The Eko-lyfe cafe in Chennai serves a broad spectrum of taste and cuts down on waste with a community fridge
Expect salads, sandwiches, pasta, ramen and risotto
A year after zero waste store Eko-lyfe by Soul Garden Bistro opened shop, owner Jignesh Pujara has introduced a new café menu. And a quick browse of what is available has us pretty curious — with the promise of a Sushi Bar serving maki rolls alongside a Rice Bar dishing out Curry Leaf thokku made of organic seeraga samba. Other sections include a Salad Bar, Sandwich Bar, Pasta Bar, Risotto Bar, Dosa Bar, Smoothie Bar and Gelato Bar. This is just a peek of the flavour spectrum in store at this 30-seater in Alwarpet, which according to Jignesh is 90 per cent vegan as well.
Down to earth
Décor and cutlery have also been chosen in line with the theme, we find out as we settle in. “None of our furniture has been bought, we got it from a restaurant that we had to close,” says Jignesh, following the ethos of their zero waste code. Meanwhile, the plates are made of clay and these come with bamboo forks and spoons “so everything is closer to the earth” he says. A lone community fridge at the entrance is open for diners who want to leave behind what they couldn’t finish, as well as outsiders who wish to contribute a goodwill meal. “This will be donated to the Mylapore temple every day,” we are told.
With an adequate orientation of the space, we’re ready to dive into the food. We start with the ‘make your own salad’ — where we opt for Red lolla rosso lettuce with crispy chickpeas, hazelnuts, olives and red cabbage with a vegan feta made of cashewnut and a sweet meets tangy fennel and dried kiwi dressing. Fresh and packed with flavour, this arrives in a coconut shell for a bowl. Meanwhile, the Hemp Roasted Bell Pepper Pasta with red sauce is flavourful and a safe order any time of day, but we are more taken by the Naagin Chilli Broth Ramen that comes with bokchoy and lotus stems. The latter is exactly the warm comfort you need with the nip in the air right now.
From the dosa section, we recommend the saucy Indo-chinese manchurian filling and the batter prepped with organic oats and quinoa. “If you want to make healthy swaps in your home kitchen as well, every ingredient we use on the menu can be bought off the shelf,” Jignesh tells us. We wrap up with a Peanut tofu & Spinach sushi roll dunked in an inky black soy sauce with a measured swab of wasabi mayo before we cool off with some gelato.
Meal for two at INR 1,200.