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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The new cafe on the block

There is a new cafe and bakery that's just opened about two months ago and it's in an unlikely area - Worli - where it's not going to be inundated by the tourists anytime soon, (unlike Cafe Mondy's, Leopold, the Baristas or Cafe Coffee Days). This is mainly because it's not on any Lonely Planet guide yet and Worli doesn't see as many tourists loitering around.

Well, good for locals like me, but not good for business I suppose!

But, this new addition to Mumbai's leisure hangouts, is so refreshingly different - the Banyan Tree Bakery & Cafe has a huge banyan tree overlooking its outdoor seating area, hence the name. It's got wooden tables, with orchids placed in vases, on every table. A soothing waterfall - that tumbles over a fountain that's shaped in the form of leaves. All this on the outside.

On the inside, the wooden flooring, the cane chairs with cane and glass-topped tables, the old fashioned gas lamps, the divan in the corner with throw cushions is just the ideal place to curl up with a good book. A ceiling fan, imported from Italy that absolutely gels with the decor and the name of the cafe because the blades are intricately shaped like...well.. a leaf! This is a made-to-order piece and the attention to detail shows. It was almost the first thing that caught my eye, the first time I stepped in.

So, if you want to discover a new place and get some downtime all by yourself - or curl up with a good book or actually hear what your loved one has to say - without all the usual cacophony around you - then this is the place to go to. It's where you actually feel you can unwind in pleasant silence.

The first time I was there, there was just the soft cadences of Italian songs giving me company, the second time, just the soothing fountain and the beat of bass of some English song, which barely registered. That's what I like, the buzz is just low-key enough without taxing anyone's nerves.

While this is a cafe, so by definition, it doesn't do a 'proper' lunch or dinner but I would recommend their Black Forest Cold Coffee. They do have a line-up of pastries like strawberry cheesecake, cherry muffins, brownies, chocolate mud pies, doughnuts etc, what shouldn't be missed is their sandwiches.

The breads (a variey of them are available: like, rye, whole wheat, multigrain, pita, masala, French baguette) are baked right there at the cafe, which has its own bakery. So, the bread is fresh and soft, and you can take away loaves, for your next day's breakfast. Believe me, the whole wheat bread I tried was a melt-in-your-mouth experience, especially, when you have hot butter to help it slide it down your throat.

But don't count on efficient service because I think the staff is still finding their feet and there should be more supervision over the quality of service provided. After all, the food is anything but cheap. You get the feeling at times, that they are just moving around aimlessly, when they should be getting your order instead.

You may find yourself standing in front of the pastry counter, having placed your order but the staff is taking their own time about getting it for you. The proprietor is a young woman with no real experience of running a cafe and so I feel she should hire professionals to run the place for her.

But all in all, don't skip Mumbai without visiting this new haven, and you can find it here: Krishna Worli Sagar, Ground Floor, Shop No. 10, JN Palkar Marg, Opp Podar Hospital, Worli, Mumbai. Tel no: 022 64527222

Written for www.msn.co.in

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