Waking up at the crack of dawn, hanging out with newspaper vendors and having(1/2) called " by two coffee" is definitely not a privilege of a newspaper circulation/ distribution executives job in any part of the world. However, soon after having the choice of an early breakfast at the local exotica with the team is certainly a privilege I definitely cherished.
The city is Bangalore, business is over and its only 6a.m. A brisk walk in Lalbagh and we are ready for breakfast. The option is hop across to MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room), the high priest of Doasas and Karnatesque breakfast cuisine, or the highly recommended Vidyarthi Bhavan. Both have their huge following. MTR with the Discovery Channel and Vir Sanghvi crowd.Whilst ,SM Krishna (the erstwhile Chief Minister of Karnatka) often drops in at Vidyarthi Bhavan. I choose to go to both, we have to get up every morning in any case (we are launching Mint the business paper with Wall street Journal), we have to congregate for breakfast in any case. Kanan, my friend and then Head of Circulation organises a breakfast meetings with the team or vendors or distributors everyday. I get to sample local exotica. The only serious clause the price has to be under Rs 100/- per head which here in Bangalore is not at all difficult.
Amongst all the varied breakfast places we went to, the MTR and Vidyarthi debate was the most prominent with both places evenly poised. MTR is two storied has a smoky, old world look with waiting benches and and easy and relaxed waiters with barefeet, knee length hitched lungis. The dosas served with ghee and chutney (sambhar on request), The idli and khara bath (a kind of upma) are served with chutney and sambhar and when they run out of chutney and sambhar, which they often do at 9am.They serve these with a potata gravy (the kind eaten eith pooris in south India). The service is relaxed, there are some oldies and senior citizens having their weekly bash. This is heartland Kannadiga belt of Bangalore. Anyone who believes Bangalore is truly cosmopolitan, needs to do a reality check after visiting Lalbagh, MTR and Gandhi bazaar. The whole experience is very different from any other south Indian food experience ever before.The prices, idli, Rs10/- Masala dosa 20/- Kesari Bath/ Kara Bath Rs 20/- cofee Rs 15/- any which way you van eat very well under rs 100/-. They encourage you to visit their enormous and clean kitchen.Basically a place to come in regularly and when one is not in a great hurry. Relax ! is the tone.
Now Vidyarthi Bhavan, it comes highly recommeded by the locals, has a huge fan following, its the unglamorous but more talented of the two siblings. The take on dosas is very different, almost a thick caramellised crust. The tast lingers on for hours, the service is unobtrusive and prompt. Our waiter Vasu has spent over 20 years at the outlet in Gandhi Bazaar. We order idli , vadas and dosas and coffee its Rs 17/- Rs 9/- Rs 12/- Rs 6/- respectively. I remember I went with my wife Praveen, who was visiting Bangalore, we both ate very well for Rs 75/- in all. It was Ganesh Chaturti the whole of Gandhi Bazaar wore a very festive look. Decked with flowers vegetables and fruits. The restaurant is very ordinary, a blink and you miss it. Situated in about a 200 sq metres plot of land, squeezed between shops. Its long narrow hall, with a cash counter as you enter.
Both these places as you can see with the menu boards attached, offer a meal fore under Rs 100/- (definitely recommended for my Salesman's guide to eating out). My vote definitely goes with Vidyarthi Bhavan for the food, umm the taste lingers on and MTR for the experience.
My question to you, can you recognise the Vidyarthi Bhavan dosa out of the two attached pictures.