Mixology, Mystery, and Martinis at Miss T

miss t colaba

MIXOLOGY, MYSTERY, AND MARTINIS AT MISS T

Miss T is seductive, intoxicating, and downright mesmerising. Housed in a beautiful bungalow on a quiet street in Colaba, the restaurant boasts an innovative Asian menu and creative cocktails that showcase fresh ingredients and premium spirits. The ambience is chic, and the vibe is sexy, perfect for #datenight with bae.

Miss T, 4, Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2280 1144/022 2280 115

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

The setting is perfect. We’re in the ‘secret room’, tucked away on the first floor of Miss T. The glimmer from the tea lights bounces off the clear liquid in my mini goblet and multiplies many times over as it reflects on the mirrored walls. The room smells of spiced gin and orange. The conversation swirls around alcohol, entrepreneurs, and puppies.

The drink is the “greatest in the world”, a Gibson Martini prepared by the two acclaimed mixologists sitting across the table. I nurse my cocktail, well aware I look less Brosnan and more Bullock from The Net. I’m wondering if I need to drain my glass quickly before I can get to the pickled onion when Dimi and Meagan* tell me that that is, in fact, the correct way to drink a martini; while it’s still cold.

I don’t need to be told twice.

I bid adieu to the master mixologists and get ready to explore other facets of the mysterious Miss T. Gliding down the stairs, feeling more Brosnan than before, I let the sequinned storks guide me to the ground floor.

Once below, I gravitate towards the lit T-shaped community bar, where Feruzan and Jeremy* hold fort on either side. I join the captivated cluster and watch Jeremy prepare my second drink of the night, a herbaceous gin tipple with a refreshing touch of cucumber, kaffir, and lime. As he talks about the balance of flavours, I notice that the fragrant mixture that fills the glass is just the right quantity. Jeremy uses a tweezer to place a sprig of green aniseed and an edible garnish with a tiger print on the thin layer of foam. This astute attention to detail is the common thread that binds different aspects of Miss T.

The chic interiors evoke a sense of intimacy and set the mood for a sophisticated evening. The spectacular skylight, which streams in diffused light through the leaves during the day, opens out to glowing Chinese lanterns at night. The cosy booths near the entrance can be used as a waiting area but seem ideal for coy conversations and flirtatious knee-touching. The soft lighting, metallic accents, and flickering tea lights at every table create an atmosphere that’s equal parts playful and provocative.

The kitchen runs like clockwork under the watchful eyes of Chef Nikhil, with each plate being executed to perfection. Locally sourced ingredients are used to create Asian dishes with an innovative twist. The crunch of the vegetables in the Vietnamese rice rolls can be heard over the hum of candid conversations. The black sesame ice cream slices through the citrusy flavour of the yuzu tart. I couldn’t possibly eat any more, but my eyes still rove lasciviously over culinary assortments as I walk past a row of occupied booths and tables on my way back to the buzzing bar.

I know it’s the beginning of the end of the night. But it’s also the beginning of a potential long-lasting love affair, one that grows more intense over time and many handcrafted cocktails.

I like Miss T. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.

*Dimi Lezinska is the Beverage Manager at KOKO. Meagan Ashley is a renowned New York-based mixologist. Feruzan B is an acclaimed mixologist and the brand ambassador for Stranger & Sons. All three were present at Miss T for a special event. Jeremy Buck, the Beverage Director at Miss T, leads the team behind the bar and is responsible for creating the unique cocktail menu.

Feature photograph courtesy Miss T

 

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Live A Little At The Quarter

the quarter royal opera house mumbai

LIVE A LITTLE AT THE QUARTER

The Quarter at Royal Opera House is divided into four distinct sections – an al fresco restaurant, an elegant bar, an all-day café, and a live performance space. The menu is mostly Italian and Mediterranean, and the bar serves a host of signature cocktails made with fresh ingredients. Carefully curated nightly gigs include rock bands, jazz legends, and live acts from across the world.

The Quarter, Mathew Road, Royal Opera House, Girgaon, Mumbai 400 004. Phone: 083291 10638

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair

I walk briskly past shuttered shops, away from the railway tracks. The road is deserted, dotted only by strays and the occasional scooter. But up ahead in the distance, I see the shimmering vestiges of an era gone by. I turn left and step through the gates of the splendid Royal Opera House.

There were voices down the corridor

Classic chandeliers beckon through the glass, enticing aromas tantalise my nostrils, but I’m already swaying in anticipation of the music. As I wait behind a renowned plastic surgeon and his patient wife to get my pulse point branded for the night, I hear soft strains, melodic murmurs, and then the opening riff of “Mustang Sally” roaring down the corridor. I’m in for a ride.

Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

I waltz back into the 1950s. Plum-coloured velvet chairs, plush couches, square table tops, chic candle holders, mirrored walls – all that’s missing is Duke Ellington on a vintage piano. But all that jazz doesn’t matter tonight. All eyes are fixed on the elderly gentleman on stage as he speaks tentatively into the mic. It’s working, we say. Then I’ll begin, he says.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

The next few hours are a blur of blow-dried hair, pearl necklaces, and floral blouses. A Bejan Daruwalla lookalike in a Hawaiian shirt twirls his wife in the narrow space between tables. A saree-clad, silver-haired lady jives with her grandson up front. The trio of chorus singers moves in unison, swaying their hips in time with the maracas and tambourine. I feel like I’ve tripped into a gymkhana soiree on steroids.

Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice  

The high doesn’t wear off as the night veers on, the impact of the music and ambience compounded by the potent tipples. My chilled Gateway draught gives way to a herbaceous Quarter G&T before I draw the drinking curtains with a punchy Negroni Frappe. I haven’t even looked at the extensive wine list. I know I have to come back.

You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave

The lead singer belts out Folsom Blues in a faux baritone. Almost-Mr. Daruwalla mops his head and takes a sip of his whiskey. The ladies take a breather before the next dance number. It’s late, and I have a long way to go. I move towards the back of the room to return my glass, but I’m intercepted by an acquaintance who stares at me in disbelief. “It’s only a quarter past 11,” he says. “You can’t leave.”

I only protest once. Then I accept my Old Fashioned and retreat to the shadows to watch Almost-Mr. Daruwalla strut his stuff, patting myself on the back for this risky Friday night move.

What a nice surprise.

Feature photograph courtesy The Quarter

 

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The Craft Brew Guide to Mumbai

craft beer mumbai

THE CRAFT BREW GUIDE TO MUMBAI

WORDS BY KASTURI GADGE

Mumbai has hopped on the craft beer bandwagon, and we think a pitcher is worth a thousand words.

Gateway Taproom

First they created a fan following in the city. Then the brand opened their standalone taproom in Bandra in 2017. It has a wide selection of beers, relaxed décor, and a happy vibe. While there’s always a limited edition beer to sample, regulars swear by the delightful White Zen and the hoppy, dark. A prime location and affordable menu makes finding a table here after work can be difficult, so head early to grab a spot.

Gateway Taproom, BKC, Unit no. 3, Ground Floor, Jet Airways Godrej BKC Building, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051. Phone: 081045 90734.

Verbena Brewpub and SkyGarden

It’s been a while, but this Kamala Mills establishment finally has its brewery up and running. The concise craft beer menu features a basic German recipe along with a refreshing Hefeweizen. What stands out, though, are the Cider and the Jagermeister beer (it isn’t a cocktail; the crafty brewers have managed to develop a powerful flavour profile, just like that of the liquor). A chilled pint in a beautiful rooftop garden is a rare treat in the city, so cheers to that.

Verbena Brewpub and SkyGarden, 4th Floor, Trade View Building, Kamala Mills Compound, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 098206 95034.

Toit Brewery

When the iconic Blue Frog closed, this Bangalore import set up shop in its stead and had to navigate massive expectations from the locals. It managed to exceed them all with its upbeat vibe, comfort food, and heady brews. The beer menu is identical to the Bangalore outpost, including the seasonal beers. From a crisp Basmati bond to a hoppy pale ale, a refreshing witbier to a creamy stout, the menu has it all. Added bonus: they have a pet-friendly section too.

Toit Brewery, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 093245 55223.

Crafters Tap House

The newest member of the craft beer crew, Crafters Tap House is tucked away on the second floor of Powai’s Haiko Mall. The large space, with its stripped-down vibe, is refreshing and unpretentious. The beers on offer include a Pilsner, the easy-going Hefeweizen, and the Belgian Wit along with darker beers like a stout and a dark pilsner. Apart from the beers, there is also a fine selection of Indian spirits worth trying.

Crafters Tap House, Level 01, Haiko Mall, Central Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai Mumbai 400 076. Phone: 080078 85674.

The Beer Café

This bar chain has a menu featuring handpicked brands from all over the world. If you’re lucky, you might find some rare ones. Apart from global brands, they also offer local craft beers on tap. The bright yellow décor is youthful and quirky and the place has a fun vibe.

The Beer Café has multiple outlets at Churchgate, Chakala, Thane, Mulund, Andheri, Mahim, Powai, and Lower Parel. Check the website for details.

The Irish House

Usually heaving with a younger crowd, The Irish House has ‘Irish style’ décor and upbeat music. Their newest space at BKC has a little garden and a wood-fire oven. The menu has a few additions as well. Offering craft beers on tap (including brews from The White Owl, Drifter, Independence, and Erdinger), they also offer international beers presented by brew – lagers, ales, stouts, ciders or wheat.

The Irish House has multiple outlets at BKC, Fort, Malad, Thane, Kurla, Lower Parel, and Bandra. Check the website for details.

Effingut

Another one of the Pune microbreweries that made their way to Mumbai, Effingut found a home in one of the most iconic buildings in Colaba. The house brews lean towards the dark side – a Dunkleweizen, Indian Brown Ale, Citrus Burst IPA – but there’re also a couple of light-bodied beers like Hefeweizen and Kolsch. The junk-meets-funk interiors are extremely Instagram-friendly too.

