Madras Durbar [closed Aug 2005- owner died]

1435 Gerrard Street East

Located right in Little India/ India Bazaar, this small restaurant has been reviewed in Now and Eye so Aaron and I thought we should check it out. Although I love Indian food and especially restaurants that say Indian Pure Vegetarian Restaurant, I am usually disappointed with South Indian cuisine.

I am not giving up on it though. I just find most of the dishes too soupy and saucy and not substantial enough for my large appetite. At this South Indian establishment, I chose the Thali dish, since it’s the most popular and largest dish (for the most value). My main meal was served on a metal circular dish with a lentil souo (daal), a coriander soup, a milky rice pudding with nutmeg/ginger/cloves dessert (yummy and spicy), a potato curry dish, a spinach curry dish, an vegetable curry dish, and another spicy soup with vegetables and beans.

My Thali plate was only $6.30 and seemed quite substantial. Instead of Naan bread of Chapati or Roti, it came with rice, pappadum, and poori (Fried roti, quite gross and greasy). Our Mango Lassis were the most enjoyable, thick and creamy. I enjoyed my meal immensely. The thali plate resembles a “tapas” –with little mini dishes. It’s great because you get to try many things all in sitting and it’s not filling like a yucky North Indian buffet. Food was very fresh, spicy ,and flavourful. Wait time was not too long. Waiter provided lots of fresh water.

Menu is 3 pages in length, first page has a list of about 10 entrees, all range in price from $2.75 – $7.00 and second page has a list of “savourys” which are appetizers that are not sweet. They are all around $2.00-$4.00. Sweets are at the back of the menu and there are the typical ones (Barfi, Kulfi, Ice Cream, Rice pudding) all reasonably priced between $2.75-$5.00.

To conclude, I thought my dish was very tasty but not filling enough. I am used to dining at North Indian establishments. I can appreciate the healthy 100% vegetarian selections and the smaller portions are much healthier than overloading at a buffet. I think the this place is one of the best places in Little India (Sidartha and Udupi Palace are runners up- New Haandhi, Famous Indian Cuisine, and Regency are yucky. )

It is small and cosy, warm and inviting, and not tacky or sterile like other restaurants on Gerrard street. I was also happy to see the 100% vegetarian menu. Those dishes are more filling and substantial and I was a little disappointed that my Thali plate came with 7 or 8 small portions of these dishes, most of them soups or dips or sauces for the rice or poori. The food is very different as the names of the curries are different too, but both North and South Indian cuisine are spicy, flavourful, and tasty, but I prefer North Indian. Cash and Interac and credit card accepted. Bathrooms are fair. I do not understand why each and every bathroom in these restaurants (I’ve been to most) are smelly and disgusting. Excellent prices, a no bullshit vegetarian establishment.