BEING an Enid Blyton fan from the age of seven, I was easily drawn to city-based Deepa Palaniappan’s week-old venture, The Faraway Tree, an eatery-cum-art gallery down Kasturi Ranga road. Picking the name from one of her favourite Blyton classics, Palaniappan’s 35-seater-cafe, primarily inspired by the English countryside, is a book lover’s perfect hideout where one can linger over endless cups of tea, coffee and cake.
Palaniappan adds to the English vibe of blue and green pastels with options of an afternoon cream tea (served between 3-7 pm). There is also a three-tier cake stand filled with an assortment of sandwiches, pastries and warm raisin scones (a staple of any Blyton book) with clotted cream and strawberry jam served with a tea of your choice. “All our teas are organic and bought from the Makaibari estate in Darjeeling,” says the 40-year-old, who once visited Blyton’s residence in England.
While the corn and cheese balls are a bit hard to bite into, the gooey mozzarella more than makes up for the effort. The chicken strips surprise with distinct Chinese flavours, while the stuffed pita pockets are a delight with a choice of mushrooms, cottage cheese and chicken stuffing. The menu also boasts typical English pub food like fish and chips and jacket potatoes. Do note that all the dressing and dips are made in house, from scratch. The oven-roasted potatoes, a healthy alternative to French fries, are a must try. Other healthy food options include gluten-free flat bread with a host of toppings and their almond milk smoothies with natural sweeteners.
The eatery also doubles up as an art gallery and hosts art works by established artists like Akkitham Narayanan and JMS Mani, as well as contemporary paintings like Aneesh Kalode Rajan’s oil and watercolour works.
With cane chairs, antique teakwood and rosewood tables, the walls are full of illustrated posters curated from England, coupled with a cupboard showcasing the owners’ collection of Enid Blyton books (that are almost 35-years-old). In fact, Palaniappan has plans to host a get-together of all Blyton lovers for an evening of conversations over a cup of steaming hot single origin coffee soon.
Meal for two from Rs 700 onwards. Details: 24996499
— Simar Bhasin