Dolcemi Delivers Authentic Italian Confectionary


dolcemi italian sweets


Dolcemi, a dessert kitchen in Bandra, is the brainchild of an Italian jewellery designer and Indian entrepreneur. Confections such as tiramisu, biscotti, semifroddo, gelato, mousse, and more can be picked up from their base or delivered to your doorstep via delivery apps. Orders have to be placed before 2 p.m. on the previous day.

Phone: +91 90290 17000 (from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday)


Everybody knows that dolce means sweet in Italian and that Anita Ekberg was really living the good life when she waded into that Roman fountain in her legendary black dress. But dolce is also an Italian musical term – an indication to play an instrument in a tender, adoring manner; to play a chord sweetly, with a light touch. That is what Dolcemi’s tiramisu does – it caresses your palate gently, the subtle sweetness melting on your tongue. The coffee liqueur diffuses into your throat, leaving behind a warm glow instead of the familiar burning sensation. You have to close your eyes and mouth to hold on to the feeling of being in sunny Sicily before it evaporates.

The pastina de mandorla elicits a similar reaction, accompanied by a deep, content sigh possible only in the absence of guilt. The small almond biscuits – crispy on the outside with a condensed centre – are dairy-free and gluten-free. For those who crave all year for marzipan sweets, Dolcemi’s soft dough pastry is Christmas come early.

Chocolate lovers have a long list of unusual suspects to choose from, but one item stands out. The chocolate salami may sound suspicious to vegetarians, but what looks like black pudding is a log of semi-frozen dark chocolate dotted with tiny pieces of biscotti. The specks, although substantial, aren’t quite enough to grasp the incredible nature of the Italian classic.

Luckily, Dolcemi offers 100gm biscotti packets and four tempting options, including the newly introduced walnut and gianduja.

Just scanning the luscious menu is enough to cause acute cravings and intense confusion at the same time. What’s certain, however, is that to live the good life in Mumbai, you need a certain amount of foresight and Dolcemi on your speed dial. Order early, then sit back to dream about an Italian summer. All dolce things are worth waiting for.

Feature photograph courtesy Dolcemi



Give Thanks For Gaylord Bakery


gaylord bakery


Gaylord is an iconic restaurant at Churchgate that has a bakery attached to it. It serves a wide range of breads and savoury baked goods such as pizza and quiche, as well as cakes, pastries, and pies. It’s apple pie, in particular, is delicious.

Gaylord, Mayfair Building, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 2282 125


First, let me clarify that I have never entered Gaylord the restaurant, just three steps beyond your destination; for years, Gaylord the bakery has held my troth.

Walk in and take a deep breath. Let the food air in, and the (dieting) fad air out. Admire the display of sugar’s most magnificent heirs and use your handkerchief to mop the corners of your slavering mouth.

If you don’t like sweets, focus all your energies on living a good and pious life henceforth and hope to be reborn as someone who does. To help you bear the cross of your dessert-less existence, you are permitted to select a quiche. The quiche is good.

But if you are one of the gentlefolk who has sweet teeth that will one day make way for sweet dentures, ask for a slice of apple pie. Gaylord giveth with both hands: it offers a sticky, squelchy, open pie as well as one endowed with cashews and cinnamon, protected by a blanket of crumbly pastry. Know that I will judge you according to your choice; there is only one correct option*.

State your selection to one of the no-nonsense cashiers who roll their eyes when a customer has too many questions or takes too long to decide. These men (who get to inhale whiffs of pie all day) will ask you life’s two most important questions: “Having it here? Heat it up?”

Collect your warm slice of heaven and toddle over to the seating area where weighty, carved stone chairs dare you to drag one of them back and sit at the marble-topped table.

Plunge spoon into pie. Lift spoon to mouth. Goodbye.

*The correct option is, buy one to eat, pack one for home. Nothing less will do.



Buy Kulfi By The Kilo At Rajesh Ice Cream

rajesh ice cream kulfi borivali


Amidst the shops selling shoes, fabric, and imitation jewellery in Goyal Shopping Centre is Rajesh Ice Cream, a 35-year-old shop famous for its kulfi. You can buy kulfi by the dozen and by the flavour, or a kilo of the “mix”: an amalgamation of malai, kesar, pista, raspberry, kaju-draksh, mango, and anjeer kulfi.

