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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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).
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!
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).
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 :-)
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 ....
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.