The idea of a café goes beyond the coffee, the food, the ambience, the business and the people. Cafes are the nerve centers of a city. The culture is synonymous with art, politics, relationships, history and even racing!
The inevitable charm of a café is in the fact that it brings together an eclectic population that is, for all hypothetical purposes, a cross section of the city’s socio-cultural fabric. Waves of change sweep the city infinitely but its true spirit is distilled in the trickle of ideas, expressions and caffeine that a café serves in a cup.
Bengaluru also boasts of a thriving scene in café culture. The legacy of old Bangalore, eastern and western influences, contemporary styles, music – all find representation in the burgeoning café world of Bengaluru.
Here are some of the popular haunts of a Bangalorean-
1. Indian Coffee House
The very first café chain in India, the Indian Coffee House opened its shutters to coffee-loving Bangaloreans in January of 1958.
ICH has a revolutionary history as well. Originally started as India Coffee House by the Coffee Cess Committee in 1936, there were about 50 ICHs in British India. After a policy change, it was decided to shut down the operations of ICH. But dismissed employees rallied together by veteran Communist leader AK Gopalan formed the Indian Coffee Workers’ Co-operatives and took over the ICH by rechristening it as Indian Coffee House.
The first revamped ICH of India was on Bengaluru’s very own MG Road, where the café attracted an illustrious fan following of intellectuals, political bigwigs, scientists and artists. The iconic café retained its old world charm with its waiters in white livery and turban, faded posters and black and white photographs. ICH moved to Church Street in 2009 following their loss in court over a dispute over continued tenancy in their building on MG Road.
ICH has recently opened a branch near Jyoti Nivas College in Koramanagala.
2. The Hole In The Wall
Tucked away in the restive neighbourhood of Koramangala, a snug little place offers all-day English breakfasts, waffles, burgers, pancakes and more. Hole in the Wall is tastefully done with a homely décor and good music. It is a hot favourite for weekend brunchers and one often has to wait for half an hour or more during the peak hunger hours of Saturday and Sunday to get seats.
Its sister concern, A Hole Lotta Love, on the Jyoti Nivas College Road in Koramangala (again!) offers a similar menu but it has a different ambience.
3. Ranga Shankara Café
You’re a theatre enthusiast in Bengaluru? Well, there’s a café for you too! The quaint little coffee bar attached to Ranga Shankara, Bengaluru’s indigenous theatre hub, is the epicentre for all the pre- and post-performance discussions and debates. They serve a variety of local snacks and savouries that one should definitely give a try! The open air feel of the dealwood construction of the café gives it a very artsy feel.
The Ranga Shankara Café is the perfect place to engage in intellectual dialogue with directors, playwrights, connoisseurs and actors. If you’re lucky, you might bump into the stalwarts like Girish Karnad, Arundhati Nag, MS Sathyu, among others.
4. Atta Galatta
The strange name of this library-cum-creative space-cum-café is actually functional! ‘Atta’ in Hindi means wheat flour and at the same time, in Kannada means play. ‘Galatta’ in Kannada means ruckus. So Atta Galatta stands for the yummy sandwiches, pizzas, burgers, workshops, readings and other activities which happen very often in their brick and mortar space.
Atta Galatta plays host to many meetings and activities as a flexible space. They have an enviable collection of books which one can peruse over a coffee and even buy them, if you like.
5. DYU Art Café
A throwback to Kashi’s Art Café in Fort Kochi, the DYU Art Café is a sublime experience that transports you to a traditional Kerala tharavadu. However, the menu is decidedly western with some indigenous touches. (The limeade features narunandi, an Ayurvedic herbal freshner)
The walls curate a collection of abstract glow paintings by contemporary artists, which can be bought as well. The café exudes that raw, earthy appeal when combined with the art work makes it a refreshing choice for Bangaloreans to chill at.
Stay tuned for more interesting places on Café Diary: Bengaluru. Cheers!
(to be continued…)