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Madras Masala ?? next to Banjara....

Noticed fast progress on what seems to be a new south indian place right next to Banjara at Bloor just west of Christie. Old place next door closed a couple of weeks ago and something of a colour-coded reno seems to be underway....the sign on the door says south indian specialties...Hmm anyone know anything, judging by the fact that the new place is also Orange....that perhaps there is a north/south indian collaboration going on here....good south indian delivery perchance !!

Anyone have any info....have tried looking for an existing madras masala, for which this might be a next venture downtown ( a la on the north indian front the migration of DHABA from the boons).....Anyone know anything....better be good to match my old fave south india dosa mahal....though i confess the latter lacks ambience and delivery...and this is close.....mmmm....chants of UTTAPAM, UTTAPAM...ring in my ears, cos i'm funny like that.

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  1. If you haven't already been, you definitely have to get there asap, Hubby and I just got back. He basically had to drag my tired, very pregnant butt out of the house and I am sure glad that he did.

    In a word: delicious.

    The menu is huge and somewhat overwhelming, but the soft spoken, yet friendly and very knowledgeable server help guide us down the right path.

    He convinced us to start with the vegetable cutlet described as, "minced veg with spices crumbled and deep fried." What came were two thick, yet airy, patties with a delicately crispy deep brown patties that melted in our mouths giving way to pure deliciousness.

    For our mains (and I should mention that we intentionally over ordered so that we could try lots of things and leave with leftovers), we had:

    Rava Masala Dosa: We knew we wanted a dosa, but didn't know which one to get. Our server suggested this one to us because it's a little bit different than the rolled dosas we've had in the past (which he compared to a hamburger that you could get anywhere.) the main difference between this dosa and a typical masala dosa is that this one contains lentil and wheat (for extra crispness), and is wrapped around the potato and onion filling rather than rolled. Another difference I noticed is how well spiced their dosa was. I was also impressed by the curry leaves cooked into the crisp shell. Served with the requisite sambar and chutneys, this was a very good choice that I could see myself craving for lunch now and then.

    Hydrabadi Dum Biryani: it is apprantly "world famous" and uses the "Dum method of cooking," which involves steaming. My husband claims it was the best biriyani he's had. I'd say he could be right.

    Badaami Chicken: My personal favourite of the night. As a butter chicken fiend, this dish is a worthy south Indian replacement for the northern specialty. Rather than a creamy tomoato based sauce, the similarly creamy sauce on this chicken is made with almonds and is very well spiced creating a satisfying balance between flavour and richness. So, so good...

    Lamb Xacutti: I think hubby loved this one best since he's not such a fan of creamy. I don't blame him. The sauce, a "blend of roasted coconut, onion and spices," was equally as flavourful as the chicken, but an altogether different kind of spectacular.

    We also got a couple of paratha (one would have been enough) and bright green cilantro-mint rice. It was just as good as everything else. We could see the fresh herbs throughout - a great accompaniment to both the chicken and the lamb.

    To drink - no lassi on the menu - so I gave their pineapple shake a try. Fruity, creamy, refreshment.

    Our server (wish I had gotten his name) promised us that next time we come he'll have us try altogether different things that we will like just a much. Glad I live close by, because there is LOTS to try (including 5 varieties of uttapam).

    4 Replies
    1. re: Delish

      OMG I can't wait to get there. Is there a website and do you know if they deliver?

      1. re: stapler

        No website or delivery, but there are a stack of take out menus by the door.
        Here is a scanned copy... I hope it's legible.

      2. Thanks--I'll give this a try and post a review.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rakumar

          Went there this past weekend, and LOVED it! Prices very, very reasonable, excellent portions, a hugely varied menu, and everything we tried was tasty, interesting, well spiced and just totally delicious! I especially loved the lamb xacutti, and the cilantro mint rice, but all the dishes were unique. We tried a version of masala dosa with a spicy coriander spread inside, and it was very yummy. I don't even know what some of the things are on the menu, and there are lots of types of dosas, lots of vegetarian options, but also a lot of lamb and chicken dishes.

          I was surprised that on a saturday night we were the only ones there, and I could see Banjara through the window, which looked quite busy. I'd tried Banjara once and it was good, but didn't blow me away. Madras Masala is definately worth another visit!