Effingut, Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005. Phone: 086574 40661.

The British Brewing Co.

Straight from Hampstead, London, The British Brewing Company is a classic Brit  watering hole. The menu offers a wide selection of beers from both domestic and international brands. For craft beer lovers, fine beers from Gateway Brewing Company and The White Owl are on offer. Last year they also collaborated with the Gateway Brewing Company to make a special brew for the brand in India.

The British Brewing Co. has multiple outlets at Vashi, Lower Parel, Marol, Dombivali. Check the website for details.

Royal Oak Brewery

A new addition to Navi Mumbai nightlife is the Royal Oak Brewery. The American diner décor and rock music feel familiar and fun, and their in-house brews can be ordered in up to five-litre barrel size servings! The beers are a mix of German and Belgian origin along with ales like the Rice Blonde Ale, Pale Rye Ale, and Red Ale. If you’re feeling adventurous, try their fruit flavoured beer.

Royal Oak Brewery, Ground Floor, Satra Plaza, Sector 19, Palm Beach Road, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 400 703. Phone: 098331 06180

Kaitlyn's Beer Garden

Kaitlyn’s Beer Garden in Bandra tries to replicate Munich with faux grass and picnic benches. On tap they have a selection of local brews starting with an easy Hefeweizen, going on to a Pale Ale, and then a heady Stout. Kaitlyn’s Beer Garden also has a selection of domestic beers and a few popular international labels.

Kaitlyn’s Beer Garden, 202 Khan House, Hill Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 081042 94735

Feature photograph copyright Cherries - stock.adobe.com. All other photographs courtesy the restaurants.

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Drink Up: A Beer Lover’s Guide To Andheri

DRINK UP: A BEER LOVER'S GUIDE TO ANDHERI

WORDS BY KASTURI GADGE

The rise of the microbreweries has been good news for connoisseurs of craft beer in the city. Taprooms have mushroomed across town over the last couple of years, but it’s safe to say the trend is especially tight in Andheri.  Here’s a list of locals you can hop on over to, say ‘Prost’ to a fresh brew, and skip wearing the lederhosen.

Woodside Inn

ARA1125

Woodside Inn opened its second outpost in Andheri way before the beer revolution hit the town, and its beer and burgers bring all the folks to the yard (They’re so good they have an annual beer and burger festival). A reliably good playlist, great crowd, and extensive beer list make this a great choice whether its Oktoberfest or not. On tap, they serve beers by Gateway Brewing Co, Great State Al,e and some local and international names. If you’re adventurous, keep an eye out for their beer infusion nights where they bring out the Randall for some extra fun with the brews.

Woodside Inn, Shop No. 11 & 12, Link Plaza Commercial Complex, Bhau Tatoba Toraskar Marg, Mhada Colony, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 102. Phone: 022 2632 8963. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 200

Brewbot Eatery & Pub Brewery

Brewbot

We don’t know if bots actually brew the beer, but if they are, they’re doing a great job.  The pub imports all the ingredients from beer capitals like Germany, Belgium, and Australasia, and the beer on offer includes pints of German Kolsch, a French-style Apple Cider, a crowd-pleasing Hefeweizen, and a full-bodied British-style stout. Put that down on a table in a fun space that has natural light by day and plays with Edison lights at night and who wouldn’t say ‘ja’ to that?

Brewbot Eatery & Pub Brewery, G-01 & 101, Off New Link Rd, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 93260 72768. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 175

The Finch

Their tagline is ‘Rhythm and Brews’, and The Finch has been on every music lovers radar since they opened. Live music performances by performers – fresh, familiar, and sometimes famous – have always drawn the crowds in, but the latest draw is a microbrewery that’s been on the cards right from the start. Their craft beer menu includes a Belgian Wit, an Indian Pale Ale, a Nitro Stout, a Cider, and a Hefeweizen.

The Finch, Shah Industrial Estate, Opposite to Huntsman Building, Saki Vihar Road, Andheri (e), Mumbai 400 072. Phone: 080559 92993. A pint of beer: Starting Rs. 355

Independence Brewing Company (IBC)

Independence Brewing Co

On a more serious note, the beers on offer at IBC are seriously good. One of the country’s first craft beer companies, the Pune brewery came to Mumbai at the behest of city fans who sampled their beers and wanted more. It was initially available only in a couple of neighbourhood bars, and this is their first stand-alone taproom. Expert advice: one trip won’t be enough, as they have an elaborate selection that’s worth exploring. Start off with an easy going Belgian Wit, move on to a Pilsner, get a little heady with the Four Grain Saison, and call it a night with the creamy nitro stout Ixcacao.

Independence Brewing Company, 41, Citi Mall B, 001 & 101, Link Rd, Veera Desai Industrial Estate, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 022 2639 9065. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 175

The Stables

This equestrian-themed pub promises to add a little glam to the life of office goers in Andheri East with its luxe interiors and free popcorn. They don’t horse around with the beer menu either. An elaborate list of craft beers from the city are available here in 330ml to a 3-litre serving option, and they’re opening an in-house beer garden very soon too.

