Monday, September 01, 2008

A look at Modern day restaurants

Assume this-I announce that I have a bike for sale for Rs 40k. You’re interested in buying the bike and you paid me 40k. I promptly handover the bike to you- you find that ignition key is missing and you’re unable to start the bike. You ask me for the ignition key and I reply “Sorry, key is not part of the deal-It is sold separately at Rs 50k- I’d promised to give my bike for 40k which I have fulfilled. If you want the key, cough up again else just manage without the ignition key”

That may sound absurd right? But that’s how most of the restaurants are operating these days.

This is what we’re used to, when we go to hotels- we pay for the main item and side dishes which are essential to consume the mail food item are provided along with for free. (in other words, cost of whatever minimum side dish that's required to eat the main item is factored in the cost of the later) If you order for idlies, a cup of chutney and Sambar are included. If you order poori, bhaji or sabji is included. If you ask for some extra sambar or chutney eateries seldom refuse. In fact many clever souls had mastered the art of asking extra sambar multiple times and filling their stomach with the side dish than the main one. Even when it was limited plate meals, limit was only for quantity of rise –additional dose of Sambar, Rasam etc would be available on request.

Well, that is the way of business we were used to. Having a stomach full of meals was the reason for entering a hotel and feeding their customers to their stomach’s content at reasonable price was the objective of hotel owners. But modern day restaurants are more of a fashion statement than quenching the hunger. Without elaborating more, let me mention few of my comments:

  • If you order vegetable pulav, you’ll get vegetable pulav-nothing else. No Raitha, no curd salad, no side dish what so ever. Pulav costs Rs 75, order a side dish for Rs 95 if you want.
  • If you order paratha you’ll get paratha-nothing else-not even a cup of curd. Roti costs 10 Rs each. Khurma or masala costs 5-7 times that amount.
  • More emphasis on decoration, ambience, entertainment than the core purpose of feeding the customer.
  • You can’t manage by ordering just one item on the menu card. You’ll need to order minimum 2-3 items to have a decent meal.
  • 15-30 mins of waiting time is enforced, so that hungry customers are forced to order some starters
  • Ordering for mineral water, billed at two-three times its MRP, instead of normal water is a prestige issue.
  • Eating out is an art-many of us will need to attend a certificate course as to how to behave inside a restaurant-how to sit, how to eat, in what order to eat, which item goes well with which one, how to use the spoons, forks, tissue papers…Feeding ourselves was never so difficult.
  • In a normal eatery, if say one last byte of Dosa is left and you're out of Chutney, waiter won't usually hesitate you to serve you a little extra chutney. Try asking that in a star restaurant! Order another full plate or nothing.

So many fancy names-you’ll never know what it is or how it tastes. Most of the time we order in blind faith that the item ordered will be tasty. I want them to give a sample of their dishes for say 5-10% of its price, so that I can taste the sample and decide if I want to order full plate.

During my higher primary eduction, our boarding school JNVC had a budget of Rs 17 per child per day for food expenses. During engineering, my food expesnes were litle less than Rs 40 per day. Today, Rs 40 is not enough even for a decent breakfast in most of the IT parks. If you go to dine out, a cup of soup costs more than that...

I may project myself as uncivilized if I say I prefer to cook a cup of boiled rice (Ganji or Koolu), served with a spoonful of ghee and some mango pickle (appe midi) any day over these posh overpriced restaurants. Your thoughts please…

Related post- Hari writes about Udupi hotels * Ganji or Koolu served cheap near road side *

8 comments:

Siva said...

Again you have hit the nail on the head dead straight!

Anyday dal with mango pickle will be more delicious than buns and bread dishes.

Cost of food in restaurants is so high mainly due to real estate prices and not wanting to allow crowd into the place. If somebody puts a price of Rs 500 per dish, then you get only the crowd you are targeting. But if you price it at Rs 10 every tom dick and harry walks in. So what sort of business they want to run is up to them. And we should go where we are comfortable.

I don't go to high end just because i don't gel in that environment. I need to shed my ego and work on that.

Mridula said...

Even I avoid high end restaurants but because of the hole they burn in my pocket! I mean I wrote about Pizzas sometime back, 1000 rupees for a lunch for a family is just too much in my definition.

Sarvesh said...

While in India, i avoid visiting these high end restaurants 'coz there are tonnes of local ones which are way better and homely. Even the road side dhabas are better. at least they serve hot,

Coming to US, realised that yes it could be fun at times to eat out and try different dishes. But alas !! not great option for desi food.

BTW, have you ever tried cooked rice soaked overnight in light salted water with mango pickle. Aha.. Its been ages... since i had it but after reading this am so longing for it :(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Siva

Thanks. Yes. agreed with your observation...Real estate costs and staying focused on high spending customers are the reason...

@ Mridula
Yes, that's a whole month's budget for most of the lower middleclass families. Thanks for your comment.

@ Haven't tried that overnight rice soaked in salt water thing of late... TangaLu in kannada

Thanks

Prakrthi Kodakkal said...

'Meri Muh ki baath cheen li'
So true. Now when ever I go out for some work in a week end, I make sure my stomach if full before I leave my house, and carry a pack of biscuit and water.

Prakrthi Kodakkal said...

'Meri Muh ki baath cheen li'
So true. Now when ever I go out for some work in a week end, I make sure my stomach if full before I leave my house, and carry a pack of biscuit and water.

Raveesh Kumar said...

Nidhi,

Absolutely right. The sole motto of high end restaurants is to get most money out of the customer. But that also does not deter the people as they consider it a matter of prestige to go to such restaurants.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Praks.

That's a good habit..Of relying on home food. some of us may not be that lucky...

@Raveesh

Yes. With soaring inflation I hope people will cut their eating out expenses and that should make these restaurants come to reality and hopefully cut prices or give more for same money..

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