The Palm Grove is a licensed Keralite restaurant at the Marco Polo Hotel in Al Muteena Street. It boasts a fully serviced bar which, funnily enough, gets p-r-e-t-t-y busy from lunchtime onwards. The interior of the Palm Grove is a claustrophobic maze of thatched cubicles which, I can only assume, is designed to give the place a coastal feel. It doesn’t.
Nor does the thick PVC tablecloth do anything to add to the ambience. I bet its easy to wipe clean though. There was a time when the Palm Grove offered a tizzy lunch combo of a thali and a beer. No more combo, although you can still have a cold one with your thali…which is what I was there to try (thali not cold one).
A non-veg South Indian thali basically means that you get a normal veg thali plus a fish curry and a piece of fried fish (with a little bit more pomp and fare than I’ve said it). And that’s exactly what I got, on a banana leaf – how cool. I’m not a big fan of fish curries and/or fried fish in thalis. I invariably find them all so full of bones and oil and, you know…fish. So, I was surprised that the curry had a decent chunk of fleshy fish with a big central bone which came away leaving…um, only half a dozen or so smaller bones. And it wasn’t too bad at all. Neither was the fried fish, although I must confess to eating only one side of it.
Contrary to the Rajasthani and Gujrati thalis I am used to (and fond of) where the best quality Basmati is used, this thali came with that cheap, dumpy, slightly smelly rice. Off-setting this (thankfully) were a number of liquid condiments like Rassam which, when mixed in with the rice and sabzi, make the meal actually quite enjoyable.
Service was limited to a lovely South Indian lady in a sari who, after watching me struggle with my fish, took it upon herself to pamper me in the most sisterly way. None the less (and I’m trying to find a way of saying this without hurting her feelings), the intervals between which she would visit my cubicle could have been shorter. At the end of the day, The Palm Grove has a lot to live up to as a South Indian restaurant. It’s not in the same league as my favourite, Nalukettu at the Dubai Grand Hotel in Qusais. That said, if you’re in the area and fancy a thali with a beer, there are worse places you can end up than here, at The Palm Grove.
Waste NOT. Want NOT.