Chez Nous is Pondy’s newest address for vegan baked treats, pastas and all things Auroville
CHEZ NOUS is already the go to place for Auroville products, and it is less than a month old. On S V Patel Road, is run by Sundar Rajamani, an Aurovillian. Chez Nous in French means ‘our home’ and Rajamani offers breads, cheeses and bakery products made in Auroville at the cafe. Also on offer are organic vegetables like cucumbers, beans and spinach.
The idea behind the store is to offer Auroville products to tourists and expats who stay away from the township. “People need to go all the way to Auroville for everything. We wanted to make things more accessible for people,” says Rajamani, adding, “I’d say 99 per cent of the people who come to the store are expats. On weekends, we see tourists from Chennai and Bangalore, and people from the ashram drop in too,” he says.
Keeping the name in mind, Rajamani has tried to make the cafe as homely as possible. “We have 18 covers, but we do not have uniform furniture. The chairs are made of bamboo, steel and teak, and the cushions are in different shapes and colours. Nothing at home is uniform, right?” he laughs. The food is also varied.“We serve coffees, teas, salads, sandwiches and pastas. Our salad options include Greek, tuna, eggs, pasta and avocado,” he says. For vegans, they have desserts like chocolate vegan cake. While the menu is the same for lunch and dinner, their breakfast options include fried eggs, masala eggs, apples, chocolates and plain croissants.
The new hang-out
With free wi-fi, it’s no wonder the cafe is attracting clientele. To add to the cosy feel, Rajamani has a small library that has Tamil, French and English books. “I live close by and I love their fresh bread and cheese,” says Varun Cabrai, a native of Pondicherry, who comes to the store almost daily. “I buy a lot of the bakery products. It is calm and peaceful here and a nice place to hang out.” Born and brought up in Auroville, Rajamani was managing the Visitor’s Centre at Auroville for more than 11 years. “I worked previously at the Auroville Outpost, but then we shut that store and opened this one. We also plan to expand our stores to other cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai,” he concludes.
A meal for two costs Rs400 onwards. Details: 0413 2330850
— Mrinalini Sundar