If you’re looking for the perfect place to hide away and relax in the city of Chennai, we might have just found the most perfect spot in a quiet part of the city, away from everyone and everything. This is The English Tea Room, right above the Faraway Tree gallery on Kasturi Ranga Road.
And not only is it beautifully decorated and open air, with large windows looking out onto the main road, it’s also a great place to curl up with a book, a cup of tea and scones. Like the series of books by Enid Blyton, the cafe aims to help you escape from life as you know it and experience something new, an escape of sorts.
We visited the cafe on a warm Wednesday afternoon and stepping inside was a welcome change from the blistering Chennai summer. Light walls covered in bright artwork greet you, combined with comfortable and rustic chairs and tables, giving the whole place a cosy and welcoming vibe. And if you don’t have a book, don’t worry, you can carry your coffee or tea and walk around the display area inside. And what’s more, they’re looking to host private parties and special events and functions (You can find their contact details at the bottom of the article).
Started by Deepa Palaniappan and her husband, the cafe and gallery are a one of a kind in the city. Exquisite art side-by-side with great good is not something that you have access to in Chennai. While the concept of the cafe is to be a relaxing spot for anyone and everyone, it’s also got great art to go with it. And that’s not all, the cafe doesn’t serve anything with too much sugar. So if you’re looking to relax with a glass of Coke or Pepsi, you won’t find that on the menu. You will, however, find delicious mocktails and drinks on the menu that will have you wanting to order every single thing. They have smoothies made using almond milk, which is healthier than the regular milk you find in stores. They also have organic loose leaf teas, which is worth every rupee spent because it’s not just a tea bag and some hot water. And while it is a tea room and tea is their specialty, they’ve also got coffee on their menu.
You know what is a great relief on an uncomfortable summer day? Lemon Iced Tea. And you know what makes the iced tea at the English Tea Room different from other places? When they say tea, they mean tea, because you can taste the tea in the iced tea, which makes it a great balance between the lime and the tea flavours.
We started off with crispy Cheese & Corn Balls, which was served with a yogurt based sauce and a tomato salsa style of dip. These balls were crisp on the outside, but one bite and you sink your teeth into cheesy goodness. And when paired with these sauces, it’s even better.
While this might be the perfect accompaniment with a pint of beer, it tastes just as good with a cup of tea (hot or cold). Cut into strips, these Chili Chicken Fingers were a great balance to the cheese and corn balls, especially since they were cooked with onions and capsicums, the taste of both very strongly mixed with the chicken.
Another thing that they do not serve are french fries. However, they do have delicious oven roasted baby potatoes that are seasoned with rosemary and served with pretty much every main course. These Pita Pockets with Caramelised Mushroom & Onions were great too. Also served with the yogurt and tomato salsa and coleslaw, a spoonful of each with a bite of the pita.
And every meal ends well when you’ve got a delicious dessert to go with it. Meet the Sticky Toffee Pudding, once bite and you’re in heaven. It’s delicious, caramely and the dollop of custard on top just completes the entire dessert.
Also part of their menu are cakes made by Shriram Rajendran – of The Table – and a few others. Plus, they will also be offering afternoon cream tea (from 3pm to 7pm) everyday which will include sandwiches, scones, pastries with your choice of tea or coffee. If you haven’t checked them out yet, make sure you swing by as soon as possible for an experience like no other.
The English Tea Room is located at 17, Kasturi Ranga Road, Alwarpet. Look for the Faraway Tree and the cafe is located above it. Call 044 2499 6499 or 9840254518 for bookings and reservations.