The Stables, The Peninsula Redpine, Near Airport Road Metro Station, Andheri (e), Marol Mumbai 400 069. Phone: 9820647072 Drinks for two: Starting Rs. 300

Doolally Taproom

Doolally- Belgian Witbier - India Pale Ale IPA- Pic Credit Kavita Narwani

Doolally, Pune’s first microbrewery, had become the Mumbaikar’s weekend pilgrimage, so news of them opening outposts in Mumbai was greeted with great cheer. On their opening night, the taps ran dry. Today, there’s a Doolally in pretty much every neighbourhood.  The brightly lit décor, comfort food, and good selection of board games cater to a troop of happy regulars. We recommend sampling  their Weitber, Pale Ale, or Oatmeal stout to begin.

Doolally, C18-21 Dalia Industrial Estate Near, Fun Republic Road, Off New Link Road, Veera Desai Industrial Estate, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 074001 71674. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 300

Sammy Sosa

When Sammy Sosa opened in 2008, a big draw was their beer menu that featured 45 international beers. This Mexican restaurant remains popular with families, and it’s bright, cheery, and a great place to clink glasses across generations. Their beer list will have something for everyone. There’s a tequila-flavoured Mexican beer Amigo, an intense one called Shepherds Neame, and the Leffe Fruitesse that is a hit with non-beer drinkers.

Sammy Sosa, Meera Tower, Shop No 18, Link Rd, Oshiwara, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 058. Phone:  098336 66555 A pint of beer: starting Rs. 175

Barrel & Co

Barrel and co

Barrel & Co is only a year or so old and a little different from the rest. Launched by a bevy of Bollywood stars, it’s known for its happening parties and an aura of glitz. If you want a change from your usual, this is the place. Their in-house brewery offers a medium bodied Bavarian brew. They also have a selection of beer cocktails where mixologists use house beers and get adventurous with their recipes.

Barrel & Co, 2, Link Rd, Industrial Area, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 047. Phone: 098838 34567. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 250

Feature photograph copyright puhhha - stock.adobe.com. All other photographs courtesy the restaurants.

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12 Hours In And Around Lower Parel

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND LOWER PAREL

WORDS BY KRUTI DALAL

Tall, crumbling chimneys peek out between sleek office towers. Vibrant chawls, once home to the city’s mill workers, are dwarfed by glass high-rises with swimming pools. Sloping, wooden beams lend support and character to new restaurants built inside skeletal textile mills. You’re never too far away from a physical reminder of Lower Parel’s former glory. This is where the old and new co-exist, and spending a day here is akin to a roller coaster ride that dips you into the past and then accelerates you into the future. Strap in for the ride.

9:00 a.m.

Option A – La Folie Patisserie

If you shut your eyes, soak in the sunshine and inhale the aroma of freshly ground coffee, you could be in Paris. Open your eyes and you’re seated at the little nook by the window at La Folie Patisserie, watching the early office bunch trickle in, dreaming about Eggs Benedict. A few things to remember: you can’t share the croissant because it’s too flaky to cut; don’t be surprised to see copious amounts of avocado in your Avo Bowl; everything off the griddle is worth the wait, especially the Belgian waffles with Nutella and maple coulis.

La Folie Lab, Unit no. 10, Trade World 'B', Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 096999 93350. Opens at 8 a.m. daily

Option B – D:OH

Green chairs, comfort food and a quick game of Scrabble – D:OH is the perfect embodiment of starting your day right. The airy, sunlit cafe offers fuss-free breakfast favourites like French Toast, Banana Pancakes, and Akuri. Hash browns are crispy and buttery, and the coffee feels like home. Time saved by the concise breakfast menu can be spent wisely in front of the beer display.

D:OH, Ground Floor, Unit 2B, Trade View, Kamala City, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 6237 2829. Opens at 9 a.m. daily

Lower Parel Guide_004

Option C – Poornima

Get in the thick of the action by leaving Kamala Mills and making your way down Tulsi Pipe Road to Poornima. An outpost of the iconic eatery in Fort, this non-descript South-Indian joint is where the locals fuel up for the manic day ahead. You’ll find corporate workers, bank managers, and mill workers tucking into Mangalore buns, rasam vada, and onion uttapams while students share a single plate of sheera. You can’t go wrong with Poornima’s quick service and dependable food. No bad morning ever started with pudi dosa and lassi.

Poornima, Shop No 9, 237- A, Rustam Handere Building, Opp. Peninsula Lower Parel Compound, Ganapatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013. Phone: 022 2495 7600. Opens at 8 a.m. (closed on Sundays)

11:00 a.m.

