It’s an ode... a punch of Cantonment nostalgia where “Bob” rules the roost. Every Old Bengalurean has at one time or another shouted out to the person near them, calling him “Bob” fondly, to say hello or “oota aayeta?” It’s the colloquial name for that dude next door, it usually endears the caller and the callee. And in this case, the local South Indian cuisine loving foodie.
Inspired by this, this band of buddies, Rolf Marren, Ajay Gowda and Premkumar Sundaramurthy were glugging beer at their already-raging Byg Brewski, shooting ideas, complaining (about this new ‘not-so-nice’ Bengaluru) and arrived at a consensus - to bring Old Bengaluru back, in pub form, masala emanating, Bob-spurting, very easy on the pocket and tummy — Bob’s Bar was born out of a need to pub-hop the way Old Bengalureans did.
The new homely neighbourhood pub is expansive, with wooden antique chairs and tables, tiled in black and white, with bits and BOBs of yellow and orange and simplistic interiors. On Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Road, it lets the Ooru’s “climate” do the talking with its terraced, open spaces, balconies framed by overhanging Gulmohars. The famed chef Sabhyasachi Gorai is their culinary strongman, along with an able team serving South Indian faves in the most welcome and homely tenets found at a bar for all “Bobs” (and babes)!
“The idea was to start an old Bangalore bar, a nostalgic space outdoors that served simple local cuisine. There was a time in old Bangalore when if you went to a bar alone, you’d know everyone, and most waiters would know every song and artist... that was what we wanted to relive again,” says Rolf, the quintessential old Bengalurean who grew and up studied here, first St Josephs Boys and then at Shrishti School of Design... till fate decided to wave a wand of hospitality his way, which he has since become quite adept at — he is among the partners that started the Byg Brewski.
The crew plans to open Bob’s Bar in Koramangala soon, and plans to take it to different parts of India. At an affordable price and taste, a steal for sure, where else can one get this bungalow-meet-bar-meet-local machcha-meet-Bob kinda haven? “I don’t think South Indian food is represented well across India. If it works, we plan to initiate that,” adds Rolf, who comes from the Mascarenhas family, and can still recalls the meals his grandfather made, with relish. “Ajay and Prem added their soul food too, we wanted to celebrate this cuisine with our favourites, home cooked recipes.” Ajay, incidentally, used to run Styx on MG Road, and Rasa in Malleswaram. Prem comes from a construction background which explains the aesthetics of all their projects.
The menu is succinct, and reminded us of the many bars in Bengaluru. We have always wanted to sit at a local bar that a girl can walk into... This is tres bien! Because not only do you get the best of Ooru oota, it’s made without the greasy touchings of local bar kitchens. Chef Sabhyasachi Gorai has taken the food we call soul food, cooked it in wholesome quality ingredients, and then, the clincher — served it in full or half plates. The half plates are a boon for a foodie. Coz, no one wants to eat just one. If Shivaji Military Hotel is a helicopter ride away (well almost, given city traffic), then give us Bob’s Bar any day, though we are still searching for the elusive Bob amidst the woodwork! We started the meal on the quaint terrace, with a half plate of Malnad Pork, just the right tang, and chilli with curry leaf flavour. We loved it, with a crisp khali dosa, it was good, fatty but that is where the taste comes from.
The chicken ghee roast surprised us, in that it was the same red masala we loved, yet not overtly spicy... which worked for us even though we are spice lovers, and love the original. It was good. The chicken could have been less done.
We also ordered mutton chops, Donne biryani, and kheema dosa. Coz’, you can order small plates and feast like a king. The donne biryani (in egg, mutton, chicken) we absolutely loved. Perfectly made doused in a pudina and coriander masala, slow-cooked with the most tender mutton... it came with a raita and a gravy which was tomato-ey... slurp, slurp. Shivaji might have to wait a while. We would have loved to see a chilli chicken.. it probably will land up on the menu as these guys, each with an indelible Ooru connect have taken favourites from home recipes and brought it together wonderfully. A bar that is priced literally like a “bar” or that next door kudicks... you can’t beat that! And you can take your veggie-loving mom along to taste arbi on charcoal,, jackfruit seed ghee roast, Moringa leaf soup, avarekalu ussili, while you can feast on Kane or nati Koli.
We liked the Kheema dosa with gun powder, coconut and chilli onion chutney quite like ajji used to make it. The one thing that spice lovers might wonder about is toning down the masala and spice, though it still tastes home cooked. We also ordered a brinjal in tamarind that went perfectly with the dosa.
Since we are the kind who scour through Bengaluru in search of that perfect mutton chops and raggi mudde, we left the best for the last, a rich green masala mutton chops gravy. The mutton was so tender. But something was overpowering, maybe less cinnamon.
The Shrishti School of Design graduate Rolf has no doubt added his keen sense of design to BB, and the irrascible humour of a bunch of buddies from Bengaluru is evident every step of this hearty menu’s way... the Sundal, raw banana cutlet, kappa, podimas, paneer pepper crust are some of the favourites. The Filter Coffee Cheesecake on a rose cookie bed - creamy and delectable.
The absolute ease on the pocket takes you aback. We couldn’t resist asking, and were surprised at the reply from Rolf, “We are trying to earn a little less,” and endear themselves to the old Bangalorean! I’d go there for a tipple and bite any day... or lots of bites of small plates... and then some more! We are still searching for Bob, we heard he is taking lessons from the home cooks in a village nearby. We’ll be back, because this not only works, it runs. Till then, if you see Bob, give him a shout!
(Suruchi Kapur-Gomes takes the road less travelled, in search of the ultimate foodie high in namma city)...