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Indian Coffee House, Kannur

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Kannur is “blessed” with two restaurants of the Indian Coffee House brand, more than what this idyllic city needs.

Equipped with a name that should define the expectations one may have while stepping, it instead serves to disappoint.

The ambiance is almost correct and gives an indication of its ancient origins. Indian Coffee House has over 400 outlets, 50 in Kerala and has been active since the 1930s. Dressed in an uniform with large turbans that is reminiscent of the era of bygones, you are almost over eager in anticipation of a sensory experience that would delight and leave a lasting memory. The staff are friendly and nice.

The Kolkatta branches of the Indian Coffee House supposedly attracted the attention of the likes of Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen and more. The Bangalore version had been very popular and recently re-opened in a new location in Church Street.

In Kannur though, I had been there earlier, in 2010, with a few friends and found their other older restaurant full with a long waiting queue. However not much is in memory of that day, perhaps because all us were tired and hungry. This time however I will remember to never again visit, not by choice.

The food, mostly South Indian in nature and with local Kerala influences, is passe. One can, perhaps, survive. Me and my friend were left terribly uninspired. He did in fact leave part of his meal, a plate of idlis, a dish one would never expect to fail in South India. The chutney was watery or maybe just water, and the sambar bleh.

I tried the Puris which came with a potato bhaji. I could eat it.

A peas based dish was perhaps the best of the lot, one that I would have praised and enjoyed on a street stall but would expect more when served in a restaurant. I did like it though.

Unfortunately, the restaurant fails in the one item that should have been the saving grace, the one most definitive item that epitomises the name of the restaurant and the  brand – coffee. It was by far one of the worst coffees we had tasted. For an organisation that was named the top consumer brand by CNBC in 2008, the food in lacking, at least in the Kannur branches.

Indian Coffee House, please go when you are terribly hungry, possibly starving and do not have any other option.

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