There is something about Mussoorie, about its quiet and quaint beauty, that leaves you breathless at first glance. I may not be a mountain or a hill person, but the sheer magic of the Queen of the Hills stuns me every time. The old brick and tumbled-down homes, long winded roads that hug the hillside, shacks at many points offering Maggi, small cafes with their windows fogging up in the cold, and people buried under layers of wool milling about… what’s not to love about this place? Not to mention, the crisp, cold air that awakens the senses, the cascading views of hilltops, the varying shades of green and brown, and an eerie mist that floats by, I loved every bit of this place.
Especially, my breakfast date with K in Landour, a small neighbouring town.
The Landour Bakehouse exudes a vintage colonial charm, the typical old ‘timey-wimey’ ambience, replete with its brown and green decor perfectly mirroring and complimenting nature’s decor. Walk in through its heavy doors and it’ll be like a trip back to the past. Beyond the cafe counter on the left and the two double-door wooden cabinets housing books and little things, the view of the wooded hillside captivates the eye. This is the reason one comes to Mussoorie, to Uttarakhand, to enjoy this scenic view, and the Landour Bakehouse, perched at a beautiful vantage spot, gives it to you in spades. This place is homely, warm and divine. The interiors, with its brick walls, dark wood panelled flooring, vintage electric fixtures, and cute curios in nooks and crannies – it gives the perfect cosy cottage vibe, especially with their Christmas decor already in place.
The counter near the entrance is bathed in a golden hue. The shelves were still being filled with a variety of baked goodies, right from cakes and pies, cookies and muffins, breads and croissants, sweet buns, and so much more. Shelves decked with glass jars displayed ‘Garhwali cheese straws’, ‘Stick jaw’, ‘Multigrain cookies’ and more. The wall behind the counter had the menu on display, with crepes catching our immediate attention.
We opted for a raisin scone, a classic sugar and cinnamon crepe, and a lemon curd and almond flakes crepe. This was probably the second time I had a scone. I still remember my first, and I’m yet to share more about it on these digital pages, but it was divine. The one I had here in Landour wasn’t as delicious as my first, but the warm crumbly texture, and served with a lovely jam made for a pleasant meal. The jam was so good that we asked them if we could take some home. Thankfully, this local jam was available for sale but in a little shop a few doors down. We picked up cherry, apricot and grapes. It’s called Prakash, and makes for a great souvenir as well. It certainly beats all the imported jams that come at eye-watering prices. Bhuira is another wonderful local jam I like but I now find it a tad too sweet for my taste.
Since our trip was in early December, and winter had certainly made its presence felt in the hills, we opted for hot chocolate and the ever-favourite, ginger lemon honey tea. I find it amazing how the latter sort of fell out of my brain for the longest time. I’ve been wanting another alternative to K’s heavily brewed tea, and this winter season I made a lot of ginger lemon honey tea. The perfect potion before heading to bed. This drink really cleared my brain and soothed my throat. I just wanted to whip out a book to read or scribble in my journal and sip on this for hours.
Breakfast done, I found myself staring at the book cabinet, and reasoned with K that I simply must take a couple with me for the sake of memory. The cafe attendant was kind enough to let me go through them slowly, flipping through almost each. They obviously had plenty of Ruskin Bond, but they also stocked up on books related to the area, hiking, and being out in the wild.
A framed poster on the outside explains the history and concept of a bakehouse, how back in the 1800s, every rural community had a baker and the bakehouse formed a key role in society. Landour, being a military town during the time of the British here in India, served a real mix of people, from doctors and nurses, to students and servicemen, and even missionaries. People from various walks of life and the world exchanged stories, and even recipes. The poster goes on to mention how they still follow the recipes from the Landour Cookbook and how the cafe was restored to resemble a 19th century kitchen.
This spot was first suggested by a friend who first wanted to take a bunch of us for lunch. Sadly, that did not pan out. However, the name stuck with K and he really wanted to explore this place. He dragged me early one Saturday morning, when I really wanted to sleep in and go for brunch instead. But I ate my words later and was very glad that he got me here for a breakfast date.
Props to him for not just waking up early, but enthusiastically to explore one of the most wonderful cafes in Mussoorie. Why is he like this while on a vacation and not every day? But I can say one thing, few things can match up to the unadulterated joy of tucking into a warm scone, lathered in jam and clotted cream, and staring at the remarkable and majestic Himalayan range.
Tip: Get there as early as possible since it tends to get super busy. So we’ve been told. I did not see any other cafe or restaurant nearby but being in the hills, you can always take a refreshing walk before and/or after your meal here.
Pro tip: Avoid walking around the area with food since there are a lot of monkeys that are only too happy to take them off your hands. I suppose this should count as a general rule.
Feature image is for representation only. It has been sourced from Unsplash and has been captured by John Tecuceanu.