Option A – Piramal Museum Of Art

Once you’ve demolished your pudi dosa, just cross the busy road and waltz into Peninsula Corporate Park with a full tummy. Walk into the central atrium of the Piramal Tower to find refuge from all the corporate humdrum. The Piramal Museum of Art is one of only two private art museums in the city and is luckily unknown to most tourists. The private art collection of Ajay and Swati Piramal boasts works by Akbar Padamsee, Jehangir Sabavala, MF Husain, FN Souza, and many others. The venue has an active calendar filled with regular thematic art exhibitions, talks, workshops, and seminars, as well as a tiny shop selling gift items.

Piramal Museum of Art, B Wing, Ground Floor, Piramal Tower, Peninsula Corporate Park, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 3046 6981

Lower Parel Guide_002

Option B – Trilogy Bookstore and Library

Follow the signboards in the Raghuvanshi Mills Compound until you reach the tiny slice of sunlit heaven known as Trilogy. Apart from the usual literary fare, this library/bookshop stocks graphic novels, rarer titles, coffee table books, and illustrated material. If you get lost inside the book labyrinth, follow the neon Post-Its with hand-written recommendations from the owners, members, and regular customers. They have an extensive children’s section as well as a separate library membership for the tiny tots.

Trilogy, 1st floor, Building No. 28, Above Mercedes Service Center, Raghuvanshi, Mills Compound, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 080805 90590

1:00 p.m.

Option A – Pravas

If you’re ready for an indulgent meal, Pravas will take you on a culinary journey to Gujarat. The only restaurant in the city centred around a railway theme, Pravas offers the experience of dining inside a recreated train compartment, albeit a rather ornate one. Choose between the unlimited thali, traditional Gujarati snacks, and token street food and top up the meal with a bowl of Locha Mohanthal. If not for the view outside, you could well be aboard the Palace on Wheels.

Pravas, Gate No. 4, Beside Smaaash, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 3997 1887

Option B – Jai Hind Lunch Home

Jai Hind Lunch Home has been saving corporate lunchgoers for many years now. Like its other branches, the Lower Parel outlet of this dependable chain serves spectacular seafood dishes. Regulars swear by the stuffed bombil and prawns Koliwada, vegetarians order repeats of sol kadi. Peak hours could mean a substantial wait, sharing your table with other eager eaters, and shouting above the din to communicate with your companions. But proceed with patience and you won’t be disappointed.

Jai Hind Lunch Home, 7/8, Madhav Bhuvan, 'B' Block, Opposite Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai, 400 013. Phone: 022 2493 0010

Lower Parel Guide_006

Option C – 1 Tablespoon Pizza Kitchen

When you’re at Todi Mill during lunch hour, it’s tempting to ignore all the fledgeling eateries and head straight to the bigger names. Dare to digress and you will be rewarded with the most delicious pizza in the vicinity. 1 Tablespoon Pizza Kitchen has little more than one table and just about enough chairs to accommodate a medium-sized group, but the menu runs for pages. With names like Ciao Chili, Blowing Fire, and Maillard Reaction, every pizza sounds promising. When the thin crust pizza arrives at your table crisped to perfection and loaded with toppings, you know they also deliver on their promises.

1 Tablespoon Pizza Kitchen, Unit 1, The New Mahalaxmi Silk Mills Premises, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Between Zaffran & Cafe Zoe, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 075064 33908 

3:00 p.m.

Option A – Clue Hunt

After lunch, you can shake off the lethargy and engage in a stimulating activity like Clue Hunt. A “room escape” game littered with clues to help solve a mystery in under 60 minutes, Clue Hunt tests your logical skills and ability to work with a team. You can choose between three mysteries: The Stolen Painting, The Diamond Maze, and The Lock-up Mystery. One hour in a closed room, racing against the clock to break free and all traces of lethargy will disappear.

Clue Hunt, Ground Floor, CD House, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Behind Cafe Zoe, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2499 9165

Option B – BARO

If you’d rather give in to your full-belly laziness, take a leisurely stroll over to BARO. Browse through their eclectic collection of furniture, admire the Suzani armchair, intricate Rajasthani phads, vintage lampshades, and lacquered steel trunks. Sink into a couch and curl up next to Laila or Maya. Owner Srila Chatterjee’s dogs know the cosiest spots in the house.

BARO, 12, Sun Mill Compound, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 4034 4888

baro srila chatterjee siddharth sirohi

4:30 p.m.

Option A – Blue Tokai

The heady aroma at Blue Tokai is enough to awaken you from your mid-day stupour. Sift through the menu offering cappuccinos, affogatos, and almond croissants before deciding on at least two items. Watch the roastery in action through round glass windows on Wednesdays and Sundays. On other days, you can just concentrate on your cortado and mumble “I love coffee” into your cup.

