Elma’s – owned by The Living Room couple – has plenty of the owners’ personality stamped all over it, from the old-fashioned glass ‘conservatory’ windows that look out onto verdant tree-tops to a white piano and a couple of pieces of furniture that date back at least 40 years. The olde worlde look has been painstakingly followed through, on the crochet doilies on the dresser, the bakelite switches and the telephone that everybody of a certain age would remember! There are four tables and an open kitchen, besides a glass counter with all manner of goodies being replenished at intervals of 15 minutes!
Elma’s Bakery, Cakes and Tea Room could have got away by serving mediocre food, and still been full. But the food is the best part of the elegant little tea room. Usually bakeries concentrate on their cakes and cut corners on their savouries. Not this one. The best things here are the savouries. The finger sandwiches that are straight out of a Victorian tea party have been made with seriously good bread. Not surprisingly, it has been baked in-house. Baguettes (Rs 120), which are also for sale, are used to make toasties. I tried the cheese and chorizo toasties (Rs 225) which were superb. Someone in the kitchen really knows their business – the proportions between grated cheese and diced chorizo were spot on.
The scones are another thing that should take the city by storm. They are tiny – no larger than a coin; a plate has two scones (Rs 100) served with clotted cream and home-made jam. The scones themselves are not too sweet, and are light. The cream is probably imported.
By contrast, the lemon meringue tart (Rs 200) failed to impress. The crust was rather too dense, the lemon curd wasn’t made with the same quality of ingredients as some of their other goods and the meringue had not set as firmly as it should (blame that on the humid weather). The tiny choco cup cake (Rs 100) was pleasant if not memorable, but the carrot cake (Rs 150) made up for all that. Minimally sweet to offset the richness of the ingredients – generous nuggets of walnuts and raisins – it was topped by icing.
Baked goods are just the icing on the cake. The real nuts and bolts of Elma’s are the teas. Though they have a small variety at present, it is in the throes of being increased. My iced coffee (Rs 100) was not blended in a machine and was made from real coffee beans: a rarity in our city.
On the downside, Elma’s has concentrated more on ambience and less on seating: four tables are grossly inadequate. The menus had not been delivered when I visited; the menu (without prices) had been chalked up on a blackboard; every pastry is served on an elegant plate with old-fashioned cutlery, but no napkin. Water is not served at tables and the music is the stuff you’ll hear at The Living Room – out of whack in the present settings.
It is still a great addition to the city’s restaurantscape.
24/1 First floor, Hauz Khas Village
Open from 10 am to 7 pm
No alcohol served;
Meal for two: Rs 800