I’m a fashion and jewelry designer by profession,” says K Sulthana Fathima, the tall and elegantly attired partner of Pantry d’or, the stylish French style café and bakery that has just opened in the sleepy Sreeram Nagar neighbourhood, at Alwarpet.
“When my father M S Khaleel Ahamed got into the food business, I thought I might help him,” she says almost apologetically. Khaleel Ahamed himself retired from the family business of selling beedies when he met globetrotting pastry chef Antonio Maximilian (“Call me Max”) — who has been on every major cruise liner, including the QE2 during his long career at sea.
Bigger & better
They both started the hugely popular Pantry d’or bakery at Anna Nagar, four years ago. And there’s been no looking back. They discovered that there’s gold to be made behind the mountains of puff pastry, layered cakes with exotic French names and gorgeous almond-filled Danish pastries and chocolate brownies. Sulthana extended her designing skills to the creation of specialised cakes to suit different occasions; a series of tiny cupcakes, for instance, with motifs for a newborn baby all made in icing sugar, are a delight to behold.
Murals & wraps
The fine dining restaurant at Sreeram Nagar was just an extension of the Khaleel Ahamed enterprise — a second branch of Pantry d’or, but one with many more options. It has a seating of 70, plan tucked into different areas of a renovated bungalow. The bakery items are displayed near the entrance. It’s difficult not to start breathing heavily as you look at the golden churros, the almandines and glistening Danish pastries.
A designer mural of a tree that has a quilted trunk and branches filled with gold and silver buttons instead of leaves is designed by Sulthana, who hopes open more branches.
Meanwhile, we trawl through the vast array of Continental dishes and decide on a Caesar salad, fresh tomato soup, a pasta béchamel, grilled chicken breast and choice of pizzas. Evidently, there’s enough variety for the vegan as well as the pagan. While we wait, we are treated to tiny glasses of blueberry sorbet. The best items however are the biryani wraps, a recipe by Sulthana’s mum.
For some of us, Mum knows best. For the rest, there’s always Max!
Meal for two approximately at
Rs 1,400. Details: 33011770
— Geeta Doctor