New College House has been feeding the taste buds for three generations
The list of historical monuments and landmarks of the Temple City will not be complete without the mention of this ever-crowded building, which has stood upright for more than a century on the Town Hall Road. For a new visitor to the city, it is one of the oft-recommended places to stay due to its proximity to temples, railway station, bus stand, shopping complexes etc. Anybody familiar with Madurai is sure to recognise the building as New College House (NCH). More than six decades in food business is a milestone worthy of celebration in a world where fancy rules the roost. Constant innovation, upgradation and quality service are the keywords to any successful venture. And this has been the guiding principle for the owners of College House Annameenakshi Restaurant for three generations.
Home away from home
"Ours is the oldest and biggest restaurant in the city and is more like a home away from home," proudly says Karthigeyan Manimozhian, director of NCH. Recollecting the origin of the name of the boarding and lodging house, Mr. Karthigeyan says the building was functioning as a hostel for Madura College students and in the 1950s his grandfather V.K. Kalyanasundaram bought the hostel and converted it into a hotel. From then on, it has been popularly referred to as `College House.' The success of the restaurant lies with its customers for they spread its uniqueness through word of mouth and people from nearby villages and even those who have migrated out of the city prefer to visit it whenever they happen to be in Madurai, he points out with pride.
"We are very quality conscious and take special care in maintaining the distinctive taste of food items," says manager Siva Venkatesan. According to him, the restaurant is able to maintain the same old taste of `degree coffee,' which enjoys a perennial fame. The credit for maintaining quality and taste goes to the cooks, who have been working for years together. Young cooks get trained under the supervision of seniors, he says. Another unique feature of the restaurant is the use of fresh cow milk for coffee, rose milk and all other food items made with milk, including pongal, he claims. The restaurant, which is more than 60 years old, offers all kinds food items -- North Indian, South Indian, Tandoori and Chinese. Though it offers a menu similar to other hotels, "We maintain the native flavour of dishes," he says. As always, idli, dosa, pongal and vada reign supreme among all food item offered in the mornings. Dosa being the undisputed king of South Indian food items, the eatery offers around 40 kinds of dosas. Among them paper roast, masala dosa, malli and podi uthappam are the hits. Though the afternoon menu has a range of meals, `College House special meals' with four vegetables attract the customers more because it has a homely and healthy touch, he says and adds that the restaurant sees to it that the meal has either `murungai keerai' or bitter gourd. The restaurant also offers a variety of salads, papads, chips, raithas, soups, juices, Indian special masala items. Most of the regular customers develop a sentimental attachment towards the restaurant and rooms, which are available at rates that suit all pockets. For literary buffs and knowledge-hungry people, the Managing Director, N. Manimozhiyan, organises Tirukkural meetings on third Saturday of every month at NCH. S.S.KAVITHA