12 HOURS IN AND AROUND LOWER PAREL
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.
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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