Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Best Food Bargain in South Florida

When evaluating a restaurant’s cuisine, I consider quality and quantity equally important. As a dining experience, the all-you-can-eat buffet is dear to the small heart that runs the huge stomach of the Gluttonous Gourmet. In addition to filling his astronomical gastronomical needs, it guarantees a profit---for this customer, although not necessarily for the management. To the Gluttonous Gourmet, the Sunday Dinner Buffet at Madras Cafe on Powerline in Pompano Beach ranks as the most gratifying buffet, quantitatively, qualitatively and economically, that he has graced with his all-consuming presence.

On Valentine’s Day, valentines of all ages, shapes and sizes crowded the restaurant, eager to please each other with exquisite exotic food and delightful desserts (not all of them on the menu). The crush of holiday business forced your Gourmet to suffer the indignity of waiting five minutes before the hostess could seat him.

No sooner than she seated him, your reviewer went to the Dosa Station, where he ordered the South Indian specialty, a fried lentil crepe wrapped around mashed potatoes mixed with onions and mild spices. The Masala Dosa should satisfy the neophyte's craving for novel and outstanding flavors. One also finds a variety of condiments for the Dosa, such as coconut chutney and sambar, a vegetable soup that can be consumed as a dish or used as a condiment. As one moves toward the rear of the Cafe, one finds a variety of salads, roasted red and green peppers, and tasty vegetarian dishes for weight-conscious consumers who possess greater will power than your reviewer.

My eyes shifted from the light fare to the back table where the diet-conscious fear to tread and the flavor-conscious hate to leave. From left to right, trays of Basmati Rice, Hot and Spicy Gobhi Manchurian, Paneer Masala, Chicken Biryani and Butter Chicken aroused the roar in the Gluttonous Gourmet's belly. The Gourmet, however, bleated at the thought of eating the Goat dish at the far right, however much others might enjoy its flavor.

After I selected my food trays and carried them to my three tables, which I pressed together to create an adequate eating surface, a thick Indian accent addressed me with uncharacteristic directness:

Sir, you must not remove the food trays from the buffet table.”

This is an all you can eat buffet, is it not?

Yes, sir. But we want our customers to taste a variety of flavors.”

I assure you, sir, they will. The Chicken Biryani tastes like chicken when it doesn't taste like rice. And the goat dish tastes like whatever goat tastes like. What are your customers, gluttons?”

The waiter gave me a stare of polite incredulity, then turned away.

I plunged into the Gobhi Manchurian, which lived up to its hot and spicy billing. An abundance of chili peppers and onions blended with chicken and cauliflower stung my tongue and popped beads of sweat on my forehead. Although the dish did not have the saucy texture typical of the other dishes, it nevertheless ranks as one of the most flavorful dishes I’ve ever eaten in an Indian restaurant.

Next came the Paneer Masala. Paneer does not conform to one’s customary expectations about cheese. Its texture and flavor resemble fried tofu.Your reviewer found the dish, made in a bed of creamy and mildly spiced tomato sauce, almost as tasteful as Chicken Tikka Masala, one of his personal favorites on the Madras daily menu.

The penultimate dish, Butter Chicken, resembled the Masala, but the generous amount of butter used in place of yogurt sauce enriched its flavor significantly. The dish is one of Madras Cafe’s finest offerings, and no Indian restaurant in South Florida makes it nearly as well.

Last came the dessert. Your Gourmet selected a dozen balls of Gulab Jamun, a staple of Indian desserts, leaving the double chocolate cake (delightful, I was told) and several other highly-praised Indian desserts for the other customers to sample. Few treats in life can round out a meal (or an abdomen) as pleasurably as this dairy product with the texture and appearance of donut holes soaked in honey. What is an Indian dinner without a dozen of these flavorful treats to fill the last square feet of one's abdominal cavity?

I recommend the Madras Cafe’s Sunday Dinner Buffet to anybody interested in tasty cuisine with rich, exotic flavors. For a mere $14.95, you can consume as much of South Florida’s finest Indian cuisine as your stomach will allow and experience tremendous personal growth in areas you normally try to reduce. And you will very likely return to Madras to continue your pursuit of fulfillment.

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