Artika Café [White Town, Pondicherry]

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Ratatouille & Cheese Sandwich

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!!

Artika Café [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Artika Cafe Gallery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kasha Ki Aasha [White Town, Pondicherry]

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“I think I am in the wrong place!”

“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!

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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!

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Chappati & Dal Fry

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!

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Onion Dosai with Chutney – Crispy and thin onion dosas. These were again bang-on yummy and can be had even without that chutney!

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Onion Dosai with 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.

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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!

Kasha Ki Aasha [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Kasha Ki Aasha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Canteen 18 [Heritage Town, 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!

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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!

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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!

 

Canteen 18 [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Canteen 18 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In Bandra and Looking for an Escape from Chaos? Head to One of These 7 Cafés and Breathe easy!

There is no dearth of options in Bandra, be it in terms of food or shopping or for that matter pretty sights! But then there is no shortage or traffic and crowd and total chaos as well.

The next time you are in Bandra and want to skip the madness, head to one of these cafés and relax!

Eat Around The Corner

True to its name, it is located in a corner of a lane, far away from the hustle and bustle. The café is beautiful and trendy with comfortable indoor seating and dreamy outdoor one. They have a large variety of grub to offer from, ranging from salads to burgers and the desserts here are to die for! Grab a corner outside, under the trees and enjoy a cup of coffee and a red velvet pastry. Or make that two pastries, ‘coz no one is watching!😉

Bombay Coffee House

Bombay Coffee House is a beautiful and peaceful coffee shop on linking road. There is a variety of coffee on offer along with some delicious croissants and pastries. They also have books and board games if that is your calling for the day. What we love is to sit by the window and be lost in our work while the world goes by – Linking road is that busy, we all know it! Bombay Coffee House will be your safe heaven on this busy road!

♥ The Bagle Shop

Tucked away in a corner of Carter road, many do not know this place exists, let alone that it serves kick-ass bagels! You will find many, who just come here to work and/or discuss in silence or just enjoy a good cup of coffee. The ambience is cozy and the greenery makes it cool. The Bagle Shop should be your go-to place for fresh air, a bagel and a smoothie.

Birdsong – The Organic Café

Hidden away from the world in one of Bandra’s narrow bylanes is this amazing café  – great place, almost straight out of a song! Calm and tranquil ambience. It is one of the places you wanna get lost in for hours. They serve delicious organic food although it definitely is pricey. Go here for a great cup of coffee and a corner to immerse yourself in a great book or a good conversation.

♥ Desi Deli

Although Desi Deli is located on a really busy street and is an open-air café, it makes for a good option if you want to just stop by and watch. They serve delicious breakfast options and smoothies or you can go simple with a strong cup of coffee!

♥ Pali Village Café

Pali Village Café is much more than just a café. It is an exquisite experience. The place is quaint and has a very vintage feel to it. It is not easy on the pocket for sure, but worth the visit be it for lone musings or cozy conversations.

Candies (Pali Hill)

As mainstream as this recommendation sounds, it is a place worth mentioning. The Pali Hill outlet of Candies is both chaotic and peaceful. Pick your favourite corner and be lost there for hours on end, no one will question your presence. We love the rooftop areas, they are just perfect!

Although it is not exhaustive, hope this list helps you with your Bandra musings!

Did we miss any place that should have made it to the list? Mention it in the comments! 🙂

Romancing Udaipur – 12 things to do in Udaipur

Udaipur is a city of lakes and palaces, of crafts and culture, of food and romance. It is often referred to as the Venice of the East because of its many lakes and picturesque sights.

Udaipur came into existence when Maharana Udai Singh founded the city and made it the capital of Mewar. A city rich in culture and history, Udaipur is home to palaces, temples, narrow streets with amazing handicrafts on display and beautiful lakesides. Well known for the traditional Rajasthani and Kathiawadi cuisine, you find many restaurants and cafés here. When you notice every fifth establishment is either a restaurant or a hotel or both, you realise the importance of tourism in this city. Known as one of the Destination Weddings City in India, Udaipur has something to offer for every pocket size.

Here are our top picks from the City of Love and Lakes:

♥ Shop for MojrisBandhni and Handicrafts at Hathipole

Hathipole market is crowded but a great place to shop for amazing silver jewellery and colourful, stylish mojris. Pick clothes and traditional attire with Rajasthani Bandhani work. Splurge on handicrafts – wooden, metallic or glass work, take your pick!

♥ Take a Safari at Kumbalgarh Fort

Kumbalgarh Fort is located at a distance of about a 100 km from the main city. Trek and explore the fort or take a Safari and go animal spotting. There are more than 350 temples, pure marvels of architecture. The wall of Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second longest wall in the world at 36 km and is a heritage UNESCO site. The Vedi temple is a marvellous structure supported by 36 pillars where the yagna were performed.

