Lunches at Lilypool changes Coimbatore's perceptions of a home-style restaurant
Contrary to what you may have been told, your journey does not always define the destination. A 45-minute drive from all perceivable high rise office buildings and malls, the Kalapatti road still retains remnants of a rural setting. It is down one such lane, past paddy fields and lakes, entrepreneur and culinary enthusiast Ancy Pottenkulam, along with her husband Retired Captain Thomas Pottenkulam of the Merchant Navy decided to set up the south Indian chapter of her bed & breakfast, after spending 32 years in Dubai. As we gather our wits about us, following what could only be described as an off-roading expedition, to put it mildly, our sights fall on the deliberately bare and red-bricked exterior of Lilypool. To step into the 5,000 sq ft structure is to be transported into what is an essay on light and symmetry.
Light it up
Designed to reflect their Malayali-roots, Lilypool roughly follows the traditional Tharavadu aesthetics with a central courtyard. But, our eye quickly travels to the large French windows that give you the sense of a house without walls — a space without barriers. Almost everything about this villa overturns convention. After all, most homestays outside the confines of the city depend on the scenic view for their primary appeal. For this home that sits on a 32-acre farm, the allure lies in its ability to play with natural light.
It isn’t the architecture that brings us here, though. Doubling up as a pop-up restaurant, Lilypool is better known for their homemade luncheon. Going by the moniker, Lunches by Lilypool on social media, this farmhouse serves up a customised menu featuring continental and Indian cuisine. “I have always enjoyed cooking. It’s never been a tedious task,” begins our host, who admits that she does not possess any degree in the culinary arts.
Sipping on some piping hot tea in floral motif cups, we set out on a quick tour of the property as we listen to the story: How Lilypool got its title. Delving into familiar history, Ancy tells us about her fondness for the Queen Mother of Jaipur, Gayathri Devi. “Lilypool was the name of her summer house,” she says with a smile. Featuring a recurring botanical theme that runs throughout the house, we notice that the steps of the stairwell have floral and leaf imprints. Addressing our curiosity, Ancy tells us that she and her sister designed the house, sans an architect, and included every element that caught their fancy.
Set up in July as a lunch-only restaurant, the space now offers a bed and breakfast with two rooms done up almost identically, featuring prominent elements like photo frames and artwork furnishing each room. While we don’t get a chance to savour the spread that is usually on offer for Ancy’s guests and that we have heard so much about, the home cook’s specialities are Western and Asian fare. “My signature dishes are the Moussaka and Khowseuy.” Though rueful about the lack of small-batch handmade bread in the city, the 66-year-old is quite content to bake her own artisanal bread for the occasion. Expanding her catering capacity for up to 20 people, meals at Lilypool are no longer restricted to lunches. “People love coming out here in the night. Most times it is either families or groups of friends looking to celebrate birthdays with a quiet, outdoor spread,” Ancy shares, talking about their al fresco terrace that comes in handy for these special moments.
With the idea of homemade at the heart of every dish and exclusively customised menus as per request, Lilypool promises a relaxed, elegantly plated, four-course fare that trumps a meal at a regular restaurant any day.
Rs 1,500 for a non-veg meal.
Pics: U Rakesh Kumar