South Indian vegetarian food chain Saravana Bhavan was started by P. Rajagopal popularly know as Annachi in 1981. Born in 1947 in Punnaiyadi village in Tuticorin district in South Tamil Nadu, P. Rajagopal belongs to Nadars, which are an entrepreneurial south Indian cast.
The first Saravana Bhavan was opened in KK Nagar in Chennai (then Madras) and now it has 31 restaurants in Tamil Nadu alone. But what is surprising is that, it has over 50 branches in 15 different countries including the US, UK, France, Kenya, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Amsterdam! All them operate on the model of quick service restaurants (QSR) and are quite efficiently managed by their attentive staff.
I visited their restaurant on Janpath, New Delhi, for lunch. I was visiting this place after a long gap and I was surprised to see the revamped restaurant. It is more airy and spacious and has even a dining area under the sunroof. The décor is simple and spotlessly clean.
We ordered a Vada Sambar to start with. The vada was soft inside and crispy outside, which was delight to savour since it was served piping hot. The sambar and chutneys were mild, yet flavourful. I give a 4.5/5 for this dish.
Next, we ordered a Masala Ghee Roast. Again, this dosa was crispy on one side and little soft inside and had most delightful aroma of ghee emanating from this dish. The potato, onion, green peas masala was cooked well and aromatic. Again a 4.5/5.
We ordered a Malabar Porotta with two side dishes. The dish had two flaky, well-cooked porottas, but they were only the size of poori and I was disappointed at the size. This was served with onion raita and vegetable kurma and a single slice each of cucumber and onion. The quantity of the subji was not even adequate to soak the porottas and eat. It is only a 3/5 for this dish.
The Filter Coffee we ordered was quite okay, but little milky for my taste. It is a 3.5/5 for the coffee.
Overall, this restaurant delivers what it promises and it is value for money. It is 4.5/5 from me for this Saravana Bhavan.