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June 24, 2024

Feel at home: Beautifully designed restaurants to mimic a homely vibe 

By Arushi Sakhuja  
The beauty of a space doesn’t lie merely in its aesthetics but in the stories that inspire it. Where colours, textures and design all come together to form a visual language to create an environment that represents the restaurateur’s vision. In the 2020s, restaurants and cafes in India seek to offer so much more than just a delicious meal. They seek to evoke an emotion, create lasting memories, and instil a specific ambience that will have you travelling halfway around the world to what evokes the sense of a home. The concept of a home in a café is not alien to interior designers and architects, provoking them to create an entire genre of spaces that imbibe homely aesthetics.  
Whether you’re drawn to ultra-chic dining rooms like HOME in New Delhi, SoBo’s old glamour like Nksha in Mumbai, Jaipur’s classic blue themed décor at Bar Palladio or a certain vintage charm with The Bhawanipur House, Kolkata, there’s sure to be a new landmark added to your list for impeccable food, drink, and design.  
Though all of these are well known for their superb food, they also have another common factor—cozy, layered interiors that feel inviting and refreshingly un-restaurant-like. The approach to these commercial spaces is with the thought of creating a second home pretty much like saying – When you come into our restaurants, we want you to feel like you’re in someone’s house.   
Here’s what LuxeBook found out about cafes that take homes as their ultimate inspiration. 
Veronica’s Mumbai 
Home style cafe
Veronica’s Bandra
Shonan Purie Trehan, Founder & Principal Architect at L.A.B describes Veronica’s in a unique way, “The space has been designed to preserve classic elements of the original bakery. Inspired by old Bandra homes and bakeries, Veronica’s is adorned with classic, glazed Dado tiles with floral motifs, that juxtapose the industrial grunge aesthetics brought by the epoxy flooring. The material used includes old-world tiles balanced with raw metal finishes, with a mint green colour palette reminiscent of the old homes in Ranwar village, with turmeric yellow and sunset orange adding a modernistic touch.”  
As you walk in, refurbished graffiti (by St+art India) in a riot of colours on the facade (originally painted by Portuguese artist Akacorleone) immediately catches your eye. Reminiscent of the location it once was, there are several such design elements that pay homage to this truly Bandra landmark.   
Whether for breakfast, after a brisk walk, a fuss-free lunch, a reason to catch up with friends or just an excuse to get out of the house – Veronica’s in Bandra serves as a casual place to catch up overbites. It is a relatively new all-day sandwich shop housed inside the iconic St. Jude’s Bakery, located in a narrow bylane in the quaint village of Ranwar.   
Right at the entrance, you will be greeted by an interactive coffee and sandwich bar that runs into the kitchen, and a small glass display case brimming with bakes, house-made cookies, and desserts. The community table-style seating right in the middle encourages you to socialize and interact with friends and strangers or just sit by and linger on your own! “The interiors have been designed to make you feel comfortable, like hanging out at a friend’s home, while the ‘Bandra Bulletin’, a community pin board, promises to keep you posted about everything that’s happening in the hood. Coffee lovers can pick up ‘Bean Bags’, exclusive coffee beans by Veronica’s while shopaholics can indulge in ‘Secrets For Sale’, a selection of some of our favourite retail products,” says Purie.  
The space will instantly put you at ease, almost as if you were dining with close ones in the comfort of your home. Staying away from the traditional cold modern interiors, warmth is added with wood and warmer hues. Given that the café was formerly, an erstwhile bakery, St. Jude Bakery – a bakery that was engaged in large-scale baking for the suburbs – the space has history attached to it. Trehan and Sameer Seth both envisioned Veronica’s to replicate a homely space for the community. 
“The space has so much history attached to it! Be it in its physical form, or as an entity in the community, and in the neighbourhood of Bandra – this was very evident when we first saw the space. From the people that have lived in it, to the original St. Jude Bakery, which was now overlaid with all kinds of urban context, we could literally see that in the layers and materials – both old and new. When we saw that, we wanted to use that as a reference, keep it alive in the new space and make it relevant again. The appropriation of the space was to give the place a purpose so that one could acknowledge the history of the structure and give it a new purpose so that it becomes accessible again,” Purie told me. The idea was, “… to create Veronica’s as your unpretentious, neighbourhood spot in Bandra. The idea was to create an easy, honest space that would serve great food, dished out in a casual and friendly environment. A space where people could hang out, meet friends (old and new), have a work meeting or come for a casual date. We wanted to also ensure that the space retains some of its rawness and its past, in the new avatar.”  
