Writer’s Cafe promises to satiate your appetite for both good food and a good read
The idea of a cafe, or “coffee house” as it was known before, has fascinated me since I learnt of its reputation as a vibrant public space where politicians, doctors, intellectuals, writers and artists gathered in 18th-Century London. But no amount of cafe-hopping has resulted in success at finding the perfect public space for writing, conversations and coffee.
When I find myself at Writer’s Cafe in Gopalapuram, I believe I am closer to finding that elusive ‘perfect’ cafe. Conversations may be hard to come by, as it is just the initial few weeks since the place opened, but a good coffee is just an order away.
Writer’s Cafe has many firsts. The non-profit has been started by restaurateur M. Mahadevan, chairman, Oriental Cuisines, in collaboration with Higginbothams, as the legendary bookstore re-invents itself.
The lower floor of the two-storey building has wooden tables on tiled floors, and walls lined with book shelves, and is just a fraction of the impressive collection on the upper floor, where Higginbothams has made at least half of its 18,000 titles available.
The books on display cover popular fiction, cookbooks, fashion, coffee table books and magazines. A dream come true for any voracious reader who can plonk on a comfortable couch and satiate an appetite for both good coffee and books here. Karan Manavalan, chef and manager, points out that apart from being a space for people to read, write and dine, the place is also conscious about giving back to society. “All the profits go back to the International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC) and to support burn victims,” says Mahadevan. “We hope that these women will find a way back into meaningful employment. And, we try our best to do that through our training and state-of-the-art facilities.”
Karan recommends a siphon coffee, and before I know it, a vacuum coffee pot with a flame underneath the lower pot is placed on the table. As the water boils, the vapour rises to the chamber above and a delectable decoction is formed.
For those visiting Writer’s Cafe for the express purpose of satiating their hunger, the Swiss-inspired menu is a novel treat.
As I dig into the flammkuchen pizza, the cheese and pesto fill my mouth as the thin crust breaks at the touch of my teeth. “I wasn’t joking when I said this is a really thin crust,” says Karan. The base for the flammkuchen is made in the state-of-the-art facility at the Cafe, and I am told that the prominently Swiss influence is thanks to Silke Steadler, a chef from Lucerne, Switzerland.
I also try out the orange and rocket leaves with ricotta salad, the crunchy leaves teaming with the sweet oranges and balsamic dressing to make for a hearty appetiser.
Americanised dishes temper the otherwise interesting Swiss menu and a wide offering of popular appetisers, including a variety of fries and toasts, is also available for those unwilling to take risks with their orders.