Yelagiri doesn’t have too many stand-alone restaurants. The good resorts and hotels have their in-house restaurants that serve pretty good food, and practically there’s no need to venture out for food, unless one really wants to explore. To experience something rustic and basic, Mangalam Mess is the typical local village-type mess that one would look forward to check out.
I came to know of this place from food circles, as they are known for their Naattukozhi-saappadu. Not quite far from where we stayed, we came to this place around 12:30 PM. It was one of those extremely-less-crowded days in Yelagiri. So we were told that only Basic meals was available, egg omelette can be made in addition to that. However, in a couple of minutes, they offered to make Naattukozhi if we were willing to wait for 30 minutes. We told them we’d gladly wait for even longer, just to be sure it was well-cooked and not done in a hurry. Just while we were leaving, the guy promptly opened a cage and picked up a naattukozhi! That was a bit uncomfortable for me and the kids. Eating chicken is something we’re used to, but not starting from step-0 from when it’s alive! :/
We took a stroll around the place and came back around 1:15PM. There was another big group who made themselves comfortable in the two tables outside, so we waited for a while to be seated, looking at the ducks, hens, dogs in the vicinity. We decided to sit inside around 01:30PM, a good one hour after we ordered. It was obvious that the dishes were still being prepared. There was chicken still cooking in the cooker, rice was being cooked in firewood, still in progress.
Four of us ordered 1 meals each, 1 omelette each and 1 Naattukozhi gravy and 1 Naattukozhi Fry. Rice was piping hot, the chicken gravy lacked a bit of salt, was quite hot and the moment I tried to eat a piece, it was too obvious that it was undercooked. It was difficult to get it off the bone. Wife was of the similar opinion, kids didn’t even want to try after a couple of attempts. Just didn’t explore any further, managed with the gravy. Same problem with the Fry, the onions and masala tasted good, not the chicken pieces. So both the chicken dishes were clearly off the mark!
Decided to try the sambhar and rasam, and to our surprise, they were pretty good. Extremely hungry at this point, sambhar and rasam seemed divine. With Egg Omelette, it tasted good. A very basic poriyal, and a pickle were okayish. Wished we stuck to what was initially offered – Veg meals and an omelette, would have eaten an hour earlier and would have gone back satisfied.
I told them about the chicken, not with a hope that they’ll refund money, but for them to understand what was wrong, and they acknowledged that without an argument. I definitely think this is a one-off incident, probably evenings with Dosai, Muttai Dosai and chicken gravy would be even better.
This experience was nothing worth raving about, but I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to try once more on busy days or in the evenings! Normally such rustic experiences have turned out to be wonderful for me, but sadly not this time!