Love in the cafes of Bandra...Candies, La Folie Lab, Sassy Spoon,Suzette, Gostana, Taj Mahal Tea House
Cafes are our thing and K and I are always on the look out for nice cafes to go to.
Breakfasts ar special for us. As is catching up in the evening in a cafe. We don't go out that often for lunches and dinners in comparison.
We are at our happiest in the cosy cafes of Bandra where we can go for a small bite and a chat before we get back to the routine.
Candies is our favourite as you know if you have been following me for a while. In fact I am writing this piece at Candies. I came here after an early morning meeting today to have fried eggs, toast and a double shot cappuccino before I go to the IFN studio to host the weekly Adda With Kalyan chat show. I often come here in the evenings for a mutton puff and a cappuccino or a green tea.
I was a bit nonplussed when I returned from Italy last month and saw that they had removed the table which I used to write on at Candies. I used to refer to it as 'my desk'. The new table in its place was too tall and narrow and one couldn't write on it.
Then one day I met Allan, the owner of Candies, and told him about my problem.
My table was back the next day as he had promised and this is the second piece that I am writing there.
Another favourite in the evenings is Sassy Spoon near Holy Family Hospital. Sassy Spoon has this service where, if you call them, they send a chirpy chequered Tata Nano car, on the house, to pick you up and drop you back provided you live in Bandra. I have often used this service in the evenings when I am too tired to walk down and don't want to drive down the traffacked roads of Bandra.
Chef Irfan Pabaney, the co-owner of Sassy Spoon, says that I am probably the only person to avail of the service!
We love the scones that they make at Sassy Spoon In the evening. These are buttery, airy, slightly crunchy outside, reminiscent of the picnic tales in the Enid Blyton stories that we have grown up on. Easily the best scones that we have had and leagues ahead of the scones at Churchgate's Tea Centre. They have a great deal going on in the evening at Sassy Spoon where you get a tea or coffee combo along with items such as the scones or croissants ( the Sassy Spoon ones match the Suzette croissants and are way better than Indigo Deli) and other stuff too like French Toasts etc which makes our evening tea both delicious and unbelievably inexpensive. K is happy as they serve her favourite tea, chamomile, here and it's one of the few stand alone cafes (Suzette and Candies are the others) in Bandra which do a good cappuccino. The clotted cream served with scones take 6 hours to make. It's wasted on us but my mom in loves fresh cream and finishes it when she is with us.
We go to Suzette in the evenings occasionally but it is too cramped inside and getting a table is difficult. There's no privacy there as you are packed like tinned sardines inside. However, I just love the hot chocolate at Suzette and, if I am lucky, the delightful croissants that they bake. They make croissants in small batches at Suzette though so they usually get over as the day progresses.
Other than the croissants, they don't have any small or inexpensive bites in Suzette, unlike in a Candies.
Sometimes that's all that you need in the evenings.
We went to the recently opened La Folie Lab at Bandra's Hill Road last week. It's a small place but yet the seating inside is spaced out and bright and you don't feel as cramped there as you do at Suzzette.
They make a most delightfully thick and rich, 72 pc dark, hot chocolate at La Folie. Pretty expensive though so you won't feel too rich after paying for it (Rs 300 plus). The quality matches the best of the hot chocolates that I had in Italy recently (link to hot chocolates in Venice). Pity that one doesn't get the nippy weather of Italy in autumn to go with the La Folie hot chocolate in Bandra.
You don't get much to eat in the evening as they stop serving savoury stuff after 6.30 in the evening at La Folie. They don't stock the macarons that they are famous for here either. They keep eclairs here instead but you don't get them early in the morning. So all you have to go with your drink are big, overly engineered desserts which don't attract us. We miss the petite fours and small bites of Candies. Something which the coffee bars of Italy had too. Specially Scia Scia in Rome. (link to Scia Scia)
We managed to get the last mushroom and Parmesan quiche left at La Folie on our first evening. They bake it fresh after you place your order. The quiche tasted out of the world. The quality of the buttered puff pastry matched the best of what one has tasted in Europe or in Australia. The mushrooms were done right and the sliver of cheese on top was exceptional.
At Rs 300 plus for the really tiny quiche, the price was pretty international too! The taste is exquisite but one quiche will not even fill one, forget sharing which is what we did. As another friend of ours pointed out too, the stuff here can be pretty small at La Folie.
We did like La Folie Lab enough to go back for breakfast a few days later. It was a bit noisy that morning as there was a boisterous group beside us and we had to wait for our food till that table was served. This was explained to us in the beginning by the staff so we were fine with that. Just wish that they had got K and my dishes together like I had instructed.
Restaurants in Mumbai just can't get this right for some reason though Indigo Deli surprised us recently by getting my eggs Benedict and K's poached eggs together one morning when we went there. That too in the morning when most had ordered egg Benedicts in the restaurant. Not an easy order to put together. The eggs were quite delicious.
Coming back to the La Folie Lab breakfast, K liked her scrambled eggs (I had an even more buttery and delicious one though at Sassy Spoon recently but they only open early on Sundays for breakfast). I felt that the promised Parmesan hit could have been stronger in the La Folie eggs. I like the texture of the multi grain bread though K said she would have preferred plain bread.
I was besotted with the the ham and ementhal croissant that I had at La Folie that morning. The croissant was buttery and very indulgent. The quality of the ham and cheese was phenomenal and the flavours epiphanic. Everything came together so brilliantly. It was the most lavish start that I had had to a Sunday in a long time.
One cafe that we didn't like too much was the recently opened Chaayos, a coffee shop inspired,Delhi based, tea bar opened near Bandra's Mehboob Studio. The buzz was a bit too frenetic there. 'Railway platform like' was K's verdict. The food, though cheap, was not good. K hated the thick bread used in the 'home sandwich ' and the fact that there were more raw onions and tomatoes than the promised potatoes in it. To be fair, one of the ladies on the floor saw K's pained expression and repeatedly offered to make the sandwich afresh but K was too hungry to wait. Her green tea (no chamomile here ) tasted like plain hot water.
I didn't mind my green chilli tea at Chaayos but my kheema pao looked oily like old school bakery stuff used to be, tasted rancid and gave me acidity.
We would rather go to the Taj Mahal Tea House and have the bun Maska or basil akuri pav with my choice of Parsi mint tea and the White tea that K likes here. Incidentally they don't have chamomile either.
The Taj Mahal Tea House (nothing to do with the Taj Hotels) is of course way more expensive than Chaayos and the latter is likely work better as a youth hangout ( 2 teas & a snack cost around 700 rs at Taj Tea while 2 teas and 2 snacks cost about Rs 400 at Chaayos). Chaayos is the sort of product that could take the fight to the CCDs of the world to make tea cool again for a younger audience. As a place to sit in though, the Taj Mahal Tea House works better for us.
K is also a big fan of the XVII Tea Room at Pali Naka and feels very at home there. Plus she gets her chamomile tea here.
Talking of cafes, we went back to Arpana's Gostana after ages recently. Love the happy vibes there. They have introduced a new range of teas there which are pretty nice.
I had my old favourite of the steamed beef burger here which is made with buffalo meat now. It tasted just as great as it did the first time I tried it years back.
The best part of going to Gostana is having young Zizou join you at the table. I think he loves you more if you order the beef burger.
If cafes are your thing then Bandra is where you should head to in Mumbai.
Do say hi if you see us there.