Monday, July 9, 2012

Saayba Hotel revisited. Talk about a price increase!

In March of 2012 I had posted a rather effusive piece on Saayba Hotel. I started the piece with the words “Saayba Hotel at Bandra is a little delight”. I also sounded a note of caution. “Saayba is in a state of change. Earlier you had stainless steel Thaalis or `Taats’ [pronounced like `Tarts’ with a silent `R’] in which you ate and the food was served in stainless steel bowls. Reminded me of eating at my maternal grandmother’s house as a child. But alas, all that has gone. It’s now white Melamine plates and bowls and the `Indian breads’ are served in a stainless steel serving bowl. Prices have increased and quantities have, I believe, reduced, but I may be wrong on the portions. Oh yes, they now have a dedicated order taker who is dressed in a white shirt and apron.

Well, we had a meal at Saayba Hotel a couple of days ago, some 3 ½ months after the last meal. Unfortunately, it looks like things have gone a little pear shaped for Saayba Hotel. It was a Friday night, a good time – 9 pm – and I presume a day with no religious complications to prevent the consumption of meat or fish. To my shock there were just two persons in the restaurant. I was 3 and my nephew who I was dining with was 4. I have never seen this state of affairs at Saayba Hotel. Disturbing. Anyway, the menu was presented and I nearly fell of my chair. Prices had increased, dramatically, very dramatically. Was this why there were no punters in the restaurant?

Gritting my teeth, I ordered the usual things. Mutton Sagoti Fry, Teesrya Masala, an Usal, a plate of Vade, a plate of Rice Bhakri and a Chicken Pulao to round of the meal. I am happy to report that the food was completely up to scratch, it was delicious, and it had not changed in quality. However, quantities have most certainly diminished.  Eating from a Melamine plate, which has warped, is not the easiest thing to do. The damn plate kept rotating as I tried to chase the Mutton Sagoti with my Bhakri! To my mind, the decision to go `upscale’ by changing, among other things, from steel thaalis to God-awful melamine plates is not working. The tweaking of the prices and quantities seems to have had a similarly negative effect. 

OK, OK, let’s get to the business end. How much have prices increased? I had with me the take away menu from March 2012 and July 2012. I have tabulated but a few of the changes for you:

March 2012 price
July 2012 price
Whole stuffed promfret
Mutton Sukha Sagoti
Prawns with Balchaw Dip
Prawns Masala

Despite what I have written, a single dish is still not that expensive by Mumbai standards. The food was still very good. I do however question the logic. I can absolutely guarantee that the price of meat and fish has not risen so dramatically as to warrant this increase. But, I am just an eater; the owners have decided what obviously works for them. I have a choice, pay the price or find somewhere else to eat. I may just do the latter. To put it differently, should I pay the same amount for a dish at Saayba Hotel as I pay for at Lings Pavillion?

Is this still a little gem despite the price increase? Probably yes so long as the quality of the food is not compromised.

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