From using a stone mill to sourcing saffron from Kashmir, Chennai-based Mayur Café is big on pure and fresh ingredients
Fine dining vegetarian restuarant Annalakshmi has come up with a new vertical that offers sweets, snacks and a casual café space. Look out for their Kolkata Club Kachoris and Khakhra Pizzas.
The popular Annalakshmi restaurant relocated to Spurtank Road a year ago without much fanfare albeit into a plush and opulent space that whispers grand stories of culture, craft and philanthropy. Now our attention is drawn to the recently opened Mayur Café a tad further up the road. Part of the same company, where N Aravind the director of (fine-dining restaurant) Annalakshmi, tells us that the essence of Annalakshmi has been celebrated and retained in this new vertical.
“The spirit of Annalakshmi is about rich and soulful food — ultimately it should be atma tripti — food for the soul,” says Aravind, adding that great research and homework has gone into sourcing the ingredients for Mayur Café. Simple and elegant, the sweet shop section is brightly lit with trays of mithai. Soon you will find their signature podis, pickles and pure cow ghee on the racks we are told. Meanwhile, we pop a mini kaju katli (cashew marzipan) into our mouth and find it soft with freshness, and let the sweetness and nuttiness spread its cheer. Savouring a melt-in-the-mouth piece of Mysore Pak next, we wander away into the roomy café space where a live station for sandwiches and chats awaits us. Aravind assures us that they were experimenting with healthier substitutes for sugar, like palm sugar — though retaining the original flavour and recipe will be tricky.
Open from 7.30 am for breakfast, the menu catches us by surprise. Offering much loved local favourites for brekky, expect the likes of idli vada sambhar and the quintessential filter kaapi in a davara, among other staples. The all-day menu includes bakery offerings, sandwiches with milkshakes and some unique dishes like Kolkata Club Kachori. We dig into asoft-as-a-pillow square of summeryellow Dhokla and are promptly sold on the idea of sourcing the gram flour from Gujarat! The Khakhra Pizza is light and topped with veggies, cheese and sprinkled with Indian spices. We chase it down with a piping cuppa filter kaapi, poured into a golden davara.
While the focus is greatly on quality ingredients, the other underlying element that is part of any endeavour from the Annalakshmi brand — is philanthropy and charity. “Our central kitchen has a stone mill. As far as possible we are judicious in our use of automation and our aim is to make this a women-centric work force,” says Aravind adding that their numerous charities especially, aim at helping mothers and children.
At Spurtank Road, open till 9 pm. Meal for two from INR 250 onward. Lunch thali at INR 250.
N Aravind, director, Annalakshmi, shares that the source of every single ingredient was a discerning, researched decision — that produced an unadulterated and superior quality product from across the country. Here are a few that caught our attention:
■ Basin flour from Gujarat ■ Saffron from Kashmir ■ Cashew nuts from Mangalore and Panruti ■ Potatoes from Coonoor