Hauz Khas village is a little bit like stepping through to a secret garden – a pretty, well preserved little hamlet in the middle of a bustling city. Every store is prettily made and every store owner seems to have an interesting story in them if one took the time to ask. An afternoon trip to Hauz Khas is wonderful and touristy and so satisfying if capped with a visit to one of the many cafes and restaurants dotted through the village. We stopped off at a little hidden tea room called Elma’s which I was told later was a highly recommended place. I for one was glad I had no preconceived notions about the place.
Elma’s is found by walking up a short flight of stairs. Every step reveals a little more of the glass fronted tea room and every step had me suppressing a little squeal of delight. Smells of freshly baked bread and scones waft over you as you step through inside. With two sections for visitors, the section that completely charmed me is the tea parlor with fabric covered walls and ceilings, mismatched chairs and cushions at each table and beautiful porcelain tea services at each table. Taking the charm factor up even further is a white baby grand piano against one wall and a cabinet with even more porcelain and china on display on another. Finding that they serve high tea complete with tiered trays of sandwiches and cakes, I wished I hadn’t had lunch.
‘…luscious slices of carrot cake on some tables, scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream on others, elegantly dressed groups of ladies delicately pouring out fragrant teas in delicate cups, young lovers sharing a wedge of coffee cake…’
As tempting as the high tea looks, we decide on an order of ham and cheese toasties, a victoria sponge and a couple of cold drinks to cool off from our touristy trek of the village. As we wait, we take in the setting and look around at the other tables experiencing some serious order envy. There are luscious slices of carrot cake on some tables, scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream on others, elegantly dressed groups of ladies delicately pouring out fragrant teas in delicate cups, young lovers sharing a wedge of coffee cake, and we want it all.
Our order arrives and nothing disappoints. The toasties are delicious with the ham and smoked scamorza working together brilliantly. The toasties are topped off with an inspired tribute to Indianness, a few slivers of spring onion. The spring onion slivers make my day!
The Victoria Sponge, chosen after much waffling between berry frosted brownies and coffee cake, is an airy and light confection despite the thickly piled lashing of cream sandwiching the layers. A mildly sweet tea time treat, Elma’s Victoria Sponge also surprises with cream cheese instead of whipped cream sandwiching the two layers and providing a gently tart counterpoint to the sweet cake. These touches like the spring onion slivers, the cream cheese in the Victoria Sponge and the ginger and lemon in the fresh juices add a unique charm to this surprising little tea room in the Capital.
Not for the faint-pocketed, our smallish meal set us back close to Rs.1000.
Elma’s Bakery, Cakes and Tea Room, 24/1, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi