Now ‘quaint’ is a word that is loosely used with a lot of cafes in Bangalore – a practice that must stop, after visiting the Café of Joy. This café can now claim monopoly of the term, with its picket fences, an all white theme with lavender accents and the most interesting knick knacks! If not for the in-your-face-signage of Bhagini restaurant next door, I could almost imagine that I stepped into a gorgeous café in the German countryside. And I’m not saying that because of the cute figurines of the German baker couple, or the little white cow milk pourers, or the cow butter dishes, or the fact that the board says Brot.Gateaux.Biscotti. (Ok, that is very German :P) But I’m game for a little round of active imagination and if their desire was to transport me to a European café – game well played!
We heard that apart from cakes, artisanal breads, and baked goodies (produced at their on-site bakery) they also serve lunch. So on Saturday, a really talented baker friend and I, went to check out the café. Story goes that ‘the said friend’ is such a bread fiend, that she hatched a little ploy to steal the starter yeast from a famous bakery in Pune! Well, we weren’t planning any such heist at the Café of Joy and so this was just going to be a casual visit 😉
After some very talented parking on the roadside, we walked in to the smell of freshly baked bread! (They apparently have a plot next door that you can park in, but that’s before you hit the café and it’s more likely that you will miss it. Oh wait… I just told you – so don’t try your luck with the cops like me!). The all white décor and the lavender flowers already put me in a very good mood and the bread baskets drew us in like bears to honey. (Or was that bees?). The haul today was pretty impressive – I spotted Foccacia, Brioche, some amazing Ciabatta (more on that later), Monkey Bread (brioche with caramelized sugar and nuts), interesting rustic Millet bread, Sourdough and more! The owner informed us that they were currently baking a Prune and Walnut Bread and maybe it would be ready by the end of our meal! Oh goody!
We scanned the blackboard menu (in this case the Glass board menu) and decided we were famished (that’s what the smell of bread and driving to Whitefield can do to you!). They change their menu every week or so and this week listed some quiches, german sausages, salads and sandwiches. We both wanted to try the Schnecken Sausage with Bavarian Potato Salad and also the German Meatloaf – so we ordered both and decided to split it. Again, the smell of fresh bread is what induces such magnanimity! I sipped on a Cold Chocolate (if you ignore the calorie bomb – it was brilliant) and the saner friend enjoyed a Lemon Soda, whilst we waited for our meal. I couldn’t help but go crazy with my camera – the white provided the perfect foil for the goodies and I snapped away contentedly.
We asked for some fresh Ciabatta on the side and this was when we were transported to heaven. I might have raved about a certain bakery’s ciabatta before, but I retrench that statement and hereby crown Café of Joy my new favourite Ciabatta place! This had a moist crumb and a crackly crisp crust – gorgeous to soak in the olive oil and balsamic. The bread fiend gave it a double thumbs up and packed some home as well. Unfortunately I was barred from buying it. Yes, you heard me right! Apparently Ciabatta is best savored on the day it is made and the owner actually asked me not to buy it, when she heard I was planning to eat it sometime that week! A baker who’s passionate about her breads – now that makes for the best bakery don’t you think? (A little bit of digging revealed that Joy Basu has a diploma in artisanal baking from the Akademie Deutsches Backerhandwerk near Heidelberg in Germany. For the uninitiated – this is the central technical institute for all German Bakers’ Associations and was even credited with the recipe of the original Black Forest Cake!)
Our mains arrived and the potato salad was as German as a potato salad could be! The bacon added the pizzaz to it and it served as a hearty accompaniment to the sausage and the meatloaf. (The sausages are sourced externally. If you fell in love looking at the sausage spiral, you can get something similar from a company named Bon Apetit in Auchan). Coupled with the cold chocolate, this meal was making me come undone at the seams, but I carried on for the sake of my just desserts.
Choices, choices – Blueberry, Blackberry, Lemon or Chocolate? I decided to try the Citron Cheesecake and their famed Sacher Torte (Viennese chocolate cake with apricot jam and chocolate icing) and packed the Blackberry Muffins to take back home. Most of the desserts here are not party to the saccharine overdoes you get in Bangalore. (Seriously – unless it’s a rosagulla, I don’t need my cakes to taste like sugar bombs!). The Citron cheesecake was pretty as a peach (lemon :P) and had a very interesting texture. They use quark cheese and that explained both the lightness and the feel. The Sacher Torte looked pretty, but somehow fell short for me. But on this, I will reserve judgment, because my only experience with Sacher Torte has been outside of Germany and I don’t want to start a war of the palates.
The Prune and Walnut Bread arrived and Joy (yes, the café is named after her…duh!) got us a tasting. I dug into it with gusto but I noticed the bread loving friend waiting patiently for 10 minutes before she took a bite. Apparently it’s good to let bread rest as well – when the steam escapes the bread is less doughy and more divine! And she was right – the bread tasted much better warm than hot. I packed some of these to take home as well! The friend also decided to take the Kit-Kat Cake (it has gems as well) home for the young-uns. It’s another story that the six year old son of the bread connoisseur choose to dig into the Ciabatta first!
So here’s the thing…I loved the place. And though it’s been less than a month since they opened their doors to the public, they seem to have their act together. And that’s always a blessing in a time where restaurants, use paying customer as their guinea pigs during test runs. At the risk of sounding cheesy, hope Café of Joy continues to hand out joy in the form of a perfectly baked Ciabatta!
P.S. They do a round of Bread deliveries in Whitefield, at select gated communities from Tuesday to Friday. Check the Café for their schedule or email them firstname.lastname@example.org. Gluten free and eggless products available on order with 24 hour notice.
Breads range from Rs.75- 150/- per loaf, Cakes range from Rs.100-150/- per slice, Café meals/sandwiches range from Rs.150-300/- per portion, Lemonades, Iced teas, Coffees – Rs. 50-100/-
Café of Joy
(Next to Bhagini Iris restaurant)
Whitefield Main Road,
Ph: +91 9886329015
Parking: In the empty plot next door/ On the street