Bob’s Bar, Indiranagar & Koramangala: Throwback to Old Bangalore
Here is a bar that plays on the nostalgia for Bangalore of the past – from its style to its food and drink
How Bob’s Bar came to be
Says Rolf Marren, one of the three partners in this unique concept bar, ‘All three – Ajay Gowda, Prem Sundaramurthy and I -- grew up in Bangalore. We used to have frequent conversations about how we were losing the Bangalore we knew. And with it, the bars and watering-holes we had grown up with. We thought, it had all become unaffordable, upmarket and had a pseudo quality to it. It had been an honest, uncomplicated city once. You could go as you were, hand out with your friends in places that were familiar and comfortable, not fancy or pretentious. We wondered how to bring that back. We knew it couldn’t be run down, like some local bars are. It had to be a decent-looking place with decent service and serving unfussy drinks and local bar foods. Of course, the bar snacks of the past used to quite simple and basic. We wanted to give customers something slightly more elaborate, but keep the flavours truly local. So, that decided the direction of the menu. The pricing was value-for-money, the setting was welcoming, without being overdone, and the service and food and drinks delivered quality without the frills. That was our concept for Bob’s Bar, to bring back and relive Bangalore of the past in an honest, authentic way.’
Walk into Bob’s Bar on bustling 100 Feet Road in Indiranagar – there is a second outlet in Koramangala – and be swept up by nostalgia for a Bangalore of some decades ago.
Let’s take the name. It’s called Bob’s Bar because it pays tribute to a time when everyone was addressed as ‘Bob’. Remember the days of ‘Hey Bob’? It’s the vintage equivalent of today’s ‘Bro’ or ‘Dude’. Along with the name, comes the setting. The space has been arranged so it is reminiscent of the old clubs of Bangalore with checkered floor tiles and wooden furniture. Also, there is a no-fuss quality to the place – from the serving ware to the choice of drinks – that harks back to a time when Bangalore was a more relaxed, laidback city, not the harried urban jungle it has now become.
Acclaimed chef Saby Gorai took over as culinary director for this interesting project on Bangalore’s food and beverage landscape. He says, ‘Though I am not from Karnataka, I have been working with ethnic, indigenous cuisines and know their value. (His Mineority in Pune is a tribute to the mining community of Asansol and Lavaash in Delhi is feted for bringing to the fore the food of the Armenian Jews of Kolkata). ‘So, I set out to research the cuisine we were going to offer at Bob’s Bar – from the club food of Bangalore to the rich and diverse dishes of Karnataka. We sourced a lot of recipes from home kitchens, from the homes of Rolf and Ajay, for instance, and it all finds representation on the menu here. There were also serendipitous discoveries I made. Like the kebabs I tasted when I used to spend time stuck in traffic at Tin Factory. So, the Tin Factory Seekh Kebab finds a place on this utterly earthy, honest menu.’
Food & drink
The carefully curated menu traverses Karnataka, bringing together flavours from across the state, from the fish curries of the Mangalore coast to utterly local fried chicken kebabs and pork dishes of Malnad.
There is, for instance, Frazer Town Kheema Paratha, from a locality known for this item, and Leg Soup that comes from the military hotels of Bangalore. And while the new bars in town serve nachos and loaded fries, Bob’s prefers to go with Anna’s Sundal and Avare Kaalu Usseli. If you forget the cool millennials around, you could be in any of the ‘local’ bars in old Bangalore.
Bob’s Bar also proudly serves Shetty Hotel Chicken Sukka, Coconut Kadubu and Ragi Mudde, going truly local and even rustic with these offerings.
The drinks menu is simple and straightforward and they do not bother with cocktails. You can order mixers with your drinks and make your own concoction, if you wish.
Bob’s Bar has been deliberately priced low – some think, unrealistically so – to attract large crowds. And that they certainly get, at both outlets, especially on weekends. The plan is to have a chain of Bob’s across the city. Those who yearn for old Bangalore will certainly welcome that.