Having coffee at the iconic Koshy’s, Bangalore

Having coffee at the iconic Koshy’s, Bangalore
Whenever anyone comes to Bangalore, the first place they would like to visit is Koshy’s restaurant on St Mark’s Road. Even if it’s just for a coffee. The name evokes memories in all of us who have grown up in Bangalore and ofcourse whatever you order there is delicious.

Koshy's of Bangalore is recognised as an "establishment of old Bangalore", a very popular restaurant and hangout on St Mark's Road, Bangalore owned by the Koshy family in Bangalore originally from Mavelikkara. The restaurant is a meeting point for journalists, artists, theatre persons, students and foreigners. There is a happy hum when you visit, where everyone sits pretty close to one another on very simple looking chairs on a plain wooden table. Yet no one is really close enough to overhear conversations.

People who come there are regulars who love the place, who come there every single day to eat a meal or just for a coffee and a chin wag with an acquaintance. I walked in a few weeks ago to leave a book given to me by a friend for another friend. The book was a wonderful coffee table edition on trees and I have a scientist friend who goes to Koshy’s every day. Just walk in and leave the book at the cash counter and I did! A smiling cashier took the book and said Oh Mr Krishna will come in after 7pm I will give the book to him. No grumpiness, no fuss, just Bangalore’s old world charm in full play.

So on Sunday I went there with a Royal School of Music examiner who was down from Yorkshire. Penny B was coming to India for the first time and I was told was extremely tense about the place. Obviously they read about all the rapes and crimes in the BBC written by Indian stringers who are paid for those kind of stories. So the whole country is painted black. She was terrified of what she was in for. Guess the beautiful St Mark’s Hotel on St Mark’s Road comforted her slightly and once installed in their room, relaxed a bit.

Let us go grab a coffee said Penny and Koshy’s was walking distance. I was told Koshy’s coffee is the best, and we could walk there which was really quite a happy, yakky walk. She told me all about her work and I was amazed she was here for five weeks, and doing around 35 exams a day! Violin, Pianoforte and vocal exams, wow, that was saying something for Bangalore’s music scene. Parents still sent their kids for Music exams like we were.

When we went in, there was a crowd waiting to be seated. Yes 12 people before us to be exact! So we hung around in the scruffy lobby looking at the old iconic black and white pictures of Bangalore on the walls. Dont think Penny was too impressed but she was chatty and cheerful. After five minutes we were shown to a table for two in the middle of a crowd. A huge curtain had been erected and it seems some long overdue renovations were being done.

We asked for the menu card and Penny had a huge grin because most of the menu was oh so British. You have poached & scrambled eggs on toast, chicken liver on toast, and even an Egg flip? She asked giggling away. I don’t think our restaurants serve these foods any more she said, taking a picture of the menu. There was beef fry, and all kinds of sandwiches, Bombay toast, and all the chicken and pork roasts and boiled veggie accompaniments too.

Just coffee please we said, as we had both just eaten breakfast and it was only 10:30 in the morning. Two steaming hot cups of coffee were brought to us by a sweetly smiling waiter. I could see the owner Prem Koshy’s attitude in all the staff. Prem smiles a lot and is always welcoming. Obviously that has rubbed off on all the staff and keeps bringing back his patrons day after day. Anyone would love to feel welcome, especially in a restaurant.

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