The summer of 2014…new introductions at Salt Water Cafe, Mumbai

This is not an anonymous review and we were guests of Salt Water Cafe. We went to the one at Bandra. The same menu is available at their Churchgate outlet.

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The ‘problem’ with having a 7 year old blog is that you end up writing about your favourite places pretty early on.

For example I had written about Salt Water Cafe way back in 2009. Since then it has consistently remained one of our favourite restaurants in town. We have headed there whenever we have felt like having a feel good meal.

We love the casual, comfortable ambience, the warm welcome that we get from the staff, the food which is plated beautifully and is brilliant to eat. Salt Water cafe for us is a happy place.

Recently I was invited to try out their new summer introductions. Being extremely fond of the place, K and I took up the offer and went there last Saturday.

We went and sat at one of our favourite spots on the ground floor by the big windows. The folks at SWC know that we love those seats and try to give it to us as often as they can even when the restaurant is packed and it is just 2 of us sitting at a 4 to 6 seater. These are the little touches which make one feel so at home.

There is no special ‘summer menu’ as such as we discovered. One of the regular wait staff there took us through the new summer introductions. There was nothing in the drinks section so I went in for a rather bland apple ice tea.

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Rather uncharacteristically I called for a salad. I am not a salad person but the description of crunchy vegetables in a house yogurt dressing and zatar (Rs 290 +) it reminded me of the hung curd based Mediterranean salad that I make. There the salad is packed with hung curd and zatar making the flavours very bold. The hung curd at Salt Water Cafe however was just a faint dressing and the zatar flavours very weak. This was the only dish I sent back unfinished. My ‘problem’ with the salad was that it was too salady!

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The next starter was potato ricotta pea pesto gnocchi (Rs 290 +). I had recently written about how I am not fond of gnocchi and how the one at Indigo disappointed me with its lack of flavours. The dish at Salt Water cafe though is quite a marvel and still has us in its spell. The gnocchi is tube shaped and not spherical here. The ricotta flavours subtle. When combined with the intense cheese sauce the result is stratospheric. The pea pesto is there in bursts and adds a fantastically fresh sense of exuberance to the dish. A sure winner and that too vegetarian.

They have a couple of new lamb mains but given the heat K and I decided to go for the fish instead.

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The first was the ‘grilled pomfret with miso chips and aioli that went to Thailand’ (Rs 550 +). This dish shows what all the fuss about local produce is about. The freshness of the fish and the brilliant flavours made the pomfret just phenomenal. It combined very well with the aioli which is given an inspired Thai touch with a drizzle of fish sauce. Easily the best fish dish I have had in a continental restaurant here which even gives my usual favourite at Salt Water Cafe, the pan seared John Dory, very stiff competition.

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The other fish dish that we tried was the pan seared salmon with kairi sauce mash (Rs 1050). Unlike apna ghar ka pomfret, the imported salmon was lacking in flavour and was rather bland to taste. However it did come together as a dish along with the raw mango, tomato and onion sauce which was more balanced than the much sweeter one at Indigo and the chopped mango salad. Dish to dish, while the salmon is not bad, I would go with the pomfret any day.

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Unfortunately there were no new desserts though I was hoping for something with mangos. I settled for a salted caramel ice cream.

We came back home very happy from Salt Water Cafe but frankly we didn’t expect any less from one of our favourite restaurants.

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