Saturday, June 18, 2005

Namma MTR? Thanks, but no thanks!

It was on a very pleasant Saturday afternoon that the 16 of us met at the Mavalli Tiffin Rooms or more popularly known as the MTR restaurant in Bangalore to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Those who belong to Bangalore or those who have lunched at MTR would definitely sympathise with us. It’s not a joke getting a place to sit in this historic restaurant. If those old photographs featuring eminent Indian historic leaders lunching at MTR food did not impress you much, then the bunch of people waiting in those dingy waiting rooms and pushing and pulling each other to make sure that they get a seat during the prime time definitely would. I was impressed the first time I lunched there a year back. But the second experience is the more memorable of the two. For a very special reason.

Despite having a reservation we had to wait close to 50 minutes before we managed to get seated. We were the happiest lot in that place, cracking fatso jokes and exchanging old family anecdotes and tapping now and then on the silver cutlery set in the table, waiting for the feast to begin. We waited close to 20 minutes for the lunch to start. The main pastime in between all this waiting time was watching the joys of accomplishment in the faces of the people who were 'allowed' to enter the lunch area by the MTR staff. I suspect Magellan, Norgay, Hillary, Amstrong and Aldrin would have sported humbler expressions when they accomplished their feats. I am not exaggerating. If you’ve ever been to MTR at around 1:00PM for lunch, you would nod your head in recognition.

But, getting a place to seat is just the beginning. The MTR experience does not end here. The most important part, the food is THE experience! At Rs.75 for an all-you-can-eat-multi course-lunch, I would say that they do put together a good spread. And yeah, most of the items would be replenished in your plate as long as you would want them to. But then, maybe only people like Thrissur Theetta Rappai would dare to ask for a second round here. Normal mortals would find it gruesome even to finish the first helpings of the entire course. I am not exaggerating here, it IS heavy!

The entire meal consists of a glass of fruit juice playing the role of an appetiser really well, kosambri or dal salad, a good measure of a gooey masala rice called Bisibele bath, huge pooris and masala to go with it, milk sweets, vadas, Chandrahara - which is a full ghee gooey mixture which looks like baby poop but is very tasty........ the list goes on. I don’t recall the entire list of that multi-course meal, but you can consider the above as comprehensive highlights :) And as if these aren’t enough, sweets are served at periodic intervals so that even if you feel like biting into a peta in the midst of enjoying your Bisibelebath, voila, there it is!

If you are thinking, what’s the big deal, then consider that all these items are served before the 'real' meal starts. Now that would be a typical south Indian meal – Rice, sambar and curd and then the climax with a payasam. It’s not over yet. You gotta squeeze in some space for the fruit salad with ice cream and the grand finale - the paan too.

Now, I am a person who, according to my mother has a very small intestine which is actually not small but shrunken it seems! Plainly put, I am person who would be happy with small helpings for a meal. So, for me, going to a place like MTR is actually a little repulsive. But I know people who are out and out MTR fans and who swear by their food and their quality measures. It seems that MTR is ISO 9002 and HACCP certified and they have some very sophisticated equipment to prepare food and to wash utensils.

But then, one lunch at MTR and there were 16 diarrheic bowels the next day in my family. All of us who went there to celebrate the wedding anniversary! Well, there may have been more too. It’s been a week now and some of us are still visiting the glamourooms quite frequently. But, thank god, since I have a ‘shrunken intestine’, I came out with little damage.

Moral of the story – Ariyaatha kutti, ilakumbol ariyum :)

PS: Btw, one warning to all those who plan to travel between Kerala and Bangalore by Kallada Volvo buses in the near future. Be careful while taking those brown night time wraps. My brother was awfully sick in the bus and his wrap was used to wrap ‘something‘ that night. Though we offered that we would clean up the barfy wrap and return it to them, they decided against it.

So beware!


dinu said...

I thought MTR had strict quality measures, as they allowed the diners to inspect their kitchen. Sad to know your plight.

The lunch is really heavy there. I always prepared for a couple of days before a visit to MTR. :-)

Anil said...

