What’s cooking: Baroda

Bombay has spoiled me in terms of its culinary scene. If there’s a place in India that has every possible cuisine served in 10 different restaurants, it’s Bombay. It has an establishment for every mood and every price range. So when I come back to my hometown, Baroda, I’m often disappointed by new outlets. While many places match restaurants in metro cities in terms of ambiance, they lag behind in terms of taste and innovation. Nonetheless, some places stand out, in terms of taste, hospitality and the vibe. Here are some of the places in Baroda that stood out for me:

  1. JJ’s Cafe:

I’ve been wanting to write about JJ’s since ages. It is probably one of the few hidden gems in Baroda and while I feel sad about letting the secret out, I believe this place deserves more appreciation. This is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall establishment in the Marble Arch complex that also houses Shades. It’s not a fancy place, there are just 2 tables for 2 people each and some bar stools. The food takes time to come since the owner makes it himself. There’s no AC, no fan, but I didn’t feel the need for either when I visited the place. The menu scores full marks on variety. I’ve tried their pasta, their egg dishes, their mains and their platter and I’ve loved all of them. To top it all, this place has a fab coffee menu which coffee geeks like me will fall in love with. All at an incredibly reasonable price.

A meal for 2 with a beverage each will cost around 600 rupees.

2. Ms Muffet:

Another hidden gem, this is a place you won’t find on Zomato. It is a weekend pop-up kitchen that is open from 7-10 pm almost every Saturday and Sunday. The chef is incredibly friendly and whips up the most innovative dishes that you will not find anywhere else in the city. Imagine Chhole Bunny Chow and authentic South Indian Sagu curry with neer dosa. The home that this is housed in very cosy and welcoming making it ideal for people who want a quiet, satisfying meal.

A meal for 2 will cost roughly 500 rupees.

3. Bawaz Cafe:

One of the newest addition to Baroda’s food scene, Bawaz is a place that will cater to the Parsi food cravings of the city. For those who miss Bombay and Pune’s dhanshak and kheema pav, this place is for you. It serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian Parsi dishes. The interiors are incredibly informative and a lot of attention has been paid towards retaining the charm of an Irani cafe. The Irani chai and all the cookies/biscuits are must-haves at Bawaz.

A meal for 2 will cost 700 rupees

4. Elysian:

While Elysian does have good food(their cheese naan being my favourite), their coffee menu is so elaborate(Atleast 50 different coffees to choose from), you could have a 5-course meal that would only consist of coffee courses. From apple pie coffee to tiramisu coffee, they have it all. Since I come from a family that is obsessed with all kinds of coffee, Elysian was a hit and we can’t wait to try more from their coffee menu!

A meal for 2 with a coffee each will cost 1200 rupees.

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5. Daily Dose:

Daily Dose is an adorable bungalow converted into a cafe, next to Akota Stadium. It’s so welcoming, you won’t feel like leaving. They play old 70s and 80s songs here and that won me over. There’s a huge book collection so you read a book for as long as you want. The menu is very simple, I go here just for the vibe, but I’d recommend the iced tea since that’s what I’ve always tried here. While I haven’t seen a full house on any of my visits, friends have told me that they often didn’t get tables here since it was full, so I’d suggest going there in the afternoons when it will be relatively empty. But a visit to Daily Dose is a must.

A meal for 2 will come up to around 400 rupees.

I wrote this post with the hope that more places like these come up in Baroda’s food scene. At the same time, as customers, it is our duty to encourage new cuisines to prevail in the city, in all their authenticity. We need to open up our palates and our hearts to new cuisines, since these cuisines are the doors through which we can experiences different cultures and make Baroda a melting pot of cultural diversity. So the next time you go out, try a new cuisine, interact with the chefs and the owners, ask them about the origin of the dish and trust me, you’ll come out of the restaurant with more knowledge than you entered it with. Till then, be Khanabadosh and never stop exploring!

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