The whole of India is about to go bonkers as Diwali approaches. All of a sudden people realize that they have to buy something and that this is the only time that they will ever get. So, Diwali ends up being a Diwala (being financially broke) instead, at the end. But you can’t deny the adrenaline rush that happens around this time. In the North of India, temperature drops drastically around this time as winter approaches and both the mood and the festival flavour just add to the fun.
One of the things that we get to see around this time are fairs, exhibitions and melas that dot every town and city. Chandigarh gets its fair share of the same and one of the more popular of all fairs is the Chandigarh Fair organized by the CII every year at the Parade Ground in Sector 17. So, visit I did. Instead of driving to the venue, I took an Uber, simply because it’s convenient and you don’t have to park 300 kilometers away from the venue.
After thoroughly enjoying the fair, I was feeling famished. Though the event boasted of multiple food brands and kiosks, the lack of seating + the huge rush at these outlets made it impossible for me to try them out. And so the only logical thing was to walk to the Hotel Shivalikview, opposite to the venue to see if I could grab a quick snack. And this is what happened.
The only place open at the time (3.45PM) was their 24 hour coffee shop called Le Cafe. Once I was seated inside, I called up the smiling elderly gentleman who was serving and got a menu. Now, their menu consists of a wide array of items as one would find in a typical cafe, from the usual south indian fare to burgers, pastas and even meal combos which are available within the given time slots.
With hunger pangs growing, I ordered a cottage cheese burger and a penne with Bechamel sauce. The description of the burger read ‘Grilled cottage cheese patty with exotic veggies and bar-be-cue sauce’, and being a recently converted vegetarian, this seemed like a good choice and so did the pasta. Once the order was placed, began the endless wait. When you are hungry, every second seems like a minute and every minute seems like an hour. So, after about a day of waiting, I checked up with the server and I was told that my order was almost ready. So, finally one half of the order – the burger arrives.
Let me describe this burger in all its glory and I would urge you to compare it with the description I gave earlier. What came was, “Two pieces of toasted and buttered bun with a grilled cheese patty and two slices of tomato and cucumber”, and some fries. That – Is – It! No cheese, No Mayo, No Bar-be-cue sauce. Nothing! Since it took a day for this atrocity to arrive, I had no other option but to finish it without complaining, for a complaint would’ve meant a week of waiting probably. Once I was done, the second beauty arrived.
The Penne with Bechamel sauce can be best described as “Boiled penne with a spoonful of white sauce with raw vegetables and an invisible pinch of oregano”. Oh and it arrived with garlic bread!! Yessss sir!, two pieces of raw brown toast bread that we eat every morning in breakfast, glazed with exactly one drop of something that had a garlicky smell to it. In Hindi, we call this “Double Roti”. The vegetables were raw by all standards and they were the standard frozen ones that you can get anywhere. How else do you reason cold, hard and raw carrots and cabbage in a pasta?? I personally make a pasta alfredo that can win an Oscar, when compared with the pile of junk that was served to me here.
By this point in time, my heart was literally bleeding by the prospect of paying up for this drivel.
I feel pain for the chefs who taught the chefs working at this joke of a cafe. A monkey watching YouTube can make a better burger and pasta than the gook I got here. It took 45 minutes to serve raw, flavourless, inedible waste of food. These chefs badly need to visit the nearest Dhaba to be able to learn the ABCs of cooking.
The name of the cafe was probably thought in Hindi or Punjabi before writing it in English to make it sound like French. “Le Cafe”, at best, can be described as the worst cafe in the history of cafes. If you’re in Chandigarh, and someone takes you there, run for your life and never ever meet that person again, for his choice of eatery describes his sense for everything!