A café-restaurant comes with the promise of delicious vegetarian delights and an ambience with a quaint charm

We are at Cup O' Cafe in Purusaiwalkam. The sprawling white mansion that houses this cafe-restaurant is 120 years old... so ancient it has probably never heard the words pasta and lasagna before. Yet they exist peacefully, giving diners a blend of the contemporary and the classic.

A flight of steps leads to the cafe. A part of it almost feels like a haveli in Rajasthan. The interiors are done up in purple with a collection of masks and paraphernalia ranging from gramophones to cameras adorning the walls. For those who love to bask in the sunlight, there's outdoor seating. As for us, we choose a table indoors, nearest to the air conditioner and farthest from the sunlight streaming in through the glass doors.

Lots to choose from

The cheerful waiter hovers around for our orders, but the extensive menu leaves us indecisive, like children in a candy shop. Eventually, the decision is made. It was a tossup among a Ferrero Rocher milk shake, a green apple iced soda and a strawberry jelly based drink. The first won. Chocolate-based things have a strange way of influencing ones decisions, don't they? The shake is delicious. It's not too thick, has a silky texture and a generous portion of crushed Rocher. I start guzzling it down ravenously, and put it aside only when the falafels arrive. It's a good thing my friend accompanying me is on a gluten-free diet so I don't have to share it with her. She's delicately sipping on masala chai and downing spoonfuls of corn salad slathered in mayonnaise.

Crunchy salad

The salad's fresh, crunchy and probably the healthiest snack we ordered. Of course, she tries stealing a sip of my drink, but a rap on her knuckles ensures she is back to her salad. “I can have falafel. It's made of chick peas,” she announces after scanning through the menu and running a search on her phone.

For myself, I order a Spizzy Cheese lasagna. Being a hard-core non-vegetarian, I don't expect much from the lasagna. I mean, how good can something without chunks of meat be? Much to the delight of my vegetarian friends, I'm proved wrong. The lasagna is perfect, and I can't seem to find fault with it. It comes with a stuffing of cottage cheese, jalapeno and spicy sauce.

Desi twist

The more I exclaim how good it is, the more my-gluten free friend sulks. “The falafels are excellent,” she retorts as she effortlessly polishes them off. I grab the last one, dunk it in the green chutney, and follow it up with a sip of my shake. It's fiery, crispy with a desi taste to it.

Finally, my fellow diner gives in and digs her spoon into the lasagne. I pretend to look away, but she's actually being good and only has mouthfuls of the cottage cheese stuffing.

Before we know it, the plates have been stripped clean. With our tummies full, we now lean back and take in the beauty of this manor from the last century. It surely was well worth the drive to Purusaiwalkam.

(Cup O' cafe is a chain of vegetarian cafe-restaurants that and has branches also in Purasawalkam, Kilpauk, ECR and OMR. For details, call 4204-1560)

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Priyadarshini PaitandyJune 28, 2012