Advantages It's in the book - so presumably nobody died there or anything
Disadvantages It's in the book - so it's full of scared tourists
|Value for Money|
|Standard of Menu|
|Standard of Service|
Enough on the sticky topic of sibling rivalry and back to India. In the hippy-haven of Rishikesh it's not easy to find restaurants in the conventional sense of the word. The vast majority of visitors to the city are chowing down on a lentil stew or perhaps surviving for a month on fresh air and a single leaf of holy basil at their ashram or chugging a macrobiotic cleansing smoothie between yoga classes. Aside from street food that looks tempting but might land you in bed and the bathroom for a couple of days, we were really struggling to find somewhere to eat during our visit.We'd just been down to the banks of the Ganges for the nightly Ganga Aarti ceremony and all the singing and baffling worshipful behaviour had helped us work up an appetite. We had crossed back over the river to start the long haul back up the hill to our hotel thinking we'd have to eat there when Aileen let out a whelp of delight and a squeal of recognition. "That one's in the guidebook" she said and dragged us in to a scruffy looking little place called the Madras Cafe. Much to my amazement, despite being little more than a road-side shack it was also listed on several websites and so I was able to get it added to the database and write about it.
The restaurant building is very basic and looks like it might fall down in a high wind but the smiley owner seems to be keeping it standing by sheer force of personality alone. You just feel that the roof wouldn't DARE to cave in on him when he's just so darned smiley.The plastic coated menus offered rather an extensive list of dishes for such a small place and if you couldn't find enough on the card then there were supplementary dishes advertised on sheets of paper pinned to the walls including some hippy-friendly 'specials'. A propensity to push 'Himalayan sprouts' was clear when the guy tried to persuade us to give up our veg biryani in favour of something similar but full of his freshly sprouted sprout-things. He was adamant we would love his sprouts and it took a very forceful explanation that our tourist tummies could only deal with fully cooked food to get him to give up on the sprout-push.
You might have noticed something missing. Aileen and Joyce plus food but minus beer – surely something must be wrong, but no, this is reality. Rishikesh is a place of pilgrimage which means no meat and no booze – and no exceptions. I'm still wondering how we got omelette in our hotel the next day since eggs are considered non-veg but I didn't think to ask until after we'd moved on to the next city.Husband Tony decided to continue his quest to check out the toilets of India and was told that the restaurant had no water but the owner took him off down the street to somewhere smelly and unpleasant. Firstly lets address the issue that we'd just ordered food in a restaurant with no water - what the heck were we thinking of? What were they using to cook with - magic river water? Was there any connection between this parlous situation and the low level of the water in the corner of the room aquarium? And what were they cleaning the dishes with? I tried not to let my imagination run away with me.
When we quizzed Tony about where he'd been he said it was 'clean' but only a two out of ten. We've since come to realise that 'clean' doesn't mean 'not smelly' - it's Tony shorthand for anywhere that isn't literally coated in sh*t. I predict his application to become a Michelin hotel inspector wouldn't get far.
The total bill for four of us at the Madras Cafe was a little under 600 rupees – about £9, split four ways. You can't really grumble about that.
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