Egmore’s quaint garden diner, PH Cafe, promises homely and comforting food
We were casually strolling through the by lanes of Egmore one pleasant evening, as spring faded into summer, and the illuminated façade of this restaurant caught our attention. Called PH Café or the Psychedelic Hues Café, one would expect the venue to have a rave vibe. What one is greeted with instead, is a picture postcard home café that seems to be stuck in a time warp and would be more suited to Puducherry rather than central Chennai. This warm ambience is courtesy the 70-year-old two-floored bungalow that houses the café. Built 70 years ago, the house is a beautiful mix of traditional Kerala architecture and Chennai old-town style. This beautiful home-turned-café was the residence for four generations of owner, Rashmi Nandita’s family and she continues to live on the upper floor. “We decided to convert the ground floor and the garden into a café, and now since the pandemic began, the seating has completely shifted outdoors,” Rashmi explains.
The menu isn’t huge. It is however, pretty diverse. Craving some home-style continental food, we went ahead with their Chicken ‘n’ Mushroom Au Gratin, paired with their Stuffed Cheese Mushrooms and a refreshing cold lemon juice. The au gratin was just the right amount of cheesy and was served with simple toasted bread — not necessarily gourmet, but downright delicious. The lemon juice was also special considering the fruit was freshly picked from the café’s own garden. “We grow our own lemons, bananas, papayas and basil and use our leftovers as organic manure — so this is super clean eating,” Rashmi shares. So, it’s no surprise when we find out that potted plants and organic soaps are also for sale.
Not quite full yet, we experimented with something more red meaty, the Rosemary Beef, and followed it up with a second round of lemon juice. Now finally ready for dessert, we opted for the recommended Banana Cake Ice Cream served beside a hot brownie, and an in-house chocolate milkshake. Both made the perfect finale to the two-course meal spread across two lazy hours. As we wrapped up our meal over piping hot cups of filter coffee, Rashmi spoke to us about the 100-year-old tree that the compound once housed and the boutique that features an art gallery and some interesting curios. Rashmi also recommended that we try her Creamy Paneer Florentine Pasta and her choice of pancakes on our next visit — something we’re pretty sure we’ll be doing soon enough. PH Café isn’t for a gourmand, but for healthy-hearty and warmth-laden meals, don’t think twice to escape into this hidden corner in Egmore.
Meal for two, Rs. 1,500++ approx