Off-Duty Chef: Regi Mathew Picks His Go-To Bengaluru Spots

Where do chefs eat when they clock out? In our special series, Off-Duty Chef, we ask some of the most popular chefs about their favourite food spots in and around their cities. From their go-to street food haunts and their childhood favourites to their work lunches and post-work hangs, the series will offer you a glimpse of where your favourite chefs eat, drink and hang out when they’re not feeding others!

Those familiar with the stalwarts of the Indian food industry are well aware of the genius that is Chef Regi Mathew. The Kerala-origin chef, who has made Bengaluru and Chennai his backdrop to introduce the world to Kerala cuisine, has won several accolades and is known for his charm and knowledge as much as his culinary offerings at Kappa Chakka Kandhari. 

Chef Regi Mathew has plenty of happy things keeping him busy this month. The audacious India’s Culinary Odyssey event curated by Mathew was a roaring success; featuring some of India’s top chefs, the event offered an unforgettable, dining experience to 104 people on a 156-ft table, at a Chennai mango farm. Moreover, Mathew’s brand Kappa Chakka Kandhari just (Chennai) won four Ultimate Stars in Ultimate Restaurant Ratings System by Culinary Culture. 

Mathew’s restaurant brand Kappa Chakka Kandhari is named after three ingredients quintessential to Kerala cuisine – the tapioca, jackfruit and bird's eye chilli; the restaurant has a presence in Chennai and Bengaluru and spotlights traditional home-style cooking. 

“The food scene in Bengaluru has witnessed a remarkable evolution, with a notable surge in the appreciation of hyperlocal and regional cuisines,” the chef shares.

“The growing enthusiasm from people towards embracing and celebrating the diverse flavours of their region has contributed significantly to this culinary renaissance. Moreover, establishments like Farmlore in Bengaluru have played a pivotal role in shaping the city's food landscape by promoting sustainable, farm-to-table practices,” he added. Chef Mathew took some time out to share some of his go-to Bengaluru food spots which he frequents on his days off.

Favourite Breakfast Spot: Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR)

MTR's origin can be traced back to the 1920s and it's one of the oldest Bengaluru brands to be functioning in the city. In 1924, it started out as a small restaurant on Lalbagh Fort Road in Bengaluru called the Brahmin Coffee Club serving coffee and idlis. Almost three decades later, it was renamed Mavalli Tiffin Rooms; MTR also claims credit for inventing rava idli during World War II, when rice was in short supply.

“One of Bengaluru's iconic breakfast spots, MTR holds a special place in my heart for its timeless charm and unparalleled South Indian breakfast classics," Mathew says about MTR.

Address: 14, Lal Bagh Main Rd, Doddamavalli, Sudhama Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560027

Timing: 6:30 am to 11:30 am; 12:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Cuisines: South Indian

Type: Vegetarian

Bestsellers: rava dosa, masala dosa, khara bhat

Cost for two: Rs 300

Favourite Bengaluru Restaurant Excelling In Traditional or Homestyle Food: Bangalore Oota Company 

Bengaluru Oota Company's intimate dining space at Cambridge Layout offers some great home-style traditional dishes and their line-up also boasts old family recipes such as Mutton Cutlets, Kaima Unde, Ragi Mudde with Mamsa Saaru (mutton curry), Mamsa Pulao etc.

“It stands out as my favourite for its exceptional mastery in serving traditional and homestyle South Indian cuisine, creating a delightful culinary journey reminiscent of home-cooked flavours in every bite," Chef Mathew says.

Address: 5, Cambridge Cross Road, Halasuru, Cambridge Layout, Jogupalya, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560008

Timing: 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm; 7 pm to 10:30 pm

Cuisines: Mangalorean, Gowda

Type: Veg, non-veg

Bestsellers: Prawn ghee roast, Mangalorean chicken curry

Phone: 094483 02628

Cost for two: Rs 2,300

Favourite modern diner or contemporary cafe: LUPA 

Manu Chandra's newest venture in Bengaluru's MG Road has already garnered quite a fan base. The brand is a collaboration between Chandra and hospitality veteran Chetan Rampal, and is named after the mythological La Lupa, Italian for the “she-wolf”, who raised the founders of the modern city of Rome. Their menu brings together European classics and modern flair and also has a terrific cocktail menu.

