Downtown cafe had been a place I longed to go for a while and it finally happened in the form of a bloggers meet to which I was invited. Cafes have become a norm in our city these days but I always wanted Besant Nagar to have a cafe that hasn’t ruined it’s name with hundreds of branches and a place where a person can unwind, chilax and have some good food. If that’s what a cafe is meant to do, then Bessy wasn’t having much choices.
Location & Ambience
Downtown is located off Annai Velankanni Road, right behind Brew Room and Karaikudi. Since I’ve seen it a couple of times, it wasn’t hard to spot them. There is decent car parking space and quite abundant two wheeler parking space too. Dark wood panels with the logo welcomed us at the entrance which led to another dark wood door that bore the logo on its glass panel. Once inside the ambience and décor is very subtle yet elegant. A couple of light bulbs hangs from the ceiling lights up the woody decor. The furnitures are classy and dashing with this one particular single seater couch with a tall back rest that caught my attention in particular. Right at the entrance a small shelf housing a couple of books was another nice touch that the bookworm in me loved. The pathway leads to the counter which is beautifully stacked with a plethora of cakes and other sweets. Similar to Brew Room next door, this cafe too has another floor for seating. Upstairs, the lighting scheme and décor continues to be the same and another counter with an array of light bulbs dangling from the top is yet another eye catcher. The contrasting coloured panel that gives a couple of facts on coffee is really interesting. Since we were a larger group and considering the fact that we do tend to get a bit noisy (yes, we’re brats), we decided to take the seating upstairs.
Food & Beverages
Unlike most cafes, Downtown has a number of items at their disposal for the hungry and thirty dwellers that visit them. Their menu follows their dark blue theme and they’ve perfectly categorised their products with a considerable number of them in each section. Given below is the list of what all we tried and how they fared.
What’s a cafe without their share of signature hot and cold drinks. Unsurprisingly they had a long list of drinks under this category. Since we were a large group we got to try almost all of them and here are the ones we enjoyed
- Turkish Coffee: Let’s begin with what I ordered. Turkish coffee is something I’ve heard about but didn’t get to try it in Chennai so ordered it as the only hot drink for our table. It was more of an Espresso with a super strong coffee flavour. Strictly for strong coffee lovers.
- DT Special Smoothie: With Strawberry, Mango and dry fruits, this signature drink of theirs was a sure shot winner.
- Cold Milo: Any 90s kid’s dream drink. We were glad to find it in the menu but it wasn’t as thick as we wanted it to be.
- Watermelon Iced Tea: One of my friend’s had already tried this and he strongly recommended this drink. Unsurprisingly, it was delicious.
- Strawberry Iced Tea: When compared with the drink above, this one seemed to lack it’s punch.
- Peach Lemon Iced Tea: I wasn’t really a fan of this one.
- Romantic Replay: Strawberry and Raisins, definitely a match made in heaven.
- Hazelnut Frappe: Quite a decent drink.
We tried even more drinks than what I’ve noted down but these were the ones that caught our attention the most. The other drinks we tried were predominantly coffee and chocolate based shakes.
Salads & Starters
- DT Grilled Chicken: Yet another signature dish that hits the bullseye. Salad with grilled chicken, olives, iceberg lettuce and other veggies with a lovely sauce. Probably one of the best chicken salads I’ve had in Chennai.
- Waldorf: Now this one is a classic and they haven’t meddled around with the ingredients. Fresh cut apples, celery, walnuts and mayonnaise gives it the perfect crunch.
- Veg Quesadilla: Though not a fan of anything vegetarian, I found this Quesadilla to be perfectly filled and it was pretty yummy.
- Pesto Prawns: Two of the best flavours combined to give this scintillating dish. The prawns were fresh and I loved it.
- Rice Ball: Another friend said this was her favourite so I had high hopes on this one but one bite into it, I realised it wasn’t worth the hype.
- Orly Prawns: Battered Prawns and onion rings deep fried and served with chilli sauce. They nailed the texture but found the batter to be bit bland.
- Kheema Fries: Meaty kheema is so hard to come by and they went really well with the fries.
- Mini Burgers: A set of three snackers which were served with a healthy portion of fries. They were pretty good.
- DT Chicken Club Sandwich: Club sandwiches are known for their thickness and the ones I tried here were precisely what I wanted. Grilled to perfection outside with super juicy chicken stuffing, it was one of the best mains for me.
- Classic Chicken Pizza: The name says it all. Thin sliced pizzas with a generous topping of chicken makes it a carnivore’s treat.
- Garden Fresh Pizza: The only vegetarian pizza in menu is something that my veggie friends enjoyed happily.
- Grilled Cottage Cheese Burger: The paneer was neatly made into a single chunk that would fit flawlessly between the burger breads. Tasted decent. I personally like the way they’ve made custom boxes with their brand name on it.
- Chicken Lasagne: Next to minced beef, chicken does the best in making a lasagne what it is and I think they’ve done a good job with it.
- DT Flakes & Flames Veg: Fusilli pasta in pink sauce, this dish was enjoyed by both veggies and non veggies.
- Spaghetti Arrabbiata: Yet another classic in a prawn version. Instead of garlic breads they served the pastas with a soft bun which, though tasted really good, didn’t seem to go well with the pasta. Nevertheless, the spaghetti was really delicious with prawns making it even better.
- Stuffed Chicken Steak: Succulent piece of chicken, neatly seared for a while with sauces and served with mash, corn puree and garlic breads. This was lip-smackingly good.
- Chicken Sizzler: Only when I thought what else can they have possibly missed out in that vast menu, the sizzling sound and aromatic smoke made it’s mark even before this dish was presented at the table. Chicken fillet in a peppery sauce with the usual portions of veggies and bread. Tasted pleasant.
- Vegetable Club Sandwich: This filling sandwich had the perfect stuffing to make put a smile of satisfaction on anyone’s face.
- Sizzling Brownie: A delicious looking brownie that was filled and topped with nuts, a vanilla ice cream scoop on top and a generous portion of chocolate sauce that sizzled as we poured it over the brownie that was placed on top of a sizzler plate. A standard in almost all restaurants, the sizzling brownie served here had nothing worth mentioning as remarkable. The brownie itself needs to be worked on.
- Belgian Waffles: Sugar dusted warm waffles with maple syrup, tasted pretty decent. The airy fluffiness one would expect in a waffle was somewhat missing.
- Cakes: We tried a Chocolate as well as a Coffee/Caramel cake. Both weren’t something worth raving.
- Fruit Cream: We were served a Strawberry and a Chikoo version. Surprisingly the Chikoo one turned out to be the best out of the two. As a matter of fact, the Chikoo cream turned out to be the best dessert of that meal.
- Banoffee Tart: The ever classy Banoffee Tart. Looked delicious with that perfect sheen on top. Tasted really good.
- Chocolate Crepe: A dessert that can never be messed up. Three thin crepes, neatly folded, sugar dusted, dashed liberally with chocolate syrup on top and served with a piece of cherry and mint for garnish, they tasted perfectly the way they’re meant to.
Service was really friendly and those who served us presented themselves with a welcoming smile. We shared our feedbacks with the managing partner who was more than happy to receive them positively. With so many options to choose from, Downtown offers something that most cafes in town don’t, variety. And usually those places that do serve so many dishes rarely make half of them worth trying but these guys have nailed almost all of it. Overall, Downtown is an excellent place to unwind with your favourite beverage (non alcoholic of course) along with some finger licking good food. Downtown is a cafe that Bessy longed for, all these days and in my books, it’s a highly recommended spot.