Express News Service

CHENNAI: For most of us, celebrations are synonymous with cutting cakes. The often round creations, richly spongy with fruits or cream, iced and decorated with different layers have unquestionably occupied our minds for a long time. Cracking the code of introducing variations within cakes, even linking ice-cream flavours with cakes for more than three decades is Chennai’s Cakewalk Cafe. The journey from September 3, 1990 wasn’t a cakewalk for the founder J Srinivasan and his general manager Raji Paul. Now, the team has grown, as Srinivasan’s daughters, Pooja Srinivasan and Kavya Srinivasan, have also taken charge of the business and the cafe on Kothari Road offers a bunch of items ranging from pizzas, pastas, and French fries to lasagna and steaks. The sisters walk CE through their journey and their two-month-old cafe. 

A rustic serve
In David Burton’s The Raj at the Table, he describes cake-baking as a tricky and finicky affair, as there is an unavailability of quality flour and yeast. Cakewalk solved this issue first. “Everything is made in-house from scratch. Pizza dough is freshly fermented in the upstairs bakery of the cafe. Most of the products are locally sourced. Everything is also halal,” says Pooja, adding that chocolates are imported as the chocolate industry in India is nascent. 

Initially, the place was called Crisp Cafe, with an outlet in Bengaluru too, where cakes took centre stage. Recently, the brand was renamed Cakewalk Cafe and the store underwent a makeover. The bricks, carefully assembled inside and outside, give a rustic, cozy ambience. The brown-white theme provides a warm and inviting atmosphere, setting the stage for a memorable culinary journey. Speaking about her inspiration for designing the cafe, Kavya who studied architecture in Australia and did the interiors shares, “My style and interest is in contemporary chic interiors which is why I wanted to showcase that through my own cafe project. I kept in mind the current trend of the youth and expressed it through exciting corners.”  

Even during the pandemic, the cafe ran with the sincere customer base it has cultivated over the years. Speaking about the challenges they faced, Raji says, “Aligning with the customer mindset and constantly updating ourselves has been a challenge but, we have managed to do that. Nowadays, customers have more knowledge about food and its authentic taste so we cannot mimic items.” Concurring Pooja shares, “Our staff are being trained and updated every 15 days to stick to the regulations of FSSAI. We give preference to hygiene and quality over everything else.”

On the menu
Over the years, even though the menu has undergone a lot of changes, a few items continue to be the legacy of the cafe. Pooja shares that their red velvet pancakes are a must-try. Their menu is a delicious combination of traditional Indian food and international cuisine. Cakewalk Cafe also provides savoury delicacies that are as alluring, as if the sweet temptations weren’t enough. The Classic Marg Pizza captures the essence of traditional Italian flavours with its smoothly crisp dough, toppings of mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and tangy pizza sauce. Every bite delivers a rush of gratifying cheese bliss.

We begin with a seemingly simple Fried Buttermilk Chicken with Podi Mayo. The homemade Podi Mayo complements the buttermilk marinade’s acidic and subtly creamy undertone. It is an instant hit when traditional Indian flavours are combined with Western elements. 

Next up is the Mutton Kheema Tapas where the mutton is cooked precisely with a combination of fragrant spices that resulted in a flavour explosion in every bite. The tapas are presented on crisp bread, which gives the food a delicious crunch. It has the ideal blend of spiciness and subtlety, leaving me wanting more. 

For the health-conscious diners, the Pesto with Grilled Vegetables is a good option. Pooja adds, “Our vegetarian dishes are purely vegetarian and don’t contain egg.” The dish is a blend of grilled broccoli and other vegetables topped with a generous slathering of in-house pesto sauce. 

We end the meal with the rich and velvety chocolate truffle that is simply melt-in-your-mouth, releasing an intense burst of gooey goodness. For those seeking a harmonious blend of coffee and dessert, the Affogato Trifle is a must-try. It boasts layers of chocolate sponge, coffee caramel, and vanilla mousse, all crowned with a generous scoop of ice cream and a shot of espresso. 

The cafe has also recently launched a menu of weekend breakfast which has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. They are also available on all food delivery platforms. For details, follow @cakewalk1990 on Instagram. 

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