          1. re: FresserGuy

            Hadn't read this review (did read the original post), but we dropped by tonight (Monday) and had almost identical dishes to you (we had the gunpowder dosa, otherwise identical - obviously you have good taste!).
            Normally wouldn't have tried the Xacutti as it's really a Goan dish and the menu was mostly southern, but it's one of our favourites so had to try it to evaluate.
            Overall, this was a very good meal. Certainly more upscale than most Southern India/Sri Lankan places, but the quality was certainly there. Even the 'regular' dosa was thinner and crispier than many I've had in Toronto and I agree with abcdmm below - the sambar wasn't bad - just didn't zing. However the Xacutti was really good and the lamb was excellent quality.
            Certainly the menu is a little schizophrenic - next time I'll ask what the chef considers the best dishes. And there certainly will be a 'next time' as the spicing was excellent and so were the textures (OK maybe a little dry in some cases - if we'd had the masala dosa I think that the texture would have been more palatable). About 30% more expensive than Banjara next door, but when both are under $50 I'd rather pay the extra $10 and have something memorable (my opinions on Banjara are on another thread).

        2. Hey ! i must admit... when i read the loooooong & detailed review by Delish, i was fairly convinced that s/he was a friend of the owner or something (@Delish: no offence meant, sorry!), trying to promote the restaurant via Chowhound... but we decided to give it a try anyway, since the place was so close by... and am i glad we did! here is my humble opinion..

          who: all four of us who went are Indians, so we know our Madrasi food :-)

          when: Sunday night at 8pm, stayed till about 10:30pm

          what we ordered: Pani puri, Medu vada, Masala dosa, Paper masala dosa, Chicken Chettinad, Shahi Cashew Pulao, whole wheat chapatis, Royal Falooda and Badam Halwa.

          what we thought: its a little strange to see North Indian chaat dishes (pani puri, etc) in a South Indian place, but we tried the pani puri anyway :-) it was nice, with boiled chickpeas & diced potatoes, sweet tamarind+date chutney and spiced-mint water for filling... the medu vadas were hot & fresh, and people really enjoyed the chutneys served...

          The main difference between the masala dosa & the paper masala dosa is that the paper one is thinner and crisper... the two who ordered the dosas were very happy with them, the filling was the usual onion & potato subzi-type, and very good... one complaint though: the sambar was nothing to write home about...

          The chicken chettinad was heaven... honest! the chicken itself was tender, and very well seasoned... please do try this :-) three of us love cooking, so we were very curious as to what spices go into the dish... we asked the waiter if the chef would please tell us... most chefs will guard their recipes jealously, but this chef (who is also part-owner i think) came & told us in great detail how to prepare the dish, right down to the last spice :-) he was very sweet & very humble... oh i should also mention that the waitstaff is very friendly & polite...

          the pulao was good, the chapatis reasonable (but maybe i will try the paratha next time)...

          The royal falooda (rose-flavoured milk-based non-alcoholic drink) was my "farmaaish" (demand/wish), since i practically grew up on them back in Bombay... it tasted very nice, exactly like the Bombay ones, and came with the necessary scoop of ice cream too... just one complaint tho: some places (not all) in Bombay also add jelly pieces to falooda, but this restaurant put agar-agar pieces, which were rather flavourless and added nothing to the drink... so please tell them not to put any when you try it :-)

          By the time we ordered the badam halwa, we were already quite full... but we didn't want to miss it, so we decided to share it between the four of us... trust me, it got over in less than 2minutes... i loved it so much that i asked for another portion to go :-)

          will we visit again: a resounding yes!

          what to take away from this review: please visit, and please try the chicken/lamb chettinad, dosas, falooda (without agar-agar) and badam halwa :-)

          4 Replies
          1. re: abcdmm

            So happy to see these two reviews this morning (('abcdmm' & 'estufararian')..At breakfast my husband suggested we go to "Madras Masala" tonight...it sounds terrific and we are looking forward to our meal!

            1. re: pearlD

              do let us know what you think, pearlD :-) that way we'll also come to know how consistent the place is... the chef said its just 3 months old... oh btw i should mention -- our bill came to $17 per head, including a hefty tip & taxes...

