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    With art on the  walls and a South Indian menu, Craft Cafe opens on Mount Road.

    AS I enter Craft Cafe on Mount Road, I can’t help but notice the exquisite bronze and wooden sculptures adorning the passageway. I soon learn that the art and craft is from the adjoining Poompuhar showroom, while the place belongs to entrepreneur Mital Surendira who has converted a run-down 1,500 sq ft space into a quaint 45-seater art café. The walls are lined with bamboo, as are the roofs, in addition to being covered with handmade mats that are used at Surendira’s packing and gifting solutions enterprise, Sanskrriti. The noise of the city’s busiest road is drowned by a soothing Ilayaraja melody in the background. “I wanted to create a space where people can enjoy a laid-back nutritious meal,” says the mother of two, as she tells me about the cafe’s health guidelines. Less oil, fresh locally-sourced vegetables and palm sugar are the preferences in their South Indian menu. After trying a murungakkai soup,  Surendira orders me her favourite, the Maharaja thali. I find myself looking down at a millet dosa, chapathi, kurma, a serving each of bisibela baath, curd rice and vegetable pulao, in addition to plain rice, sambhar, poriyal, appalam and a sweet. The bisibela baath is my favourite, of course helped by more than a dash of ghee. Then I try a masala vada that is tasty and surprisingly low on grease. The apple and pineapple bajji are also interesting options for those who like experimenting. A coffee junkie, I find their cuppa just right for washing down the heavy meal. “Every bite should remind you of your paati’s cooking. I enjoy eating here for the same reason,” adds the 39-year old.  She hopes to expand and set up another branch at Sanskrriti’s main outlet in Egmore soon.
    Rs 1,000 for two. Details: 30853504

    —Lavanya Lakshminarayanan

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