“I like to call it the Tinder table. Or maybe the Bumble Table,” laughs Nirav Shah, discussing the 24-seat community table that holds pride of place at his newly-launched cafe, Basque. “Or, let’s call it the Swipe Right table,” he says, clearly delighted with the idea. “Many people will make friends here.”
In 1999, Nirav and his two brothers, Bhavesh and Prateek, started a small coffee shop on Chennai’s quiet, lush Greenways Road with a small vegetarian menu, a basic Krups home coffee machine and a cool idea, which was supported by courage. having no experience. They were straight out of college, and the name of the place was Coffee? – It soon filled with friends and friends of friends until it closed in 2008.
Eating Basque by Coffee?
In 2021, nearly two decades after the first launch, they reunite to see if they can recreate that magic, in a city that seems very different from the one they were familiar with in the 1990s . As the pandemic was slowly subsiding, ‘Coffee Since 1999’ was launched, directed by Nirav, by now a well-known cinematographer, along with Bhavesh and his wife Mona, both based in Chennai. K had worked with the popular Satyam Cinema.
This time, however, Krups didn’t cut it—they invested in a luxurious Italian Sanremo Opera 2.O for espressos, and added all the essentials needed for a new-age coffee shop: Chemex, V60, AeroPress, and Kalita.
Outdoor seating area at Bask By Coffee?
The place was quickly filled with friends and new friends. So now, they are taking the next leap of faith and setting up a second cafe in a sprawling bungalow on Kasturi Rangan Road, called Bask By Coffee? And this time, their Italian Sanremo Opera is paired with Flow, an innovative coffee telemetry system that ensures consistency.
Spread across 5,000 feet, Basque bravely puts its faith in the Chennai weather – with plenty of comfortable outdoor seating. “We are looking at creating a casual cafe with great food and coffee,” says Nirav. He adds that the first outdoor area will become their most social space. “We can use it for events like stand up comedy, or live music.” It flows in a quiet area behind the shade of trees. The air-conditioned area houses a few semi-private rooms, and an old-school mosaic staircase, worn with age, leads to an airy balcony upstairs.
Basque is constructed to encourage conversation. ‘We want it to be a community space, just like coffee?’ Nirav says. With a refreshing glass of citrus cold brew and a platter full of creamy hummus, roasted chickpeas and crispy sourdough toast, Mona explains how her customers are doing over coffee. Treat the cafe as a third place after home and office, use it to network and hangout. “We have people who come daily, and even customers who come twice a day,” she says, adding that she hopes the Basques offer a similar welcoming atmosphere. Will do
Charred Figs and Burrata on Toast
Chef Dipesh Attupurath Chandran, who created the comfort food menu at Coffee, can flex now that he has a huge kitchen in Basque, with separate teams and zones for Indian, Chinese and continental food. He begins dishing out his signature dishes to the table: curls of Norwegian salmon on sourdough toast, slathered liberally with cream cheese; a traditional chicken caesar salad made with anchovies; delicious Sichuan chicken with hot peppers; and fresh figs cooked in honey, served on toast with burrata and rocket.
“The idea is to create comfort food that people can eat everyday,” says Dipesh, “so we try to keep it light and relatively healthy.” He adds, “The menu will keep evolving according to time, season, people…” Bhavesh laughs in reply, “Our menu keeps getting tweaked by our regulars,” he says, of constant adaptation. Completely new items have appeared as a result. Adding to the menu: For example, Peri Peri Chicken Fries, Pita Pizza and their rice bowls.
(L-R) Bhavesh, Mona and Nirav Shah of Basque by Coffee?
While the kitchen is rejoicing with its new tandoor, pizza oven and sous vide machine, Dipesh intelligently sticks to creating food that’s easy to order and easy to eat, sometimes with a signature to make it his own Also add twists. Learn about his personal favourite: a creamy dal makhani topped with chilli garlic butter and served with naan. Or even just a regular buttery pound cake reminiscent of childhood birthday parties, glazed with fresh oranges and filled with cranberries.
“Dependability is very important to us,” says Nirav. “Basque may be fancier on the outside, but fundamentally the warmth is the same. We want to make you happy, we want to serve great food, and we want to create a place that will keep you coming back again and again.
Coffee to Basque? It is open from 11 am till midnight. It is located at 11/6, Kasturi Rangan Road, Kasturi Estate, Teynampet. Meal for two costs roughly 1,500