It’s no secret that I love good food. And I will go to extreme lengths to find it!
I chanced upon the Banana Cafe, thanks to my sister who currently calls this town her abode. It was a small hole in the wall operation, but going by its popularity, I knew that something was obviously attracting a lot of customers. And since it was a restaurant, I deduced it had to be the quality of the food! I tried it and loved it.
On a later trip to Pondi, my sister informed me that the cafe had since been shut down as they had to vacate the small space they were operating from (it was a part of a larger house). Which was a pity since it was walking distance from where my sister lives.
But the story doesn’t end there. A few months later, on another trip I was given the good news. The owner had managed to find another place for his business. It’s now tucked away in a quiet lane called Cazy street and you’ll have to really look hard to find it. But it’s definitely worth the adventure to get there. And the best part — it’s still two streets down from where my sister resides.
The New Banana Cafe as it’s called in the current avatar, is on the terrace of a residence. You need to climb a few pairs of stairs to get to the top. The open air location means you’re treated to a nice pleasant breeze while you wait for the food. There is a mosque very close to it so be prepared in case you’re going anytime during prayer hours. Otherwise, it’s relatively peaceful. Senthil, the hard-working owner who runs the cafe, also has wi-fi so you can sit there and type away. Not that you should go there and do any urgent work; that would totally defeat the point of being in Pondi!
But moving on to what we all want to know about… the food. First is a disclaimer: the menu is extremely limited. I’ve gone numerous times though and maybe because I enjoy the food so much, I don’t really mind the lack of variety. And it’s not Indian food - so if you’re only satisfied with roti and rice, this is not the place for you.
What I like however is that everything that comes out of the kitchen is super fresh. I love the fresh vegetables and inevitably ask for the salad. With the crunchy beetroot, the potato wedges, which Senthil makes really well, it’s actually a meal in itself. He also has fish sometimes, do enquire. He cooks up a simple minimal fuss preparation, but it’s really good since the fish is quite fresh. There are also the quiches, gratin and bakes which are well sized and make for an excellent meal, served with salad on the side. I usually order one of the drinks on the menu — try out the flower syrups with soda. Can I have one more please?
If you want to try something different, I’d recommend the ragi galette — it’s not what you expect. It’s much better!
The prices are pretty reasonable too and won’t make a big dent in your pocket.
Finding New Banana Cafe is an adventure in itself, but if you’ve got a sufficiently smart phone, I would leave it to the device to do the hard work and lead you there. Be prepared to do a little bit of work before you get to the food.
Don’t expect anything fancy here. The ambience is low-key and the place is simple, but cosy. Just go there for wholesome delicious home-cooked food and you won’t be disappointed.
It’s closed on Mondays and check their opening and closing times on other days on their Facebook page — they’re online too.
I, for one, am looking forward already to my next trip there!