THE 90s’ FAST FOOD JOINTS THAT ARE STILL GOING STRONG

When school-going girls start calling you uncle, and when you’ve just celebrated the 25th year of passing out from school, it is time to stop and take a trip down memory lane to a time bereft of malls, gaming zones, and fancy cafes and sheesh a lounges. So we decided to revisit the simplest and most favourite fast food hangouts of young adults in the 90s. A lot of them have shut shop since then. Like Jabbar ice-cream parlour, or Spicy Bite, and Treat, which came later. But there are others, which were favourites then and still worth a stop-by. Most of these places have little or no sitting space, and are popular as drive-ins.

EXER CLUB aka LBS Coffee Point

Exer Club, in the early evening, pre-rush hours

With its demise as a Video Cassette Rental Parlour (remember VCRs?), this small place on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, near Mall Avenue, soon converted into a gift shop with snacks. But the popularity of the snacks saw the gifts squeezed out of shelf space.
What’s changed: A lot. They no longer rent video cassettes. They no longer sell gift items, though you will still find a bit of stationery. They have started stocking up on packaged grocery items. The snack menu has expanded to include Chinese and South Indian food. Hey, they’ve even changed the name. It’s now officially called LBS Coffee Point, but people still know it better as Exer Club.
What’s same: Thankfully, their signature snacks are still on the menu. And doing great! Crispy and huge patties, different kinds of sandwiches.
Must try: Any sandwich, the best is the Mushroom, though a pizza base filled Chinese Sandwich is also good. A Cheese Burger with the bun hollowed out and filled with gooey cheese is also delicious. Patties are filling. Their momos with the hot sauce are also quite popular now.

ROVER’S

A shot of Rover’s with Hazratganj crossing in the background

This hole-in-the-wall-park is perfectly located at Hazratganj crossing. Undoubtedly, it was the most hip hangout place for boys on new wheels in the 80s. Famous for cheap burgers, frankies and as an ice-cream joint, the place boasted of the first Fountain Pepsi machine in town back in the 90s.
What’s changed: Hazratganj is congested now, with parking hassles in tow. Ranjan, the next-door petrol station, jumped on the quick foods bandwagon and opened a similar eatery. So it’s easy to get confused whether you’re ordering from Rover’s or Ranjan’s while sitting in the comfort of your car. There is also an enclosed eating space inside now. The ownership has itself changed hands so many times that the hamburger (two slices of ham folded and placed in buttered and ketchup-ed cocktail bun) is missing.
What’s same: The hustle-bustle of the traffic, the same jostling for space to eat the same-tasting grub, served with the same mint chutney (a concoction between a mint chutney and chilli sauce, totally yum) being served by the same waiter!
Must try: The juicy burger and frankies are to die for (ensure they are served with the green mint chillie chutney). The Chinese mini meals and the Chicken Lollipop are also good bets.

APOLLO BAKERY

School students are regulars at Apollo Bakery on Shahnajaf Road

‘Ganjing’ was never complete for youngsters without stopping for a bite at this small pastry shop opposite St. Francis College on Shahnajaf Road.
What’s changed: Once upon a time, Apollo Bakery used to run the tuck shop inside St. Francis school, but no longer. Due to the demands of their ever-young clientele, the shop also stocks high-end ready mixes/namkeens and juices, apart from bakery items and snacks. In fact, the menu has also expanded to make it a full fledged pastry and cake shop.
What’s same: The same ambience is maintained here since the shop continues to be run by the same family. What also remains constant is the hard sugar-boiled Easter eggs filled with candy, which you get only around Easter.
Must try: Patties, especially the elusive mutton patty that most bakeries don’t do anymore. Frankies, in particular the Mutton Franky, and Cream Roll are good too.

Written for Now Lucknow by
Nitin Prakash

Nitin, a businessman and self professed foodie and bibliophile is first and foremost a Lakhnawi at heart. The magic words to get any work done by him is (a) food (b) books and (c) Lucknow