Cafés for bikers: Biker chow

By Soni Sangwan for The Hindu on March 14, 2018

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The cafés that bikers make a beeline for, post their arduous adventures

What does a HOG (Harley Owners Group) crave when the ride has been long and the trail dusty? And what about the members of the RAT (Ride a Triumph) Pack after a similar long stretch in the saddle? A long frosty brew with a big plate of chow, of course! As the love and passion for long rides on chunks of throbbing metal spread, so do abodes of hospitality for these riders. Biker cafés, often the brain-children of bikers themselves, have established themselves as enclaves of anti-culture, to beat down the strait-jacketed demands of fine-dining establishments. But if your idea of a biker café is a dark, dingy bar with blaring heavy metal and booze by the barrel, you couldn’t be more wrong. They are large spaces, ready to go full throttle, head-to-head with any other restaurant. Here is a list of some of the most talked-about biker cafés in India that welcome everyone — though your Hell’s Angels membership card will be an advantage.

Ride Inn Café, Manali

Godwin and Snehal D’Cruz started life as hairdressers from Mumbai. “But our real passion was in bikes. Both of us are into long-distance rides. The longest we have done is a six-month ride, when we travelled non-stop across India,” says Godwin. It is this passion that brought them to Manali, where they initially set up shop as hairdressers, but found they had too much free time on their hands. So they opened Ride Inn Café in Shanag village that also has rooms attached. Here, they share their knowledge of terrain, routes and bikes with others. Everything here is about the motorbike: the used-bike-parts lighting, the glass-topped motorcycle-wheel tables, bike-saddle chairs, and the show-stopper scooter buffet table. You get the kind of food you crave after a long time on the road: steaming hot soups, noodles with spicy gravies, heart-warming curries and Himachali cuisine. “Growing up, I had the option of being a chef or a hair dresser. I chose hair, and ironically, now I find myself with the chef hat on,” says Godwin. You have to cross a small bridge to get to Ride Inn. With an apple orchard and scenic surroundings, it is a place to recharge you while on the road. Try the Mutton Thump and Chicken Bullet.

Village Shanag, Manali;

Phone: 8894539495

The Bikers Café 2.0 Version, Gurugram

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The recently-revamped Bikers Café in Gurugram is the newest of the chain that started in Delhi and is now in Kolkata. For Sanjay Yadav, the founder, and a biker who chose this life over being Director of Sales for Dell, “This café is built on three pillars: fun, food, freedom.” From the foosball table to the cutlery shaped like motorcycle tools and three large pictures that show the range of bonds motorcycles forge, you’ll see what he means. The menu is designed for the special food a biker’s body craves, so detox juices form a big part. Breakfast is their favourite meal of the day and the café opens at 7.30 a.m. With the idea of bringing the world to the table, there are Lisbon waffles, Portuguese Fresh toast, Arabian omelette. But it is the vegetarian Samui Benedict that is most popular, with veggies that look like an egg, placed atop an English muffin, with Thai and Penang curries, paired with ranch dressing and tossed mushrooms. Check out their Wall of Confession in the washroom, where patrons can let off steam, so there’s no room for road rage.

Ground Floor, Emaar MGF Palm Spring Plaza, PSP-12, Golf Course Road, Sector 54, Gurugram, Phone: 9910166641

PitBrew, Chandigarh

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Launched in January this year, PitBrew in Chandigarh, is spread over 2.5 acres. It has a space to buy and sell high-end motorbikes, has a swimming pool and a private party section. Aman Sikka and Zorawar Suri drew up the plan while on a ride themselves, Sikka, a banker, on his Harley and Suri on a Hayabusa. There’s the usual biker regalia and memorabilia along with some Harleys on display. “PitBrew is already a big favourite with the biker crowd of the Panchkula, Chandigarh, Mohali tri-city area. We are defining our position in this space through targeted events. We have tied up with rider groups and are already well-positioned as the start and finish point for rides,” says Sikka. Their ample parking space makes them ideal for this purpose. They offer a wide variety of Indian and Continental food.

Chandigarh Road, Zirakpur; Phone: 7009374835

Garage Inc, Delhi

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Big hunger? In the mood for a Meat Orgy, or some Jimmy Jerk Chicken or even a Garage Grease Burger? Head for Garage Inc in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village. R S Maker, at 66, whose daughter chefs here, used to be a biker in his youth. For him, the theme is not just restricted to the décor (number plates, bike parts and wheels add to the garage feel) and the names of some of the items on the menu — it extends to the philosophy bikers live by: Freedom. “Garage Inc is a place where we value freedom and it is a space for people who value freedom,” he says. The food plays an important part in keeping it that way. The OMG Burger for instance comes with a double patty of chicken, large enough for two. Another favourite is the Harley Pork Chops, which comes smothered with gravy on a bed of mash and a side of salad. Enjoy your meal with a beer tower or any one of their shakes or smoothies.

30, 2nd Floor, Powerhouse Building, Hauz Khas Village, Delhi;

Phone: 9818471870, 9958457880

Chillax, Kochi

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Chillax 24×7 (yes, it’s open day and night) was born out of necessity, says Kiran M, a biker himself, who found a gap in the market for the right kind of place for bikers like himself to, well, chillax! He opened his first place in 2010, and today has five outlets in Kochi. “What bikers want is a place where they can park their bikes comfortably, relax and enjoy good Bad Boy Biker Food (defined as spicy, non-vegetarian, burgers, tandoors, grills, Arabic; definitely not curries),” says Kiran. To build the biker vibe, Kiran has placed his Harley Fat Boy, Triumph Rocket and 1962 vintage French Suvega along with some memorabilia.

Phone: 7558871666

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