'The audacity of hope'.... Lemon grass, Turner Road, Bandra W

We came back hungry the last time we went to the reopened Lemon Grass at Turner Road. It has replaced the earlier landmark continental restaurant, Pot Pourri.

In between our dinner last time we were told that the kitchen was closed and it didn't matter that we were hungry. We left with rather empty stomachs. You could say that I am a sucker for punishment. I went there again this Sunday for lunch. Once again we were a victim of the economies of scarcity.

We started with a peach ice tea. I thought that it had an interesting after taste of Electeral, the oral re-hydrant salt mix.

Chicken green curry followed. It was acceptable. Of course, as in most mid level Mumbai restaurants, the green curry here wasn't flavoured with fish sauce. And it was inundated with cauliflower and carrot chunks. A fact that would perplex most Thais.

With all their land grabbing and stuff the Chinese deserve Veg Manchurian Balls, Sweet and Sour Paneer, Schezwan rice and Spring Dosas. But what have the poor Thais done? Why do restaurants in Mumbai abuse Thai cooking with such sadistic pleasure?

Well getting back to Lemon Grass, we didn't make the same mistake that we did last time. We ordered two curries at one go so that they wouldn't say that we couldn't order more mid way through our meal. In retrospect ordering the Beef Massaman Curry was a big mistake.

This traditionally creamy yellowish Thai Muslim curry was thick and dark brown here. Finely ground peanuts form a base of the curry. They also put in the odd floating peanut as a garnish at Thailand. The cook at Lemon Grass thought that he was making Bhel Puri, the Bombay chaat. He liberally sprinkled roughly chopped peanuts all over the curry giving it a very unpleasant bite.

This was quite different from the Massaman Curries that I have had in the past. Perhaps the cook here needs to go to Aura or Aroma Thai, the Thai massage parlours at neighbouring Pali Hill, to get a crash course in Thai cooking from the ladies with Mongoloid features. Who of course could be from North Eastern India for all you know.

Now one thing that distinguishes that Massaman Curry from Thai green and yellow curries are the cubes of potatoes that come with it. The menu at Lemon Grass mentioned potatoes too. Yet the Massaman Curry  there didn't have a hint of potato.

We called for the Walrus Man, the old waiter here with a white walrus moustache whom one remembered from the Pot Pourri days. He was standing, looking out dreamily, possibly wondering why people have stopped asking for mashed potatoes or garlic bread.

I rarely kick up a fuss at restaurants. Finely Chopping them later is more my style. But I HAD to find out about the missing potatoes. Walrus Man went to the kitchen and came back. Well guess what the answer was?

"We have run out of potatoes sir."

Run out of potatoes? Potatoes? Five minutes away from Pali Freaking Market? In the heart of Bandra W? Far away from the Russian revolution? I could have got some potatoes from home. I bought half a kilo this morning.

As we found out from last time, Walrus Man is a raconteur. He begun telling us about how there were a number of orders through the day for Kung Pao Potatoes. Which, as he reminded us, needed potatoes. QED.

Good thinking. Blame it on the vegetarians. I would have too.

We finally managed to push him away. At close to Rs 250 - 300 (5 -6 USD) a dish I wanted taste and flavour and not a story.

Yes, yes, I should have known what I was getting into after my previous visit to Lemon Grass. I should have known better than to have gone back. I was a fool to have thought that things would be better this time. that things would change. Yes I didn't read the signs. Was a fool living in hope.

As they say, twice was carelessness. Time to stop now 


Unknown said…
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Bhavna Shivalkar said…
I am from Mumbai and a food lover just like you. I live to eat...food is my comfort, my reason for living and the love of my life. I can eat almost everything and anything and hate dieting (which is very obvious from my size).

I read your blog regularly and enjoy your comments and recipes. Although honestly speaking I haven't actually tried any of your recipes.

I have just moved to Perth and I miss all the amazing food that we get back home. Just wanted to let you know that your blog reminds me of how much I miss home and the amazing food that we get in our country.

Keep Blogging.
Scarlett said…
That's really surprising. Lemon Grass, the older one that is, used to be one of the better Thai restaurants in Mumbai. I preferred it over Thai Ban. They must have a new owner now.
Unknown said…
'Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me'- the guy before the guy who wrote Audacity of Hope
Anonymous said…
Sunday night we went to Sahibaan and it was even worse than your experience at LG. We started out with a "Sweet Corn Chicken" Soup - which really was a "Sweet, Corn, Chicken" Soup. Turns out that sweet soup was the est thing we had that night. A greasy veg fried rice accompanied by Chow Chou Potatoes from the Thai section. Turned out to be French Fries garnished with corriander and green chilli. And our 5-spice chicken was just chicken strips fried in red chilli paste - so hot even a bottle of chilled sprite couldn't help out burnt mouths! We complained, the guy offered to re-do it - brought it back with a bit of the chilli paste scraped out well after we were done with the rest of the pathetic dinner. The waiter when we complained was rude and unapologetic. The guy sitting at the counter tried his best to ignore us until I called him over! There was no discount on the bill - not even on the twice sent back and still untouched 5-spice chicken! Pathetic!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Bhavna, thanks for writing in. I remember when I first moved to Bombay. Used to miss Calcutta and its food like hell. Hope you find your Bombay at Perth :)

@Scarlett: Same owner. I prefer Thai Ban for Thai. Consistent over a decade

@Curry Spice as our PM said, everyone in India loves him

@Anon, I used to go to Shaibaan in the late 90s and early 2000s. Not since