Sprawling languidly behind the bustle and hustle of the Eenadu
building, set back from the obstreperous traffic, lies the club-like Rockdale Building, home to Kshetra. Club-like in its patio, in its quaint steps, in its wrought-iron chairs that lie neglected in the yard, in its spiral staircase. And club-like, in that you need to clap your hands and conjure up a contemporary and politically-correct equivalent of koi-hai
to draw attention from the waiters.The Food
The best that can be said is that the portions are very generous in their size.
The menu of Kshetra, when it reaches you, shows signs of the long and arduous journey, covered as it is with sundry notes made by earlier customers. Crosses next to some dishes may reflect wishful thinking, or perhaps just idle doodles. The menu is aggressively multi-cuisine. Yang Chow Rice and Szechuan Rice huddle demurely below various types of Noodles and Vegetables Manchurian (which, by the way, are medium rare). Idlis and Dosas glower from the "Snacks" page. Rava Kesari patiently waits, nestled among more mainstream desserts.
Kshetra offers vegetarian food only, as most Udupi restaurants do, but it's not the best of that breed. It takes desultory stabs at satisfying diners who're larger in number than the fare would lead you to expect. The prices are in the value-for-money class, but most self-respecting Udupi restaurants serve far better food at comparable prices.
"Go purloin a sirloin my pet, If you'd win a devotion incredible / And asparagus tip vinaigrette, Or anything else that is edible." Locational circumstances eliminate sirloin and asparagus. The chef, such as he is, takes a manful stab at anything else edible, claiming expertise at fare as diverse as Mexican, Italian, Continental, Chinese and Indian. His artistic endeavours go beyond charted territory, leading to dishes that would have made Dali proud. "Vegetarian Kheema", for one. Don't ask what goes in to the "Clinton Kofta". The maitre'd, if asked, will reveal off-menu dishes, such as the strangely named Mushroom Moti Kabab.
The best that can be said is that the portions are very generous in their size. They're also overly generous in their use of various condiments, in what must be a jingoistic effort to draw your attention to the proximity of Udupi to the Malabar Coast. Perhaps, on the other hand, he's been paying too much attention to Roget, who lists "muckamuck" as a synonym for "food".
There's an air-conditioned area on the ground floor, with what passes for a convention center upstairs. Set as it is on a lovely building, in an area that's swarming with offices and office-goers, this could make a first class restaurant if managed better.The Verdict
"There are all sorts of restaurants in London, from the restaurant which makes you fancy you are in Paris to the restaurant which makes you wish you were," wrote the Bard. Kshetra, in its current incarnation, will only make you wish you were elsewhere. There's no honest excuse to dine here. Unless it undergoes the major revamp that's long overdue.