French Oaf... French Loaf, Turner Road, Bandra

I owe it to Kainaz to write this post. In fact the title was her idea.

There is a new shop called The French Loaf which has opened at Turner Road in between Pot Pourri and Birdys.

Avoid it!

It all started when I saw the signage of the new shop coming up and felt like trying out the place.

Your mind begins to wonder when you see a name like The French Loaf written quite aesthetically on a cheerful looking board.

That's the power of advertising - copy and art. And it was ironic that an advertising practitioner like Kainaz and a once dabbler in advertising, if you can call planning advertising, like myself, fell for it.

Like I said, we were both intrigued by the promises of a name like 'French Loaf'. We had these visions of an esoteric bakery from the land of Mary Antoinnette. We were tempted by the promise of rare, ethereal tastes. Of baking brilliance and of culinary highs.

So we went there on Sunday evening.

We were welocmed by a nicely designed board displaying the shop's name. Posters with clever lines and nice layouts on the grass front of the shop... expectations rose.

Then we went into to this fairly tiny shop.

The first thing which hit me were the price of the breads. Sixty five Rupees (1.15 USD) for a loaf of brown bread! They had a buy one get one offer (Clever line 1 - something with breads and double take).

The offer didn't make sense as the loaf was quite big and we would never be able to finish two of them in time. In fact a lady came, bought a loaf and didn't take the free one saying it would not be of use. Only a family like that in the film satte pe satta with Amitabh Bachchan and his ravenous brothers would find this useful. And you don't have too many of those in Bandra with its singletons, happily unmarrieds, DINKS and nuclear families. Know your customer dude!

Selling it at half the price - Rs 35 - would be more reasonable.

We then saw a range of fairly small and ordinary looking pastries at about Rs 70 (1.2 USD) each! None of the pastries called out to us. Very, very pedestrian looking. Definitely not the type to command the price that they had set.

Which left us with the savouries. These too looked fairly dry, flaky and skeletal.

I didn't want to walk out without buying anything as it was a new shop. So I asked for a 'chicken frank foccacia' - Rs 70 (1.2 USD).

The girl at the counter asked us to wait outside while they heated the bread. In fact those manning the shop didn't seem very polished or aware of what was an offer. This was not in sync with an upscale suburb like Bandra. And with the premium positioning, look and pricing of the shop.

'Outside' was two tables, uncleaned, on the searing heat, dust and grime of the Turner Road footpath. That's where we were banished to from the air conditioning inside.

They took an inexplicable ten minutes to heat the ready made foccacia. While we stewed in the heat. I don't know what was the hurry to chase us away from the air conditioned interiors especially if they were going to take that long to reheat what we had ordered. Plus they seemed to have forgotten about us as I had to remind them about our order. Not that they had the sort of crowd which the Candies of the world have.

And how was the seventy Rupee foccacio? The less said the better. Should I just that it was a rip off. Or should I say the bread was stiff and didn't have the soft, herbed heart of focaccio bread? Just a meagre sprinkle of rosemary and that's about it. A bite and you miss it cheese crust. Or should I say cheese dust? And the frank? It was a one inch slice of sausage cut into the thinnest of rings possible.

Kainaz was quite put off as she felt that her evening was spoil. In the spirit of Easter, I tried to tell her to forgive them because they didn't know what they were doing. Not that I could.

And we weren't alone in our pain. There was a couple sitting beside us in the heat who seemed to be quite frustrated. The guy finally went in to give a piece of his mind after they kept getting his order of tea without milk wrong.

Note: I must admit that I haven't tried all their stuff so do let me know if you had an experience to the contrary
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