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Plush eatery on platform



Comesum not only whets the appetite of travel-weary passengers but also caters to the local people — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

COMESUM, THE multi-cuisine restaurant at City Railway Station, gives an entirely new meaning to "railway station food". The expression commonly signifies coarse chapathi, half-cooked vada, and sweet rust-coloured water masquerading as tea — all over-priced, of course. At this attractively designed, air-conditioned, 24-hour eating place, which is the sixth in a nationwide chain of railway station restaurants run by Rajeev Mittal's RK Group, you can enjoy clean, wholesome food at affordable prices.

Comesum (which apparently means "eating place" in Italian), not only whets the appetites of travel-weary passengers and travellers-to-be, but caters to the local populace. You'll find workers dining here after their midnight shift, and students who've studied late into the night dropping in at 4 a.m. to ease their hunger pangs. As the day dawns, commuters stream in to grab a hasty breakfast, and later the lunchtime crowd keeps the staff on their toes. There is a festive atmosphere in the evenings when families arrive; a clown and a magician entertain children, women get mehendi done on their hands, and a portrait artist does on-the-spot sketches. Throughout the day, a host of customers of all ages, professions, and nationalities partake of the 350 items on offer here.

What you see is what you get. A range of neatly-labelled dishes is displayed behind glass-panelled counters, giving customers a preview of what would eventually appear on their table. There are distinct counters for juices, beverages, sweets, south Indian snacks, meals, and so on, and the veg and non-veg counters are strictly separated (even the cooking is done in separate vessels and kitchens, says General Manager Anand). The stylish interiors (by Abhishek Agarwal) and the soft music enhance the ambience. Although the ground floor is self-service, there are waiters to assist you.

We bought coupons worth Rs. 170 for a south Indian thali, vegetarian burger, puri, and two mocktails, which we later regretted, because they overloaded our groaning stomachs. We really should have given that display counter a once-over to gauge quantity and contents, for we didn't know that puri (Rs. 25) means four medium-sized puris and an excellent alu-gobi curry, or that a standard south Indian thali (Rs. 40) does not include palya.

For those of you who believe that a thali is incomplete without palya, choose the Comesum thali (Rs. 50) which, besides rice, has two puris, rasam, sambar, curd, dal with greens, pickle, and toasted papad, the palya of the day, and a gulab jamun to boot. The Maharaja thali (Rs. 70) is a "three-course meal", says Anand, for it includes soup and dessert. All of the above comes in the north Indian version as well, at the same prices. The least expensive meal is the mini meal (Rs. 30).

The vegetarian burger (Rs. 25) had been micro waved whole, so that the cucumber and cherry on top were unpleasantly warm and squishy. Cooking tip from an amateur: heat up only bun and cutlet, and later add onion, sliced cucumber, and cherry on toothpick. We had picked on the mocktail menu, mangolina and lovemania, which were both unavailable, so we settled for black magic (Rs. 35) and blue ocean (Rs. 45). The former is a cola drink with lime and brown sugar (the edible variety, of course), while the latter is a pleasant concoction of ice-cream, a fizzy lemon drink, and blue curacao syrup. Green velvet is nothing but blue ocean tinted green (green curacao instead of blue).

The Chinese fare is fairly basic, with your standard chowmein, chopsuey, fried rice, soup, and fried side-dishes. The bakery counter deals in a range of baked items from puffs and pastries to sandwiches, samosas, and cutlets. If you're setting out from Bangalore and want your lunch or dinner delivered piping hot to your train seat, all you have to do is call in advance and give details such as name, train, and seat number. Comesum has been catering for Shatabdi and Rajdhani passengers, says Anand, adding that others too can make use of this facility. If your journey takes you to Pune, Nagpur, Kolkata, Nizamuddin or Old Delhi, look out for Comesum there, too. Vijayawada will shortly have one, and the aim is to have 100 all over India.

When that happens, "railway station food" will no longer be a dreaded phrase. For details of Bangalore call 56904463 or 56904478.

M.V. CHANDRASHEKAR

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