Mearth cafe in Chennai has a vegan-friendly menu that won't burn a hole in your pocket
Good flavours meet conscious choices at Mearth (Mother Earth) café. Owned by 27-year-old Arjun Dev, who has a background as a social worker, we quickly discover that the ethos behind this vegan-friendly space in RA Puram is to ‘give back’. The coffee is sourced from estates that he has personally visited, to ensure ethical practices. The breads come from Winner’s Bakery, which is a vocational training centre for underprivileged youth. The Vegetables are only bought around a two-to-three kilometre radius, to keep the kitchen’s carbon footprint to a minimum. And paper bills are avoided altogether, unless you request one.
Vodka in our pasta
Of course, while all of this is laudable, it makes us wonder whether the menu would be as good as the good intentions behind it. And Arjun, who gets his hospitality experience from a brief year-long stint with Mocha Blu, does not disappoint. The Sweet Potato wedges that we dunk into the chipotle aioli dip are crunchy and delicious. The Potato and Spinach Soup is creamy and comforting. And the dish that gets our highest recommendation — the Penne a la Vodka (with a home-made tomato sauce, and a generous dollop of butter) is finished, ordered again and mopped up so clean, the dishwasher couldn’t possibly do any better.
Why keep this menu vegetarian though, we’re curious — given that Arjun admits to being a hardcore meat-eater himself? “There are lots of vegetarian restaurants, but not too many vegetarian cafés, certainly not enough that are vegan friendly and affordable,” he shares. This seems like the right cue to dive into our Psychedelic Smoothie Bowl (apple, beetroot, carrot, banana, strawberry, vanilla, nutmeg, figs and peanut butter) which, portion-wise, is filling enough to be a meal. Much like the other smoothies and shakes on the menu, this can be ordered with a dairy-alternative like almond milk to make it vegan. Flavour-wise, there is too much going on, and it is a tad confused for our palate.
Taco look around
We move on to a Vegetarian Taco, topped with homemade guacamole and sour cream — which is beautifully balanced, and has an even mix of textures from a soft taco base, and crunch from the zucchini and lettuce. Dessert turns out to be the most delightful part of this café visit — with an Apple and Cinnamon French toast that is sweet, sticky and golden. And a choice between a Belgian chocolate sorbet and a Toasted Coconut sorbet. Incidentally, Arjun makes his own gelato. We definitely like the chocolate more, but lap them both up with equal gusto!
Meal for two INR 800 approx.