Piece of Cake’s Shalini Padmanabhan presents Reel Cafe offering pita pockets, lasagna and more
Having ordered our choco-chip muffins, gluten-free desserts and eggless brownies from Shalini Padmanabhan for the past decade, it came as no surprise that the baking whiz has opened a cozy leisure café in Anna Nagar. Perched atop her five-year-old bakery (Piece of Cake), the new 35-seater Reel Café is set with restored teak wood chairs and tables that are reminiscent of school furniture.
“This is leisure dining and you can pick a book off the shelf or play a board game,” says the 48-year-old, even as she tells us about her extensive menu that includes a dessert that looks like a burger (Big Kahuna burger), with lasagne, bakes and sandwiches available too. Padmanabhan suggests I start with filter coffee, while my companion tries the green apple mocktail. Soon, the table gets busy, with crunchy hash browns topped with herbs, finely chopped zucchini and melted cheese, arriving first. Next up are steaming portions of classic Shepherd’s pie that are comfortingly homely. Our pita bread pockets are stuffed with diced grilled chicken and shredded veggies, topped with mayonnaise, where the peri peri sauce hits the spot. Then, the burger buns arrive, scooped out in the middle and filled with peppery steak gravy and chicken. Padmanabhan shares that all her veggies are sourced from SunnyBee (a farm to fork endeavour) and the breads, of course, are from her bakery.
“I don’t believe in frozen food or substitutes, however convenient they might be,” says Padmanabhan, who started her commercial bakery unit, Maa Baker, in 2010. Overstuffed, I leave the Nutella pancake dripping with hot chocolate and fresh cream to my companion who polishes it off as we overhear someone say that the egg and broccoli bake is the best yet.
Meal for two at approximately Rs 650. Details: 9940489976
— Sabrina Rajan