If there’s one thing Hard Rock Cafe has, it’s great location. And I don’t mean that it’s sitting right at the top of St Mark’s Road, the grand old empress of the CBD. I mean that it’s sitting in the building where HMV House was, well, housed when we were kids. That is, the place where the young wannabe-rockers and groupies of Bangalore used to go to buy hard rock cassettes (antiques, in modern terminology) and fantasise about places like Hard Rock Cafe.
This imposing building with its high ceilings and sturdy stone walls generates the kind of reverential atmosphere that rock memorabilia demands. With a long history behind it – proudly stated on the walls, erected in 1912 – it can house a music store, a Barista and now a Hard Rock without being, well, shaken or stirred.
When we watched Hard Rock come up, we wondered how the Bangalore rock pub crowd would react. After all, they’ve grown up with being able to harangue waiters in their favourite bars to play their favourite songs, worn their black tees and drunk a lot of not-so-palatable beers in their time. Would the pull of famous guitars and pants be enough?
Well, the thing that turned the tables was, of course, that Hard Rock Cafe could host live music, unlike most of Bangalore’s rock-fan pubs at the time. Which means that local bands could shriek their anthems right opposite a photo of Lennon meeting the Maharishi, and their friends could troop in to cheer, get drunk and then totter towards the doors at closing time.
Anyway, let’s forget the past for a moment and concentrate on the basics. Food and drink. We’re still not going to forgo tradition, so it’s going to be burgers and beers. We try out the Istanbul Kafta Chicken Burger, which promises to be sprinkled with feta cheese (and a healthy dose of veggies), and the Miami Cuban Burger, which promises to be big and beefy. And also turns out to be loaded with sauce. Both burgers are large and juicy (the beef more than the chicken, of course) and there’s a respectable portion of fries to go with them.
We’re surprised to find Bira 91 – it’s still not a regular in Bangalore’s bar menus. Quaintly stating on the label that it was ‘imagined’ in India, made in Belgium, the Bira White is not heavy on alcohol but has quite a weighty flavour, so I can’t imagine chugging down more than a couple.
As we saunter out, we gossip about the Beatles, about Bangalore bars and beer labels. Also in tune with tradition.
Bangalore is a great place to eat out. But don’t go out sans the Quirk card that offers a flat 25% off on food and drinks at 50 restaurants in the city. Buy it now!
How to Get There:
Hard Rock Cafe
Where: 40, Opposite LIC Building, Off MG Road, St. Marks Road, Bangalore
Contact: 080 49652492
Timings: All Days 12 Noon to 1 AM | Happy Hours: 4 PM to 8 PM
Cost: ₹2,500 for two people (VAT & service charges extra)