One of the best-known restaurants in Bangalore, Karavalli is an oasis of sorts in the heart of Bengaluru’s commercial district. It manages to evoke an older, quieter, more relaxed Bengaluru that has charmed so many of us.
Inspired by a traditional Mangalorean house, Karavalli has a rustic air about it. A pebble-stoned passageway leads into a brightly-lit, thatch-covered, courtyard-like main dining area. The pale lemon walls, dark wood chairs and polished tables, and traditional artifacts make you feel you have entered a home rather than a restaurant. Outside, in the garden, are tables for those who prefer alfresco dining, while an enclosed room offers a different set of comforts.
Karavalli means ‘land by the shore’ in Kannada and Tulu, and the effort is to recreate traditional dishes from the cuisines of Mangalore, Goa and Kerala. The emphasis is on home-style cooking. I am coming back to this restaurant after over a decade for lunch, with a sense of anticipation. It looks exactly as inviting as it did two decades ago when it opened, with almost the same menu. The warm hospitality is still very much there. To make things even better, the weather is perfect to enjoy this iconic restaurant.
I choose to go with their non-vegetarian thali meal. Within minutes of seating the popadams and chutneys arrive, along with the banana leaf that would be the base for serving the many dishes that will be served. A polite request to the Charming Chef Vasantha Gopal, and he agrees to substitute chicken with mutton in the thali.
Then in true thali style many dishes are served in countless bowls, along with coconut rice, malabar parottas, unpolished Kerala red rice, steamed plain rice, and fresh appams. So rather than overload this review with tongue twister names of the dishes, I will highlight the best. One veg dish where I asked for three refills is keera masiyal (South Indian style mashed spinach). It tastes fresh and goes excellently with the parotta. Pachakkari (veg) stew and appams are a marriage made in heaven. Mavinakayi mensukkai, or preserved mango curry creates a lovely blend of the sweet and sour, again eaten best with rice. Pomfret tawa fry makes the palate tingle. The combination that is truly mind- blowing is meen vevichathu, where seer fish is cooked in a fiery chilli based gravy, combined with Kerala red rice. Thankfully, fresh and cooling curds is at hand in plenty to douse the fire in the mouth.
Dessert is a choice of ada pradhaman, a jaggery based payasam with a distinct delicious smoky taste and the Goan dessert, Dodol. The customary paan follows.
Karavalli, justifiably so is Bangalore’s most famous restaurant, giving the true taste of the region in a setting that makes you escape the hustle bustle of the city, right in the centre of the city. A meal here is certainly recommended.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.5 | Ambience: 5.0 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.5
Meal for two: Rs.3000 (Without alcohol) | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Wheel chair friendly: Yes | Timing: 12:30 PM to 3 PM, 6:30 PM to 11:30 PM | Address: Gateway Hotel, 66, Residency Road, Bangalore | Tel+91 8045133512
Please Note: This is an anonymous review with the meal paid for by the author.