              1. re: abcdmm

                We quite enjoyed our meal but would have to go back with friends so that we could order more dishes and then truly make a decision. My husband had the 'Mysore Masala Dosa'...which he liked but said it could have been spicier..the server (a very nice young man who I think was a little 'timid' re the 'spicy' question we asked, erred on the 'safe side' of spice when ordering in the kitchen) I had a paratha which was good, dense but not greasy and then I had the Eggplant with peanut sauce....mellow with good size chunks of eggplant..it was pleasant enough but not exciting, I also had the Tamarind Rice which had a 'tangy' taste , again it was nice but not exceptional..I think having it with the eggplant dish was a mistake as I couldn't 'focus' on the individual tastes of those dishes. Had a superb Mango Lassi and I forgot to mention we had one of the appetizers Chat something or other ..it was terrific..and would order it again as a starter (we often order chat samosa's in other places as it is one of our favourite 'starters'...it was small deep fried wafer-kind of biscuits(?) with the chat 'dressing'.
                We will go back with a group of people to really experience 'southern' style...my personal preference is 'northern' cuisine so perhaps I'm not an accurate judge....Bottom line...we will go back ....

                1. re: pearlD

                  I have done Madras Masala a dis-service because I have know since October just how incredibly delicious the food is there and swore after my first visit that I would be posting on chow that night. Well... now I've been there a good half dozen times and I will say this: this is by far the best South Indian food I've ever had in Toronto and matches my favorite place in Montreal (Bombay Choupati). Their dosa is near perfect- I've had several dosa and none have disappointed. Easily the best in Toronto- perfectly thin and crispy- very flavorful. Other highlights is the Channa Batura which my friend and I cannot get enough of. This is a curried chickpea dish served with deep fried dough for dipping and while my explanation might seem quite non-descript, this dish is far from that. It is wonderful. Loved the peanut eggplant as well- truly a well cooked delicate balance of flavors. Their byriani is, indeed, is wonderful and their chicken cooked with coconut and spices was superb. There is so much selection I easily could eat there twice a week and not get bored. I think my friend went twice in one week for that channa. The service is impeccable, I believe I speak of the same young man referred to in previous replies, but really soft spoken and helpful. The ambiance is pleasant which also tends to go a long way when you consider the majority of dosa spots, and very well priced for the quality, quantity and flavor you will experience. I cannot stress enough: GO EAT THERE ASAP.

          2. There's a "Dosa Festival" going on there right now until May 15th, with $4.99 dosas from a separate menu. Among the more unusual ones were honey dosa and chocolate dosa.

            Last night, we tried two: the chettinad and the spinach-roasted garlic. Aside from a thin smear of spice paste and spinach, neither had much flavour. The potatoes inside were nicely seasoned though. I like the chettinad dosa better because it was much crisper and browned than the spinach one. We really enjoyed the outstanding dips that accompanied them: one was a thick, reddish tomato-coconut chutney, one was a coconut-garlic-chili dip, and there was also a tablespoon of a brownish, salty paste that had what resembled little pieces of eggshell.

            Upon asking the kitchen what the sauce was made of, they replied with "gunpowder". I recalled seeing a gunpowder dosa on the regular menu and a Google search from my BlackBerry revealed that the sauce might have been "milagai podi", a South Indian ground-lentil and chili sauce.

            We also tried the Chicken Xacutti, a delicious dish with a sauce of coconut and onions. Very well seasoned, with tender chunks of chicken.

            If I had one complaint it would be that everything was a bit too salty. I would definitely return here again, especially after reading all of the other reviews now.

            Madras Masala
            Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: gnuf

              Thanks for the info - seems like a return visit is warranted.
              My recent visits have been up-and-down - the gunpowder dosa seems to dry the mouth out and all the dosas have (recently) been less crisp than I prefer. I have rarely (if ever) liked Asian (including SE) desserts (except fruit) so the dessert dosas certainly seem worth a try.

            2. For perspective, the one time I went there for dosas we enjoyed the Paper Dosa more than the one at Udupi Palace because it was crisper. The Rava Masala Dosa not as crisp as the special rava masala dosa at Udupi.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chocabot

                Our rava masala dosa were also not crisp and were fairly pale (I don't think they roast the rava enough, if at all). Malabar fish curry was okay, if a little salty, but the fish they used was salmon, which didn't work at all.