Rajesh Ice Cream, Goyal Shopping Centre, Opposite Borivali Railway Station, Lokmanya Tilak Road, Sundar Nagar, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 092; Phone: 022 2880 6432 / 2889 3462


Before the high rises, the golden pagoda, and Mumbai’s first Ikea store, Borivali was just another western suburb. Tourists came to visit the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Gorai Beach, Esselworld, and Water Kingdom. Locals preferred to throng the nondescript Goyal Shopping Arcade. Goyal, as it is popularly known, enjoys special status on account of its proximity to Borivali railway station. A repository of prêt-à-porter, shoes, imitation jewellery, fabric, and lingerie, it houses a hospital and several eating joints as well. And it is also home to the 35-year-old Rajesh Ice Cream.

My father first took me to Rajesh Ice Cream many summers ago. He bought me a chocolate cone while he chose a generic kulfi. This was in the pre-set top box era when the store had advertisements running on Borivali’s local cable channels featuring video footage of overeager customers clambering over the store front for a kulfi candy or slice. For years, shopping trips to Borivali West that involved negotiating the maze in Goyal promised a reward: a kulfi or two from Rajesh Ice Cream. The humble kulfi is an inheritance from the Mughal Empire; rich, creamy, and flavourful, it is an antidote to Mumbai’s sultry tropical climate. Typically made by condensing sweetened buffalo milk, the humble kulfi and its flavoured variants are also a popular feature at Indian weddings.

While the store sells eponymous chocobars (the ice-cream sticks have “Rajesh” monogrammed in cursive), ice-cream cones, and family packs, Rajeshji, the owner, rues the greater demand for mass produced ice cream manufactured by the likes of Unilever and Amul. Still, loyal customers throng to this hole in the wall to buy kulfis by the dozen and by the flavour – malai, kesar, pista, kaju-draksh, raspberry, anjeer, mango, chickoo, roasted badam, sitaphal, and gulkand. There are no sundaes, but you can buy a falooda by the glass. The biggest seller is the malai kulfi, both in candy and slice form. However, it is the roasted badam kulfi that is the real deal and absolute value for money. The nutty richness of the roasted almonds elevate the malai kulfi to something extraordinary.

As I pester Rajeshji for more details, customers are buying kilos of the “mix”: typically an amalgamation of malai, kesar, pista, raspberry, kaju-draksh, mango, and anjeer kulfi. With deft moves and absolute accuracy, Rajeshji cuts pieces from each of these kulfi rolls and places them on butter paper where the “mix” is weighed and then chopped into smaller, bite size pieces. As he takes orders, weighs slices of kulfi and tenders change, he tells me how he was born and bred in Mathura and used to work as an agriculturist. Like most, he came to Mumbai on a mere whim, lured by the wild promise of the city of dreams. Today, his is a family business: he runs the shop in Borivali West and his brother runs a store (with the same name) close to Malad railway station. Every evening, a vehicle laden with kulfi rolls is dispatched from the manufacturing unit in Malad to Borivali.

Over the years, Rajesh Ice Cream has survived ice-cream parlours serving extravagant flavours, gelaterias, and a major fire.

Rajeshji smiles but is dismissive of my suggestion to introduce milkshakes. His hands are full with the kulfi, ice-cream and falooda business and he is unperturbed by the competition next door – a former paan parlour now selling kulfi, ice cream, falooda, mineral water, and milkshakes. With a sense of pride and confidence, Rajeshji assures me that, when it comes to taste, people prefer his store.

The interiors of the shop remain bare basic: permissions from the municipal authorities hang framed below a tube light display of the store’s name. There is a sink in the corner, a pile of ceramic plates, a bunch of spoons and a weighing scale. The original hand-painted sign board has now made way for acrylic red and yellow signage. Over the years, Rajesh Ice Cream has survived ice-cream parlours serving extravagant flavours, gelaterias, and a major fire. The fire left Rajeshji without a store to operate from for about six-seven months. The fridges in the store had to be sent back to the manufacturing unit. But with science and jugaad, Rajesh Ice Cream continued to sell kulfis and ice-cream with a portable container packed with ice, placed on the pavement outside the store.

At Rajesh Ice Cream, there are no soft pitched voices murmuring flavour suggestions. No cartons of flavours in a glass display, gloved hands, fancy café chairs, disposable cups, or time to stand and stare. To borrow an Indian aphorism, the mantra here is – Jo dikhta hai, bikhta hai (“what you see is what you get”).


