Why can't I sit at the table and wait for them?
Steward: Sorry sir, all tables are reserved.
Me: But you just told me that one was free.
He says nothing.
I wanted to leave right then, but I knew Jabeen wouldn't be in a restaurant hunting mood after a tough day that had taken her from Dadar to Andheri to Mazgaon to Colaba . I hung around near the door, reading a framed article from the International Herald Tribune which heaped praise on Trishna's crustaceans, but was considerably less enthusiastic about the waiters.
Me (to steward): See, even this review says your service is surly.
Steward (nonchalantly): There has to be something bad in a place, everything can't be good.
Despite myself, I couldn't help laughing at this philosophy. We give you good seafood, why would you want anything more? My two companions arrived, and a table was promptly dereserved for us. The king crab we had was appropriately delicious, and the other dishes weren't bad either. But two further unpleasant incidents marred the evening.
First -- and this is something I've experienced in a number of restaurants -- Trishna's menu lists prices for 30ml pegs, but if you ask for a vodka or whiskey their default option is to provide a double. At the bottom of a broad glass one can't necessarily tell it's a 60ml shot. In fact, I'm certain the first serving we were provided was a small measure. The bill, however, told a more expensive tale.
Second, the place behaves like an Udipi restaurant once the food has been consumed. No lingering over your drink and conversation even if there's nobody waiting for a seat. The waiters start fussily removing plates and cleaning up, and ask repeatedly if there's anything else you need when it's quite apparent there isn't.
I'm not sure if those crabs -- hardly cheap at around 1000 rupees per specimen -- make up for the bad service, the cramped seating and the liquor trickery. I've gone the crab in butter-garlic sauce route often enough, and would rather spend an evening at a restaurant where the food may be less flavourful, but the overall experience leaves me satisfied.