“LUPA in Bengaluru stands out as my favourite modern diner, offering a chic ambience and an eclectic menu that perfectly blends innovation and taste, making every visit a delightful culinary experience," Mathew points out.

Address: Ground Floor, NO.86, SPENCER'S TOWERS, Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Haridevpur, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560003

Timing: 12 pm to 3:30 pm; 7 pm to 1 am

Cuisines: European, contemporary

Type: Veg, Non-veg

Bestsellers: Chilli pork tacos, crispy lamb and hummus

Phone: 087923 84999

Cost for two: Rs 2,500

The go-to spot for filter kapi: Central Tiffin Room (CTR)

Bengaluru's beloved breakfast spot is a hit with Chef Mathew as well. The heritage eatery, also known as Shri Sagar (CTR) serves some of the most famous benne dosa in Bengaluru and its filter kaapi is un-missable! Besides celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli, Deepika Padukone and Lucky Ali, the brand has also served the Maharaja of Mysore during his visit to Bengaluru.

“CTR is my go-to spot for the perfect filter kaapi, and when it comes to coffee and tea, it's unmatched in flavour and ambience," says Mathew.

Address: Malleshwara, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560003

Timing: 7 am to 12:30 pm; 4 pm to 9:30 pm

Cuisines: South Indian

Type: Vegetarian

Bestsellers: Benne masala dosa, filter kapi

Cost for two: Rs 350

Favourite seafood spots: Karavalli

One of the most preferred destinations for coastal delicacies, Karavalli is modelled on a traditional Mangalorean bungalow, and inspired by the architecture of coastal South India. The diner's menu has restored quite a few age-old recipes and revived forgotten flavours of a bygone era.

“Karavalli offers an enticing seafood experience with a variety of ocean treasures. Their coastal-inspired menu boasts a delectable array of seafood dishes that never fail to satisfy my cravings. One of my personal favourites is the Sungatache Kodi," Mathew breaks down.

Address: Vivanta, 66, Residency Rd, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560025

Timing: 12:30 pm to 3 pm; 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Cuisines: South Indian, traditional

Type: Veg, non-veg

Bestsellers: Malvani surmai, neer dosa

Cost for two:  Rs 3,000

Phone: 080666 04545

Favourite dessert spot: Lavonne Cafe 

Your best bet for French-style desserts Bengaluru, Lavonne Cafe, founded by celebrated pastry chef Vinesh Johny offers some terrific desserts. The patisserie, cafe and boulangerie offers quite a few seasonal treats and some amazing classics like Hazelnut Caramel Basque and eclairs.

“Lavonne Cafe in Bengaluru is a delightful haven for dessert enthusiasts, offering a divine array of pastries, cakes, and confections crafted with precision and a touch of artistic flair. From their exquisite patisserie creations to the cosy ambience, Lavonne is a must-visit dessert spot that elevates sweet indulgence to an art form," says the chef.

Address: 263, 3rd Cross Rd, 2nd Stage, Defence Colony, Domlur, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560071

Timing: 8:30 am to 11 pm

Cuisines: European, contemporary

Bestsellers: Basque cheesecake, Brûléed Pistachio & All Berry Danish

Cost for two:  Rs 1,500

Phone: 097409 54505

Favourite street food spots: VV Puram Street

The food street near Basavanagudi has something for everyone, be it dosas, chaats, pav bhaji, sweet buns and floating paani puri. Also known as Food Street, Thindi Beedi, and Chaat Street, VV Puram has a staggering selection of vegetarian street foods.

"VV Puram in Bangalore is a street food haven, boasting an array of flavourful delights that never fail to satisfy my street food cravings. It's a must-visit for anyone seeking a culinary adventure in the bustling world of street eats," Chef Mathew shares.

How to reach: Via Lalbagh Fort Road

Timings: 12 noon onwards

Cuisines: South Indian, chaat, north Indian

Type: Vegetarian

Cost for two: Rs 200 (approx)