Illiterati

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I was not expecting Dharamsala to throw up any surprises on the culinary front given its mix of visitors, and their traditional pockets of patronage. The Western tourist typically hangs out in Mcleodganj, the Punjabi in Bhagsunag, and the Israeli in Dharamkot. There was one aberration, however, in Illiterati on lower Jogibara Road. On both visits, it was brimming with all manner of disciples of fine food.

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The legend chalked onto the blackboard out front – “there is no good explanation for what is going on here” – is as far from the literal truth as is possible. For Yannick, the Belgian owner of the place, clearly understands the success-worthiness of a recipe that includes zillions of books, freshly prepared sandwiches, cakes, waffles, steaming cups of coffee, and bewitching views.

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It’s not just the books and the views that will catch your attention, tucked away under a window between bookshelves is an electronic piano (visible in pic above). Patrons are welcome to play, indeed Yannick encourages it.

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 One of three balcony spaces with uninterrupted slideshows of the mountains and their myriad moods.

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This here is a red bean burger (that’s right, rajmah) made fresh post-order, resulting in some twenty-minutes of waiting. In the end, it was worth every juicy bite, as told to me by my vegetarian companion.

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As schnitzels go, though chicken, this was juicy and crisp with a mildly herb-ed dollop of butter; the salad fresh and crunchy. Of course for the real (veal) deal, you have to be in Vienna, so no comparisons to go. The apple pie and coffee that followed this were truly remarkable. On a later visit,  I tried one of the salads; that too came out tops. You may want to give it a try if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

( Note: A recent exchange with Yannick revealed that meals may be off the menu for just a bit but the waffles with ice-cream, cheesy sandwiches, and much else, stays).

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