There are few things and places which stand the test of time and only ones with clear and sound roots around their values are able to achieve this. Talking about Bangalore and its food, MTR definitely comes to mind. MTR or Mavalli Tiffin Rooms has become synonymous with Bangalore since it opened back in 1924 and has been run since by the Maiya's family. Over the past 90 years, it has focused on serving common people with the high standards of quality in food. The eatery changed its location back in 1960 and since then for decades, its flagship restaurant has been dishing out South Indian delicacies from the same two floor building in front of the famous Lalbagh gardens. Over the past few years, it has also opened few branches all over Bangalore totaling up to 7 locations. MTR is frequented by new and old Bangaloreans and has its fan following with some of the famous personalities. I've been to many MTR locations in the last decade and had the delicious award winning food and I tried it once again in its oldest location to be current for this review.
Lalbagh is one of the famous landmarks in the city of Bangalore and MTR stands out on the Lalbagh Road, leading from the main gate of the gardens.
Address: No. 14, Lalbagh Road, Bangalore - 560027
MTR opens early morning serving breakfast from 6:30 AM to 11:00 AM. It serves lunch from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM, snacks from 3:30 PM to 8:30 PM (7:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday). The dinner is served only on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM. Be ready for queues, specially on the weekends.
MTR at Lalbagh is one of its kind, and has pretty much carried the same ambiance for as far as I know which has been more than a decade now. It allows shared tables, while there is a family room on the first floor. The staircase and place carries old photos of famous politicians with the likes of Jawahar Lal Nehru having their food here. The photos and the place easily explains to a newbie on the journey this place has taken over the decades and the importance of it in the history of Bangalore.
There is a waiting room with benches while the dining area has tables with plastic chairs. The servers wear a uniform shirt and dhoti and carry the meals all around bare foot true to traditional Indian values.
The service is pretty consistent, you get what you ask for fairly quickly. Again its a restaurant serving commoners day in and day out with a fairly large waiting queue, so I don't expect anything more. If you happen to be waiting, you are called in sequentially based on availability.
Getting serviced by the bare foot servers get's you to experience a very unique traditional Indian kitchen and instills a great patriotic feeling.
A hearty breakfast for two at MTR can be had for about INR 250 ($4) while the weekend dinner would be about INR 450 ($7), so you could call it fairly cheap. For the volumes they sell, they can definitely keep the prices for a quality meal.
I tried the breakfast in early hours of morning. MTR has been famous for its Rava Idli, Masala Dosa, Kesari Bhath and South Indian Filter Coffee among others. I ordered each of these items and you can feel the richness in each of the preparations.
The Dosa comes cooked in a desi ghee (clarified butter) and served with coconut chutney and vegetable curry as traditionally served. It is a league different to the other regular Kannada darshini's (small restaurants). The fold of the dosa, the crispiness, the accompaniments everything has great appetizing capabilities. Not to forget the chutney served here has distinct taste of cardamom and spices and just the right consistency, when most of the small and big restaurants give no more than what feels like flavored water. There is no question why MTR dosa has won accolades and food critique awards.
The Rava Idli is also optimally filled with cashew nuts and curry leaves both traditional South Indian ingredients. Just like dosa this is also served with vegetable curry and coconut chutney and another tea spoon full of desi ghee in a small finger thick bowl. I absolutely loved this small bowl of ghee and the pleasure of pouring it over the idli can only be experienced. Once again the thoughtfulness of the chef's on making it a perfect Rava Idli is clearly on display in the taste and way of serving.
Kesari Bhath had ample amount of cashew nuts and raisins and just the right sweetness. The color of the kesar comes out with a nice yellowish tinge in the dish. Most of the other places I've had this feel more synthetic as compared to the MTR version
I also tried Pongal which is a rice and dal preparation from this part of the country. Even with a belly full of breakfast already I could not resist having a more than a few spoonfuls.
You just can't stop eating these delicacies and each of them taste absolutely great. I suggest ending the meal with a Filter Coffee served in typical South Indian glasses. The coffee can be ordered strong or light and is absolutely must have to settle the heavy breakfast and keep you awake. If coffee is not your choice go for some Badam Milk.
MTR is a must visit if you are in Bangalore, so you can be proud to be a part of the historical journey.Published On: Friday, March 7th, 2014