Art Cafe in Chennai serves up board games, warm brews and quick eats
It's raining cats and dogs as we hustle for a parking spot on TTK Road outside Art Café. So we're glad for the cozy interiors and a comforting mug of Masala Chai that comes our way as we settle in to peruse the menu. Expect café staples like sandwiches, pasta, platters of fries and veggie steaks if you've brought a larger appetite. As for the art theme - we find it runs across the whole experience from a bright pink graffiti wall that flanks the stairwell leading up to the entrance to names of dishes inside what one could mistake for a drawing pad.
Rashna Adiraj, one of the partners, tells us that the existing canvasses on the wall will soon be swapped with those of upcoming talent in the city, free of charge. "We want to use this space to encourage artists to showcase and sell their work," says the trained classical dancer who also has a background in hospitality. The other two partners are Durga P (also a managing partner at Cold Fusion café) and software professional and entrepreneur Harsha Raj.
We find our eye drawn to a colourful installation of tea cups where you can order your beverages, including a freshly roasted brew. And decide this is a perfect pairing for the weather as a plate of Mushroom and Babycorn Chettinad Fries arrives at our table. We're apprehensive seeing curry leaves on our fries at first, but the kadai masala is warming and makes for a surprisingly addictive combination with the crunchy fries. Other quick bites that we recommend are the sweet and tangy Asian salad served on a bed of lettuce and the more indulgent Masala Cheese Toast topped with generous portions of now-melted Amul cheese.
We sample the mains as well. But the Bolognese Pasta seems to be drowning in carrots and the Paneer Steak cutlet is best had by itself and is undone by the white sauce. On the flip side, a place that serves steak offers a board game section with Scrabble and Jenga – which makes for a fun pastime while you are waiting for the rain to stop.
Meal for two Rs 500.
Look out for:
In the offing next month, are healthy veggie-infused pizza bases in a range of colours like beetroot (red), spinach (green), turmeric (yellow) and charcoal (black).