Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brindavan Hotel

How would you like to walk on a bustling road: Traffic. Pollution. Construction. Mortar. Cranes. Screeching vehicles. Hunger. Basically, good old M.G. Road. You are still walking... You turn to your left. There is a sign that says "Brindavan Hotel". What the heck you say! You walk in (you are hungry, remember!! anything will do at the moment!). You enter the building. What you see around you is somewhat different. Oasis, you say. Of course, you would. Since starting off in 1967 the ambience of the hotel (translate it to restaurant) has not changed much.

Mr. Mohan Rao, the hotel owner gave us a short course on the history of the place. Which I will tell you later. Let's come back to our hunger. Food. It was Saturday noon and lunch time. Time for full meals. Unlimited. Eat as much as you can. Finishing off roti, 4 kinds of sabji, rasam, rice, sambaar took not more than 30 mins. Fabulous!! I could write pages of how good the food is. The rasam itself is worth a king's ransom. But that is what makes Brindavan a favourite with some very well known names from the Southern part of India.

The chairs and tables are slowly being replaced as all date back to the day the hotel was started and have begun to show signs of age. But Mr. Rao assured us that no other changes will be made to the place. Even the new furniture is stated to be such that it can mingle with the ambiance. We expressed our displeasure that the furniture was being replaced.

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In case you didn't notice, I keep mentioning about the owners. Yes, Mr. Rao was generous enough to spend time with us and supply our curiosity with answers. Considering the fact that he has hobnobbed with some very big names, this was an absolute honour.

He gave us a brief history of the place. Mr. Rao is from Mangalore but grew up in Tamil Nadu (he speaks very good Tamil). This place was got on rent initially from the owner of that land. Raja Muthiah Chettiar himself suggested to Mr. Rao's father that they should take this place. And the inauguration too was done by Raja Muthiah Chettiar. The owner impressed by what they had done to the place suggested that they buy it!! Once again Raja Muthiah Chettiar came to the rescue and the land was bought (the land itself is worth crores today considering that it is bang on M.G. Road). Where lesser mortals pretend to be great, Mr. Rao spent time with us and gave us a round of the menu served as well!

The pongal served in Brindavan is the kind that grandmother made. No onions and certainly not watery!! Same goes for the vattakuzhambu. The person who cooked initially was from Pallakadu. Mr. Rao tells us he would not enter the kitchen without a bath. Then the kitchen would be cleaned, the stove got it's respect, only then cooking would begin. The gentleman was with Brindavan for the initial 15 years till the day he passed away! Hiring a new cook was not easy but fortunately the gentleman who assisted was now promoted. From what I have tasted, I know he is doing a great job.

Apart from Raja Muthiah Chettiar the place is frequented by artists - Mandilin Srinivas, P. Susheela are just a few - and businessmen of various nature. Don't want to name here but a certain gentleman running his own chain of restaurants is known to frequent Brindavan!!!

Is it a surprise then that they were the runners-up in the Times of India's “Dosa Coffee” contest (they were a last minute entry). The Deccan Herald has to say this about Brindavan

At just Rs. 70/- a thali, it is just perfect! Right in the middle of M.G,Road you can actually get food that is priced like that, is unlimited, tastes amazing and the hotel owners are more like hosts. If you haven't guessed it yet, yes I went there again ;-) and that's how the photos of Masala Dosa and coffee!!

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