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Classicism revisited

Relive the past at Café Mercara with bisi bela bath, bagala bath, Nilgiri korma, rajma masala, keema rice and more


IT IS a quiet afternoon at Café Mercara, Chola Sheraton. Irradiated by sunlight, the swimming pool abutting the café provides an arresting sight. The interiors too capture your attention. Though bearing the imprints of contemporary deco, Café Mercara has not altogether turned its back on tradition. The ligneous elements are reminiscent of the past. Made of lacquered billet or hard wood, the doors have shutters, which were quite common half-a-century ago. The chairs with their wire-knitted backrests also bear the stamp of a bygone era.

Café Mercara itself has an interesting past. About 25 years ago, Café Mercara (then located on the first floor of the hotel) was a restaurant which was as famous for its traditional dishes as for the beverages. In the evenings, those employed nearby would come for a café du lait, while those residing in the vicinity would hurtle across with family for a feast of kal dosas or bagala bath.

The hotel's executive chef, Ramesh Javvaji, has recreated those days by introducing "Mercara Classics". In other words, the kal dosas are back! The Mercara Classics include such items as bisi bela bath, bagala bath, Nilgiri korma, rajma masala, keema rice, tawa paratha, chilli cheese toast, pepper chicken Chettinad, South Indian fish curry, dakshin prawn curry, paneer makhani, mutton roganjosh and chicken paratha rolls. All these are available round the clock.

Beverages, however, continue to remain Café Mercara's flagship. In point of fact, the café derives its name from the coffee-growing land of Mercara, which is nestled in the hills of Coorg.

On the tea front, you have fruit-flavoured tropical teas (mango, banana, guava and lemon grass), spiced Indian teas, herbal teas such as Chamomile, Kashmiri Kahwa (a saffron, cardamom and almond rich brew) and iced variations (Wild Strawberry, Black Currant, Lemon Grass Tea, American Iced Tea).

The coffee varieties are Ristreto, creamy-nutty flavoured Café Borgia, Cappuccino, Cacaoccino (an espresso version with hot cocoa, chocolate ice cream and whipped cream), South Indian filter coffee, Mocha Java and Torja Kalossi (a heavy-bodied coffee grown in the islands of Sulawesi). For the knowledge-driven, the tablemats offer information on coffee origins.

There is also a range of sandwiches, pastries, burgers, milk shakes, salads and ice creams. That's not all. There is something more for "the café society". At the Chinese restaurant, Shanghai Club, culinary boundaries seem to have gone.

Apart from its regular a-la-carte menu, the Shanghai Club is offering a multi-cuisine lunch buffet. Thanks to Chef Javvaji, dishes from the four corners of the world beckon foodies to the dining table. The variety includes Indian (Peshawari and Mughlai among others), South-Indian, Chinese, Continental, Italian, Mexican, Canadian, American, Swiss, French and English offerings. The menu changes from day to day.

Mercara Classics
Cafe Mercara
Chola Sheraton
For reservations: 28110101 (extension: 1908)
Shanghai Club,
Chola Sheraton,
Buffet timings: 12.30 p.m. to 2.45 p.m.
For reservations: 28110101 (extension: 1802)

PRINCE FREDERICK

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