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Updated: April 11, 2013 21:14 IST

The best days are behind the Fish Canteen

Sudipto Mondal
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Serving of nostalgia: The Fish Canteen in Cubbon Park, run by the Karnataka Fisheries’ Development Corporation, was once the only place in Bangalore where one was guaranteed fresh fish. Photo: Karan Ananth
The Hindu Serving of nostalgia: The Fish Canteen in Cubbon Park, run by the Karnataka Fisheries’ Development Corporation, was once the only place in Bangalore where one was guaranteed fresh fish. Photo: Karan Ananth

Cubbon Park has always meant different things to different people. To some, it is a colonial relic, to others a botanical treasure trove. A lovers’ glade to some and joggers’ park to others.

Through the late 1980s and 1990s, Cubbon Park was also the go-to place for fish lovers of the city, thanks to the Fish Canteen run by the Karnataka Fisheries’ Development Corporation.

Those were the days when the Fish Canteen was the only place in Bangalore where one was guaranteed fresh fish, raw or cooked. Mackerel and seer fish kebabs served with slices of salted bread and onion rings was a combination that was as popular as the fish thali.

The boom years of the late 1990s saw many restaurants sprout in the city, including those that served sea food. This period also saw a decline in the standards at the Fish Canteen.

Things continued to slide for over a decade with patrons at the canteen slowing down to a trickle. In 2010, the government finally gave the place a facelift, spending over Rs. 1 crore on turning it into a swanky restaurant from a basic canteen.

The menu though remained the same — fish kebabs (minus the bread) and thalis made up of ragi balls, rice, rasam, buttermilk and of course, fish curry.

Although the menu remained the same, there was a huge improvement in the quality for the first two years.

Standards have fallen again in the last year. The fish is often stale and rarely marinated. As a result, it seems like the fish and the curry were cooked separately and dunked together just before serving. The kebabs still have some sting left, though not half as good as what was served even 10 or 15 years ago.

Visit the Fish Canteen for the love of the place and the abundant fresh air, the prices aren’t bad either. But if you are have a desperate craving for fish, look yonder.

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