              2. Not authentic. Tried it once and wouldn't go back and I know my South Indian food.

                1. revisited them for lunch yesterday.. we ordered idli (slightly on the dense side, but fantastic sambar and chutneys!), special rava masala dosa (very nice -- thin and crispy, stuffed with a good amount of potato sabzi), and two thalis... i think thalis are a lunchtime special... they include rice (pulao), chapati (more like a tandoori roti than a chapati), a cauliflower-peas subzi, a chickpea subzi, one meat/veg. preparation of your choice, and dessert (gulab jamun)... the thalis were amazing :-) one of us chose chicken chettinad and another chose the veg. chettinad.

                  1. OMG, this place is bad! The vada was a little too brown, the masala dosa was oily, the curry in the masala had fennel (!!!) in it - since when does Madras alu masala have fennel? The oil on the gunpowder tasted rancid and the coconut chutney was just coconut ground with water and salt. Maybe the rest of their stuff is nice, but we'd had enough by then. At the end of this ordeal, I was actually thrilled that the 'neer mor' I'd ordered was less like the original and more like salt lassi - needed that to keep my tummy from screaming.

                    Oh, and we ate on the patio, and constantly had a menu in one hand to swat winged explorers (wasps? yellow jackets? dunno - they were tiny, yellow and black, and persistent!) from Christie Pits Park.

                    And I actually paid $40 to put myself through this?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ollytwist

                      OK, the food critique is valid, but are you seriously blaming them for the bugs on the patio? That's what happens when you eat outside.

                      1. re: piccola

                        Fair enough... I think the food made me so mad that I would have blamed them for a meteorite strike, if it had happened then.
                        Which makes me sad, because eating out, and food in general, is supposed to put a smile on your face (and tummy)... not leave you feeling petty...

                    2. just went there today for lunch for the first time. i ordered the mutton biryani. good service and really nice flavours in the dish.
                      . why two stars? because it was literally 90% rice and 10% mutton. really? has mutton become such an expensive delicacy?
                      also, i ordered the indian coffee. instant coffee with milk $2.
                      anyway...reading all these reviews makes me want to go back, but i honestly cant afford to eat out that much and i dont want to walk out of there with the same dissatisfaction.

                      Madras Masala
                      Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA

                      1. This is the best south Indian place in the downtown area. There are some good places in Mississauga and Richmond Hill, and some Sri Lankan Tamil places in Scarborough, as well as one Chettinad place, but south of Bloor, there's Udupi on Gerrard East, and Madras Masala.

                        Don't waste your time ordering the white people specials, AKA sag paneer and butter chicken. These will simply be brought over from Banjara's kitchen, which is partly co-owned. And the chef in Madras Masala is far better than the chef in the overcrowded Banjara, provided you stick to South Indian specialties.

                        The dosas are all quite good and worth the premium price, as is the idli. Sambar is very flavourful, and the chutneys, while variable, are often quite good - almost as good as South Indian chutneys served in India. The fresh coconut chutney surpasses the tasteless beige versions you will find at other restaurants.

                        The meat menu is excellent. Lamb pepper masala is particularly good, as is the Hyderabadi dum biryani, which is as close as you're going to get to a true Hyderabadi biryani in a Toronto restaurant. Properly marinated chicken in garlic-ginger-yogurt is mingled with the seasoned rice. As in a proper biryani, the meat and rice have been prepared separately and assembled after (unlike in a pulao). It's unlikely they underwent a full dum cooking in a degchi, however, as few customers would wait for that.

                        Avial and other typical South Indian vegetable dishes are also good.

                        Once again, stick to the south Indian menu and you'll probably do well. If in doubt, ask the server.

                        Don't waste money on coffee or tea at this restaurant. You will be disappointed.

                        Madras Masala
                        Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hari mirch

                          I wanted to try Banjara and we went for a late lunch/early dinner tonight..it was closed during lunch/dinner but Madras Masala being in the same parking lot seemed a logical choice for takeout...was sooo pleased with our meal!
                          Not sure of the official dish names, but had shrimp in spinach sauce, butter chicken, eggplant in peanut sauce, naan...
                          everything was delicious and the amount of food for the price is really amazing! will be back!

                          796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                          Madras Masala
                          Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA