Experience Wayanad’s Cuisine At 1980’s - A Nostalgic Restaurant
Image Credit: Tawa prawn at the restaurant

The sun was setting, and the birds were still chirping as we made our way inside an old Kerala house converted into a restaurant; the board read ‘1980’s - A Nostalgic Restaurant’. Our day was already well spent hiking in the forests around the Wayanad plateau amidst nature. As we stepped up the flight of stairs, we spotted another board reading ‘1980’s Tea Shop’ and a few people with hot glasses of Suleimani tea waiting for a table at the most famous restaurant in Wayanad. We followed suit and got our first taste of what the 1980s - a nostalgic restaurant offers. The tea was being prepared in a separate enclosure, where hot pots of tea liquor and milk were stored to shell out quick cups of tea; the black tea called Suleimani and the one with milk. We ordered Suleimani and sat down to admire the décor in front of us.

The house looked old and beautiful, with typical Kerala-style architecture. A spacious kitchen occupied one big section of the house, and another housed the dining area. Two well-appointed tables were placed outdoors, shaded by a tent. We sat on the ground floor of a two-storeyed dining set-up and were greeted by a server who informed us that the restaurant didn’t have a menu. Our order for dinner was based on the server’s suggestions. Special dishes are served on specific days, and some regular dishes are made daily. For lunch, one can also opt for a Kerala vegetarian meal, accompanied by a tawa fried fish or prawns, or can choose from all-day dishes like biryani, chicken roasts (Gravy), Nadan chicken curry, Pothu Varattiyathu (Beef Dry fry), Meen Polichatthu (Fish wrapped in Banana Leaf), Parottas, Neer dosas and so on. There is a certain charm about going into a restaurant and being able to try different dishes every day; authenticity and nostalgia speak right through the concept.

Kerala parotta

We agreed in unison and spent the time looking over the celebrity wall that stacked photographs of many film stars who have dined at the 1980s restaurant in the last decade and a half. I was then told that the restaurant belonged to Mr Abu Salim, a famous Indian actor in Malayalam movies. “Mr Salim, who was also Mr India in the year 1984, is particular about the quality of food we serve at the 1980s. The décor and the vibe of the place transport you to the era gone by”, explained the Manager, as he introduced us to the celebrity wall adorning this quaint and beautiful restaurant called the 1980s.

Prices were reasonable for the extensive meal we had. For four people dining, it costs less than 500 rupees per person; however, the memory one takes away from dining at this nostalgic restaurant is priceless. As we walked out, we strolled into the old and aromatic spice room, where different spices were resting in the antique ‘Martabans’. We were yet to fully understand the reason for the restaurant’s stupendous success; however, as we took a whiff of air, the beautiful aroma of the high-quality spices left us assured of the fact that good food served with good ingredients is always a corner store of a successful restaurant. The 1980s is living the principle indeed, and we were glad to have visited this nostalgic restaurant and had a glimpse of the times gone by.

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant, Travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration.