Rayar’s Mess a.k.a Rayar’s Cafe (ராயர்ஸ் உணவகம்) is one of the oldest eateries in Chennai. Located now in Arundale Road (off Kutchery Road) it is a small mess. A mess in colloquial usage in Chennai means a place where the owner himself/herself/their family cooks the food which ensures the taste & quality of food; also indicating the place is little more than a hole in the wall, the atmosphere will be friendly, service delivered with warmth and the price will be cheaper than any restaurant.
Rayar’s mess is over 70 years old, run continuously by 3 generations. They are famous for their homely service and tasty Dosa’s and Pongal (dish). The first time I went there was nearly 25 years back along with a foodie school friend (L.R.Rajesh) when they were in the rear portion of an old home in the main road (Kutchery road). For the last 10+ years they had moved to a different place near-by in Arundale Street.
Today I went there along with a friend. The mess is tugged inside a small place with cramped seating for about twelve. Both of us had several vadas, idlis and a cup of coffee each. The food was authentic, piping hot, lip smacking chutneys and was cheap. But, the cleanliness and the space available, leaves much to be desired. I guess I have grown up used to cleaner places and my expectations have changed!