ECR Dhaba

I must have crossed this restaurant so many times when I drive on the ECR, but somehow have never stepped into it so far.


This time, we were 6 guys headed to a resort in Mahabalipuram for a weekend stay and we wanted to have our lunch enroute. We stopped by this place and there were quite a few cars parked. That gave us an indication that the place should be fairly good. Until I entered, I did not know that this restaurant belonged to Shyam’s Hospitality which owns other popular restaurants like The Dhaba, Shogun, Amaravathi, Kaaraikudi and so on. A fairly decent expectation was set!
As we entered the place, we found that it was much more than just a restaurant. There was a mini-zoo inside which had Rabbits, Pigeons, Emus and a few geese too. The small pool/tank of water on the entrance had some big fishes and the kids who had come there were visibly excited about that ! There was also a children’s play zone. Since we were quite hungry, headed straight to the restaurant.
We couldn’t spot an AC restaurant upfront and no one asked if we wanted to dine there, and since it was a very pleasant weather, we preferred the non-AC dining hall which had a decent seating capacity. Quite a few people were having lunch when we entered. Managed to find a table big enough to accommodate six of us. We ordered right away and the waiter was quick to take the order. We ordered a few starters and main-course together and wanted them to be brought as and when ready, in no specific order. A couple of them were vegetarians in the group.
Ordered Gobi Manchurian dry, 2 Masala Fried Machli (Vanjiram Fish fry), and Chicken Tikka for starters. Decided to share the main-course and ordered a Mutton Biryani, an Egg Biryani, and a Vegetable Biryani, 5 Butter Naans and 2 Rotis and Paneer Butter Masala and Butter Chicken to go with the Indian breads. In about ten minutes, the dishes were served and we were more than happy to pounce on them.
The starters were good, no specific complaints. I tasted a bit of Gobi Manchurian and Chicken Tikka and felt both were decent, but lacked the wow factor. My friends had the Vanjiram fry and felt kinda same. It was pricey for Rs 230 a piece and wasn’t anything so special. Friends liked the Mutton Biryani. Egg Biryani was okayish, and Vegetable Biryani was decent too. The breads were good, and the gravy in Butter chicken and Paneer Butter Masala were almost the same, and guess that’s how it is supposed to be. We felt we could have ordered something else for a change in taste. I wasn’t happy with the paneer and it tasted a bit sour and not fresh. Similarly, the chicken in the Butter Chicken felt a bit chewy. A couple of them wanted Lemon soda, one with sugar and one with salt, and the sweeter version was better.
The lunch set us back by about 2.8K which included a service charge of 10%. Clearly, this place is (probably) doing good because of lack of options on this stretch of ECR.
There are a few kiosks outside this restaurant that serve Coffee, Tea and some snacks, but we did not try.
Overall, the lunch was decent, slightly above average. So I would probably come here if I need a pitstop during my drive, to engage bored-kids with the fish and mini-zoo, but not specifically for food.