Women’s safety is the best dish at Elephant & Co., Anjuna

Month-old Elephant & Co. not only serves absolutely toothsome food and delish drinks, it also cares — really cares — about women’s safety.
Located in anjuna, elephant & co takes forward the concept & menu of the company’s two other eateries of the same name in pune.
Located in Anjuna, Elephant & Co. takes forward the concept & menu of the company’s two other eateries of the same name in Pune.

At Elephant & Co. (Anjuna), I should have first addressed the elephant in the room. I didn’t. Instead, I sang a million hallelujahs to the eatery that really cares about women’s safety. Really, really cares. For the high-heeled. And the one wary of her safety. The high-heeled, first. If you were to walk in standing taller in your stilettoes, the gravel floor-bed of the month-old restaurant might crunch the heel and wobble the knee. To avoid a fall and a tumble, Elephant & Co. keeps a basket full of flip-flops. Just pick a pair and thereafter there’s nary a worry about the gravel. Ain’t that thoughtful?

Describing itself as a restaurant that treats its customers like royalty, elephant & co. Chose the elephant as its mascot because it is synonymous with royalty.
Describing itself as a restaurant that treats its customers like royalty, Elephant & Co. chose the elephant as its mascot because it is synonymous with royalty.

Women’s safety, of course. If you are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, go to the bar and order an Eco Hero Shot. If you utter Eco Hero Shot Neat, you will have a manager escort you to your personal vehicle or call for a cab. If you order Eco Hero Shot with Ice you will be escorted to a safe place to talk to a manager to explain your situation and action will be taken accordingly. In an usually unkind world, hail this bar & kitchen that is so kind to women.

And an extra brownie point for the eatery parenting two stray dogs: Tira and Misu. Together, pretty, furry TiraMisu.

Elephant & co. Has nearly 2,000 origami elephants in the seating area and 500 in the washroom.
Elephant & Co. has nearly 2,000 origami elephants in the seating area and 500 in the washroom.

I’d forgive the baddest food of the ugliest restaurant, if they were so thoughtful about women’s safety. At Elephant & Co., I had to drop all the awful adjectives and sidle with the superlatives. A long superlative. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — the one Mary Poppins uttered in the 1964 film. That’s what this 130-cover restaurant is. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — the food is the bestest, the look is earthy, muted, toned down yet very delightful. Think of that Plain Jane walking down the street looking prettier than the one dolled up in sequins and greasepaint.

And why haven’t I addressed the elephant in the room yet? Because there are too many of them. Nearly 2,000 yellow, pink, red, green origami elephants with 37-folds each hanging in, well, Elephant & Co. The washroom also has an elephant herd. 500 of them. That’s 2,500 elephants. Ain’t that too many to address?

Salt & pepper water chestnuts at elephant & co.
Salt & pepper water chestnuts at Elephant & Co.

But I’ll address the food that comes with an inbuilt reputation — the two Elephant & Co. restaurants in Pune (Kalyani Nagar & Baner) dish out an elevated food menu and a bar that wears its own identity: bold, flamboyant and, of course, high-spirited. Let’s look at those at the top of the foodie-hierarchy in the Goa outlet: the drinks are served with in-house frozen clear (transparent) ice. Hence, no cloudiness and no puckering the nose about where the ice came from. A pint of vodka is infused with curry leaves stirred with tender coconut water seltzer; there’s Dosa Waffle (dosa batter ladled into a waffle maker) that is accompanied with Chicken Chettinad or Vegetable Kofta; a Champagne Risotto; Choriz Hummus, Chicken Ghee Roast Tacos, and Red Curry Prawn Dimsum. And no one ever says no to two open sandwiches: Good Morning Bacon (Bacon three ways — jam, crispy & crumble, runny egg, drizzled with chilli oil, roasted garlic and cream cheese on sourdough, Rs 380); and What the Guac (blistered cherry tomato with guacamole, crumbled feta, roasted almonds & balsamic drizzle on sourdough, Rs 350).

Elephant & co. 's herbivore flatbread.
Elephant & Co.’s Herbivore Flatbread.

As Karan Khilnani, co-owner of Elephant & Co., and I sat talking of the origami elephants, the 100-year-old mango tree in the courtyard and the honour of their Pune outlets ranked No. 1 by 30 Best Bars India in their People’s Choice category, a server brought along a Khilnani-suggested Tofu Steak sitting smug in a black pepper sauce (Rs 500) and Mushroom Pâté with Melba Toast with a rocket-orange salad (Rs 360). The pâté was dainty, its flavours enhanced by the sweetness of the orange and the crunch of the sourdough toast. Am not much of a bread/mushroom person but I could eat this pâté all day, every day. The tofu steak melted in my mouth but I’ll admit that day the pâté won the food war.

The superfood salad at elephant & co. Is superlative.
The Superfood Salad at Elephant & Co. is superlative.

The restaurant with a view of the paddy fields has interesting Bar Nibbles (Mushroom & Cheese Rissois, Prawn Crackers, Pork Sausage Fries, Carbonara Sticks with Garlic Aioli); Small Plates (Tofu & Leek Parcels, Salt & Pepper Chestnuts, Jackfruit Nachos, Chicken Ghee Roast Tacos); Asian dishes (Spicy Broccoli Dumpling, Poached Chicken Dimsum), and Large Plates (Vegetable Stew, Sundried Tomato Pesto Penne, Sticky Pork Chop, Choriz Orecchiette, Grilled Tenderloin Steak). There’s only one dessert on the menu: Flourless Chocolate Cake with forest berry cheesecake gelato (Rs 350).

Choriz hummus along with sourdough crisps at elephant & co.
Choriz Hummus along with sourdough crisps at Elephant & Co.

Khilnani and restaurant manager Akshay Sovani were being the ideal hosts ordering the best from their kitchen (Sovani actually brought out a largish clear ice square straight out of the ice maker to reveal how transparent it is!) but I was still curious about their pick of the elephant from the jungle roster. “Because elephants are synonymous with royalty and we want to treat our guests as royals,” Khilnani laid all my elephant-queries to rest. Touché!

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars; that one special star for all they do for women’s safety)
Food: 10/10
Service: 8/10
Interiors/Décor: 5/10 (one extra point for the 2,000 colourful origami elephants)
Vibe: Perfect spot to forget the woes of the world
One dish we loved: Mushroom Pâté with Melba Toast
One thing that didn’t work for us: There is nothing to diss in an eatery that is so thoughtful about women’s safety!

Carbonara sticks at elephant & co.
Carbonara sticks at Elephant & Co.

Good to know
Address: House No. 1049/2, Survey No. 16/1 Grand Pedder Field, Peddem, Anjuna (Landmark: 200 metres after Prana Café Goa)
Phone: +91-7666361130
Timing: 12.30 pm to 1 am
Instagram: Elephantandco_India
Music: Back in Time: Every Wednesday from 8.30 pm to 1 am.

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