We tend to find the most amazing places when we are least expecting them.
On our recent trip to China, on a cold winter day, we had decided to explore the city on foot. After some shopping, we were just roaming around and that is when saw this cafe – Book Cafè – we exchanged stares and ran towards it!
It is a huge cafe on the side of a bustling street and right next to Ningxia Lù metro station. This place is also well connected by local buses if you decide to take one.
Entering, we saw huge stacks of books arranged properly in pillar-like shelves. Cozy and inviting sofas along one side and a few tables on the other. The interiors were beautifully designed and made us fall in love with the place at first sight.
The cafe was almost empty barring a few people who were lost in their books.
For non-Mandarin speakers, it does get a bit difficult to understand the menu but the staff was very friendly and those who understood a bit of English helped us through our dilemma. We ordered our coffee and decided to makes ourselves comfortable upstairs.
Until our coffee arrived, we browsed through the books and explored the cafe. There were a lot of beautiful paintings and books up for sale. Most of the collect is in Mandarin and if you understand the language, this cafe is a heaven to be lost in for hours.
We browsed through a few books and interacted with the staff trying to get to know the city better while our coffee arrived. The best part about the coffee was the cute Chinese cutlery that they used.
After spending about two hours here, we decided it was time to go, but would definitely love to visit this place again – hopefully with better knowledge of Mandarin.
First look at Artika Café and you feel like you are in a slow-motion video of some lost town. Time probably, literally stops here! Artika Café is one of the best places to laze around in Pondicherry.
It is essentially a black and white shot, with a random table or two adding the colours. Dry leaves and white bougainvillaea decorate the courtyard, giving the feel of a never-ending autumn. The quietness here can be the brand ambassador for Pondicherry’s ‘Peaceful Pondicherry’ tagline! This peacefulness is what drew us here and kept us here and what made us never want to get up and leave!
A narrow and beautiful shrub covered path led us to the graffiti and mural-covered courtyard. There are a few tables in the open courtyard and a few lounge chairs in the shade covered area to just stretch and relax.
There are a few tables inside as well, in an old, pretty worn-out house but we chose outside, obviously!
There is an art gallery and a shop inside, which sort of seems like the thing in Pondicherry!
Once we had taken in the amazing surroundings and rested for a few good minutes, we asked for the menu, which is another surprise. They give you a big handmade paperboard menu that is handwritten – art all the way!
There are quite a few breakfast options, sandwiches, baguettes and crepes to pick from.
They have some really good combos to pick from. The food ranges from affordable to average pricey but one can easily find something
according to their budget.
Another good thing here is the free WiFi for as long as you want.
The service is prompt and super friendly.
We had a Ratatouille and Cheese Sandwich. The aroma of the ratatouille being prepared made our mouths water! The sandwich was delicious, non-spicy ratatouille with lots of veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and more with lots of mozzarella cheese! It was lip-smacking!
We also had Mango Lassi which was more like thick mango pulp smoothie! It was very refreshing and filling!
Artika Café and Gallery should be where you head to, to chill on a hot summer day or to get your work done in peace. And if nothing, a few hours of peace don’t hurt!
We had an amazing time at Artika Café, do tell us about yours!!
“Nope, definitely, this is someone’s home. We are in the wrong place!”
This is how the conversation will go when you first enter Kasha Ki Asha – that you have entered someone’s really well-kempt home and there is no way that a café exists here. Pass by those rooms with handicrafts and khadi kurtas and bags and you reach the centre of the home which again reinforces your belief that this is someone’s home and you are trespassing!
With a small central verandah with lots of flowers, a metallic statue of the dancing God and a few females going about their business, it has got to be a home, no?
Well, it is, but it is a home converted to an art gallery and also houses a café upstairs.
Breathing a sigh of relief that we have to be hungry no longer, we climbed up the narrow staircase to come face to face with the rooftop café and then… and then we smiled!
Kasha Ki Aasha is a dream we all had but never got. A terrace with cane furniture to laze on, lots of plants to keep it cool…. a space where we could relax and spend all our days and evenings and maybe even nights! Away from the chaos and cacophony, one can chill and be at peace at this café for as long as they want. And delicious homecooked food doesn’t hurt either!
We spent hours here, hogging and just sitting, doing nothing, at some points not even talking…just being quiet! That is the type of place Kasha Ki Aasha is. And if you love such places, you will love this one!
The women who run the café come upstairs from time to time to ask for any order or you can go to the stairs and holler for someone but apart from that, they let you be. No one keeps poking asking if you want anything more, something we Mumbaikars, or for that matter, metro-dwellers are not used to!
Coming to the food, they have a small menu and also serve some specials apart from the menu. The quantity is decent and one cannot help feel that the prices are a little high. That kept aside, the food is delicious! Their European and Thai thalis are hot selling and pretty famous! They also serve beer and wine. We stuck to mostly Indian options or Indian with a twist. Here’s what we tried and loved:
Traditional Indian Breakfast– Soft steamed idlis with a bowl of sambhar and a groundnut and coconut based chutney. The sambhar is non-spicy but had the perfect maa-ke-hath ka taste! The quantity of sambhar is a little less and you may have to ask for another bowl. The chutney is delicious too, with no hint of spiciness.
Chappati & Dal Fry – Two large and soft chappatis with slightly crispy centres and a small bowl of dal. Dal again was non-spicy but yummy with lots of onions and ginger. This preparation is again served with the chutney.
