Friday, December 07, 2012

Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan

I had been walking in Chickpete for some time now. It was nearing lunch time and I had unknowingly started to read the nameboards at just above the normal line of vision, looking for a place to eat. It had to be the usual – reasonably clean but with old-world charm. That’s what one looked for in a bazaar precinct.

I wasn’t going to eat in a spotlessly clean, new type restaurant. Saw a ‘Gokul Lodge’. It seemed old alright, but old AND neglected. It was dark in there and not so clean-looking. I thought I wasn’t going to find my place today. Anyways, I kept walking. The purpose was just that, to walk the chickpete area of old Bangalore with its large expanse of market activity – an area originating from the time the city began, being one of the two main nuclei in Bangalore, the other one being the Cantonment area.

As I walked further, I saw this board Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan. The name was familiar of course. There was one at Malleswaram, another of the old Bangalore localities, a restaurant we had often frequented. It had the nicest neer dosa (with coconut milk). This had to be the same. It would be good.

Going into the restaurant, I found that here time had moved so much slower than on the street just outside it or on the many streets amidst which it was nestled. The place was quiet, not so many people about. I was early for lunch perhaps. I picked a table so I could see the restaurant and its entrance the way I felt like, with plenty of space in front of me, a bit of the light from the street coming in and the lights inside just enough so as to not drown out the natural light.

I ordered the food and waited, as I looked around me. It was better than I had expected. It actually had rosewood tables and chairs. The table top had been changed to a smooth, black granite top and the chair seats had a white, worn-out laminate, where probably canework had once been.

In front of me, I saw a brass nameplate that said ‘Special room’. This was the typical Family room that restaurants of old had always had. It had a five foot high wooden partition, partly glass. You had your privacy and yet were not too separated from the others. The flooring was the old checkerboard pattern – black and white marble squares. It had been a while since I last saw that. The washbasins located on a side wall of this large hall space had mirrors with teakwood frames.

The ceilings were high and supported by I-beams and I-sections. Just above the serving counter, where the menu was written in large bold letters were large photo-frames. There was one set of pictures of deities – the Raja Ravi Varma prints and another set a little away, of the founders of the hotel, these in black and white.

It had been a discovery, this Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan. There weren’t so many in the city anymore. It was like going into a time machine. After I had eaten my dosa and had my coffee, I got up to leave, knowing that I could come back into this art deco time machine anytime I wanted to and they even served you the finest filter coffee, as you traced the city back in time!


Isabel said...

I hope these 'old world' eateries are here to stay! I'll visit this Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan the next time I'm in Chickpete!

R Niranjan Das said...

Awesomely described!! Reminded me of the old indian coffee shops.

Isabel said...

Kiran - the Kadlekai Parishe is starting on Monday.

I hope you got my last comment.

Indian Bazaars said...

Isabel: I'm told that some of the marwari eateries in Chickpete are also very good since there is a large community of marwari traders in this area. I've been meaning to try those out as well! I did get your comment about the Kadlekai Parishe 2011 with the links to the blogpost. Was that the one you were referring to?

R Niranjan Das: I guess it would be nice if the old Indian coffee shops could continue even if we have the Cafe Coffee days (and now the Starbucks)! When the Indian coffee shop (in Bangalore)moved from M.G.Road to Church street, it felt nice that it didn't go away completely but the one at M.G.road had a charm about it which the new one seems not to have.

Meena Venkataraman said...

One of my favourite places in Bangalore :)..and you have brought it to life!
Your post made me hungry, a sudden craving for Indian food - hot dosas and idlis with tangy Sambhar.. and of course filter coffee.. sigh!

Anjali said...

I traveled with you in the time m/c. Those "the Raja Ravi Varma prints and another set a little away, of the founders of the hotel, these in black and white" are a kind of a common feature of such hotels. The food is quite satisfying in these places and atleast does not pinch the pocket as you eat.