When half baked is rather raw…Fat Mans Cafe, Bandra

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Whenever I meet people they ask me ‘so what’s new in town’.

This got me thinking a few days back. I normally stick to our favourites like Ling’s, Candies, Bhojohori, Smokehouse and Saltwater while eating out in Mumbai. Most of the ‘new’ places I try out are at least fifty years old. I rarely go to new restaurants opening in town. They don’t interest me. I feel too lazy to travel. Loads of bloggers write about these but bloggers events organised by PR agencies don’t interest me as they offer an experience which is not what real customers get to experience.

I wondered whether I was losing out by not writing about new places. Maybe I should. So when I read about Fat Mans Cafe on twitter, saw it was well recommended by some tweeps I follow, that someone whom I follow on twitter, is the consulting chef and, most importantly, that it is in Bandra, I decided to drop in and check out the fare.

My mom, K and I went there on Saturday evening.

Fat Mans Cafe is on the Candies Bandra Reclamation lane near Chez Moi. I parked on the main road opposite Lilavati. The cafe is small. About 5 or 6 tables and is air conditioned. The decor a mix of stark white walls and a bit of turquoise blue with the odd poster. Some of the tables had wooded benches which my mom felt would be uncomfortable and like train seats so we went to the corner table which was a bit like a sofa. It was 7.30 pm and fairly full.

We placed our order for a lamb slider which Bhakti, their consulting chef, had recommended to me, cottage cheese burger for mom who wanted something vegetarian and a Nutella shake. The menu is fairly extensive and has mains and breakfast items and desserts too. Pizzas are on the menu but not on offer yet.

About half an hour passed and it was 8 pm and there was no food on the table or even water. We were hungry and antsy.

I went up to the young gentleman, possibly the owner, and asked where our food was. Turned out that the waiter hadn’t told the kitchen about our order. I was fed up and was ready to go to Candies but given mom’s limited eating options we stuck on after listening to profuse apologies and promises of the food coming soon.

You could say that this was a teething trouble of a new place but turns out that we were not the only people facing the hapless service. There were three girls at the table next to us who had ordered main where two dishes came out but not the Bolognese which they cancelled after repeatedly asking for it.
Others faced the problem too as I saw on twitter.
  1. Kalyan Karmakar@Finelychopped 18h After half an hour went and checked on my order at @fatmanscafe & turned out the waiter hadn't given the order to the kitchen!!

  2. Sachin Kalbag@SachinKalbag 18h @Finelychopped Similar problem when we reviewed the place. @FatMansCafe

  3. Kalyan Karmakar@Finelychopped 17h @SachinKalbag @fatmanscafe would have kept waiting if I hadn't asked

  4. tv_wali@tv_wali 17h @Finelychopped @SachinKalbag had the most horrible time today. finally whatever half of the order came was okayish.left hungry after an hr
The owner apologised as did Bhakti.
  1. Kalyan Karmakar@Finelychopped 17h @tv_wali the service charge was a joke for the bad service. Food wasn't exceptional

  2. Bhakti@little_chefB 14h @Finelychopped @tv_wali hey. Sincerely apologise on behalf of the team. If poss, request u to give a 2nd chance to corrct the mistakes.

Bhakti@little_chefB @Finelychopped @tv_wali yes, teething as well as training. I wud think another week, shud make the staff more confident.
  1. FatManSays@FatMansCafe 4h@Finelychopped We are extremely sorry for the mix-up. We hope to have a chance to serve you again.
Well, while one can give time to new restaurants my problem is that the money charged is not discounted at the start in which case one needs to get one’s act ready before the start. Plus they charged a service charge which was a joke given the pathetic service.

How was the food?

The Nutella coffee shake  (Rs 150ish) was the first brought to be brought out and was placed on the table with a thump which, as my mother pointed out, was bad training. The shake was truly phenomenal. The balance of Nutella and coffee just right. Not too sweet or bitter. Chilled just right. It felt really good after the long wait and given the heat outside. This is a winner

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The food wasn’t brought together which was again an indication of poor service. Something many Mumbai restaurants falter on.

The rosemary lamb sliders (Rs 350 ish) left K rather unimpressed and all I liked were the buns which were soft and good. The meat to bread ration was warped and the size of the patty too small compared to the buns. The meat was chewy and not moist at all. They do much better and juicy lamb sliders in Cafe Zoe and lamb burgers in the Smokehouse Deli are phenomenal.

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Mom’s cottage cheese burger (Rs 350 ish) was the last to arrive. They had at least got our instructions right and served with bell peppers and tomato instead of fried onions. The cottage cheese patty was moist which was good but was too oily and the buns were covered with grease which scared mom who is really careful about what she eats. She seems to be comfortable only with The Bagel Shop

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As K summed it up, not a place one wants to return to.

Also at around Rs 950 with service charge for two burgers and a shake it pitched its price at Smokehouse Deli levels without offering neither the great ambience or the fantastic food and great service of Smokehouse. So what’s the pitch then?

See this is why I am loathe to go to new places. Everyone wants to open European joints without getting European food. We are Indians and European food doesn’t run in our blood yet when is the last pohe, missal, kheema pao, Malvani or Parsi food joint opened in Bandra, let alone Mumbai? European food depends so much on good produce too which our local markets are not geared up too. I still miss the great kheema pao that Mocha Mojo did and they got their continental stuff right too. They knew food. Pity they shut down.

I would rather eat at a time tested old fashioned place rather than modern joints that serve stale sushi and soupy pastas.

If that makes me uncool, I’ll live with it. I am too old to waste time and triglyceride counts on mediocre meals.

As far as Fat Mans Cafe is concerned, I know that opening a restaurant is not easy and I hope they get their act right and do well.

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