If the metric for judging restaurants is by how well timeless dishes are made, CakeWalk Cafe seems to have figured out how to give its audience an easy bite of the classic margarita pizza.
The trick is in getting the dough right, says Pooja Srinivasan who forms the second generation of this family business. They also have a new woodfired oven to ensure that the char is right and that the cheese melts the way it should.
Pooja and her sister Kavya have walked the halls of CakeWalk, a bakery on Sterling Road, since it was opened by their father G Srinivasan, 33 years ago. They are familiar with the bakery’s nooks and crannies, its billing process, the recipe for their iconic chocolate truffle, and the staff who have worked there for years. “We used to spend all our time here, playing, doing homework. Now our children are doing the same,” says Pooja. Timelessness — especially in the realm of food — has been an integral part of their growing up years.
Over time though, the siblings have been coming into their own with the brand, trying their hand at taking their business across cities in India, opening a café and adding interesting cake options to the menu. While some of their ventures have worked, others like the once-popular Crisp Café, are now shadows of the past.
Their latest offering though, the CakeWalk Cafe, located right above their bakery on Sterling Road where Crisp once was, has a menu populated with crowd-favourites. Take for instance their hot chocolate menu with six options to choose from including intense versions of the three major chocolate types — dark, white and milk.
The sisters are keen on making the space chic and accessible to people of all age groups. “The pandemic happened and we grew up. We had children of our own and wanted to create a place where we could go to with our kids,” say Pooja and Kavya, encouraging us to add three bowls of dark, milk and white chocolate shavings to the tri-chocolate hot chocolate. Unlike the presumption, the drink is not overly sweet.
The highlight of the tasting is the slow-roasted pulled beef burger with in-house brioche buns. Although each bite is messy, the meat is tender and oozes flavour. The menu also has a mayo made of the South Indian molaga podi as an accompaniment to their french fries.
Their starter — the Schezwan chicken tapas — made over a base that reminds one of a thattai, makes for a quick bite. “We wanted to bring bits of growing up in Chennai to be on the menu,” she says. A miss though, are the corn ribs. Although the accompanying barbeque sauce packs a punch, the corn ribs are difficult to eat.
All portions encourage sharing, says Kavya. This explains why their desserts including their ‘pull me up’ cake made with a crusty brownie base, fudge and a chocolate mousse or their affogato trifle with vanilla mousse, ice cream, chocolate sponge and caramel bits require a minimum of two to finish.
When asked what it is like to work with a sibling, Pooja jokes, saying that she hopes CakeWalk café pays for their therapy. Banter aside, the sisters say they are focussed on bettering their lanes — food and architecture — as the brand grows.
The 60-seater space spread over 1,500 sq feet is well-lit during the day and has several picture-friendly spots. Kavya, who has designed the space, wanted to keep the space warm with an occasional pop of colour. Installations here reiterate the brand’s long legacy as the architect wanted to bring as much CakeWalk as possible.
The café is soon going to launch a brunch menu over the weekends and will also host an ice cream station with cake mix-ins from the bakery. They also have a coffee menu, a selection of pastas and mains, that has been curated after seven months of tasting and filtrations.
Pooja says that they are keen on building a community in their kitchen just as their father did when the bakery began. “At CakeWalk, one tastes a memory. At the cafe, we want you to taste the moment,” she says.
CakeWalk Cafe is located at First Floor, 1, Kothari Road (Opposite Sterling Club) and is open from 11am to 11pm. A meal for two costs ₹1,000.