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A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Category: Restaurants

Navaratnas : 9 Must Visit Restaurants in Bangalore

Bangalore is home to thousands of restaurants. Its tough selecting the best and most unique amongst them. The criteria I have used is based on Longevity, Consistency and Uniqueness. These are the Nine Jewels – the 9 Must visit restaurants in Bangalore.

  • The first 5 are legendary  – they are part of Bangalore’s history. Many have been around for more than 50 years. They are located in Old Bangalore – Malleswaram, Basavangudi & Lalbagh. All of them serve authentic Karnataka taste S Indian food . Most of them are Tiffin joints serving traditional Karnataka tasting food. (Yes the taste of Sambar and Chutney changes across the 4 South Indian states). These places are always crowded, service is fast & effecient and they are very affordable. BMW’s and Mercs line up outside these shops and don’t be surprised if you bump into Rajnikanth, Puneet Rajkumar or the Padukone family.
  • The Next 3 are unique new ones run by passionate entrepreneurs. They serve healthy food – Vegan, Millet based food in a lovely ambience. They are also located in traditional Kannadiga localities of JP Nagar, Jaynagar and Sadashivnagar.
  • The lone North Indian Restaurant – In a city packed with Italian, Chinese and Continental restaurants its difficult to find a good authentic North India restaurant. It was a close call between two restaurants and I finally chose the newer one because of its brightness and positive energy.

The First 5 : Traditional and legendary, They are timeless. 

No 1 – Veena Stores at Malleswaram – Light as air Idlis and yummy “Savige”

A small standing joint spread across 150 sft it dates back to 1977 . It all started when  Suryanarayana Hegde moved to Bangalore from Sirsi as a 10-year-old after the death of his parents. After working as a cook for 10 year in a doctors house he started his own restaurant on Sampige Road. That closed due to labour problems. He then started Veena Stores with mainly condiments and a limited menu of coffee, tea, badam milk and Idlis.His son Pradeep a diploma in electrical engineering joined the business in 1987. Pradeep now runs the restaurant with his wife.

Veena Stores serves a limited menu – Fluffy soft Idlis, Vada, Khara Bath, Kesari, Pongal, Lemon Rice, Puliyogare, Coffee all of this served fresh and piping hot. The Savige (Vermicelli)  is the best. The Mint Chutney they serve is a hit. (The restaurant does not serve Sambar). Very reasonable priced all dishes are in the 20 – 30Rs range. Sumptuous breakfast for 2 will be less than Rs 150/-. Good to know Kannada while ordering and please go with a driver as parking is a challenge.

  • Address : 187, 15th Cross, Margosa Road, Malleshwaram, Bangalore
  • Timings : 6.30 AM – 12 Noon , 3.30 PM – 9 PM

Veena Stores at Malleswaram

No 2 – CTR (Shiv Sagar) at Malleswaram – Best Place for Dosa

This hotel was started by Y.V. Subramanyam and brothers  in the 1920s. They hailed from a village in Kolar, whose residents are Ashtagrama Iyers of Tamil origin. Subramanyam sold his hotel the mid-1950s. It still has a vintage wall clock and rosewood furniture with Italian marble table tops. It is said the brothers passed on tips about preparations to the new owners along with advice to take care of workers by not overburdening them. It was established as Shree Sagar in 1950 and after changing hands a few more times it was bought by the current owner in 1992 and renamed Central Tiffin Room (CTR)

This is the best place in Bangalore for Dosas. And they come in many varieties Benne Masala Dosa, Butter Masala Dosa and Crispy Masala Dosa. They have seating inGround & 1st floor. It has the ambience of a Coffee House. Apart from the Dosas CTR is also known for its Idly Vada, Poori-Saagu, Kharabath and Kesaribath, Mangalore Bajji and Filter Coffee. It has won awards including the Times Food Guide “Best Benne Masala Dosa in Bangalore” and Burrp.com’s “Best Benne Masala in Bangalore. Very reasonable prices – A sumptuous breakfast for 2 will be about Rs 200/-

  • Address : 7th Cross, Margosa Road, Malleshwaram, Bangalore ( Opp to Malleswaram Grounds)
  • Timings : 7.30 AM – 12.30 , 4 PM – 9 PM

Best Dosa

No 3 – Brahmins Coffee Bar commonly known as Brahmins Cafe – Basavangudi  : Consistent quality and awesome Chutney