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View from Kumbhalgarh Fort
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View from Kumbhalgarh Fort
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Vedi Temple at Kumbalgarh Fort

♥ Go to Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh holds a very important place in the history of Mewar. The view from the palace is exquisite. Explore the fort and appreciate a deep dive into history.

♥ Enjoy a Steaming cup of Kulhad Coffee by Fateh Sagar Lake at night

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The fast food scene in this area is amazing. Lots of stalls to choose from and lots of variety. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea in a kulhad, and let the amazing view of Fateh Sagar lake mesmerise you.

Take a stroll around the lake (vehicles are prohibited around one section).

Also, if you enjoy a jog/walk, the entire circumference is closed to vehicles in the morning (till around 10 am).

 

♥ Bask in the beauty of Saheliyon ki Bari

Saheliyon ki Bari is a picturesque garden famous for its pink bougainvillaea covered canopy and fountains. The varied flora, the sound of water and the chirping of birds make this garden a beautiful escape away from the noise and hustle-bustle of the city. It also houses a small museum with some ancient relics.

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Saheliyon ki Bari
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Saheliyon ki Bari

♥ Hogg guiltlessly at Natraj Thali

Natraj Restaurant is one of the oldest establishments serving lip-smacking Gujrati and Rajasthani Thalis at just ₹200. You can also choose the a la carte options and relish Dal-Bati-Churma.

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Gujrati Thali @Natraj Restaurant

♥ Go for a café crawl

Udaipur is a tourist hub. And the fact that every fifth establishment is either a hotel/PG or a restaurant/café just goes on to prove it. Certain areas are just bustling with amazing cafés and foreigners enjoying a cup of coffee or a plate of chat like they were locals!

Go for a cafè crawl in the old city area. A multitude of options are located literally at walking distance from each other in the Chandpole-Pichola-Lal Ghat area!
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Don’t believe?

Here are the ones we covered in around 2 hours with a halt long enough to enjoy a good cup of coffee:

Café Ra

Oladar Village Café

 

 

♥ Learn more about Udaipur’s blood covered but glorious history with a visit to Haldi Ghati, Chetak Samadhi, Rakt Talai and Maharana Pratap Museum

Take a long drive and get a taste of history at Maharana Pratap Museum.

Visit the famous site – The Pool of Blood at Rakt Talai Garden. Learn about Maharana Pratap and the great battle at the light and sound show at the museum. Buy original Gulabjal (Rose Water) and Gulkand from the shop at the museum.

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Maharana Pratap Museum
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Haldi Ghati

Shop at Shilpgram

Shilpgram is the rural art and crafts village of Udaipur. The major attractions include textile, wooden and metal artefacts and pottery. Hand weaved sarees and medicated blankets, attar (itar) and beautiful silver/zinc jewellery, you name it, they have it all!

♥ Watch a localite perform stunts, display a time-honoured art or enjoy a traditional dance performance 

♥ Jagmandir

Jagmandir is a beautiful palace built on an island in lake Pichola. Take a boat ride to the palace and enjoy the beautiful architecture!

♥ Eat at one of the many lake-view restaurants/cafés in the city

Udaipur is the city of lakes, and a vast number of establishments give one a magnificent view of these lakes.

Here are the pocket-friendly options we dined at:

Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar and Bakery

The Whistling Teal

Also, visit –

♥  Jagdish Temple

Take a boat ride at lake Pichola and a Cable Car ride near Mata Karni Mandir

Monsoon Palace

♥ Nehru Garden

Udaipur Solar Observatory

♥ Walk aimlessly in one of the timeless streets and you still will find beautiful sights – beautiful Havelis, walls painted with colourful pictures, minakari work, etc.

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A haveli on Lake Palace Road
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An entrance to a house in a narrow lane

 

Getting around in Udaipur: Cabs and Tuk-Tuks are available easily. Many options to hire two-wheelers and four-wheelers. Commuting is not an issue as the city and surrounding tourist spots are very well connected and traffic is not much of a menace.

Stay: There is an option suiting every pocket in Udaipur. Go lavish and splurge at one of the high-end hotels and resorts like Lake Palace or just pick an apt PG in Chandpole or a budget hotel in the city.

MasalaBar [ Carter Road, Bandra]

Food Is Music To Body And Music Is Food To Heart – Gregory Roberts

And we revelled in this music at Masala Bar. An evening full of surprises, to the taste buds and to the soul.

Masala Bar is another feather in the cap of the infamous Kalra duo. Located above CCD at Carter Road, it provides an unrestricted view of the shore, the busy Carter road and of course the sunset!