The Bhawanipur House, Kolkata 
Home style cafe
The Bhawanipur House, Kolkata
Kolkata is known for its grandiose red and green bungalows that have a character of their own. Old-school homes had a charm of their own and The Bhawanipur House, Kolkata is one such bungalow. Reminiscent of multiple eras from Calcutta’s rich and storied past, its construction dates back to colonial times and it is restored in its classic glory. Today, it has been converted into a space for delectable dishes, drinks and conversations with the idea of inspiring a nostalgic journey back to a familiar piece of Kolkata’s history for its people. Sipping a cup of tea here is also about being transported to the city’s history. Maintaining age-old furniture and upholstery, its construction features solid frames and walls that were typical of that period.  The authenticity of this 116-year-old heritage home is enhanced with era-appropriate furniture, art and artefacts to keep its vintage vibe intact.  
From cast iron garden furniture to wood-banistered stairs, the four dining spaces all have their separate identity, yet speak the same elegant design language. 
Bar Palladio Jaipur  
Home style cafe
The idea behind Bar Palladio was to transport diners to a European home while being in India.  Italian owner Barbara Miolini dreamt of a place where people from across the globe could share their stories, find inspiration and unwind, letting their cares melt away. “Bar Palladio Jaipur was born with a simple intent: to present classic Italian cuisine in a beautiful setting to create an atmosphere of magic, a sense of surprise. Inspired by the iconic Caffé Florian and Harry’s Bar in Venice and christened after the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, Bar Palladio Jaipur is an ode to Italian style and cuisine, viewed through the prism of a Mughal dreamworld,” said Barbara.   
Barbara had conceptualized Bar Palladio as a Maharaja’s palace in the 1960s, and hence one can find many wall paintings as an integral large part of the design at Bar Palladio. White-on-blue and, conversely, blue-on-white florals were hand-painted and splashes of neon colours breathed new life into the art of block printing. Jali lamps that are replicas of those in the Jama Masjid at Fatehpur Sikri adorn the main bar and jali screens keep Bar Palladio cool on hot Jaipur days. But scalloped tents in the garden are a true vision of royalty at the Bar.   
Designed by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans, Bar Palladio Jaipur is located within a restored garden in the historic Narain Niwas Palace Hotel.   
As a brand, Bar Palladio believes in fantasy – fantasy allows us to depart from our reality and slip into our imagination. Bar Palladio Jaipur is that very place: a candle-lit wonderland, a floating world. Bar Palladio, in the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, is the ideal domestic destination if you want to experience the opulence of Venice without sacrificing the personality and colour of Rajasthan. Grand European furniture is juxtaposed with block prints and elaborate Mughal art. Some spaces mimic the inside of a palace, while others take us down for a tour of Mughal heritage, while some others mimic old-school homes with high ceilings and extravagant structures. The emphasis on block prints helps the audience connect with the local handicrafts of Rajasthan. Using blue and white as the main colour palette, painting on the wall, curved stared cases and a large outdoor patio make it seem like you are dining in a royal paradise. According to Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans, the decision to paint Bar Palladio in blue was an impulsive one. 
HOME Delhi  
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Photo Courtesy: HOME
HOME Delhi was designed to resemble a comfortable drawing room, with dedicated areas for a variety of experiences. From a reading corner to a tropical-themed blush bar, a colonial dining set-up, and a retro music lounge with a performance space; the atmosphere is one of comfort and luxury where one can entertain and enjoy with one’s family and friends. Mr. Renaud Palliere  COO, of The Luxury Collection and International Business, shared his thoughts on the space. “The essence of ‘HOME’ can be felt from the entrance to the culmination, owing to the journey it takes the guests on. With the entrance designed as a London walk-up apartment, the guest is introduced to a spectacular view of understated tropical wallpaper custom-made in France and treated to a beautiful visual of a chandelier from a studio in South Africa. It presents its crux as a fine blend of influences from around the world, with sprinkles of relatability of a home instilled as the name, HOME suggests. 
