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Ravi Mundoli /
The Scene
When you walk into a place named Hampi, the last thing you're expecting to see is a fountain consisting of two Plaster of Paris dolphins, spouting water from their snouts. The last time we checked, Hampi was a landlocked ghost town, somewhere in the middle of the spectacularly rocky Deccan Plateau. Dolphins weren't exactly in evidence.

When you go in, you find that your misgivings about the decorations are well-founded. While there are thankfully no more aquatic mammals at hand, there's a little too much emphasis on the "traditional" and "ethnic" theme - wall hangings, printed textiles, chandeliers and what-have-you.

Hampi is a newcomer on the Hyderabad restaurant scene, started by the same folks who manage the Athithi Inn in Ameerpet. Tucked away as it is in a nook of Banjara Hills, it doesn't seem to have people beating down the doors yet. The clientele is drawn largely from local residents and employees from nearby corporates.

The Food
If you can look beyond the decor and focus on the food, you may be in for some pleasant surprises. The menu is like National Geographic and happily draws sustenance from several parts of the country and the world.

For the stay-at-home type, there is an entire section devoted to Andhra Pradesh cuisine, including the customary gongura mutton and chepa pulusu type offerings. If you care to invade parts north, you have a reasonably wide choice of Punjabi/Mughlai items. The chicken lababdar is good, and the cloyingly named Kofta-e-Naram Dil does not disappoint. The soups and the rotis are more than commendable.

Further afield, you could choose to be a Marco Polo and sample the pleasures of Cathay - your generic Szechuan, Manchurian variety dishes. And if you're feeling really, really adventurous, you can check out the Continental (or as the menu coyly says, "Non-Residential") fare. A precondition for this is that you know nothing about the state of Western cuisine in Hyderabad. Specifically, the fact that there are approximately 2.75 places which are middling to good, and may accept payments in easy monthly installments over 20 years if you ask them nicely.

Other nits that we might pick: They have airconditioning, and it works, and how! As a precautionary measure, it might be worth it to carry your ski jacket with you. On the other hand, the staff were cooperation personified when requested to take it down a notch, and if the place was a bit more crowded, the animal heat would've definitely helped conditions!

The Verdict
On the whole, a decent place worth a gander if you're in the area and peckish. Only, don't go by the name. Expect Chicken a la Kiev as much as you would expect Chicken a la Krishnadevaraya!
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