The decor is minimal yet luxe and classy. The seating is spread over a mid-sized area with a very prominent and uniquely done up bar counter that you notice as you step in. Black and brown, silver and ivory are the colours that decorate this restaurant. The main items of decor are mirrors and candles, in hexagonal arrangements and enclosures to render an amazing space.

MasalaBar opens at 5 pm and their timing could not have been better considering the theme and location. The entire restaurant is sun-kissed at this hour.

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Come evening, it transforms so beautifully into an oasis of light! It is dreamy once the entire place is lit up by candles. Just B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. It is one of the places that pull off candles and minimal lights with elan. The warmth that the place breathes due to this lighting will never let you want to leave voluntarily! We were mesmerised!

MasalaBar is one of the places that pull off candles and minimal lights with elan. The warmth that the place breathes due to this lighting will never let you want to leave voluntarily! We were mesmerised!

 

MasalaBar has recently revamped their entire menu, adding new classy dishes while keeping a few old favourites as well. Change is the only Constant philosophy at work! But are we loving the change? The answer is an astounding Yes!

And here is whay we said ‘Yes’….

Mocktails

Heaven On Earth – A refreshing and tangy combination of Watermelon, Cranberry and Passion Fruit! First, the fruity fragrance hits you and then basil adds freshness to it.

Berry Cooler – An amazing blend of Strawberries, Cranberries and Wild Berries and topped up with soda.

Mulled Masala Punch – A mildly sweet and unique mix of masala tea reduction and orange juice. Tea dominates the flavours in this drink. It was really refreshing, which is a surprise considering the combination is so different!

Sea Side – If you are a fan of coconut milk in your mocktails, this one is for you. Orange juice, grapefruit and coconut cream, this one is very much on the lines of a pina colada.

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Salad

Figs and Honey, Carpaccio of Watermelon and Feta Salad – Arugula with a balsamic dressing forms the bed of the salad. Cherry tomatoes, figs and thinly sliced watermelon (carpaccio) along with Feta Cheese are added. The feta was fresh and soft and delicious. Cherry tomatoes complemented the sweetness of figs well. Watermelon adds freshness to the entire combination. Loved it!

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Figs and Honey, Carpaccio of Watermelon and Feta Salad

Appetizers

Baked Potatoes, Sweet and Spicy Beetroot and Apple, Sweet Fennel Yogurt – Potato skins stuffed with a mixture of beetroot and green apple, topped with cheese and baked. The stuffing is non-spicy and very mildly sweet owing to the beetroots. It has a very strong smokey flavour and fragrance. Dressed with sweet fennel yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. We loved biting into these. Burnt cheese on top does wonders to the filling inside and the combination of potato and cheese is surprisingly good!

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Carbon Bhaji, Carbon Pav – A black twist to the regular pav bhaji. Carbon Pav Bhaji is prepared by adding edible charcoal to the bhaji as well as to the buns/pav. The bhaji is non-spicy but has very strong presence of garam masala giving it a lip-smacking aftertaste. Very finely mashed potatoes, onions, cilantro, fennel seeds (saunf), tomatoes and lots of garlic and garnished with baby carrots. The bhaji also has very earthy flavour. Pav is fresh and almost of the colour of soot. It well complements the bhaji.

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Carbon Bhaji, Carbon Pav

Main Course

Asparagus & Bok Choy Biryani, Black Sesame Curd – The biryani is so fragrant that we almost did not wait to click the picture! Asparagus and fried onions did wonders together and left our mouths watering! Biryani is non-spicy and flavourful. There was definitely no need of any accompaniment with the biryani but a spoonful of black sesame curd does not it (on the sweeter side).

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Asparagus & Bok Choy Biryani, Black Sesame Curd

Desserts

Mango Cardamom Cheese Cake, Banana and Butterscotch Waffle – Now this is what we call ending on a high note! Cardamom base with mango cheesecake. The waffle was crisp and had the perfect butterscotch flavour without being too sweet. Elaichi banana drizzled in caramel added a twist. Strawberry sauce and mango pulp garnish made this a mind-boggling combination! Smooth and creamy, the cheesecake melted in the mouth.  No wonder we were on a sugar high post-gorging on this!

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Mango Cardamom Cheese Cake, Banana and Butterscotch Waffle

 

Overall Experience – MasalaBar was a one of a kind experience with delicious food, warm hospitality and beautiful ambience.

 

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P.S.: Go here at least a little before the sun sets, the view and ambience are amazing and you get to see how the place transforms!

Someone said – The only way to see the Sunset, is to ride into it! But after experiencing MasalaBar, we can safely say – One of the best ways to see the Sunset, is to dine alongside it!  😍

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MasalaBar – Google Maps

MasalaBar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato