Dine in the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ at Cafe Allohomora, Chennai’s first Harry Potter inspired cafe
Ask for the Butterbeer and Felix Felicus potion on the 'secret menu'
Twenty years after we watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, fans in Chennai now have a café inspired by the franchise. Located in Shashtri Nagar, Adyar, Café Allohomora has cult locations from the wizarding world built into its décor — including the brick wall of Platform 9¾and the Great Hall where the students dined at Hogwarts, complete with the flags of all four houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) unfurled and suspended for dramatic effect. After a quick look around the 2,500 sq ft space, we even spot ‘the cupboard under the stairs’, which as Potterheads will remember, was Harry’s room in the Dursley household. Sadly, there is no Butterbeer on the menu, we point out to owner Karthik T (24), who also happens to be the architect who designed the interiors. “Oh, but there is,” he tells us, as we settle in. “It’s on the secret menu.”
Turns out the secret menu is only available to ‘muggles’ who ask for a dish by name. Lucky for us, we know a few. The chef’s rendition of Gillyweed (which Harry uses to breathe underwater during the Triwizard Tournament) arrives by way of two interspersed test tubes in flavours of Blue Curacao and Cranberry. Magically, the two do not mix. And later we sip on some Felix Felicis, or ‘liquid luck’ from potions class which tastes like passion fruit with flecks of gold.
We decide to move on to the regular menu to satiate our ready appetites at this point. And find an elaborate spread of Continental and Italian fare to choose from. We sample crunchy Arancini balls, rich with rice and stringy mozzarella and Baked Gnocchi on a bed of tomato-red walnut and basil sauce. There are also steaks, sandwiches, pizzas and for coffee enthusiasts, a heady 28 options to try — including a curious Filter Kaapi on ice. We opt for the delicate notes of a Tender Coconut Coffee instead, which is essentially an Americano swapping out the water for tender coconut water. Unexpected and refreshing.
Gobble of fire
For mains, a sumptuous platter of Grilled Beef Tenderloin arrives at our table. A slice with a steak knife reveals meat that is juicy and pink on the inside paired with a mushroom sauce and a creamy side of mashed potato. Dessert is a decadent cheesecake contrasted by the tart notes of a mixed berry compote. But as we hoped, the much-awaited Butterbeer that follows (served in a giant wooden mug fit for Hagrid!) is the real masterpiece of our meal. Expect decadent sips of butterscotch with a hint of caramel beneath a massive swirl of whipped cream. Definitely a pick-me-up if you had a low day or in keeping with the theme, when some of life’s ‘dementors’ come to visit. As for what is next, we hear Polyjuice trials are underway in the kitchen...
Meal for two at INR 1,000.