Pizza Dosai – Before we tell you what it is, we will tell you that it is delicious!! Two plain uttapams with lots of veggies on top – chopped tomatoes, onions, capsicum and more. This is then finished with lots of cheese! It tastes very slightly sweet owing to the tomato based sauce used to mix the veggies and the batter but the combination overall is amazing and something different!
Onion Dosai with Chutney – Crispy and thin onion dosas. These were again bang-on yummy and can be had even without that chutney!
Black Bean Burger – The black bean burger has two black bean based cutlets with a slightly charred and smokey flavour, topped with tomatoes, capsicum and onions. It is served with a cold macaroni salad that is spiced with black pepper and is delicious. Each of these can be had separately and the combination is lip-smacking.
The café is open only until 7 p.m. which is really sad considering the ambience is perfect for spending your evenings!!
All in all, Kasha Ki Aasha is an amazing place with good food and should find its way to your list of places to visit in Pondicherry!
Sometimes, wrong roads lead people to the right places.
One such wrong road led us to discover Canteen 18. We were headed towards our hotel and we saw a small little eatery, at the corner of a street, just in the passing. Little did we know a split second would have that much impact. The moment we were fresh and ready to feed our growling tummies, the first place that we mentioned, together, was that small eatery at the corner – Canteen 18!
We walked to the eatery, located in the lane behind a very busy MG Road. A sharp contrast from the chaotic main road, this street and Canteen 18, both, are a solace. First look, and you are bound to smile. A small cooking area, with 3 tables and a capacity to seat not more than 10 people, this place is charming in all certainty.
The place is run by two people and sees an influx of locals and foreigners alike. The menu is not very large in general and really small, like 5 items small, for vegetarians. And yet we recommend you go here, even if you have to pick the same combination in a burger and a croissant (this is for vegetarians, others have options), we still strongly recommend you do not miss out on this one! Have a bite of their burgers or croissant sandwich and you will know why!
We tried the Paneer Veggie Burger and totally loved it! The patty had a slightly charred and smokey flavour and went so well with the molten mozzarella. Add to that their lip-smacking Barbeque sauce and it was heavenly!
We also loved :
Veggie Croissant Sandwich > A slightly crisp and buttery croissant that was stuffed with veggies, sauces and mozzarella, just like a sandwich would. But it tasted soooo soo good!
Affogato, which was only ₹90 – a perfect treat!
Canteen 18 is a dreamy place and definitely something you have to treat yourself to. Imagine a quiet road, open-air cafe, aroma of delicious food filling the air. Doesn’t seem much like India? Well, that’s where Pondicherry will surprise you!
We don’t even wanna imagine how beautiful this setting would be in monsoons! Another Pondicherry trip seems like a great idea at this moment!
Finding The Whistling Teal was a mere fluke for us. As we wandered down the Lake Palace Road, we saw a large board that said Authentic Espresso Coffee. A claim like that is bound to make us stop in our tracks. So we did. We stopped and we crossed the road and we made our way through the huge entrance and through the climber covered door, inside the beautiful café. Or should we say garden?
Hidden away in the verandah of Jhadol Haveli from the busy street, one can not guess that such a calm and serene place exists here. It is successful in reminding one how peaceful nature can be!
The Whistling Teal makes you want to skip everything and just sit there enjoying the quiet and calm of the garden and the occasional chirping of birds or antics of squirrels.
The Whistling Teal – 6
The Whistling Teal – 4
It does not boast of a lake view or of being on a hill top but yet, The Whistling Teal is a place you should head to if you are in Udaipur. It can be romantic and cosy while being beautifully luxe at the same time.
Odd garden knick-knacks can be found all around which make walking around here really interesting. The owners also have pet dogs and rabbits and you are allowed to play with them. Aroma of coffee being brewed fills the area and the chips and barks and squeaks of birds and animals are the only music here, which by the way is more than enough!!
We were so lost in the peacefulness that we really did not think about eating anything, but we hear that they serve really lip-smacking Rajasthani dishes. We can vouch for the coffee, though!
The Whistling Teal calls for a visit, even if it is a detour for you!
What happens when you visit a new city and meet locals, be it relatives or friends?
They tell you all about the places you should check out. All this advice is definitely worth heeding to (mostly).
But what when each one tells you ‘You have to visit Xyz, the view is amazing’ or ‘Have you been to Xyz yet? If not, let me take you, you will thank me later’ and you proudly nod and say, ‘Oh we checked out Xyz yesterday, and we know what you are raving about!’
The Xyz in this context is Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar and Bakery and obviously, we are the epic people who checked it out!
Jheel’s Ginger CBB is a guest house that also houses a café and bakery and is located at Gangaur Ghat with a magnificent view of Lake Pichola. The café is spread over two floors of the guest house – the ground floor and the open terrace.
One can see the entire area lit up, from the bridge to the other hotels and buildings.
February being comparatively cool in Udaipur, the cool breeze made us shiver, but the feeling is totally worth it!
The menu is quite well spread, but we were not here for the food, so we stuck to coffee and a sandwich.
Jheel’s Giner CBB is pretty famous for the breakfast range it has on offer, so that is something one can check out
Getting here is a bit tricky since the Cabs do not come beyond Jagdish Temple. One can take a tuk-tuk or an autorickshaw to the nearest point (being the Mata Temple bridge) or can just walk the distance (which is not much) and enjoy the colourful handicrafts and artefacts on the way.
Jheel’s Ginger Coffe Bar is one café you must visit on your trip to Udaipur, not only for the view but also for their decent grub.