Blue Tokai, Unit 20-22, Laxmi Woollen Mill, Opposite Khazana Furniture, Off Dr. E Moses Road, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai 400 011. Phone: 098200 95887

Lower Parel Guide_003

Option B – The Rolling Pin

If you’re not as finicky about your coffee but go all Masterchef while dissecting your dessert, then The Rolling Pin is the right place for you. On a diet or not, it’s impossible to remain immune to the fragrance of freshly baked goodies. Choose from over 40 types of cakes, tarts, brownies, fudge, and cookies and watch the pastry chefs roll croissants on white worktops while you wait for your coffee. With its mind-boggling variety and vibrant displays, The Rolling Pin could well be the modern version of Hansel and Gretel’s house. No need to leave a breadcrumb trail, the aromas will lead you right back. Pro Tip: Order everything mango on the menu during the summer months.

The Rolling Pin, 12, Janta Industrial Estate, Opposite Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 4610 4610

Option C – Zen Cafe

Zen Cafe is Lower Parel’s best-kept secret. Located on the mezzanine floor of a furniture store inside a compound filled with similar shops, this vegetarian café is often ignored for more obvious options. The perfect spot for a quick catch-up with a friend or a leisurely date with your current literary flame, Zen Cafe exudes laid-back vibes and churns out top-notch cappuccinos. The couches are inviting and the staff is patient with freelancers, lovers, and bookworms.

Zen Cafe, at the Mezzanine of ICasa, Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2498 4825

6:00 p.m.

Option A – Matterden CFC

Matterden CFC is a restored building with an open courtyard, red-tiled roof, and two white elephants. The erstwhile Deepak Cinema was spruced up a few years ago and now screens classics of world cinema, offbeat films, and documentaries, all for under Rs. 125. Grab a packet of popcorn and sink into one of the recently upholstered red seats to enjoy some Kieslowski, Kiarostami, or Kurosawa.

Matterden CFC, 38, NM Joshi Marg, BDD Chawl, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2492 3399

matterden-cinema-deepak

Option B – Sitara Studio

Sitara Studio is a tiny, tiny venue for arts and culture in a narrow alley on the fringes of Lower Parel. Weaving through the evening crowds, dodging handcart pullers, and asking chaiwallas for directions is a crucial component of the Sitara experience. A relatively new entrant on the scene, Sitara didn’t quite announce its entry with a big bang. The venue usually hosts offbeat theatre and music performances and offers its mezzanine space for rehearsals. Check the schedule before going. There’s not much else to do on non-performance days apart from admiring the street art and enjoying a steaming cup of tea from the chaiwalla at the corner.

Sitara Studio, Garage Galli, Kakasaheb Gadgil Marg, Opposite Indiabulls Finance Centre, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 1666

8:00 p.m.

Option A – Ambience

It can be daunting to choose from over 40 watering holes in a 2-mile radius, so go by what suits your mood. And your wallet. If you’re feeling rather stingy and don’t quite want to scan through pages and pages of cocktails, head to Ambience. A favourite with the journalists, technicians, and crew of news channels housed in the vicinity, this local dive under the flyover can no longer be called dingy after a recent renovation, but it still retains some of its coarse glamour. Come here on a Friday night to sip on Old Monk and coke, chomp on paneer chilly, and pick up juicy tidbits about the television news industry.

Ambience Bar & Kitchen, 162/D, Jagdamba Bhavan, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2498 5654

Option B – The White Owl

One of the earliest entrants on the micro-brewing scene, The White Owl is often ignored these days in favour of the new kids on the block. Their craft beer is made in small batches and is devoid of any preservatives. Depending on your ale palate, you can choose from Diablo (Irish red ale), Ace (apple cider), Spark (Belgian wit), and a few others and see the brewing equipment set up behind glass walls at the back of the bistro. They also serve delicious finger food, salads and sandwiches.

The White Owl, One Indiabulls Center, Tower 2 Lobby, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2421 0231

Option C – The Tasting Room

If wine pairing is as crucial to you as the meal itself, then you’ll find your tribe at The Tasting Room in Raghuvanshi Mills. Housed inside Good Earth, this restaurant has a wine-only drinking list and décor straight out of an anniversary issue of Architectural Digest. The setting is apt for long-flowing conversations over red wine sangria and tiny tasting plates of stuffed brioche and smoked salmon. If you aren’t swaying merrily by the end of dinner, stop at the small bookstore near the entrance for a quick browse.

The Tasting Room, 1st Floor, Good Earth, Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 6528 5284

Lower Parel Guide_005

Option D – Pa Pa Ya

Walking into Pa Pa Ya feels like you’ve entered an atom in the middle of a chemical reaction. Pretty apt, considering this upscale eatery showcases the finest masterpieces of molecular gastronomy in the city. From the hexagonal light fixtures casting shadows on deep red walls to the chocolate ball that melts away to reveal sweet surprises, everything at Pa Pa Ya has a touch of drama. The Sushi Matrix, a platter of 19 types of sushi, is dramatic just by virtue of size. The potent lemongrass infused vodka could have theatrical repercussions. It’s ironic however that the most exciting course is the one between formal courses – the amuse bouche of rambutan sorbet served in faux oyster shells in a bowl of liquid nitrogen.