Brahmin’s was set up by Narasimha Rao, in the 1960s. Jan 27th 1965 to be precise. They initially started by serving traditional Filter Coffee and sourcing snacks from outside. Soon they started making limited variety of high quality S Indian tiffin. They have stuck to this winning formulae over the years. The speciality here is their Chutney. KN Saraswathi (the founder’s wife) who is in her 80s is still believed to supervise the preparation of the restaurant’s chutney every single day. It’s one of the many things that have remained constant at the restaurant. And there is a person serving serving unlimited chutney from buckets. The menu hasn’t changed in over four decades – Idli, Vade, Kara Bath and the sweet Kesri Bath. Each one of these items is truly delicious and incredibly consistent. (The restaurant does not serve Sambar)

  • Address : Ranga Rao Road, Near Shankar Math, Shankarpuram, Near Basavanagudi, Bangalore
  • Timings : 6 AM – 12 Noon , 3 PM – 7 PM

Brahmins Coffee Bar

No 4 – Vidyarthi Bhawan – Gandhi Bazar, Basavangudi  : Truly legendary  – a tradition since 1943

Located on the main road you enter the restaurant walking by a street full of fragrant flowers. “Vidyarthi Bhavan was primarily started for students, as the name suggests, but its popularity increased, and today we have celebrities from all fields who brainstorm over our dosas and coffee,” says Arun Kumar Adiga, who runs Vidyarthi Bhavan. On weekends there are over 3000 walk ins as people wait patiently for the seats to be freed up.

Vidyarthi Bhavan Basavangudi

The wait is worth it – The dosas are rich and soaked in butter. To this day, six dishes on Vidyarthi Bhavan’s menu — benne (butter) masala dose (along with saagu-masale), puri-saagu, idli sambar, uppittu, chow-chow bath and rave vade have celebrity status! And its been consistent over the years.

Garland shops near Vidyarthi Bhavan

  • Address : 32, Gandhi Bazaar, Near Gandhi Bazaar Circle, Basavanagudi, Bangalore
  • Timings : 6.30 AM – 12 Noon , 2.30 PM – 8 PM

No 5 – Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) – Needs no introduction 

MTR needs no introduction. Lalbagh, Cubbon Park, Vidhan Soudha and MTR are the 4 pillars that define Bangalore. There are many MTR restaurants in town and abroad but I am referring to the iconic 1st branch near Lalbagh. The others are no match to the original one. Started in 1924 the restaurant is spread across 2 floors and has a lot of seating. There are even rooms that can be reserved for families.

The food served at the MTR is all veg, Karnataka Brahmin fare and owes its origin to the Udupi Cuisine of coastal Karnataka. The decor is old age. For many years, the customers entered the restaurant through the kitchen so that they would be able to satisfy themselves about the restaurant’s cleanliness before they ate there.

During  WW 2, MTR found it difficult to make Idlis, since rice was in short supply. They experimented with Semolina instead of rice and thus invented the very popular breakfast item of Rava Idli. The Tiffin here is wonderful and over the weekends its customary for Bangaloreans to go for a walk in Lalbagh and then Q up for breakfast at MTR. However if you are visiting for the 1st time visit them for Lunch. Its an elaborate multiple course meal with unlimited servings and you will struggle to complete it. Important to note that they are Closed on Mondays. Paid 3rd party Car parking is available diagonally opposite.

  • Address : # 14, Lalbagh Road , Bangalore
  • Ph: 080 – 22220022 (Reservations are taken for lunch & dinner only)
  • Timings : 6:30 am – 11:00 am & 12:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Mavalli Tiffin Room Bangalore

The Next 3 : Unique, Healthy Food run by passionate entrepreneurs. 

These are not as well known as the earlier 5. They are a new age of restaurants promoting healthy food. They have a lovely ambience, tasty food and are reasonably priced. After the rich fare with dosas soaked in butter in the above 5 restaurants  – the light and healthy food here will be a refreshing change.

No 6 – JustBE, A Vegan Restaurant that offers a lot more

A classy Vegan Restaurant at Sadashivnagar it serves Vegan food without Oil, Dairy products, Refined Products like Maida, Sugar etc. Serves a variety of tasty and healthy  continental dishes from Nachos, Sandwiches, Sizzlers to Pizzas and Asian Bowls. The idea is to appeal to the younger generation. The ambience is calm and serene. the place also has a Meditation Room and the only Svara (Sound Healing) room outside of Auroville. Servings are large and a meal for two costs about Rs 1000.

