Restaurant Review: Reliving Memories at the Old Coffee House in Trivandrum
I remember, as a child, playing at Shangumugham Beach for hours and later walking up to the sea-facing building that housed Indian Coffee House, famous for its signature masala dosa. Later, when I grew up, it was this same beach that was our favourite hangout place and the same Indian Coffee House that satiated our hunger as we sat on the bench, listening to the waves and chatting. Over the years, the beef omelette and cutlet replaced the masala dosa as my favourites. It is still the best omelette and cutlet that I’ve ever had and the mere thought of it makes my mouth water.
The beach and the Indian Coffee House stayed constant until I got married. Then, one fine day, Indian Coffee House shut down. I felt an inexplicable loss. The visits to the Shangumugham Beach were never going to be the same. How could it be when the coffee house was an integral part of my beach visit? There have been many beach visits after that, but none felt complete without the Indian Coffee House.
Years passed by and on my last visit to Trivandrum, a few friends were updating me about the new eat-outs in town and one place caught my interest. I was over the moon when they told me about the new restaurant that had come up in place of the good old Indian Coffee House at Shangumugham. Immediate plans were made to visit the place and soon we were on our way. Climbing up the stairs to the restaurant, I was struck by a wave of nostalgia.
As we took our seats, waiting to place the order, I couldn’t help but notice the sound of the waves and the light sea breeze – I could’ve sat there for hours just for this! The place was still in its teething stage and when asked for their signature dish, we were told to order the Appam and Chicken Stew. Along with that we ordered for Veg Kurma, Chilli Paneer and two of their signature drinks, the Pacha Manga (raw mango) Juice and the Pacha Mulaku (green chilli) Juice.
While we sat there, waiting for the food, all of us had stories to share about our childhood memories of the beach and Indian Coffee House. Our food came soon and the memories were kept aside for a while. A sip of the Pacha Manga Juice, almost felt like biting into a raw mango, instantly transporting me to the summers when we shared plates of raw mango slices and munched on them until our mouths became sore. Perfectly sour and tangy, the juice is as authentic in taste as it can get. My favourite, though, was the Pacha Mulaku juice. Have you bit into a green chilli and experienced the heat that makes you immediately grab a glass of water to cool your mouth? It’s almost the same except that you don’t have to take a bite first and then go for the glass of water. The juice mellows down the chilli flavour, yet there is a very mild heat that lingers after you take a sip. It’s a must try if you are someone who can take the heat!
The Chilli Paneer that we had ordered as a starter came next and the plate was scraped clean within seconds. The super soft paneer, combined with onion and bell pepper, and dressed in a well-balanced hot and sweet sauce, made it a great starter. The Appam, crisp at the edges and soft in the middle, was perfect. This, combined with the Stew/Kurma, was heavenly and none of us were able to stop at one or even two for that matter. While the friends enjoyed the Chicken Stew that was mildly spiced yet loaded with flavour, thickened with creamy coconut milk and garnished with fried onions, I devoured the Veg Kurma, which consisted of perfectly cooked vegetables in a spicy gravy.
Though the place is still in the setting up stage, you will definitely not be disappointed with the service. I’ve heard that they serve a wide range of snacks in the evening – Pazhampori, Kozhi Ada, Carrot Pola,etc. The staff are friendly and ready to offer you suggestions when you are confused about what to order. The service is prompt and the management is open to suggestions. Above all, the restaurant is moderately priced and does not burn a hole in the pocket. There is definitely value for money, taking into consideration all the factors including ambiance, location, and food.
If there is anything that is missing in the place, it would be the masala dosas, omelettes and cutlets that we used to have once upon a time while watching the waves hit the shore. If only they added these to the menu! Then, it would definitely be a treasure box of wonderful memories – of playing at the beach, holding a balloon in one hand and sitting in one of those benches waiting for the long-capped uncle to serve us the crispy dosa hiding the pink coloured masala, hanging out with friends, sipping coffee, and relishing the tasty beef omelettes and cutlets.
For anyone who loves food and beach, this place is a must try. And for all those, who’ve grown up going to the Shangumugham beach for an outing followed by the snacks and dosas at the Indian Coffee House, do go here if you want to be taken on a nostalgic ride. You surely won’t be disappointed. I can easily sit in a chair, sipping one of their signature juices, and relive all those golden memories associated with the exact same spot!