Donisl is one of those- hmmm –let’s see, it’s not exactly a restaurant or a fine dining haven, for you eat on the roadside – but more of a classic café in the European sense. Anyway, it’s one of those places that has spawned an entire food street in its wake. People refer to that particular street either by Donisl or Cool 90s ‘patti’ (strip). So it’s that old and famous.

But is it good enough? It must have been in its heydays, because no brand can become a hit with the consumers without offering real value to them, or at least value which they perceive to be substantial.

So, has Donisl gone past its ‘best-before’ date? We paid it a visit to check on its current brand equity.

Going by the crowd at the place, the brand equity is still going strong, there’s no question about it. It’s just that when you look beneath the surface, the value is gradually eroding as perceived by us the consumer.

For starters, the service is way below par. You ask for something, and it’s going to be given to you after ages. And I’m not even talking about the edible item as yet. The bill was the only thing that was delivered promptly, and one person out of our party was so disgruntled with the service that he exhorted us not to dish out a single penny for the tip.

We ordered the standard Chicken Karhai- the gravy version- priced at Rs.540. Going by the quantity delivered by the other karhai walas – we ordered a plate of Behari Kabab and Beef Boti as well, just to make sure we don’t return hungry.

The Karhai came almost 45 minutes after, and even that after much coaxing, but still there was no sign of the BBQ items.

Taste-wise their chicken karhai is nothing to write home about. Just the standard one with lots of tomatoes and a few green chillies thrown in for good measure, something which you can have at any average karhai wala. The quantity wasn’t fantastic either. If you’re not going to be having anything else other than the karhai, then the Rs.540 karhai is sufficient for just three healthy adults. You add a fourth person and you would need to order additional items.

After another 10 minutes came the BBQ items. Although we had ordered a behari kabab and a boti plate, both items were boti. What’s more it was so mildly BBQed that the meat was a challenge to chew. Even here the quantity lacked punch, costing Rs.85.

The parathas were the only highlight of the evening. Most brands are unable to churn out the perfect paratha with the right balance of crustiness and tenderness. Donisl excels at this.

Finally when the bill came, although both boti items were served, one item was priced for the kabab. Since there wasn’t much difference in terms of price of the two, we let that go.

Maybe the place serves you better on a weekday than a weekend because of the huge workload on a weekend, but that’s no excuse for Donisl not to deliver the value on a weekend. After all, the consumer is paying the full price even on a weekend for which he rightly expects value for money.

Donisl needs to get its act together if it is to continue to prosper as a brand.