Does anybody remember the time when Essex Farms was just that — a farm that sold meat products? It’s now a bustling food hub, full of restaurants and cafes offering all kinds of cuisines.
I went there with a group of close friends the other evening, and was stunned. The city changes before you can say “paneer pasanda” — and you find that a part of it has grown into some kind of a ritzy arcade.
Let me start at the beginning. Two friends wanted to take us out to dinner. They suggested a couple of places that I had not been to. One had a menu that was not very exciting, and the other didn’t have parking space. I did a search and came across a few promising restaurants. One was Café Tesu, about which I had heard good things. I suggested it to the friends, and they were happy, as they liked the food there. So we, a group of six, landed up at Essex Farms, and found it humming with life. Café Tesu is one of the restaurants there.
We hadn’t booked a table, and when we reached, we found Tesu bursting at the seams. A helpful family waiting for dessert vacated their table for us. I had a quick look at the menu. The soups include chicken cappuccino with almond flakes (₹265), wild mushroom bisque (₹245) and khao suey (₹415-465). Salads include goat cheese and slow poached pear (₹495); on the list of small plates are kaffir lime chilli cottage cheese (₹395), baby pork ribs (₹525) and chorizo and Bratwurst (₹495). I didn’t go any further — chorizo and Bratwurst for me, I said.
The others asked for a variety of dishes — pasta with chicken, a spicy chicken pizza and a Parisian sandwich with roast chicken.
One among us was keen on a ham and brie sandwich (₹425), but the waiter said there was no brie. So my friend decided to have breakfast instead of dinner, and asked for French toast.
We were each very happy with the food. My dish of meats had been slow cooked in an oven and came with tomato fondue.
The chorizo was soft and spicy, and the Bratwurst was crispy. The Parisian sandwich (₹545) consisted of generous slices of multi-grain bread stuffed with grilled chicken tossed in red wine and served with tomato chutney and carmelised onions. The meat was juicy, and complemented the sweetness of the onions.
The spicy chicken sausage pizza (₹635) was delicious — with chicken heaped over a thin crust base. The friend loved her creamy pasta (₹575), flavoured with pine nuts. The French toast (₹325) was shared by everybody, and almost worked as dessert. This consisted of bread dipped in a custard batter, served with cinnamon cream.
Café Tesu needs a revisit. I would like to try out their lamb bourguignon — prepared with brioche buns, ground lamb meat, brie cheese, caramelised onions and red wine sauce (₹625).
The pizza section includes classic tomato and mozzarella (₹535), artichoke, mushroom, olives, jalapeno, rocket leaves and parmesan shavings (₹625) and a fig, bacon, and blue cheese pizza (₹650).
I have to thank my two friends for that delightful treat, and for introducing me to Tesu. It marks the start of a meaningful — or do I mean meat-ful? — relationship.
The writer is a seasoned food critic