Key lime pies, vegetarian tiramisu, profiterole towers and high tea — Nicky’s Cafe & Fine Pastries begs you to look beyond the cheesecake and mousse
His family is into retailing, he has completed his business management in London and yet, Nicky Mahboobani gives up a career at Office Tiger (now RR Donnelly) to join culinary school in Switzerland. Why? “Baking and pastries were always in the back of my mind,” smiles Mahboobani, who joined DCT college in Switzerland in 2007. After specialising in pastry making, Mahboobani trained at Swiss pastry chain Bachmanns, before returning to Chennai, to start Nicky’s Cafe & Fine Pastries on Ethiraj Salai, a month ago.
“The idea is to offer different European pastries. We have a few staples (local favourites like the cheesecake and gateaux) and keep changing the rest,” explains Mahboobani, adding that there are tarts, pies, brioches and some signature creations on offer at his cafe, that has a wall dedicated to abstracts and sketches from Focus Art Gallery, on sale. Take the spaghetti pie for instance — the wedge of spaghetti and Indian spices held together with egg (and baked), is as curiosity invoking as his Spanish omelette pie! As for the tarts, there’s a linzer, citron and one with fresh cut fruits resting on a bed of diplomat cream — the fruit tart. While we’re grateful they are not like the crumbly lot on offer at many a pastry shop (that too at just Rs.80 a pop), they do test your knife skills if you try to quarter them.
Work in progress
Nicky’s also offers simple joys like baked yoghurt (with toppings like passion fruit jam), homemade chocolates (he uses Belgian Puratos), warm sandwiches (with in house bread, that may be on sale soon) and a dense key lime pie. And though we missed the tasting of his first batch of ‘cotton soft’ Japanese cheesecakes by a few hours, he promises sacher tarts and lemon chiffon pies also going on trial. To wash all this down, there are iced teas, hot chocolate and other cafe beverages, with a high tea option as well. “We give you vol-au-vents, mini pizzas and sandwiches with teas like lemon, English breakfast and Earl Grey,” Mahboobani tells us. And while many will be pleased to hear that Nicky’s is predominantly vegetarian (with plenty of egg-less options), we feel that a tiramisu sans kahlua is just too tame, vegetarian or not!
While Nicky’s promises to have cake orders ready in 25 minutes, Mahboobani recommends you ask for a profiterole tower, the filled French choux pastry dessert that is slowly becoming a substitute for cakes. Choose from flavours like lemon tea, papaya and saint honore in buns priced at Rs.30 each. A tower requires about 15 buns or more. Details: 43594826
— Ryan Peppin