Go for a date on a bullock cart as you indulge in appam with cheese fondue at the Indian Art Café

You heard us right. We did say ‘date on a bullock cart'. We don't know if your date would love the idea but we spotted children taking a fancy to it, playing hide and seek against the wooden wheels and the black and white bull. Indian Art Café is a new addition to the bistros at Inorbit mall. The décor is refreshing and inviting, with unpolished, unpainted wood taking on different forms. Make yourself comfortable on a ‘button chair', take in the ambience that spells funky art and even take back art works done by young art students.

The bistro is well spaced out with an interior seating area to accommodate larger groups and the outer area against the scenic Durgam Cheruvu. The woody, arty décor is matched by a bold South Indian take on fusion cuisine. We play safe beginning with a sponge dosa (steamed) served with chutneys and Malabari/Chettinad curries. The accompaniments are a delicious blend of spices, with no ingredient overpowering the other.

Chef Sudhir Solomon then recommends mint masala appams with Italian pesto fondue. We aren't sure. The mildly minty appams, combined with the fondue, turn out to be welcoming. The regular spongy, fluffy appams are also served with Chettinad fondue and salsa!

The café does justice to the eternal South Indian favourites — idli and dosa. Idli aficionados would be familiar with Kanjivaram idly. Try out the Chettinad idli (made with steamed lentil and rice, blended with Chettinad spices), thayir idli (spiced, steamed idli served in a bowl of yoghurt), godumai idli (steamed idli made with broken wheat) and the super soft vennai idli.

The dosa platter has steamed sponge dosas, dosas stuffed with spiced paneer, vella dosa where the batter takes on the delicious sweetness from jaggery and dosas stuffed with spinach and baby potatoes, served with ulavalu sauce and mint dip. The real fusion happens with the pizza dosa. Spongy dosas are topped with an assortment of veggies, grated parmesan or cheddar and served with ginger relish and peanut chutney — a healthy alternative to the white flour pizzas.

A South Indian meal is incomplete without rice. Malabari, Chettinad, Deccan and Udupi risotto beckon adventurous foodies. Rice is baked with different combinations of vegetables, spices and mozzarella or parmesan cheese. The chef assures that the risottos score on the healthy quotient, with a generous helping of vegetables and slim layer of cheese used while baking. On yes, if you've noticed, the café has a complete vegetarian menu.

The experimentation doesn't stop with the main course. The jaljeera mojito is already a popular choice with the guests. The filter coffee and cold coffees are worthy a try. The café sticks to its Indian quotient by choosing coffee beans from Anantagiri over imported beans.

Sweet ending? The café is trying out new sweet meats. The tasting session saw the chef come up with two versions of pancakes — dry fruit pancakes and pancakes topped with a paste of lentil and jaggery, both served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. A befitting end to the fusion journey.

Indian Art Café

Address: F-29, first floor, Inorbit Mall, Madhapur

Timings: From 10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m

USP: South Indian fusion cuisine and an arty décor

Meal for two: Rs. 250 to 500.