Chennai Restaurant Reviews

Rayar’s Mess

As a kid, I have eaten in a few authentic places, not restaurants, but more a ‘mess’ managed by families generation after generation in Thanjavur and Kumbakonam.  It has been quite a while since I experienced something like that.  When you hear the word “mess”. the first place that obviously comes to your mind is Mylapore and then West Mambalam. Thanks to some friends in Chennai Food Guide who suggested a few names like Karpagambal Mess, Maami’s Mess, Rayar’s Mess, Jannal Kadai, Sukanya nivas or vilas and so on.

Decided to try out Rayar’s mess and overall,  it was a kind of mixed feeling.  As we entered, it was a narrow lane leading to some apartments and on the way, found the name board which seemed as old as the mess itself.  First impression was not very positive, the entry, the narrow path was dark.  We had to wait for just a few minutes and managed to get a table for four.  The place was packed and there were only three tables in all, two with four chairs and one with six chairs. So at a time 18 can eat.  The kids had a shock as they did not consider this even close to a restaurant 🙂 .  As we were closest to the kitchen, it was very warm inside in spite of the fan going in full speed.  So definitely not the most comfortable place to eat.

Now coming to the food 🙂 – Normally they serve three items for breakfast it seems – Pongal, Idly and Vada, and to our bad luck, pongal was over for the day.  Idly is probably my last choice for breakfast, but had to pretty much eat that, as it was the only choice.  We were waiting for about 5 minutes while the idly was getting ready ! Meanwhile got chutneys and molaga podi served on the plantain leaf.  Then came the idlys , piping hot and soft as sponge!! It was truly awesome.  In spite of all the hatred for idly, it tasted good.  Next followed vadas – crispy, and tasty.  So almost forgot about the pongal and began to relish the breakfast.  Steady stream of people coming in, both to eat and to take away.  The waiters were North Indians, talking in Hindi, but seemed helpful.  Asked for coffee and had to settle down outside as people were waiting for the table.  Filter coffee was good too and the fresh breeze outside was welcoming after about 20 minutes in the close-to-dungeon kind of a place.  That made the coffee taste even better.

Bill for four of us came to around Rs 300.  I was wondering if the prices were as cheap as the place looked.  Probably not.  Undoubtedly the food was good, no complaints about that, but will I go there again? Definitely, not with my kids.  I would definitely be better off sitting at a comfortable place with little more time to eat.  If I am alone, I would definitely not mind tasting food in one of these authentic places again !

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  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Can you give directions?

    • Reply
      November 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Not sure of the directions, but it is Arundale Street. We asked an auto driver to take us there and that worked !

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

    This place does not even need a review of any sort. I am sorry to say that you seemed to have gone with a 5 star mentality and expectation. The man clearly says mess, so if you are expecting a cosy, comfort seating arrangement then what can he do. Remember he serves awesome food in a “dungeon like place” (to quote from ur review) for years and nobody has complained about it. When they ran out of Pongal, it should have told you about the place. People go there for food not for anything else. Terrible review for a brilliant joint…

    • Reply
      November 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Just not to leave an open end, pasting the same comment that I posted as reply to your comment on facebook –
      Hey Hey !!! Guys…chill….been away from my PC the whole day couldn’t reply earlier…
      To all the pro-Mylapore guys who have been jumping after reading my review…C’mmon read my review again…
      1. Pongal wasn’t available, I said that was my bad luck.
      2. I hate Idlys, thats my choice. But in spite of that I said it was truly awesome.
      3. I said vadas were crispy and tasty that I forgot about the pongal and started to relish the breakfast.
      4. I said waiters were helpful.
      5. I said there was a steady stream of people coming in for eating and take away. So a busy place indeed.
      What I said I did not like was the ambience. That doesn’t mean I expected a 5-Star ambience, it means it was just not good enough to go with my two kids aged 8 and 3.
      They don’t understand the love for food, they probably look for a comfortable place to eat. The place (at least the table we sat) was closest to the kitchen and was really really warm that I was sweating all over. Imagine when one of them had to be fed too? So my review says it is not kid-friendly. When you have people waiting to take the table after you, you do not have the luxury of having a slow breakfast. How fast would you expect your kid to eat? So I said it is not kid-friendly.
      Will I go there again? I said not with my kids, but I would definitely like to go and eat again if I am alone.
      What was so wrong with my review that it has to be called Terrible?
      I can understand for some people, this place is close to their heart, but not necessarily the same for everyone. Removing that parameter out, it is just another place to eat out and review
      All said and done, I am happy so many have taken time to read my review and discuss. Thats a positive Thanks !

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