Baku Café, Port Baku Towers, 153 Neftchilar Prospekti, Baku Tel.: (012) 404 8206 www.saffron.az
Since returning from my exotic Far Eastern holiday, I’ve suffered some serious bouts of homesickness, the Expats’ scourge. Most of all, I miss my children. Both of them are adults, just into their thirties, with lovely partners, their own mortgages, their own pets, thriving careers, a life of their own but still, we are very close and, at home, we have these marvellous hunkering down sessions over a nice meal and a bottle of wine and put the world to rights. I have always been able to rely on them for love and a big hug when, for whatever reason, the going got tough and they are fun and clever company into the bargain. And my little cat, the inimitable Romy, bad tempered and crotchety and the right little madam that she is, she is still is a warm and comforting presence around the home. Ah yes, my home which is comfortable and just so, with everything in its place, and the rest of my family and my fabulous friends, each and every one of them collected over the years and cherished. Then there are those days when I really miss London, the throbbing metropolis where everything is possible at the drop of a hat. Beautiful Richmond Park, grey Father Thames, the white pillared houses of Kensington, the plethora of restaurants, the variety of theatre and cinema, from fringe to mainstream, the chic shops and sophisticated social life. Sometimes my heart aches for all of these. My life here in Baku is a Swiss cheese, delicious but with an awful lot of holes in it.
To cheer me up, one of my Baku besties took me out for a delayed birthday lunch at the Baku Café. Now my ongoing love affair with Reuben Gould is no secret. It’s not just because he has a cute smile, and that he does, and it’s not just because the man is a master in the kitchen, which undoubtedly he is, but all of his restaurants have something wonderfully international and big city about them. They could exist confidently in New York or London or Sydney. They’re very defined in what they offer, there’s no homogenous pleasing of everybody, no mediocre pizza, sushi and grill all on one menu. Make up your mind what you fancy and then go to any one of his places and you get the whole package, the ambience, the food, the experience, all harmoniously matched up. The Baku Café is no exception. It’s unashamedly healthy, the fare largely gluten free, preservative free, fat free, low cal, locally sourced, fresh, tasty and crunchy. My kind of place!
On the menu are fabulous freshly prepared vegetable juices in great taste combinations. There you have your five a day in one delicious glass full. I had a Big Red with beetroot, lemon, orange, carrots and wheatgrass. Yummy! Then there is a salad buffet with gorgeous salads of different tastes and textures, two for AZN6, three for AZN8 . For me, quinoa salad with poached salmon pieces and roast butternut squash with feta salad, both divine, which were so satisfying that I was unable to manage one of their good looking cakes afterwards. My friend had a green plate with quinoa salad, green been salad and asparagus. Also available from the menu are a soup of the day or a broccoli, asparagus and spinach soup, omelettes, asparagus with poached egg and balsamic mushrooms and a variety of light main courses too. Joy of joys, they serve kale and, as an extra order, super foods to add to your meal or juice, such as spirulina, wheatgrass, acai powder, chia seeds, the list of choices goes on. All this in a congenial, pleasant and unfancy café atmosphere on two floors. Fab!
If you’re a devoted greasy spoon aficionado, then this may not be the place for you but if you want to eat until you pop, all the while knowing that you are doing yourself some good, then it’s heaven. The old adage of ‘one moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ does not apply here and you can gorge yourself silly without guilt. As I said, my kind of place! The prices are reasonable too. I left with a spring in my step and a flame in my heart. I’m still counting the days till I visit London in just a few week’s time but meanwhile, these Baku pleasures are tiding me over in a most enjoyable way. Life has taken on a brighter, lighter hue.