BENGALURU: The walls are lined with old vinyl records. A vintage guitar hangs below slightly creased posters of popular rock bands and an array of audio cassettes are arranged on a shelf in a corner. You’d think you are at a rock-themed cafe or a 70s diner ready to serve up burgers, fries and a malt shake. Instead, you have Cafe Idly on Kenchappa Road Cross, Fraser Town, specialising in idlis and filter coffee.
Since the opening in 2009, Rajesh Bhaktinathan single-handedly runs the cafe. In the background, Ben E King croons the evergreen classic Stand by Me, while Rajesh takes us through the menu and points out the specials.
Kadubu (banana idli), Kanchipuram idli, Thatte idli and idli with gunpowder and chutney are some of the specialities here. An interesting fusion is the Double Decker or the burger idli. Instead of bread, this ‘burger’ is a crispy vegetable patty sandwiched between two idlis and served with coconut chutney.
Kadubu is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed and then served inside the leaf jacket. The batter is done to perfection and the idlis have a smooth texture. The secret behind this, Rajesh reveals, is that they use only rice and not lentils.
If you are looking for the melt-in-your-mouth experience, then try the Thatte idli. It would probably be an insult to call it plain ‘soft’. The amalgamation of chutneys adds the right amount of spice to the dish.
Between mouthfuls, we ask him to congratulate the cook for whipping up a perfect snack. He smiles and then reveals that he is the cook as well. “I learnt everything from YouTube,” he says. This small piece of information makes the experience even more unique.
He also excitedly tells us about his audio cassette collection, a part of which he has displayed in the cafe. “I have around 200 of these casettes and they still work,” he adds.
Apart from the vintage rock music memorabilia, the ambience is complete with dim lights and a full-fledged view of the busy road. There is not much space to move around and only four people can be accommodated at a time. “That is why the cafe gets more take-away orders,” says Rajesh.
Towards the end of your meal, do remind Rajesh to brew you a fresh cup of filter coffee to wash down the idlis while getting your fill of old-school rock.
The cafe is open from 5 pm to 10 pm and the prices range between Rs 25-Rs 50.