I’ll pass on Sneha Indian Cuisine (8 of 50)

I would like to start off giving a disclaimer that I did not start this blog to tear apart restaurants. I love food and the point of this blog is to travel to the best places to share my experiences and to get you inspired to venture there yourself.  However, things do not always work out as planned. Had this restaurant not been on the Baltimore Magazine’s 50 Best list, I probably would not have even wrote about it at all. But since it is, here we go.

Two friends of mine who are sisters really enjoy eating Indian food, so I thought I would invite them along for the ride. We met for lunch on a Sunday for their $12.99 lunch buffet. I arrived late but my friends were already there when I arrived to the restaurant located at 6600 Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville, MD 21228. This restaurant is located in a shopping center with other businesses including an International Grocery store so there was amble parking available.

When I walked into the restaurant, I walked directly in the dining room that did not have much unique personality. As the review stated, the high ceilings of the brightly lit room is reminiscent of a banquet hall. It was a very basic restaurant with roughly 40 tables and chairs. There was a front counter instead of a hostess table that led me to believe that you would have to pay here at the end of the meal. But off to the side was this rather large printer. It was basically in the middle of the restaurant. Quite different.

IMAG0979
Front counter, printer off to right, pitchers and cups on the tables

Then there was the large pitchers of water with glass cups on each table.  Some of the pitchers had ice water and others had water had sat so long it become room temperature. When my friends arrived, they said that the glasses were dirty on the table and that they had to send back the water because it did not have ice cubes and felt like it had been sitting out on the table all morning. The staff was nice about it but that was a bit strange starting off.  I was waiting for the server to walk up to me and offer me something to drink other than water but a guy basically arrived to direct us to the buffet table. Again….sIMAG0980trange.

Generally, I never really know the names of the Indian dishes I’m eating except for the two of my favorite dishes: 1) Chicken Tikka Masala and 2) Tandoori Chicken. Both are very popular Indian dishes that I thoroughly enjoy. At the beginning of the buffet line, we picked up our plates, but there was also silverware and napkins there. It reminded me of my elementary school days when you had to grab your silverware along with your food. On that table were sauces and vegetables to make a salad but I passed on that area.

IMAG0974Next was a small table that began the buffet line. It included rice in curd and some fried dough pastry that surrounded a platter of very seasoned chickpeas. I decided to try to rice that basically looked like rice pudding but it was not for me. My friends really enjoyed the dough calling it sweet but I was not all that impressed. It was too sweet for the savory flavors of the chickpeas. But I did really enjoy the chickpeas. They got a unanimous liking in my group.

What I noticed was that the buffet table was not nicely put together with fancy dining ware or nice name cards to label each dish. They used post-its that would be used in an office setting. I understand that it may be practical, but they has to be another way to present your food that is visually appeasing. I suppose that is not what they find important.

The buffet line equipment was similar to that of a Chinese takeout line when you are ordering a one or two item combo. What was different was that their buffet included a noodles dish. The noodles were quite good by the way and were small rice noodles with the flavors of a Singapore noodle. Yum! There was what looked like vegetable fritters on the line but whatever they were was not good at all. I am accustom to them being almost like mashed potatoes inside but these were dried doughy. There were a mix of other meat curries and vegetable curries but where is the chicken tikka? Not present! Is this even allowed? There was some flavorful chicken dish, with whole pieces of chicken wings, that was similar to that of Chicken Tikka Masala but I have definitely had better. The highlight of the buffet was the tandoori chicken. They included their own spin on it and the flavors were delicious. Tandoori chicken consist of roasted or grilled chicken prepared with yogurt and spices. One of my friends also really enjoyed the goat dish. I’m not a big fan of goat but it was actually quite flavorful. But my favorites was mainly the noodles and chicken, as seen in my plate below.

Finally, there was a dessert of this coffee mousse that had been sitting out on the table uncovered for a while. And finally, they had my friend’s favorite Mango Lassi which is a popular traditional yogurt-based drink from Indian that includes a blend of yogurt, water, spices, and mango. My friend stated that she has had better. I thought it was pretty good and had strong mango flavors and yogurt. It was not too sugary and you could definitely taste the ingredients. Her sister did not enjoy it at all and felt uncomfortable that a mango and yogurt dish was sitting out for such a long period of time. But because of how popular the drink was, it did not really sit very long and was refilled often.

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Mango Lassi on left with Coffee Mousse on right

To get back to the table, we had to walk past other tables that had the cups and pitcher of water. Here lies the sanitary issue. People are walking by with their plates of food and there were children there as well. Clothes, hair follicles, germs, and food can easily fall into the cups or the pitcher and become contaminated. Consider, we have cabinets in our kitchen for storage but also for sanitation purposes. Things should not be left out for a reason! Once seated, the server bought some warm Naan for our meal and Masala Dosa (Indian crepes). The food overall had great flavors and was quite spicy. Because of the heat, we drank down our water quick and there was no one to ask us if we needed a refill. When I did finally get someone’s attention for water, he was trying to pick up the pitcher from another table. I quickly said I wanted fresh ice water and he understood but that fact that that was even an option is a problem for me. Plus there were no other drinking options presented to us. It was water only, which was a bit bizarre.

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The story gets better. I decide that I wanted to go to the restroom after the meal. I walk toward the buffet area and into a long narrow hallway made narrower by box and what appeared to be junk! There was a box of diapers, a headrest of a car, buffet table equipment, and boxes. This is a restaurant and there is junk in the hallway. Who does that? The restroom was mediocre at best. It was mostly clean but the tops of the stalls were dusty. As if they had not been clean for months. And the stalls were black so it was totally noticeable.

To pay, you have to walk up to the front counter and there is a 5% discount if you pay with cash so I did. The total was $13.08. The lady at the counter had a very thick accent that made it difficult to understand what she said but she was friendly. I left a $2 tip in the jar though I really did not have much service but it is polite.

Overall, I had an odd and mildly unpleasant experience. I would not recommend this place to anyone nor would I return. Maybe the dinner menu and service is better and that is what led them to the Best list, but I do not even care to find out. I know a better Indian Buffet not too far away in Columbia. Review coming soon. The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:

Sneha Indian Cuisine

Criteria Scale Score
Accessibility 1-10 10
Customer Service 1-20 12
Cleanliness 1-10 3
Food Presentation 1-10 5
Price Value 1-10 10
Taste of Food 1-30 23
Overall Experience 1-10 3
TOTAL: 66/100

Please look out for my next post as I review another one of Baltimore’s Best and share my weekend experience at the Taste of Three Cities Food Truck event! Also, you can find me on Instagram @finediningdiva and twitter @moderndaybeauty. Also, if you would like to follow my blog to receive notification when a new blog is posted, please send your email to finediningdiva@gmail.com.

And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!

 

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