There’s something comforting about really tiny menus. And by tiny I don’t mean the literal size of the menu but the number of items on it.
Don’t get me wrong. Like every other person, I too, like to be spoilt for choice when I eat out. But there’s no denying the sometimes too many options can spoil the appetite. At Brahmins’ Coffee Bar in Basavanagudi, there’s no chance this will happen.
The menu has all of four items on it – Idli-vada, khara bath, kesari bath and tea/coffee. Oh, there’s also butter. Yes, butter. You can order a side of butter for a mere INR 8 (if I remember right). Not that their soft idlis or crisp vadas need it but hey, aren’t you supposed to eat breakfast like a king?
I visited Brahmins’ Coffee Bar this morning with my parents. Granted my father used it to bait me to visit the dreaded bank afterwards but I had no reason not to take it. After all, it is a pretty great way to spend Monday morning.
While you usually won’t find one without the other, the chutney is the lone – and heroic – accompaniment to the idli-vada breakfast at Brahmins’. No sir, you won’t find any sambhar here. And you find yourself missing it either. The Brahmins’ chutney is a one-man-show.
When you order your idli-vada, it will be served on a bed of the mellow green coconut chutney. But that single ladle serving won’t be enough, which is when you approach the man behind the steel vats. Unlimited refills of chutney? Yes, please. I guarantee you won’t finish your breakfast at Brahmins’ without at least one extra helping.
They serve one idli and vada per plate but you can also ask for only idli or only vada if you like. The khara bath, which literally translates to spicy rice, includes a few of my not-so-favourite veggies like capsicum and eggplant so I only took one measly bite. Obviously my parents loved it. Still, you should know, that khara bath is a traditional dish of the state of Karnataka and if you choose to try it at Brahmins’, you won’t be disappointed.
The kesari bath shining in its proud coating of ghee was a rich addition to our breakfast. Unlike usually, it was made of not just semolina but also a little bit of vermicelli. Although the pineapple flavor, raisins and cloves are common in every kesari bath recipe. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but I do love the occasional kesari bath and when it’s luscious and melt-in-the-mouth like the one at Brahmins’, I’m happy to indulge.
And that’s how you get away with dessert for breakfast in South India.
The grand finale of any South Indian breakfast is the filter coffee. You may be a tea person. I am. But you simply don’t say no to filter coffee. The Brahmins’ coffee is robust. So if you thought breakfast was heavy and might slow down your morning, the coffee will have you thinking again. You have the option of ordering coffee “by 2” which is nothing but one coffee split into two portions.
Brahmins’ Coffee Bar is a self-service, standing only joint where it’s possible that the only chair you’ll find is behind the cash counter and the barely negligent signboard has probably never been refurbished even once. The restaurant is over 50 years old, and small and basic though it is, it is also clean, bustling and unassuming in its ambiance – and that’s how Brahmins’ is known to be its patrons.
Breakfast for one at Brahmins’ will cost you all of about INR 50. We ordered three khara baths, two idli-vadas, one idli, one kesari bath, two coffees and a bottle of water. We paid a total of INR 233. So you get to eat like a king and pay like a commoner. Good deal? I think so.