For people with a sweet tooth and a special appetite for chat and dry snacks, Niharika Gunturu brings to you a brilliant review of Shree Mithai located in a quiet byroad in Chetpet. This is the first in the ‘Beyond the Gates’ series this semester where we will be bringing to you reviews of some of the best, finger-licking and worth-every-penny food outlets beyond the gates of insti.
Nestled away from the hustle of Chetpet, in a quiet little byroad, Shree Mithai has a buzz of its own. As the name suggests, it initially started as a sweet shop which later expanded to chat, dry snacks and now, even a bakery! Its high quality food at decent prices, without compromising on taste, has made it a popular food joint among Chennaiites. Shree Mithai provides a warm and wholesome ambience. You walk in to find families with pesky little children running around as well as students unwinding after college. With both outdoor and indoor service options you can either sit indoor and watch the chat guy work away at those sandwiches with fascination or simply enjoy an evening outside.
I went in to Shree Mithai to sample their savories and Bengali sweets. Among my exploits were:
- Bread Pakoda:
This bread pakoda entices you to order it. With the perfect combination of crispy and chewy, it ticks all the right boxes. Essentially it is a sandwich with a paneer filling made into a pakoda and dressed with a hot and sweet glaze, garnished with cilantro. Not too heavy on the palate. I’d definitely order this again.
- Veg Grilled Sandwich:
Many are the makers of sandwiches but few are those who do justice, Shree Mithai being one of them. Its simple ingredients will trick you into underestimating it. However the right balance of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, boiled potatoes, and the star ingredient: ‘the green chutney paste’, toasted to perfection with cheese will leave you with a smile.
A friend once told me that a good samosa has 3 characteristics:
a) It’s crispy at the ends and slightly soft everywhere else.
b) It doesn’t leave your fingers glistening (or rather dripping) with oil.
c) Its curry isn’t just that yellow aloo sabzi that they conveniently use for poori masala/masala dosa.
This samosa definitely passes her test. With the lightest smear of oil, it is bang on the flavours without feeling too heavy or yelling “masala” in every bite.
- Chat Katori:
A cool refreshing chat served in a bowl, the Chat Katori was the perfect palate cleanser. A layered delicacy, it has tasty chana and green pulses forming the core of the dish topped with steamed potato, bread, cool dahi and boondi layered with a generous serving of sev. It also has papdi tucked into the sides and is finished off with sauces/chutney as per your taste. Healthy and tasty, it is the perfect cool-savory snack.
It is worth mentioning that by the time I had gone there, they had run out of one of their specialties-the Paneer Bonda. Though from previous experiences here, I can tell you that it is definitely one of the best dishes on their savory menu.
With this, I went on to sample a few pieces of their wide collection of Bengali Sweets. Ever so beautiful, these dainty sweets all have names and are beautiful to look at as well. The five that I sampled were:
- Cham Cham:
A cham cham is essentially a rasgulla sandwich with cream in the middle. Sounds fairly simple but leaves a lot of scope for a botched job. Not too syrupy, not too creamy and with the texture of the rasgulla being perfect, this Cham Cham gets all the proportions right.
- Bengali Gajra:
A pretty yellow rasgulla with a ‘flower’ painted onto it with cream, this sweet looks too pretty to eat! The rich cream cuts through the ‘syrupy-ness’ of the rasgulla, and makes for a great combination of flavors
- Bengali Roll:
This sweet was one of the ‘sweetest’ of all the Bengali sweets. It’s garnished with crushed pista bits and gives you a subtle hit of rose water. It has a calming effect on the palate. A must for the most ardent sweet tooth.
- Kamal Bhog:
This sweet was the most pretty of all the five sweets that I sampled. Consisting of a rasgulla base, it is topped with a towering cream ‘lotus’. Personally, I felt that the cream overpowered the rasgulla, and rendered it a bit dry. However, that could be a personal thing. Lovers of cream and icing, you have found your calling!
Of all the food I’d sampled at this restaurant, this sweet single handedly steals the show. A milk-based Bengali sweet, the Raj Bhog is just the right amount of sweet and creamy. It doesn’t leave your palate with that heavy cream residue. It also has a very good texture. All its flavors subtly work their way into your palate, and leave you asking for more.
Fun fact: My friends who helped me review the sweets, loved it so much, that we wiped the cup clean using our fingers! (down to the last drop).
Overall, the restaurant lives up to its name. It’s worth mentioning that the store is extremely pocket friendly. All of the above items put together costed around Rs. 360.With the savory items costing Rs. 180 in total and the Bengali sweets at Rs. 36/ piece. The service is pretty satisfactory, I hardly waited for 10 minutes to get my order (at 7pm on a busy Sunday evening!). The restaurant also has high standards for cleanliness. Shree Mithai is a pure vegetarian shop and they also serve Jain variants of almost all their items on the savory menu.
A word of caution: if you expect loud, ‘in your face’ flavors, Shree Mithai may not be the best place for you. Its USP lies in its freshness and simplicity, with subtle yet tasty flavors. You will surely enjoy your experience if you go there to eat and not critique!