Palliere told LuxeBook that HOME is named with the intent of providing distinguished patrons with an atmosphere of comfort and luxury reminiscent of their own drawing room where they can entertain and enjoy with their family and friends. “The place empowers an extraordinary style statement highlighted through vital components like vintage showpieces, a set of Elkington candlesticks, and a sequence of planters sheathed against mirror back, granting an interminable look to the space. Casting an impression of a snug habitat, the design is laid out to instil a variety of experiences, ranging from a Den resonating reading corner, a tropical-themed blush bar, a colonial dining set-up, and a pompous music lounge. Home is the perfect setting for performances of world-renowned artists and at the same time for an intimate dinner.” 
 When it comes to the layout, it facilitates seamless service from the back of the house without compromising on the number of seats. “Our Sunset Lounge, the rooftop dining invites users to a lush, fresh, and vibrant ambience enhanced with a fancy chic character. The terrace houses arched windows and dashes of green with the profound usage of wooden pergolas, supplementing the existing environment with an added essence of vitality.” 
The Architectural firm DesignEx has used natural materials like wood and bushes in soft furnishing patterns, evoking a snug habitat. The dining area’s walls are reminiscent of old British colonial homes with panels and artworks. The bar complements the music, with cocktails mimicking the variety and genre of music. Al fresco dining on the terrace invites users to a lush, fresh, and vibrant ambience enhanced with a chic character that resembles terrace houses to soak in the good weather.   
Speaking on the inspiration behind the design Palliere shared, ” The design ticks boxes when it comes to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that the bar resonates with a sense of belonging, no matter who walks through its doors.” But a space that offers just culinary experiences isn’t enough today. “In a city yearning for a fusion of entertainment and an unparalleled dining journey, HOME recognized the need to craft a unique space. Thus, the vision emerged – to present an exclusive music lounge to cater to its discerning clientele. The design blueprint is made for immersive encounters, from an enclave that emanates the cosy aura of a reading nook, to the vivaciousness of a tropical-inspired blush bar. From a setting that pays homage to colonial aesthetics, to a grand and opulent music lounge.” 
Nksha, Mumbai  
style cafe
NKSHA Mumbai, Interiors
Home style cafe
Architects Neesha Alwani and Shruti Jalan have put together a spatial tribute to old Bombay glamour complete with modern trappings. Nksha marries the colours and motifs of Art Deco with a contemporary material palette and North Indian cuisine.  Art deco imbues every part of this 1520 sqft space across its arches, the period wainscoting on the walls, friezes on the ceiling and charming black and white male/female signage on bathroom doors. The cosy 49-seater feels expansive because of its large windows which bring in the outdoors and the omnipresent neon sign of Churchgate station always reminds you where you are.   The fine dining restaurant is a brainchild of food connoisseurs Pranav M. Rungta and Chef Vikram Arora, two culinary masterminds with the vision of mapping diverse Indian tastes worldwide. Offering a niche dining experience, the exquisite menu features signature dishes such as Truffle Essence, Cheese Kulcha, Roasted Sweet Potato Tikki Chaat, Kacchi Mirchi ka Paneer, Nksha Lobster Curry and more.
Resembling the ambience of an old Bombay speakeasy, Nksha is filled with plush fabrics, chandeliers, and Art Deco patterns at every turn. The tradition is known for bold colour combinations, and the blend of coral and forest green was a natural choice. Sachin Nagarale, co-founder of Nksha Restaurant, shared, “Since Nksha is nestled in Churchgate which was predominantly an art deco & cultural habitat it was a no-brainer for us to design something based on art deco which resonated with the rich heritage. The audience is enthralled and is thoroughly enjoying the design feel.” 
The coral walls and ceilings are offset by deep forest-green floors and antique brass and patina arches as decorative elements. The vintage theme carries across the kansa cutlery on the dark wood tabletops and the gold light fixtures. There is a cosy and gorgeously-lit three-seater bar tucked into one corner, which is great if you are dining solo, stopping by for a quick drink or simply waiting for a table. 
Pause from your conversations to look around and you will see all that is drawn from extensive research into Art Deco motifs. Embossed porcelain tableware from Adelaide-based potters Robert Gordon, glasses with geometric patterns and fine kansa ware from Delhi’s Khari Baoli market evoke an elegant vintage charm. This is the kind of place that makes you want to dress up for dinner even on a workday week. Adding to the conversation, Sachin said, “The inspiration was exceptional Indian delectable cuisine offered to discerning audiences in an old-world art deco charm. I don’t think it replicates anything but recreates a sense of grandeur and epicurean delight.” It is a modern luxurious revival of the vintage era, one can say. 
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Arushi Sakhuja


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