JustBE, A Vegan Restaurant

Read more about JustBe : https://vak1969.com/2018/07/12/justbe-cafe-eat-meditate-satiate-in-a-holistic-zone/ 

  • Address : 383/31, 13th Cross, Sadashiv Nagar, Bangalore
  • Timings : 11 AM – 11 PM

No 7 – Vaathsalya’s Millet Cafe, A Millet Only Restaurant 

Located at JP Nagar this place serves a wide variety of dishes – from Cutlets to Thali and everything cooked here is mad with Millets or Red Rice. Jyoti the owner is passionate about furthering the cause of Millets and after years of seeing the benefit in her family has started this restaurant to espouse the cause. the signature dish is their Thali. The store also sells handicraft , ladies handloom clothes, and organic products. A calm and quiet place on weekdays – it can get busy on weekends.

Vaathsalya's Millet Cafe

No 8 – Prem’s Graama Bhojanam, A Millet Only Restaurant 

This is another Millet only food restaurant that serves a wide variety of dishes that look and taste like regular S Indian dishes made with rice. All of this served in a rustic village ambience. The Dosas, Vadas, Paddu’s are all made of Millets. They also have Rotis of all the main millets served with curry. Thali options are available at lunch. The water that is served tastes like the “Teertham” you get in a temple – mixed with Camphor, Tulsi, Clove & Cardamom. The Matka Kulfi was also very tasty. At the end of the meal they give you a concoction “Kashayam” to improve your digestion. Its a very affordable place. Between four of us we ordered 2 plates of Paddu’s (Kuzhi Paniyaram), 2 Dosas , all the 4 Varieties of Millet Roti’s with Sabji and Kulfi and the bill was only Rs 884/-.

Prem's Graama Bhojanam Bangalore

No 9 – Urban Tamasha – Bright and Positive 

After so many S Indian fares I had to include one North Indian restaurant. In the new Bangalore areas of Indiranagar , Koramangla and Sarjapur you will struggle to find a good North Indian restaurant. All you see is Pubs , Italian, Chinese, Continental , Sandwich cafes, Coffe Bars etc. I have always felt that Tandoor in MG Road was the best bet for North Indian food. Good variety, authentic N Indian, consistent quality and great service. But I recently found a place that had all this with 2 additional advantages – A bright ambience full of positive energy and a wider variety of dishes.

This place is Urban Tamasha a newly opened restaurant at Indranagar.  The North India food and starters were great – they also have Pasta, Noodles and Pizza options – which works out very well when you go with the younger generation. Non veg dishes available. Lunch has a buffet option. No Alcohol is served.

Urban Tamasha Bangalore

  • Address : 2011,1st Floor, HAL 2nd Stage,100 Feet Road, Indiranagar
  • Timing : 12Noon to 1 AM

………..and one more thing

At the end of every presentation the legendary Steve Jobs used to have a slide titled “One more thing” – having worked in Apple I will take that learning from him and add one more restaurant to this list.

Sree Krishna Kafe Koramangla 

This is where I have been going Traditional restaurants of bangafor breakfast once a week for many years. And it would not be fair not to include it. Located in Koramangla next to Anand Sweets its the only restaurant that serves authentic Tamil Nadu style food. Idlis, Upma, Pongal, Dosas for breakfast and evening tiffin and plantain leaf lunch. The Sambar here is distinctively different from the other restaurants listed above. Its like a mess – always crowded with regulars.

Sree Krishna Kafe Koramangla

  • Address : 5th Main, Near Anand Sweets, Koramangala 5th Block, Bangalore
  • Timing : 7:30AM to 10:30AM, 12Noon to 3:15PM, 5:30PM to 10:30PM

PS : For the best thin Crust Pizzas visit Toscano or Little Italy – Both have multiple branches in the city 

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Discovering the passion behind Vaathsalya’s Millet Cafe

After our Banahsankari/Jaynagar temple visits we stopped by at Vaathsalya’s Millet Cafe at J.P.Nagar for lunch. It is probably Bangalore’s only Millet cafe, that serves a wide range of dishes, and almost everything is made from Millets.

