Hello from a large airy space with one end of the room open to the elements, which in this case is a dusty road on Koramangala. In spite of this, something about the Toddy House may make you want to linger over drinks - which is exactly what Koramangala’s native species, twenty-somethings who hunt in packs, are doing all around us. It helps that the menu, although long and slightly confusing, is conducive to sharing, with small plates starting at Rs 110 — a student-friendly budget by Bangalore standards.
Sex and the Seedy
In the spirit of the low-key drinking shops to which it name is a tribute, the menu features dishes from coastal towns around India, and the drinks pay homage to seaside muses. A Quilon Mai Tai is crisp and potent with cashew marzipan, triple sec, white and golden rum with pineapple juice. Delta Cosmo, a nod to Bengal, has rose water, gondhoraj lime, Sundarban honey and vodka. It comes in Sex-and-the-City pink, but is a sickly sweet - definitely more movie than show. The Zombie, perfectly balanced — with white, gold and dark rum, pineapple juice, gondhoraj lime juice and rum — restores our faith in the bartender.
Corn Sundal, steamed kernels of sweet corn with shredded coconut, dried red chilli and curry leaves is pleasant enough, if a little boring. And sadly, beef dry fry reminds us that no matter how delicious beef can be, in the hands of the inept, it will still taste like cardboard. However, the long chips, thin ribbons of deep-fried tapioca goodness, rescue the day. Sprinkled with a chilli masala powder, these are so good that we would brave the bumper-to-bumper traffic between Koramangala and Indiranagar just to eat a plate.
Off The Arrack
Trippy Poppy, fried cutlets made of poppy seeds, chilli, and onions, were ordered in a moment of mai-tai induced bravery. Bitter and stale, these are a sorry affair, with nothing trippy about them except how bad they are. But this meal is full of u-turns, and our next dish, kappa biryani cutlets, would help us forgive any number of bad opium dreams. This is soft, perfectly cooked kappa, studded with pieces of beef, encased in a thick, crisp, golden casing — basically all your biryani and deep-dried food fantasies rolled into one.
Moplah Biryani, we must warn you, does not use kaima rice as the menu promises. Instead, a plate of long-grained rice mixed through (and not layered) with a red, onion-y masala makes an appearance — transgressions that would no doubt make a Mappila matriarch chew her betel leaf a little faster, but would go down pleasantly with a non-fussy diner.
In keeping with the toddy shop theme, the restaurant does not serve dessert. However, serendipitously, the Corner House located on the lower floor ensures that our meal ends with a Death by Chocolate - a Bangalorean Killmonger whose political programme we have always supported. We’re not quite at #KoramangalaForever yet, but another plate of those tapioca chips and we’ll get closer.
Getting there: 146, Next to William Penn Showroom, Koramangala 5th Block, Bangalore; call: 080 49653011. A meal for two costs around Rs. 2,750.
Accessibility: A flight of stairs lead to the first floor.
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