Pa Pa Ya, Level 3, Palladium Mall, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 088280 31900

Feature photograph by Superfast1111 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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The Secret Life Of Café New York

cafe new york

THE SECRET LIFE OF CAFÉ NEW YORK

Café New York is an Irani restaurant in Gamdevi that serves Continental, Chinese as well as traditional Parsi food. Highlights include a jukebox that churns out retro numbers and drinks that don’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Café New York, 44, Dhabolkar Building, Hughes Road, Mumbai 400 007 Phone: 022 2363 2876

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

On the corner of Hughes Road and Pandita Ramabai Marg in South Bombay

stands Café New York, one of the oldest Parsi cafés in the city. Unlike traditional Irani joints however, this one houses a secret – it leads a double life.

Upon first glance, Café New York appears perfectly normal – closely placed square tables with chequered cloths, menus under glass table tops, and wide doors left open to allow the sea breeze to waft in from Marine Drive. There is a small air-conditioned section, but why sit there when there’s a rare functional jukebox on the other side of the wall? From old nostalgic Bollywood songs to upbeat Beatles, you can find them all here. Pair those tunes with some delicious akuri or a burger and you’ve got yourself a zen day. It isn’t rare to find a family here arguing over what to order, or a partially deaf old man reading the newspaper and chatting with the staff about politics. On more than one occasion, I’ve just stood outside the café and marveled at the scenario being played out inside.

cafe new york gamdevi

But this café’s secret lives directly above it. I discovered it when I was supposed to meet some friends at the café but found no one there on my arrival. A quick phone call told me to go upstairs. I was baffled, because I didn’t even know there was an “upstairs”. After an awkward conversation with the staff, I found myself apprehensively climbing up a narrow, dimly lit staircase in the corner. I opened the door at the top of the stairs and was blasted with the ending refrain of a Dire Straits song. I knew right then that I loved this place.

Stepping inside did nothing to dilute this impression. Dark wood filled the room and my vision. From the bar to the pillars to the furniture – everything was a deep shade of brown. Wooden shutters filtered the harsh noon sun, making it more mellow and serene. This is it, I thought. This is the kind of place the Beatniks drank in, where the Lost Generation gathered to write. I could see myself here, sitting by a window, reading, working, catching up with a friend – everything I would eventually do several times over the next few years.

cafe new york

Over the course of these numerous visits, I have also explored the menu thoroughly. Different from the café classics downstairs (but similar in its inclusion of various cuisines), this menu is just as delicious. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I haven’t ordered their nachos. Jalapeño nacho chips with peppers, gravy boats of melted cheese, and salsa? I’ll be damned if I refuse. Then there’s the crispy fish and chips, quesadilla, paprika chicken, and creamy lasagna. I’ve never left Café New York disappointed with a meal. The bar offers a variety of drinks and cocktails, which I imagine must liven up the nights they screen football and cricket matches. But it’s the quiet afternoons I love the most, when the hours seem to melt away to the beat of classic rock music playing in the background.

Photographs by Suruchi Maira

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Beer, Bhut Jolokia, And Board Games At Doolally

doolally taproom house fries

BEER, BHUT JOLOKIA, AND BOARD GAMES AT DOOLALLY

Doolally Taproom is a microbrewery from Pune that has four outlets in Mumbai. It has beers such as Belgian witbier, oatmeal stout, weizenbock, porter and more on tap and opens at opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast. All the Doolally outlets are pet friendly.

Doolally Taproom; Bandra: Shop No. 5 & 6, Geleki, ONGC colony, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050; Andheri: C18-21, Dalia Industrial Estate, Near Fun Republic Mall, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053; Kemps Corner: 1st Floor, 135 Kwality House, Kemps Corner Flyover, Mumbai 400 036; Colaba: Ground Floor 1, Plot 75/77, Park House, Nathalal Parikh Marg, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005.

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

“So?” I finally ask him. He’s been sipping on his witbier without breaking the conversation. Surely four sips are enough for my new Belgian friend to proclaim his verdict. Even a whiff should suffice! After spending nine days on the Zanskar dreaming about fresh brews and debating about the best ale-producing countries in the world, we’re finally having some suds. “Oh. It’s very nice,” he says, “but these fries are out of this world! They’re Belgian too actually, you know? Not French.”

That’s the thing with Doolally Taproom. You walk in for the artisanal brews, and chances are you will return for those and more: in my friend’s case the house fries with five accompaniments, including a lip-smacking aioli and mayonnaise made with the deadly bhut jolokia chilly. Chances are you won’t see a single table sans this signature dish on a Saturday night. Techies, corporates, artists, hipsters, and students – you’ll find them all here, nodding away to Bob Marley while dithering between the American Pale Ale and Hefeweizen.

Chances are you will bump into me at one of Doolally’s four outlets over the weekend as well. Doolally is what my home looks like in an alternate universe – a warm, sparse space with French windows, unpretentious white walls, and light wood furniture where you can pet dogs and stack Jenga blocks all evening while sipping crisp apple cider.

Chances are you will sign up as a member, which entitles you to a free size upgrade on every drink and your personalized nametag on the tumbler. Which means it would be a crime to skip that mid-week tipple.

