The trip to Kodaikanal back in October 2019 was how I got introduced to Sree Subbu Mess at Gandhipuram. The weather wasn’t the best at the princess of hills thus we had decided to take a bus back home via Coimbatore. The journey felt never-ending, the vehicle was crowded and we had taken a halt at Vathlagundu by accident! I was almost blinded by hunger, I would have eaten up the people around me if it weren’t for the Ola driver who dropped us off for dinner.
There were people moving in and out of what looked like the hall of an auditorium. Service staff, both young and old were budging their way through the gaps. I looked around to find people relishing on meals, dosa, porotta, fish, chicken, countless options. It was love at first sight, I mean how lucky am I to find fish curry meals for dinner, at least it is a rare sight where I come from. I did not have to think twice before placing an order for fish curry meals and fish fry, from the options of fish available I chose the Vanjaram fry which is seer fish, Neymeen in Malayalam and Vanjaram in Tamizh. Along with that, we wanted to taste the porotta and Chettinad chicken curry as well, I have this weird liking for the crunchy porotta from Tamil Nadu. Rice was served on a banana leaf, 6 small containers filled with cabbage and carrot Poriyal (sauteed in coconut and tempered with mustard seeds), fish gravy, chicken gravy (talk about bonus), rasam (spicy and tangy, winner winner rasam dinner!), dal, and curd were served next and then came my beautiful and fresh Vanjaram fry.
It is no surprise that I chose to start my meal with the fish curry and then made my way through the rest of the sides while ending the meal with curd. The anna (brother in Tamizh) who served our table was light on his feet, he was excited to speak to us in both Tamizh and Hindi and had no qualms. His jovial mood lightened us up further. Oh, I almost forgot to describe the porotta experience, it was good too, I would say the excitement of eating fish for dinner overweighed my excitement for porotta but the chicken was cooked well and the gravy was spicy.
The entire meal cost us Rs.458/- with zero regrets. Though the place was buzzing there was no delay in service. The restaurant as a whole was kept clean and two men were frequently cleaning the floor while we were there. If you are someone with a sweet tooth, as you head downstairs from the restaurant to the road you will be able to spot a few small shops selling rose milk, badam milk and traditional sweets. We were too full and extremely tired to have tried a few sweetmeats.
It was later when I had a discussion with my Achappam (father) about Subbu Mess that he got to mention how he was a frequent customer there during his stint at Canara Bank, Coimbatore. My father is someone who I have always looked up to for finding rustic and local eateries that top in quality, if he is aligned with me, I am sure it wasn’t just hunger that made me love the food at Sree Subbu Mess.