MTR, a brand by its own, literally, was one of the first of its kind started originally in Lalbagh in 1924, serving piping hot coffee and tiffin (breakfast meals), which later grew epitomizing traditional south Indian delicacies. MTR is a taste of home away from home and non-residential Indians swear by the restaurant. With an intriguing history attached to it, the owner who hails from Udupi incorporated hygiene standards that he’d experienced on his trip to Europe. The 50-year-old heritage of this humble joint is a compelling reason by itself to visit this restaurant, the traditional south Indian fare being a bonus. Till date the restaurant has managed to retain its rustic, old world charm. This is truly a no-frills abode for simple south Indian fare. The restaurant has a homely setting, where photographs from the formative years adorn the walls and time worn stained glass art is still retained. Today, there are nearly half a dozen outlets in Bangalore, of which the MTR at Lalbagh stands as a historical pillar making it a landmark to be included in a tourist’s itinerary. Who knew South Indian food could be so vast and delectable with simple grandmother’s home-made recipes?
The old world aura of this place is something that everyone should experience once, the dingy and bustling waiting rooms are what greet you and make you wonder if the place is worth a wait, only if you’re new. On getting a seat, the waiter rushes and takes your order and the turnaround time is pretty amazing. Quick service with uncomplicated portions of food is definitely their USP. Also, most of the items here come with a generous serving of ghee. The ghee and the crispy Masala Dosa with a mildly spicy potato curry is a delight to the taste buds. The Rava Idly is another offing from the kitchens of MTR that are on the must try list. The succulent Idlis find a perfect match in the chutney. Among other things to try are the Bisi Bele Bath and Upma. A Darshini visit is incomplete without Coffee, for me at least. The MTR Coffee is frothy and semi-sweet and definitely compliments the Ghee and the oil which is characteristic of most South Indian dishes. These are the snacks and I’ve also heard that the meals here are a delight and would transport you to the 60’s. The meals are still on my to-do list.
A visit to MTR will definitely make you realize why this place has long waiting times and why the brand MTR is so ubiquitous and enticing.
Located hardly 200 meters from the famous Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Mavalli Tiffin Room stands discreet yet eminent with hordes of people trying to get a coupon for morning tiffin and typically brewed strong filter coffee. The restaurant in its magnificence reminds one of one’s ancestral grandparents’ homes filled with fond memories, while the food is the magic carpet. MTR’s trademark is it’s finger-licking “masaal dosa”, a hot crispy thin roasted-till-brown dosa smeared with coriander-mint chutney that wraps in mildly spiced potatoes and is served with coconut chutney, sambhar and a tiny bowl of Ghee! The combination of flavors is simply heavenly! This teamed with a steaming cup of dark, strong filter coffee is the perfect way to start the day. Although, the savouries are what attracts its customers, MTR sweets are not to forgo. The ‘kesari bhaath’ a pudding made with semolina and vermicelli flavored with pineapple and saffron, is one of its signature dishes, which makes anyone with a sweet tooth craving for more. Another sweet-delight is the ‘jam on’ fried solid condensed milk balls soaked in sugar syrup that has a divinity which transports you to a humble shrine that waits in evening prayers. Not just the breakfast, but the afternoon and night meals are also remarkable, known for its “bisi bele bhaath” a rice dish made with vegetables and lentils, a traditional Bangalore dish. While the MTR in Lalbagh is traditional, the one on St. Mark’s Road is a nice small modern hub for coffee lovers with high bar-stools and framed wall hangs telling the history of MTR. The one in J.P Nagar is on the fifth floor giving a fair panorama of the city and has a middle garden that keeps the ambiance nature-friendly. The prices are very affordable and the food definitely delivers quality and taste. MTR is indeed is one that deserves to be inked as one of Bangalore’s finest South-Indian heritage eateries.
Here are some pictures from our visits to MTR.