Now that we’re here, one apple cider please.

Feature photo by Suruchi Maira.

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Infusing The Daily With Dramatic Concoctions

the daily bar and kitchen bandra

INFUSING THE DAILY WITH DRAMATIC CONCOCTIONS

The Daily Bar & Kitchen is a restaurant and bar in Bandra. Its bar menu contains the usual beer, wine, and spirits as well as a diverse list of interestingly-named cocktails such as Bombay Nasty, El Presidente, and Zombie.

The Daily Bar & Kitchen, Ground Floor Behind Shoppers Stop, SV Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 99204 46633

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

You know how when you’re in your 20s all your night-outs mesh together into one big, boozy blur? Somehow, through all of that, every evening spent on the wooden benches at The Daily Bar & Kitchen remains distinct in my memory.

Like the time I bumped into Nargis Fakhri bouncing to Bieber under the dim yellow lights. Or when a sashed bride-to-be begged the only good-looking bloke in our merry bunch to hand over his shirt. Or when we ended up at a stranger’s one-room apartment with a bunch of other strangers after being kicked out at 1:30 a.m., plastic cups and all.

It’s always the same. The evening starts off mellow, with the intention of “catching up over a few drinks”, and quickly snowballs into a night to remember (or not). Blame it all on the cocktails that are as visually stimulating as they are… well, stimulating. Think dry ice, smoke trapped in glass bottles and petals on frothy surfaces.

The gin-infused Bees Knees will have you falling in love with sultry summer days, and a Wrong Turn could take you straight to a pecan-wooded Hawaii. Even a flu is no excuse to refrain from drinking at The Daily. Just ask for a hot toddy next time you’re under the weather and you’ll see. Sometimes, the best stuff isn’t even on the menu.

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Save Your Date At Café Zoe

cafe zoe lower parel alibaug cafe zoe theatre

SAVE YOUR DATE AT CAFÉ ZOE

Café Zoe is a restaurant and bar in Lower Parel. In addition to its regular lunch and dinner menu, it serves breakfast and brunch till 5 p.m., has an extensive alcohol menu, and hosts Theatre Nights with live plays. There is a branch of the restaurant located in Alibaug as well.

Café Zoe, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2490 2066

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

“This is perfect for a date.”

My brain has no memory of the last time I sat across a table with amorous intentions, but that doesn’t hinder my gray matter from being blinded by red every time I step into Café Zoe. Maybe it’s the sunlight that streams in strategically through the glass panels in the ceiling. Maybe it’s the dim bulbs that dangle over the island bar. Maybe it’s the “Sangria blushing” pitcher that always leaves me chipper and chatty. Whatever the reason, I’m convinced that Café Zoe hasn’t seen a single disastrous date.

When the evening starts with a chilled Estrella Damm, gets naughty after a “dirrrty martini”, and peaks post Pimm’s, it’s obvious that spirits will be in direct competition with the super high ceilings. At Zoe, the wine is always crisp, the rim is always perfectly salted, and the Irish coffee doesn’t scrimp on the Irish. Family, friends, colleagues, classmates, roommates, acquaintances, relatives – I’ve shared pitchers, swapped stories, giggled, and guffawed with them all around the bar over the past five years. The last time I was there for some rosé, I finally had an epiphany.

“This is pretty much perfect.”

Feature photo courtesy Café Zoe

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Alps Beer Bar Is Colaba’s Best Kept Secret

alps beer bar restaurant colaba

ALPS BEER BAR IS COLABA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET

In a narrow Colaba bylane is Alps, a restaurant and bar with a greasy food menu and chilled, cheap beer. It’s located well enough – right behind the Taj and around the corner from Bademiya – to be accessible, but also hidden well enough to always have tables available when you need to step out of the crowds of Colaba Causeway.

Alps Beer Bar, Roosevelt House, Ground Floor, Nowroji Furdonji Road, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2204 5042

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

When you feel too old for Gokul, too local for Leopold’s, and too broke for Social, then you know it’s time to hit the Alps. Probably the most affordable, least frequented, and only dedicated beer bar in Colaba, Alps Beer Bar and Restaurant has been ignored for over 40 years in favour of the new, modern watering holes that spring up every year. I sauntered past the pale yellow wall, hanging money plants, and distinct red and white signs for most of my adult life, always wondering about it, but never entering. Now I wish I’d pushed open that bulky, blood red door much earlier.

In some ways, Alps is like Café Universal’s cooler, hipper, young(ish) sibling. The Beatles walk across freshly painted walls and Slash watches you chug beer with his unwavering gaze. Low hanging, dim lights recreate the atmosphere of a boxing club. The only television screen, strategically placed near the cash counter, shows live soccer, cricket and even kabaddi matches (ask the cashier and his friends nicely).

In terms of the menu, the beer is chilled and cheap, the fried food is greasy and extensive, and the sizzlers aren’t all sound and no substance. The servers don’t hover, and you’ll always find a table here, even on a Saturday night.

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