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Jan 8, 2004 04:11 PM

Buffets in Little India: Famous vs. Skylark

  • d

My wife and I have often gone to Skylark (on Gerrard Street East) for the Indian buffet, and found it quite good. Some others on these Chowhound Message Boards have suggested Famous, so we decide to try it as an alternative. The two restaurants are next door to each other, and the prices are the same, so they have to be competitive.

The differences are:

1. Size: Famous is small -- just the width of the storefront. In our group of 8 people, there really wasn't a place for us. (They gave up the table at the back for us, but we couldn't actually completely sit around it, as it would block traffic). Skylark is larger, and the restaurant extends behind another storefront.

2. Buffet choices: Both have butter chicken, curried lamb, tandoori chicken, various lentils and rice (as well as ice cream for dessert). I think that Skylark may have one more buffet choices (and the tray behind it holds naan). At Skylark, the waiters also come around to serve naan, but at Famous, the waiters bring small baskets with naan.

For me, Famous wins for a small detail: they had mango chutney on their salad buffet. Come to think of it, though, Skylark has pappadam as an appetizer, and I don't remember if Famous does.

If there's any difference between the restaurants, it's really in small nuances. I think that the salads (cucumber, tomato) at Famous are slightly fresher, and my 9-year old son liked the lamb better at Famous. With a small number of tables, though, I can see Famous easily filling up quickly. Skylark would have been a better choice for a large crowd.

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  1. Actually I was at Skylark just the other night. Went in there as opposed to Famous just because it was the first in the direction we were going.

    I have to say I was disappointed...the food wasn't appetizing for some reason. Maybe there is more variety than at Famous, but the two mixed assorted veg trays did not make up for the missing Aloo Gobi and Sag Paneer. The tandoori chicken was quite orange, and the lamb was particularly gamey. Presentation aside, I was thirsty afterwards...they've increased salting?

    The next time I go to the buffet, I will give Famous a go and hope that the enthusiastic sale of the waiter that brought us in the first time is still there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: neighborguy

      I have to confess...I have a weakness for anything in the Little India area. When I'm in the mood for buffet (since, as others have pointed out, the price is a steal), I rotate among them, but usually hit Skylark, Famous and Siddhartha (I keep forgetting about Regency, and Haandi, which is the furthest down the street, is very hit-and-miss).

      Here's my breakdown:
      Famous -friendliest service, good vegetable dishes
      Skylark - good meat dishes
      Siddhartha - seems to have a wider variety of dishes. Naan tastes it may have been made by Poppin' Fresh, which actually doesn't taste bad cooked in a tandoor.

      Somebody else mentioned the Little India restaurant on Queen St, which has long been a favourite - the meatiest tandoori chicken I've ever had, very good saag paneer and service much friendlier than Babur down the street (which I've always found surly). Good outside buffet hours too.

      1. re: stein88

        Tried Skylark last night (wed) and I must say that I wasn't that impressed. My initial feeling is that it was an off night. It wasn't very busy which likely explains the luke warm food. The naan that was brought to the table was hot and fluffy, but some of the pieces were burnt.

        I would definitely recommend to anyone thinking of trying skylark to wait till it's busier. Lahore tika house looked quite busy and will probably be the next restaurant in the area that to try.

      2. re: neighborguy

        Okay, this thread is over a decade old but you'd think I would have learned. But no.

        Recently returning to Gerrard East for Indian buffets the Famous and Gautama have been on the revised rotation.

        However, Famous was closed the other night (for technical reasons according to a note on the door -- asking for patrons to not fret) and we stopped into Skylark. I believe it was also called Nitya briefly. It was not good, and a matter of everything tasting the same.

        I look forward to Famous coming back online.

      3. a
        another local

        Another buffet to consider is Siddartha, just east of Famous and Skylark. I found it to be the best buffet in Little India. Very flavourful, excellent service, nice decor, and a decent selection of dishes. A nice alternative to Lahore Tikka House (another 'fave in the area).

        The owner is the former manager of Dhaba.

        1. What is the price of the buffet? Which side of the street are these restaurants on? I can't believe I've missed them in all my travels to Gerrard for videos!

          1 Reply
          1. re: the_girl

            South side of the street, across from the Gerrard-Ashdale branch of the Toronto Public library (on the north side).

            Buffets (at both places) are $6.95 for lunch, $8.95 for dinner. These prices are hard to beat, even at Chinese food (dim sum and/or noodles) prices. (If you take into account that you get ice cream or other desserts, it may beat Chinese food for economy!)

            On the posts for others restaurants, I have a few more that I'll have to try!

          2. Skylark was my favourite for years, until a friend recommended Regency a few doors down. Its much better. Better variety, the food is amazing, great service. I would highly recommend it. They often have Saag Paneer on the buffet which is a very rare find in Toronto. They have both pappadums and mango chutney, as well as Ice cream for dessert.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mhavlik

              On mhavlik's suggestion, my wife and I tried Regency last Friday night (at about 7:30 p.m.)

              The restaurant is physically larger than Famous, and maybe smaller than Skylark. The naan was maybe the best I've had in a while -- hot, light, fluffy -- but the rice was overcooked and dry. The chicken saag masala -- at least that's what the waiter said it was -- was unusual, and worth trying. The lentils were excellent (I can't figure out why!), and the lamb was good.

              Yes, they had mango chutney and pappadums. The pakoras were immersed in a creamy sauce, that I didn't try. The waiter seemed friendlier than the other restaurants, but maybe that's because the layout of the dining area doesn't make it so difficult for a server to get around.

              A couple behind us ordered off the menu instead of going for the buffet, and the most wonderful scent emanated from the tandoori platter they ordered. (We take the buffets so much for granted, that we usually forget that menus exist).

              All in all, though, my wife and I agree that we have to give Famous a slight edge on quality and menu choices (to our tastes). This might have been a slight off night for the chef, though, and I would definitely take guests to Regency, because it's not as crowded. In the fine splitting of hairs on menus, my wife really likes rice pudding, which is something they serve at Famous, and not the others.

              Of course, all of these restaurants are such a bargain, that we'll likely be cycling between all of them for years to come!

            2. Not exactly in Little India... but on Queen there is an Indian house called Little India. I think the buffet is served until 3.30 p.m.

              Really great spot...has been getting busier as of late. Guess good word of mouth never hurts.