One evening, post a dessert of neat triangular Nutella sandwiches, my cousin had a sudden craving for banana with sugar. It was nearly 11 pm and, my boisterous bunch of friends had been at Café 17 since evening, seated at the most sought-after long table under the staircase, which I have dubbed the ‘Harry Potter corner’. They had ordered most of what was on the menu. I don’t know if Praveen Mohan of Cafe 17 will recollect this incident but his generous gesture of sending over a plate of sliced bananas with bowls of honey, sugar, and chocolate sauce is one of the most endearing memories that I have of Café 17. Like me, the other regulars, too, will surely have such tidbits to share.
Cafe 17 turns 5 this month. In addition, they have recently launched a brightly-lit two-storey outlet next to Fab India at Ravipuram. The new cafe offers fine dining unlike their Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road’s hangout space. Nevertheless, there is a wall-mounted television on each floor for the football lovers for screenings of the league matches. Foodwise, there are more options on the menu and a spacious first floor to hold meetings and workshops.
An innovative visual addition to the Mocktail section on the menu is their must-try Pineapple and Jalapeno Margarita. A refreshing pineapple drink, sweet and savoury at the same time with a hint of heat from the jalapeno, a dash of spice from the chilli powder and the salt mix smeared on the rim to complement the overall taste, garnished with a pineapple chunk and jalapeño slice. It was too hot a day to try the other popular new addition, the sliced beef and noodle soup, therefore, we skipped the soup to directly dive into a plate of bruschetta from the list of starters, and I settled for my favourite fish and chips for the main course.
The shift from an easy-going social meet-up café to a more serious and refined dining space in thought and approach is palpable from the little changes they have made to the table décor, for instance. Each table has customized set of porcelain salt and pepper jars and a handmade plant vase set in a wooden platter, alongside their printed tissues in its holder. While I’m glad they removed the plastic bottled water from the scene and opted to serve water in glasses, I miss the funky looking caricature coasters—the signature of the Kaloor outlet. But both outlets have book shelves as part of the wall décor.
Café 17 at Kaloor over the past five years has become synonymous with unwind: for Kochites to hang out over a cup of coffee or a chocolate shake and their fast-selling plate of tenderloin steak and meat croquets. An adda for regulars, it inadvertently becomes one of the first choices for a casual meet-up or work discussions. The ordering and eating almost becomes secondary as the customers plonk on the cushiony sofas for hours at a stretch.
Where: Cochin 16, Ground Floor, CT Tower, R Madhavan Nair Road, Ravipuram, Ernakulam.
Open: 11 am to midnight
Price: A lunch outing with a starter, two mocktails and a main course for two people came to Rs 1000. They also serve a continental breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausages between 9 am and 12 pm on Sundays. Pizza is a new addition to the menu and comes in the range of Rs300-400.
Pic credits: Aswathi Maria