The sweet smell of freshly-baked cookies greets us as we enter the Art Deco bungalow from the 1960s. With sleek curved edges and smooth pillars characteristic of the style, it now bears fresh coats of bright yellow paint, and a French garden with white wrought iron seating. Amour aspires to be among the first French cafés in Dindigul. Located on a busy road near the main bus stand, the café is a year old, and belongs to the Ponram group, the popular biryani chain.
The café’s menu, however, features sandwiches, wraps, salads, pastas, and pastries that also offers Indian flavours to appeal to a customer base that loves it biryani and fiery meat curries. Think chicken kothu kari (minced meat) pizza and chicken tandoori rolls. On a Sunday afternoon, we see dhoti-clad men enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee alongside a college crowd that is there for the fries and ice cream. “This is exactly what we want to offer: contemporary food in a traditional setting that will hopefully appeal to people of all ages,” says 24-year-old S Mani Ram, whose family owns the café.
The focus, he adds, is to offer something new to the town that does not have many such sit-down places for long conversations over a cuppa. Amour’s seating is spread across four rooms in the ground floor of the building, apart from a few outside and at the outdoor French garden, that is best for the evenings. “We have consciously left the building’s old charm untouched,” explains Mani, pointing to the vintage mosaic flooring, wooden windows and beams.
At Amour, a lot of the ingredients come from the surrounding towns. The rose tres leches, for instance, is topped with slivers of dried rose petals from nearby Nilakottai. The cake is moist, with mild notes of rose flavour that is not over powering. The tender coconut mousse, one of their best sellers, is a mildly-sweet gelatinous concoction whipped up of translucent flesh from coconuts of Ayyampalayam in the district.
We also try the mango tart, whose crumbly crust comes with a scoop of a local mango variety from Natham. The crust is not too sweet, similar to that of their mini walnut pies. This is a must try; the gooey filling, fragrant with cinnamon and punctuated by crispy walnut chunks, is placed in a perfectly-done, crumbly crust.
Amour also serves ice cream from the brand’s Ice Square line, that includes flavours such as jackfruit and hill banana, made from fruits sourced from nearby Sirumalai hills. There also are some offbeat flavours such as chilli, garlic, and ginger, that work to a certain extent. Our vote is for the karupatti ice cream with the nutty flavour of palm jaggery. They also have panakarkandu (palm crystals) ice cream, our next favourite; also try their mango ice cream.
Amour, according to R Nagendran, Mani’s uncle, is a Covid baby. “We had plenty of time then to brainstorm and come up with something that will take us to the next stage,” says the 36-year-old, adding: “We did the rounds of interesting cafes at Auroville, apart from Bengaluru and Chennai to see what works.” He says that the people of Dindigul are warming up to the new hangout in town. There is good food and ice cream, and a decades-old bunglow that is in no hurry to call it a day.
Amour Café and Bakes is located at AMC Road, Dindigul. A meal for two costs ₹200. For details, call 9486981222.