Gawd, there's something terribly wrong with the concept of writing about good food and diarrheic howels and a barf-filled wrap on the same page. I'll need counselling after reading this description:

"..a gooey masala rice called Bisibele bath,[...] a full ghee gooey mixture which looks like baby poop"

Holy crap!

Lost in trance... said...

Hey the best thing I luvved about the place is the fruit salad+ice cream...and the coffee :)
And the "ariyaatha kutti..." part is hilarious...I'm still laffing :)))

Girl With Big Eyes said...

You 'prepared'? You mean doing some specific spot exercises for your tummy so that it's capacity increases in two days..something like those breathing exercises?

That was the whole day. I don't like MTR cause I believe in 'everything as long as it is in moderation'. They seem to believe in the exact opposite.
After you have had 4 courses and you still get sweet gooey stuff heaped up on your unsuspecting plate, trust me, it would start looking a little like baby poop. Try it when you are in Bangalore next!

Fruit salad? Actually I found that a little stale. The only part of the meal that I actually liked was the thick grape juice (most probably because it was served right in the beginning) and then the paan (mainly because it signalled the end of the meal, finally!)
Thank god, you found that "ariyaatha..." funny. I wanted to translate it for the benefit of the non-mallu readers, but couldn't get the same effect in English.

Jam said...

Hey there GWBE

Being a resident Bangalorean, I absolutely love the MTR meals, although I prefer the Andhra Meals of Bhima's much better.

Personally I prefer the breakfast of MTR to its lunch. Especially the 1.5 hr window when they serve Rava Idly. Man, I could gorge on those idlies forever, everyday of my life and not get bored with them.


wtfdude said...


Its 'Have A Comfortable Cacoos Period' (HACCP) certifed.

What did u expect? :|

ritzkini said...

Mind your tongue lady ! I know of a few proud bloreans whose day begins with a coffee at MTR !It's closed on tuesdays(i think..) and god help you if you cross their path that day !
hmm...maybe i should give them ur mail id for further "consultations" and "contemplations"

flaashgordon said...

Yuckety Yuck!

Baby poop, wrapped barf , gooey stuff!
Lady! Guess u have a penchant for making food sound quite a bit less alluring.

Never go for a career in writing say a Good Food Guide. However, VLCC can prescribe ur writings to people who really want to lose weight. Read this blog once in the morn ;once in the night and read it really aloud when u have that urge to hog. :-))

Reminds me of a nice gal in college who invited us to her place. While we were hogging the oh so tasty mutton curry her mom had prepared; their puppy was sitting at the foot of the table. One of us commented why the puppy is looking at the dining table so much. And her dad remarked " Well, wouldnt u?? if its your brother who's in the curry...."

(we had a gr88 laugh at his humor but then the mutton lost its taste & all of us barely managed to finish the rest of the curry. Of course we politely refused 2nd helpings)

Btw I think i'll stick to the mallu restaurant nextdoor (fish fry , rice, beef roast, kerala porota zindabad)and stay away from gooey bisibelebaths & MTRs of the world..

And to go home I will take Ambica or KPN but never a Kallada !!

U have dented 2 businesses in one blog!

cheers and do visit my blog too..


Genius said...

Well written.
Yes, MTR is really special for us Bangaloreans. They put quite a effort to keep up the reputation.

Keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Had been to MTR yday and had a similar experience.have vomitted multiple times since yday nite!! Dont know what quality control these guys do!!
Was reminded of ur blog on this subject today..


Girl With Big Eyes said...

Oh boy. So they are still at it.

After my bowel-altering experience, I had complained to the sympathetic management. But sad to see that nothing has changed since then.

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Yup, I prefer Bhima's too.
I'll try their breakfast next time. Rava idli's are my fav too! Thanks.

Good one :)

Shamming two business in one blog! Not a bad feat eh?
Btw, good joke. Being a staunch vegetarian, I love when jokes involving non-veg turn sour when it hints at our moral values vs. our gastronomical pleasures.