Cafés and Cigars at Fort Kochi

If you want to spend an entire day leisurely walking around or simply reading a book at an art cafe, consider Fort Kochi, a mere 9 kilometres from MG Road, Ernakulam. Apart from enjoying the food and line up of curio shops, you could watch locals pulling up huge Chinese fishing nets, or take a walk along the fish market. Although prices are sky high, you could probably buy a couple of delicious Karimeen or Spotted Pearl Fish, and give it to the shack owners alongside to cook — steamed, fried or in a curry.

Ornate heritage homes at Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi is mostly famous among foreign tourists for its home stays and cuisine. But, it has preserved a certain old world charm that lavish hotels and restaurants, with their sterile environment, simply cannot offer. The streets of Fort Kochi are narrow and cobbled, lined on both sides with trees and beautifully maintained heritage houses. Most of these have been converted to part hotels or home stays, with art galleries and restaurants for tourists to enjoy seafood and beer.

Fort Kochi is mostly famous among foreign tourists for its home stays and cuisine. But, it has preserved a certain old world charm that lavish hotels and restaurants, with their sterile environment, simply cannot offer. The streets of Fort Kochi are narrow and cobbled, lined on both sides with trees and beautifully maintained heritage houses. Most of these have been converted to part hotels or home stays, with art galleries and restaurants for tourists to enjoy seafood and beer.

A Café with a difference

On one of our Sunday drives, we chanced upon Solar Cafe — a different kind of art cafe. The blackboard at the entrance announced its daily menu, along with timings for cookery classes and several workshops, including one on mask-painting. The walls were yellow and red, their peeling paint adding a rustic tinge to the ambience. While a World Space radio station played Indian classical music, we ordered two Farmer’s Omelettes, which came with generous amounts of tomato, cucumber and spring onions (Rs 50).

Welcome to Solar Art Cafe at Fort Kochi

We also got wheat grain bread and Himalayan salt, ground with sesame seeds. Finally, a pot of soothing English tea (Rs 30) made for a perfect breakfast. An average English breakfast for two, priced at Rs 130, is not a bad idea at all!

Colour therapy at work

While waiting for the bill, we took a stroll along the first floor, which was a pleasant surprise. With typical Kerala coir carpets on the wooden floor, the white walls were adorned with paintings by several local artists. The place was peaceful. The windows, overlooking the channel with little fishing boats on them, completed the look. We walked into the adjoining Blue Room, primarily adorned with blue upholstery and blue paintings. Maybe it was colour therapy at work, as this room was calm and soothing, classical music playing in the background.

Dine on a sewing table

On another Sunday, we experimented with another popular stop — Cafe Kashi. The highlight here is they have converted sewing tables to dining tables, with antique furniture in their gallery and restaurant. We opted for the Breakfast of the Day (Rs 70) — a cheese and tomato omelette, brown bread, and a dollop of butter.

More hot spots

On a lazy walk, post breakfast, we noticed a shop selling Cuban Cigars, a store called Kapitan for cold cuts and fresh meat, and a store called Shop’n’ Save, catering to everyday needs of the neighbourhood. We took a break from the sun and stopped by Vasco Cafe, next to a tidy bookstore called Idiom. Over a cup of masala chai, we read the morning paper and took a peek inside. It made for one of the best weekends spent in complete leisure. So, the next time you’re in Fort Kochi, wander into an art cafe, relish the food, enjoy the ambience and maybe you can pick up a painting to remind you of the day you broke away from the ordinary.

For Rediff.com. 24th September, 2007.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *