Coastal Spice Kitchen was launched by the Fusion Hospitality Group last year. FHG’s first restaurant, Fusion 9 is among the best restaurants in the city. So, when I heard that Hyderabad Foodies Club was doing an event there, I quickly lapped up the opportunity to participate.
As the name suggests, Coastal Spice Kitchen serves food from the coastal region of India. It features some of the best dishes from Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Goa. I’d have also liked to see some dishes from Bengal, Orissa, and Maharashtra too as the taste profile of the cuisine from these three states differ significantly from the others in the list.
For the special HFC event, we had a fixed menu. Here are some of the highlights.
- Sol kadhi: Sol Kadhi is a drink popular in the Konkan region, and is made from coconut milk and kokum. The drink tasted very unique and was refreshing. I’d have preferred it to be a tad less tangy, but on the whole I liked it enough to request a second helping.
- Beetroot cutlet: This reminded me of the extremely popular bong street food called ‘Vegetable Chop’. The cutlet didn’t have the crunchy crust and chunky peanuts of the Vegetable Chops, but tasted quite similar. This was definitely my favourite veg starter.
- Vazhaipoo vada: This was made from banana flower, which is again something that Bengali’s would be very familiar with. However, this starter differed significantly from the ‘Mochar Chop’ available in Bengal. This tasted more like a typical vada from the southern staes stuffed with banana flower.
- Paneer sukka: More often than not, paneer starters end up tasting quite average. It was the same with the Paneer Sukka. However, at least the paneer here was soft and moist.
- Prawn sukka: This was among the best dishes of the night. A Mangalorean preparation that was juicy, packed with flavour, and delicious.
- Nalla Miriyala Kodi fry (Pepper Chicken Fry): A lot of people don’t like pepper in large quantities, and this dish would definitely not appeal to them. However, I loved this spicy preparation of chicken.
- Meen polichadu (Fish): I failed to see anything particularly great about this dish. Nothing bad, but nothing great either.
- Malwani Chicken Curry: To be honest, seemed like the run of the mill chicken curry. Nothing bad, but nothing very different or spectacular.
- Kutta nadan Meen Curry (Fish): Slightly tangy, but extremely delicious.
- Kochi Mutta Roast (Egg): Boiled egg in the very familiar Andhra style gravy.
- Appam: I love Appam, and the ones at CSK were perfect. They had a soft center and a crisp periphery – just like Appams are supposed to be.
- Sannas: This is puffed rice cake – fluffy and soft. Went along great with the fish curry as it soaked up the deliciously tangy gravy.
- Coconut Jaggery Crepes: This dish again reminded me of home. The best way to describe it to Bongs would be as sliced up Patisapta stuffed with crushed Narkel Nadu (a sweet made from coconut and jiggery) and garnished with a bit of malai. I loved this dessert.
If I had to rate on food alone, I would have probably gone for a rating of 8. The main course was good, but it was the starters (namely Prawn Sukka and Nalla Miriyala Kodi fry) that impressed me. However, food alone is not all that matters. There are a couple of other things that are really crucial for a restaurant in the same price bucket as Coastal Spice Kitchen – ambiance and service. The first part, CSK nails perfectly. The décor is elegant and classy. However, when it comes to service, there’s only one way to describe it – really bad. I understand that serving a group of 30 isn’t the easiest of tasks. However, it didn’t seem at any point that the restaurant was overflowing. Instead, it was just about full (mind it, never completely full). One would expect that on a Sunday night the staff would be equipped to handle a packed restaurant. But, that was not the case. One had to search for a waiter to get water on the table. Getting food was even more challenging. The kitchen was horribly out of sync with the pace at which food was being consumed. There was a long pause between every serving of starters. Some of the main courses in the buffet took more than 15 minutes to be replenished. I had to wait another 10 minutes for the payasam and 15 for the jaggery crepes. It is never a good sign when a restaurant fumbles with service on a foodies group event, which is pre-planned with limited and fixed number of diners, and a fixed menu. A quick look at Zomato suggests that slow service is endemic to this restaurant. If you are planning to visit this place, it might be a good idea to avoid the busiest times (weekend dinner).
CSK isn’t a cheap place to eat at. Here a single plate of Prawn Sukka costs Rs. 500 (inclusive of taxes). A meal for two should cost can easily exceed Rs. 1,500. When you demand that kind of a pricing for cuisine that utilizes easily available local ingredients, you really have to nail everything. But, CSK slips up with some of its main courses, and totally loses the plot when it comes to service.