If you want to try on a scarlet blouse made entirely of spangles, but worry that you’re not having a skinny day, a new development on Altamount Road will take care of you on both counts. A venture from Aditi Dugar, partner at Masque, Mahalakshmi, has popped up in this neighbourhood’s ripe, low-hanging mango of a boutique. For the rest of this month, Le Mélange -- for which Aditi's catering company Sage & Saffron teams up with Koinonia Coffee Roasters -- will be serving salads, sandwiches, dessert and coffee from an alcove inside bricky, bricolage-y Mélange.
At this pitstop, find citrus vinaigrette for sale in tonic-water bottles; granola in jam jars, "energiser" smoothies and kale, pomegranate and pineapple juice so green it’ll tighten your pores just by looking at it. Don’t worry: it’s cool and low-key tropical, sweet to taste. The aesthetic is grab-and-go for the moment, all plastic glasses, paper bowls and wood-pulp forks. There’s also one tiny table at which you must jostle for space with a cake-board and a silver knife the size of a man’s forearm.
Pull Excalibur out of the café’s lemon and poppy-seed cake by all means, but build your strength first. Masque’s high-mindedness leaves its impression even on a small salads-and-sandwiches menu: everything is zealously healthy and meant to draw your attention to great textures and good ingredients, in that slightly pious Nordic way.
A smorgasbord of avocado and cream cheese is a good-looking creature, dressed with translucent slices of radish and microgreens.
Thank goodness then that a warm chicken sandwich, made on whole-wheat bread and stuffed with perfectly roasted meat and silky white pearl onions is also melt-in-the-mouth fun. A smorgasbord of avocado and cream cheese is a good-looking creature, dressed with translucent slices of radish and microgreens; we only wish the accompanying cranberry chutney was more restrained (we thought this was going for Breach Candy, not Babulnath?).
Big Salad types, congratulations on a pre-assembled burrata, honey figs and chia seeds concoction on a bed of rocket, hearty enough for solo lunch. Alas, its nutty sweetness is somewhat let down by rubbery cheese. We go scrambling for buckwheat choco-chip cookies instead, and revel in the creaminess of their chocolate, offset by the dry crumbliness of the flour. This is dessert meant to go with a strong cup of coffee, and quite outshines its spinster aunt, a homey, kindly lemon-and- poppy-seed cake. (The coffee is from Koinonia, so you can see what the fuss is about.)
Looking for more legroom? We overhear talk of the store setting up a couple more tables for the pop-up; the menu will also change every few days. We don’t know if anything could be more fearlessly experimental than putting a pork belly smorgasbord at a table next to all those pure-veg indigo-dyed caftans: if you get reduced pork jus on the clothes, please don’t tell them we sent you.
Getting there: Le Mélange at Mélange, 33 Altamount Road, on all this month. A meal for three costs around Rs 1,600.
Accessibility: No ramps at store entry.
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