We relished the freshly made healthy Thali that consisted of 2 Millet rotis, 1 Sprouted Sabji,  veg Sabji , Chutney , Raita, 3 Varieties of rice (Millet Curd Rice, Millet Coloured Rice and Red Rice), Millet Payasam, Millet Butter Milk and papad. Thats a lot of nutrition and taste for only Rs 230/-. The food is healthy and tasty – less oil, less spice. They don’t use preservatives, baking soda or food colours. Even white rice is not used. The motto is Healthy grains in a Healthy way.

The cafe is a nice calm homely place, very traditional, very unique. They also have a store called Jawari that sells a wide variety of millets , ready to use millet products like Ragi malt , Ragi Dosa Mix etc. Jawari also sells Handloom clothes for women sourced from village artisans. Sarees, Kurtis, Salwars, Stoles , handicraft Items and a wide variety of Pots. The women in the group loved the collection and felt that the rates were very reasonable. 

Vaathsalya is indeed a unique must visit restaurant for vegetarians – but what is more fascinating is the story behind Vaathsalya. The determination and passion of Jyoti the lady whose only goal in life is to promote and share the goodness of millets. I had a long discussion with her and this lady is in love with millets. Her eyes sparkle and she went non stop for 90 minutes talking about her passion.

Born in a rural Lingayat family near Hampi she was the 9th child amongst a large family of 11 children. As a child she loved art & mathematics ( a rare combination) – and had a deep sense of compassion for the Lambani women who used to perform annually at their hometown. She visited the houses of these tribals in her Luna moped and was smitten by the skill and dexterity that these otherwise tough looking people had. This was also when she realised that women work harder put are paid lesser.

Her journey with Millets started when her 2nd son a sports enthusiast broke his hand and the doctors advised a high nutrition diet to strengthen his bones. Her son refused to eat Ragi Mudde as it was brown and not tasty. This took her to CFTRI (Central Food Technology Institute – Mysore). She just walked in one day and was lucky to get an audience with Dr Malleshi – one of India’s leading researchers on millets. He taught her how to make ragi Malt.

She was thrilled – Ragi malt tasted like any chocolate drink – and her son loved it. This is where the journey started. At CFTRI she learnt the basics of cooking tasty healthy food for her family. A devoted mother of 3 sons she was thrilled that she had finally learnt the art of cooking healthy, nutritious, tasty meals for her family. The motherly love or ” Vaathsalya” was flowing with joy.

Back in Bangalore she then did a 1 week course at the Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra Bangalore (GKVK – Part of Bangalore University). The program was on different ways of cooking with Ragi. This is where she learnt the nutritional values of Ragi and how it was grown organically with no pesticides and very little water. It was an eye opener to her when she realised that 70 years back Millets was the staple diet in India but had slowly got replaced with Rice & Wheat.

She was very excited and happy – since then spreading the good word about millets and Ragi became her mission in life. She spent 2 + years at  GKVK learning, teaching, contributing, participating in Krishi Melas trying to spread the message. But it was tough going – inspite of the inherent advantage of Millets it was not an easy sell. She took her menus and ” how to cook” guides to big hotels pleading with them to include the Millet dishes in their menu – but they all refused

That is when the idea of a restaurant was conceived and Vaathsalya was born. Taking a 25 Lac loan it was a struggle for a housewife to start a business. But the drive and passion of Jyoti had no stopping. Initially it was difficult to even get a cook – and Jyoti managed the kitchen by herself for two years. She now trains women to cook and manages a team of 12 staff who cook and serve the fresh tasty food at her restaurant. The first 2 months she served her food free. Slowly over years the concept has picked up and is now attracting attention.

Large Corporates and Spiritual Guru’s have approached her to sell her products to them so that they can promote it under their own brand. But she is skeptical and is passionate about the Vaathsalya brand. She has even developed 5 ready to use products.

She manages a good show – Sat / Sun her restaurant of about 60 seats is sold out. A lot of business also comes as takeaway. The best seller Thali is available for Lunch and Dinner and her cafe is open from 10 AM to 8 PM.

Do check out this lovely place and as a respect to the admirable spirit of Jyoti spread the word about the goodness of Millets.

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Address  : 277, 15th Cross, 21 Main, Outer Ring Road, JP Nagar 5th Phase, JP Nagar, Bangalore

Phone Numbers

+91 9449064494
+91 8125995641

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