Vintage Bangalorean food at Vidyarthi Bhavan

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Ever looked for an indulgent dish to devour at the end of a week that was beset with mundane meals? If yes, then Vidyarthi Bhavan’s legendary ghee soaked Dosa fits that bill.

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Located amidst the clamour of the crowd at Gandhi Bazaar, this restaurant could be hard to find if you went "looking" for it. However, if you went "asking" for it, you’d be adding to the Vidyarthi Bhavan’s waiting queue in no time – a testament to the popularity of this long standing restaurant.

dosa with chutney

Dosa with chutney at Vidyarthi Bhavan. Pic: S K Shivashankar.

This restaurant has been garnering the admiration of its patrons ever since 1938. Their fan base consists of people of all age groups – from kids who love the kurum kurum (crispy) Vada to the elders who like the filter Kaapi. Their signature dish however, is their Masala Dosa. If the sight of the waiter carrying about 15 dosas at the same time didn’t catch your attention, the ghee oozing out of your dosa onto your plate most certainly will. This crispy dosa – considered to be one of the best dosas in Bangalore – certainly lived up to my expectations. Although accompanied by a large helping of chutney, the sambar, which isn’t offered with the dosa here, is sorely missed.

For breakfast, they also serve other items such as Idlis (with sambar and chutney), Khara bath (also called Upma in a few places ), Kesari bath (the only sweet dish offered by them) as well as Pooris. Among these, the Pooris which are served along with Sagu (vegetable stew with coconut gravy) are the pick of the bunch. In the evenings, the extremely popular Rava Vada, serves as an appetizer while the main course (dosa) arrives. Interestingly, I felt that Vidyarthi Bhavan’s best dishes are their most indulgent ones. Despite its hype, I must say that I found the coffee to be very average and comparable to that found in the Darshinis and Sagars located in every nook and corner of Bangalore.

entrance of vidyarthi bhavan

Entrance hall at Vidyarthi Bhavan. Pic: S K Shivashankar.

One of the most important reasons for Vidyarthi Bhavan’s popularity is the value for money that is offered by them. For a meagre 50 rupees, one can have more than a "full-filling" snack comprising of a Masala Dosa, Idli, Vada and coffee. What’s better is that they have managed to retain the same quality of food that gained them popularity a few decades ago. That being said, they have not been reluctant to tweak a few aspects of their service to keep pace the modern day requirements – offering tissue papers instead of newspaper pieces is one such change.

Vidhyarthi Bhavan,
32, Gandhi Bazar Main Rd,
Basavanagudi,
Ph: 080-26677588

Timings:
Saturday, Sunday and Govt. holidays – 6:30am to 12pm and 2:30pm to 8pm
Other days – 6:30am to 11:30am and 2:30pm to 8pm
Friday – closed

This pride of Gandhi Bazaar welcomes its customers on all days except on Fridays. Their location is central, but this brings along with it the dreaded parking issues. The restaurant is also perennially crowded and having to wait for a table cannot be avoided. What’s irksome however, is that those who are waiting for a table are expected to stand in the aisle, next to the "soon-to-be-empty" tables. This could be an disconcerting experience for those who are in the process of finishing their snack as well. Thankfully, the service is brisk and alleviates this misery quickly.

Vidyarthi Bhavan’s décor, which gives the feeling of dining in the living room of a really old house, blends well with its traditional menu. This feeling is further reinforced by the attire of the waiters who are clad in traditional dhotis. The walls are decorated with portraits of eminent personalities of Karnataka as well as photographs of celebrities who have dined at this historic restaurant.

So, in a world filled with pseudo-authentic restaurants with flashy lights and snazzy menus, head to Vidyarthi Bhavan to experience the true taste of old Bangalore’s vintage cuisine.


About S K Shivashankar 0 Articles
Shivashankar is a techie working at an MNC who, by sheer serendipity has realized his flair for writing.

4 Comments

  1. Agree with Palahalli Vishwanath. Of course in Karnataka, many items are special and a tough thing to emulate elsewhere.

    It is in TamilNadu that Sambar is a must, since it seems to flow through their Tamil veins. However, the TamilNadu idli offering with Sambar, chutneys seems exotic.

  2. Nice article ! However, one should note that dosa in bangalore and parts of karnataka is always taken with chutney and not sambar. The first time I saw sambar given with dosa was in Bombay and found it rather odd. Sambar is better left for dishes like idli and vada where some soaking may help. Even here the crispness of vada is appreeciated better with chutney. In general Sambar goes better with food(meals) than snacks ! I have not been to VB for a long time. I hope they have not changed over to giving sambar with dosa !

  3. Hi Shankar,
    Both your articles were written with a lot of verve. The exotic variety of dishes offered at south indies will make even the most fastidious person to have a go at these amazing recipies. The second article vivdly describes the familiar scene in such popular and truly heritage eateries.How good are the dosas is a different matter but your article makes a clarion call to relish it. I eagerly look forward to many more succulent reviews.

  4. sir, i like dosa, no question, i can not see people hanging on my shoulder to take my seat. i took some dosas as parcel to eat at home, it was not not that good.

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