A sneak peek into the new Champaca Bookstore, Library and Cafe
For years, Secret Garden was tucked away in a cul-de-sac on Edward Road with just a few loyal diners returning to it. When a year and a half ago, the restaurant shut shop, ecologist and conservationist Radhika Timbadia grabbed the space to open up Champaca Bookstore, Library and Cafe. Last weekend, the place quietly opened its doors and we dropped by to take a look.
Radhika welcomed us into the space that over looks a lush garden and boasts a sizable collection of books. The aim is to represent more diverse and regional Indian voices, she tells us. Named after the Magnolia Champaca tree, (known for its yellow champa flowers), the aesthetics of the place reflects her love of nature. Quiet corners and huge open windows add to the cosy feel.
“We have a small menu but it’s focussed on hearty dishes made with local and seasonal produce,” says Radhika.The regional touch really stood out on the first dish we had — the Desi Avocado Toast, topped with green coconut chutney and chilli puffed rice. The dish was flavourful, and the crunchy puffed rice was a nice touch, but we found the bread to be a little soggy.
One drink that caught our eye was the Mango, Pineapple and Basil Smoothie. The bright yellow drink with flecks of green basil was as delicious as it was pretty. We also tried the Watermelon, Beetroot and Mint juice — a refreshing concoction.
We browsed their Open Sandwiches section and chose the Sri Lankan Chicken Sandwich. Topped with turmeric yogurt, coconut sambal and fried onions, the flavours and textures of this dish were on point. Some of their other sandwiches are the Tamarind and Slow Cooked Mutton, and Pulled Pork Sliders.
For something a little more substantial we recommend the Pulled Pork Harissa Tacos or the Tuscan Bean Stew. The latter has fresh citrus flavours thanks to the preserved lemon added to it, and is served with a hunk of sourdough. Salad lovers can opt for the Roasted Turmeric and Bayleaf Cauliflower Salad, that has charred onions and millets with a coconut-based dressing. A great way to end your meal is with the house special Carrot Cake.
While the overall vibe of the place is enough to impress, Champaca’s cosy nooks and locally-inspired dishes are ideal for a lazy afternoon.
Rs. 600 for two. Off Queens Road