Junk food, loud music, air-conditioned room, cushioned seating, uniformed waiters, menu cards, and of course, college students engaged in animated chatter — sounds like a typical café? Well, any other maybe, but not Ranga Shankara's Café at JP Nagar II Phase.

Much like the Ranga Shankara theatre, the Café has a unique place in the hearts of theatre lovers. The experience of a play is incomplete without a visit to the Cafe.

‘Fine dining to desi tadka'

The wooden furniture and the simple décor lend it a park-like feel. And every item on the menu seems to have been chosen perfectly, combining fine dining with a desi tadka to suit the diverse Indian palate. The signature dishes of the Café are undoubtedly ragi and akki rotis. But there is the Mumbai special — sabudana vada, chaat and vada pav, even chicken tandoori chicken. “I believe the idea of mass producing meals takes away the joy of cooking for someone. It ceases to be personal once it becomes commercial,” says Angela Sudharshan, the manager of the café.

Says Dilip Aathresh, a regular: “It is so relaxing here that I don't have to worry about the way I'm dressed like I would when I visit other restaurants. The only way it differs from home is that the food is paid for.”

For others, it signifies a move towards a ‘canteen-coffeehouse culture' that existed before the present-day obsession with ‘cafe culture'. Priya Jayanth says the place mirrors Ranga Shankara theatre's ethos well. “The Café takes on the theme of any play that might be happening on a particular day. It even serves special dishes during festivals such as Diwali and Onam,” she says.

So, make sure you give yourself an extra half-hour ahead of the play to sample the fare. You never know what's on the cafe script!

Madhavi Shivaprasad