Cafes and I go back a long way. I’ve spent time at them waiting, courting, reflecting, absorbing and grieving. Every verb attached to an emotion that can exist has been experienced over the last two decades at coffee shops by me. I love them with company and they are ideal places to get lost with your thoughts, books or for that matter in today’s times, a screen. There are the ones run by chains, which look and feel familiar across most cities and then the stand alone ones with a charm of their own.
Novotel at Hitech City in Hyderabad has a lovely, sunny (air conditioned) side walk style cafe in the hotel premises and I was invited to sample their new menu offerings last week.
The timing was perfect, tea time and I walked in and was seated at the seemingly small but surprisingly uncongested cafe. It is built like the many sidewalk cafes across Europe and particularly France and is situated on the left of the main entrance. Tho Le Cafe occupies the corridor between the hotel and the convention centre. It has plenty of seating with tables and chairs nicely spaced. Open from 6:30 AM till midnight, Le Cafe has a wide choice of bakes, pastries, short eats like sandwiches and a good selection of beverages.
Previously the cafe had an ever changing menu. Which included promotionals for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and seasonal offerings to incorporate seasonal produce such as Mangoes during season. Now the menu operates in three ways, displayed as a small standee on each table, comprising of made to order sandwiches, wraps and beverages, a black board display of the bakes and desserts available adorning the walls of the cafe and baked offerings in the display units, with prices mentioned, which change daily.
The selection is very extensive for a Cafe and includes Sandwiches and Wraps, Salads, Baked Goodies, Made to order Cakes, Cookies and Macarons, Made to order menu all-day breakfast, Icecreams, Beverages etc.
We begin with a bunch of macarons. Delicate meringue sandwiched with pastry cream in an assortment of flavours. Cardamom and coconut – reminiscent of old world biscuits to be dunked in tea, a little strong on flavours. Saffron – delicate and subtle. Blueberry – my favourite of the lot, just the right balance of fruit, cream and crunch.
Next up from the variety of cookies that include oat and raisin and granola cookies, I tried the Chocolate Fudge Cookie – its decadent, dense and very deeply chocolatey in a nice way.
Le Cafe entices you with a range of baked goodies like several variants of croissants and doughnuts, glazed with chocolate or dusted with cinnamon sugar, made in house and fresh each day. The rows upon rows of pastries make one feel like a child in a candy shop. Colours, flavours and the promise of indulgence.
The Mushroom and Cheese Quiche – stellar – crisp tart shell, creamy and delicious filling, lovely flavours of the mushroom and melted cheese coming through. This is a must try. The second savoury bake I try pales in comparison. A Chicken sausage strudel made of puff pastry, the layers of puff pastry are perfect but the filling does not live up to its promise. They are priced at Rs. 120 for a serving.
They have a range of made to order breakfasts which are served all day and there is a wide range of wraps and sandwiches that can be had with a choice of bread – Panini, whole grain, multigrain or sandwich. I tasted the Chicken tikka sandwich. It is a large portion priced at Rs. 300 and comes with a side of potato wafers. Succulent pieces of chicken tikka, lots of mayonnaise and some other sauces, I think there was cheese also and it was grilled to perfection. The fillings are interesting and one can choose from cheese and mustard, achari paneer and tomato bocconcini amongst the others. The chef at the counter will put together your order on the spot. Le Cafe also has a range of fresh salads one can order.
The indulgent pastry and dessert menu is hopeless to resist. A very dense and yet delightfully satisfying flourless chocolate pastry (apt for those who are on a gluten free diet).
There is the famed Tiramisu – Indulgent mascarpone layered with coffee drenched savoiradi cookies, best indulged in small portions because of its richness.
The white chocolate and raspberry slice – a mousse that comes in a block and the pistachio pop cake with blueberry dome – pistachio sponge filled with blueberry mousse though are very goodlooking desserts, they do not live up to their looks. I was disappointed particularly by the flavour and dryness of the pistachio dessert.
The stand out pastry for me was the Opera Cake, slivered layers of Almond jaconde (sponge) soaked with coffee syrup and layered with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream. The knock out melded flavours and textures are worth every calorie they hold.
Its a great option to catch up with a friend, for a casual date or just to spend time alone with a cup of coffee and a nibble appropriate for the time of day. Their range of beverages ranges from many kinds of coffees, teas and smoothies and shakes. The cafe also has free WiFi which is useful if one is hanging out alone.
The prices for the baked goodies range from Rs. 60- 150 which is very reasonable considering they are housed in a five star hotel. Wraps and sandwiches are about Rs. 300 each, desserts and pastries are from Rs. 150-200 and beverages are Rs. 170 onwards.
They also have a range of ice creams and you can order for fresh custom made cakes which are upwards of 500 grams. They also sell a range of breads like Ciabatta, Baguettes and Rye bread by the loaf.
I enjoyed the range of options Le Cafe offers and have marked it as a place to catch up with friends over coffee the next time I need to meet someone. The ambience is calm and peaceful, for the price they charge is much more sophisticated than a noisy coffee bistro.
Recomended Dishes: Chicken tikka sandwich, Opera Cake, Mushroom and Cheese Quiche
Timings: 6:30 AM till Midnight
Price: The prices begin at Rs. 60 and go upto Rs. 300
Location: Novotel Hotel, HICC Complex, Hitex road, Kothaguda, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 040 66824422
PS: The meal was complimentary as I was invited by the hotel to the restaurant, however the views are my own.