Savour a tradition

Savour a tradition

UNUSUAL JOINT

COSY CORNER: A view of Dewars.

Not for the squeamish or finicky, not somewhere to go on a first date or to impress the in-laws but if you have an adventurous palate and can appreciate the spirit and the history that moves this place, then Dewars, arguably one of the oldest haunts in Bangalore, is worth a visit.

Located on Cockburn Road and overseen by a benevolent patriach Varadarajan and his faithful staff, Bhaskar, Ravi, Richard and Thomas, Dewars dishes up high protein ‘snacks’ and plenty of tipple for the thirsty diner.

The customers, who come in as a steady stream at all hours, range from the grubby daily wage earner to the young executive on an unofficial break, from the well-barbered retiree, who settles down with his newspaper in a cozy corner, to the odd passerby.

They prop themselves up on the bar counter under the watchful gaze of Gods, Goddesses and the British royal family or settle down by the round wooden tables under the arched columns and heavy beamed ceiling.

“My place dates back to 1933 and was started by my grandfather P D Kanniah Naidu. My father K Krishnamurthy, utilised the services of an Irish cook, who used to work for an English jockey named Duffy, and stay with us when his employer went out of town to race. The premises began as a hakim shop selling unani medicines, turned into a bar and then a post office. Victorian carriages discharged boisterous tommies who came to tuck into the draught beer (priced between three to six annas) sandwiches, boiled eggs, omelettes, goat’s brain, liver and fish. Saturday evenings meant party time marked by big bottles of liquid sunshine (Scotch) followed by dancing the night away at Funnels on M G Road,” says Varadarajan.

The menu limits itself to around 14 items. Keema balls, mutton chops or fry, brain, liver, kidney, head meat, fried fish, chilly chicken are the most popular. The spices are not too pungent, the food is not too oily and the best part is that it is made in limited quantities so its generally fresh.The closest you will get to vegetarian food is a cheese sandwich or an omlette.

The recipes have been passed down from generations and the fish, neatly filleted and fried in a mildly-spiced crumb batter is the piece-de-resistance, sure to meet with approval from those not brave enough to tuck into the tasty ‘spare parts’ that are all time favourites of regulars here.

The mornings are relatively quiet but its in the evenings that regulars fill the place up, sit around the round wooden tables and call out to the staff by name. Shut for a while late last year due to litigation, those who missed the cavernous, wooden beamed old place will be happy to know that Varadarajan does not intend to shut shop anytime soon. A piece of old Bangalore survives and thrives by the Benson Town Bridge.

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