Cold, greasy onion bhaji, gritty coconut chutney, lumpy rice and cold chicken curry are only a few of the treats we encountered on the lunch buffet at Chutneys (1010 Lamar). There was also lukewarm lentil soup and some hockey-puck idlis. A friend of mine had suggested we check out the lunch buffet at this brand-new downtown Indian restaurant.
The beautifully lit dining room set with linens looked good as we rode down the escalator. But things were not what they seemed. The carpets were covered with stains, and the legs of the chairs were very dirty. It turns out Chutneys has taken over half of another restaurant called Chesterfields that has been around for a while. The owners of the Indian operation didn't bother to clean up the mess made by the burger and chicken-fried steak place before they opened. That was my first warning.
My second warning was the buffet line. I should have walked away from the restaurant when I saw this monstrosity. The Formica was held in place with dirty tape. A filthy orange extension cord snaked across the floor and disappeared into the top of the steam table. The stainless-steel compartments and the food contained in them were barely warm, except for the saag paneer, which was at a full boil. If you reached too far into the spinach, you could feel that food sticking to the bottom of the pan.
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I can't believe I actually paid ten dollars to sample this food. What was I thinking?