Vidya and I went to Murugan Idli Shop at Besant Nagar on Saturday. The verdict – it is not worth the hassle.
It was a hot an muggy day (isn’t every day?), and we were really at a loose end. Not feeling too hungry, we drove to Besant Nagar, thinking we would while away the time on the beach and then get food in one of the many eateries there. As we drove around looking for a parking spot, we realised that about half of Chennai had though similarly and had landed up there much before us. Finally, we found parking space opposite Words ‘n’ Worths and went walking to Murugan Idli Shop – a decision that was based more on the wait time involved (we had already spotted the crowd waiting outside and knew we’d have a long wait time), as we were not hungry yet.
When we got to the shop, there were 43 people waiting ahead of us (I counted!). There were enough plastic chairs to go around and we took our seats after giving our names to a boy with a small notebook. The waiting was on the pavement outside the shop – and it was still hot and muggy, though it was 7:20 in the evening. After about 25 minutes, we were called in. Inside was an air-conditioned hall with lots of small tables and chairs. We found a two-seater next to a pillar and settled down. The menu was very limited, and was displayed on the wall. I had an idli, an onion uthappam, a masala dosai, a ven pongal, a sambar vadai and a coffee. Vidya made do with a butter dosai and a sakkarai pongal.
The food was very average – straight away I can think of four places where you can get vastly better food (Sukha Nivas in Mylapore, Lakshmi Sagar in Adyar, Surya’s opposite Lifestyle and Ashok Bhavan in Saidapet). Oil was in everything and the idli was uninspiringly sticky. At 4.50 each, it was a rip off. The other prices were okay, but the food was definitely disappointing.
Maybe we expected too much from Murugan Idli Shop. Maybe the waiting made us think we would get wonderful food. Or maybe Murugan Idli Shop itself has joined the ranks of the also-rans in the Chennai food scene – after all, neither Marien Mathew in 2003, nor Chinmayi in 2004 could have been too far off the mark.
Better food at better prices can be had without a half-hour wait time at hundreds of small eateries in Chennai.