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02.08.2018

How’s a working woman to cope with a week that won’t end? Sneak away for a drink-y lunch with fellow servants in commerce. At our old stomping grounds in the Central Business District - perpetually stuck in a cycle of demolition and restoration - the OG Bar Stock Exchange has replaced a luxury car showroom. Perfect timing since we’re in the market for some luxe self-care.

Teenyboppers have been turning up in droves every Saturday ever since the “BSE” opened a month ago. A rainy afternoon visit reveals breathtaking light illuminating giggly groups of girls cutting class and people content to grab a cheeky drink and ignore everyone else. This is very much the Bengaluru edition of a Bombay and Delhi favourite. The pounding music is mercifully absent (Sidebar: city establishments, no one will hit the dancefloor alone at 2 PM on a Tuesday no matter how loud you play this Cardi B track), the decor is a nod to warmonger-meets-knitting-circle, but the friendly service we encountered on a previous visit remains.

A first meal at 3pm (#WorkingWomanRealness) means only Chicken Tikka Popcorn can satiate our ravaging hunger. These deep fried orbs, dusted with a lip-smacking chaat masala and chilli powder mix, are beauties - quite unlike our second appetiser, a highly missable masala pav pull-apart. We take comfort in cocktails, which the bar makes well: a Black Russian is the caffeinated pick me up we really needed, and a sunny Caprioska hits the spot.

Appetite whetted by drink, we’re easy prey for a faux-cast-iron pan filled with a mac ‘n’ cheese that claims to house “many cheeses”. This carb fest is sure to have us snoozing at our tables in an hour, but as our fork sinks easily into the molten golden, we regret nothing. Dusted with toasted buttery crumbs, herbacious through each pasta shell, and studded with jalapenos that break the monotony, this is wonderful pub-lunch grub, warming us as the rain batters the roof of this cavernous restaurant. The storm turns the bar into an enormous white noise machine - soothing our fractious nerves, just in time for the star of the show.

A glistening grilled fish arrives. It is drenched in podi butter and resting in a turmeric yellow velvety gravy that is begging to be sopped up with rice. “This is the best fish I have ever eaten,” declares our companion between bites. We cannot confirm this empirically, but we realise everyone at table has to make an effort not to lift the bowl to their faces to trickle the gravy directly down our gullet.

We should be too full for desserts, but pants were made to be worn with their first button unbuttoned, anyway. Our feasting has won us a complementary death by chocolate cake (you’d think we were sorted for mortality after a meal like this) to which we add a Momma’s Rocky Road sundae. It isn’t just our overfull bellies that rebel, but our tongues. The cake lacks crumb and flavour; we must fish around for the spare candied nut nugget as the rest of sundae melts around our spoons. Self-care means only the finest of frozen desserts will do - and much like the demands of wage-slavery, these don’t make the cut.

Getting there: Near LIC Building, Off MG Road, St. Marks Road. Or where the Maserati showroom used to be near Anil Kumble Circle.

Accessibility: A low step up to the entrance. Seating is a mix of booths, tables, and high chairs/bar stools. An enormous lunch for two sets you back Rs. 2346.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its meals.

Sushmita Sundaram writes about food, culture, and discovering your city. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.

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