Village eatery in the heart of city
Food & Nutrition World

Bangalore’s Hallimane is a restaurant set in rural ambience and offers a wide range of traditional and modern dishes. (Ashwini S Raj)

What’s in a name? Everything, if you go by what this theme restaurant situated in Bangalore’s Malleshwaram area, has to offer. As the name suggests, Hallimane (literal translation from Kannada into English means village house), is all rustic. Situated in the busy commercial – cum – residence area, the restaurant beckons you with its ethnic setting and comfortable seating arrangement. The place is for everyone – it doesn’t matter if you want to grab a quick bite and rush off to work or you want to hang around for some time and catch up with what’s happening in the city. And yes, this is definitely the place for you if you want to savour the rich aroma and flavour of several mouths – watering delicacies at your own pace without inviting cold, unpleasant stares from the hotel staff.

Hallimane was inaugurated on June 14, 2002. The eat – out is the brainchild of Prabhakar, who is also the President of Bangalore Hotel Consumers Association. If he is the idea’s man, the man responsible for implementing the idea is Sanjeev Rao Neelavara, who owns Hallimane.

“Prabhakar and I have been long – time friends. Our friendship dates back to our childhood, spent in Mangalore. To earn a living, both of us came to Bangalore at more or less the same time. That was during the 1980s. Since then, we have devoted ourselves to this profession completely.”

It’s evident that Prabhkar and Sanjeev Rao gel well. “Prabhakar is the Hotel Consumers Association, which is why we always look at it from the consumer’s point of view. When somebody starts a business, their biggest, sometimes sole, priority is money. That’s where we (Prabhakar and I) beg to differ. Even if make a marginal profit, it’s enough to keep us going. Our customers matter to us. Regular, loyal hotel customers are very rare these days. They’re forever hopping from one restaurant to another. So you can imagine the kind of elation when I get to see the same people again, day after day. Now that’s what I call profit. A regular customer base.”

But then, he hasn’t got it all on a platter. “We had very humble beginnings. We had to come up the hard way – just like everyone else. So initially, we started with just the concept. The idea was to try out and see if we could get customers to come here on a regular basis.” It worked. So now they have people thronging the place in hundreds. Whether it’s just a couple or a group of friends or a family, they all wait in long queues to have what they would term as a ‘sumptuous meal’.

Then again, the choice hardly matters. The order of the day is to enjoy high – quality food, regardless of the cuisine you’ve ordered – North Indian, South Indian, Chinese – just take your pick. They have it all.

What really take he visitor by surprise are the prices. No fancy names and no fancy prices. Just right for those who frequent the place to avoid cooking (even that is now considered a luxury what with women having to cook and then leave for work). You asked for proof? Well, the fact that the. Kannadiga’s favourite dish, Akki (rice) Rotti is the highest priced item there – all of Rs 10. The other snacks such as Masala Dose, Jolada (maize) Rotti and the like are all priced below Rs 10.

Those who are the adventurous kind could opt for anything among the 17 different kinds of dosas offered there – made out of cucumber, onion, tomato, coriander, palak, and fenugreek etc. They are incredibly tasty and after all, variety is the spice of life. And considering that Sanjeeva Rao is also the one responsible for the Dosa Camp in Jayanagar, you can very safely go on and order those attractive dosas without any second thoughts.

For those who don’t find much novelty with dosas, go ahead and order akki rotti, ragi rotti, jolada rotti, ragi mudde(ragi ball), kothambari(coriander) chutney, soppina saaru(greens curry), pathrode(typical South Kanara dish), malenadu kadabu(a snack from Malnad region), menthya vade(fenugreek snack), gasagase payasa(khus khus kheer)… the list is endless. For God’s sake, don’t miss out on pathrode. It’s just out of this world.

They say everything good comes with a price tag attached to it. Well, this does too. But at very reasonable rates. Just go ahead and compare (it’s inevitable): Where one meal costs you more than Rs 200 oi any quality hotel in the city, Halli Mane gives you the same for just Rs 50. unlimited meals, inclusive of soup, sweets and ice cream. You can’t ask for more, can you?

It doesn’t end here though. The moment you enter, you have a board, which displays the prices of all the items. What doesn’t cease to amuse you is the line that says “50 percent discount for children”! Besides which, they also offer coffee priced at a princely Rs 3. For those who are a little hesitant when it comes to eating outside, thanks to hygiene and quality, you needn’t have to compromise. The dosas are all made on counters just outside the kitchen so you know you’re eating good, clean food. The food itself is served sizzling hot and is of great quality. All you need to do is to settle down and enjoy while the ambience lasts.

And last it will, for some more time to come. As Sanjeev Rao claims, “We’re not going to expand for the next six months to one year at least. We still have a long way to go. Let us first do justice to this one and then there will be lots of time to think of expansion plans, both within and outside the city. For now, it’s a definite no – no.”

Sanjeev Rao asserts that customers will certainly make frequent trips to the restaurant, if and only if, they are happy with the surroundings. “You have to keep the place clean. Delicious dishes made in not so appealing conditions will not draw the crowd. That’s what it all boils down to. Hygiene,” he says emphatically. So, the rule of the thumb is that appearances do matter. Keeping them clean surely does.

If all this don’t impress you, take this. The owner personally supervises the goings – on in the kitchen and tastes every item before it reaches the customer’s table. That’s because he believes that his restaurant is only going to last as long as his customers are happy.

For a person who came from Mangalore to make a living, Sanjeev Rao has come a long way. Barely three – and –a – half months after Hallimane came into existence, it has been a success story for all concerned. Hallimane’s Rs 50 meal ticket carries a line, which says, “the landmark of Malleshwaram”. It’s proving right!