Nothing feels more like a wet blanket on a winter’s day than a just-average bakery experience. We really wanted to love Maria’s Cookbook as much as their ten dozen fans on Zomato (already!), but this Hungarian-inspired joint leaves our hearts a little tepid– a sadness we could only overcome by popping in to incredible Little Saigon next door.
We were drawn to Maria’s Cookbook because of its name; vintage aprons and wooden spoons dripping with make-your-stomach-sick delicious batter filled our imagination. Instead, the space we enter is decently warm – lots of wood, as envisioned – but with framed photocopies of recipes, seemingly pulled out in a rush; a too-eager senior staff member; and tiny tables that have us feeling squished no matter where we sit, our dreams of coziness give way to a palpable feeling of disappointment.
Still, we sit and dutifully follow recommendations. Coffees arrived first, solidly average. There are no steamed milk floral patterns, no delicious beans, no beautiful cups. We aren’t expecting Wes Anderson, but come on Budapest, where art thou? Paper cups are used to serve up water, adding to the indoor chill.
A “bagel” sandwich has nothing bagel-like about it; worse, the slice of Amul cheese stuck like chewing gum to the processed slices of bread set off our quick exit plan. To prevent us from running like the place is on fire, a veggie quiche - “with a deep flavour,” as the server described – is quite satisfactory, if not really enough to come back for.
We pack a berry cheesecake for later, by now aware that any chance deliciousness will be missed in our darkening mood. Hours later, dissected at home, this sweetie is better than expected, although it sends us into a spiral of longing for The Big Chill and other exes. “Not bad,” we conclude of this nightcap -- but isn’t “not bad” dessert a paradox?
While far from loving Maria’s Cookbook, we suspect the management – with its good naming choices, and sincere attempt at authenticity – has their heart in the right place. If they can find a way to put that into their interiors and all their food, we’ll come back when we’re Hungary.
Getting there: E-16, main market, Hauz Khas. Coffee and snacks for two cost Rs 800.
Accessibility: The café is wheelchair accessible.
Photo Source: Zomato
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