Late-Night Coffee And Conversations At Elementaria


elementaria cafe bkc lower parel


Elementaria is a direct contrast to the reservation-only fine-dining restaurants at BKC. Patrons can linger over coffee, nibble croissants, or chat till 1 a.m. at this cosy cafe that serves a host of delicious desserts and beverages. They also have an outpost at Lower Parel.

Elementaria, Shop 1A, Godrej Jet Airways Building, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051. Phone: 077380 73812; Shop 10, Khimji Nagji Chawl 1, Opposite Phoenix High Street, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 077380 99212


It’s one of those nights when dinner just isn’t enough. The steady stream of overlapping exchanges over fluffy poee and cashew-infused tipples has failed to satiate us. We could do with coffee, but neither our taste buds nor our wallets are tempted by the options at hand. After much dilly-dallying, we call our respective taxis and start departing in ones and twos. When our party dwindles to four, we decide to take a wee walk around the block. Ten steps into our midnight stroll, I spot warm lighting, wooden interiors, and a coffee machine.

Ten minutes later, we’re staring at the delectable display at Elementaria. Not so long ago we were bursting with stories, now our priorities seem to have shifted from coffee and conversation to chocolate and more chocolate. How does one choose between an intense chocolate tub cake and whisky cupcake? Or between a Snickers pastry and a Ferrero Rocher brownie? One doesn’t.

Then there’s the stuff that’s not on display. The Cutting Dessert is an assortment of mousse, cakes, and cheesecakes set and served in cutting chai glasses. The Ele Pots have ice cream, waffles, fudge, cupcakes, choco balls, jelly beans, and sprinkles. Maybe even unicorns and rainbows. The staple sandwiches and wraps seem boring in comparison, but there’s a list of dessert croissants that we vow to demolish on our next visit. Then we have a chocolate tart to celebrate the discovery of our new 1 a.m. coffee and dessert haunt.


Dig Into Creamy, Hand-Churned Flavours At Taj Ice Cream


taj ice cream


Taj Ice Cream is a small ice cream parlour at Bhendi Bazaar that serves hand-churned ice cream in fresh fruit and dry fruit flavours priced at Rs. 60. They also serve some fruit-flavoured falooda at Rs. 120.

Taj Ice Cream, Shop No. 7, 36 Khara Tank Road, Kumbharwada, Mumbai 400 003. Phone: 022 2346 1257


It's easy to miss Taj Ice Cream amidst the blue board sheets and din of redevelopment at Bhendi Bazaar. Sure enough, I double back each time despite earmarking Tawakkal Sweets as a pointer.

Taj is one of the last hand-churned ice cream parlours left in the city, its sancha ice creams dating all the way back to 1887. Sanchas are nothing but wooden barrels with copper canisters inside that need to turned by hand. Go on a quiet day and Aamir Icecreamwala, whose great-great-grandfather Valiji started the enterprise, may oblige to your request to see it.

When Valiji started off, he sold milk sweetened with dates and cooled in earthen pots. The first ice cream he concocted was mixed fruit – made of chickoo and pineapple – which became instantly popular. It still hits all the right notes. Make it your first at this tiny outpost with just four tables. As you linger, not quite through with the childlike yearning for more, pick from the 15-odd flavours it now offers that include kesar, tender coconut, and roasted almond chocolate chip. Of course, summers demand mangoes, and Taj delivers. Make that your second and walk away satiated. For winter there's the sitaphal to dig into!

Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira


Spoilt For Choice At Poetry By Love And Cheesecake


poetry by love and cheesecake


Poetry By Love And Cheesecake is a café in Bandra that is kind to the keto (low carb diet), vegan, and gluten-free diets. Of particular note are its desserts, specifically the baked New York cheesecake. Those not dieting needn’t despair – there are plenty of carb-filled and non-vegetarian options as well. Poetry also has outlets at Lower Parel and Fort.

Poetry By Love And Cheesecake. Bandra: Pali Darshan, 33rd Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 082912 95412. Lower Parel: Kamala Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Fort: Machinery House, Ground Floor, Bharucha Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 6237 8411


Scrumptious cheesecake, filled with love,

Humble bread left scorned, sulking

Forgive the poor attempt at a poem, but I am still trying to get over a bruschetta without bread! Then again, that's the beauty of Poetry besides the mellow interiors and framed verses on the walls. With the kitchen serving keto (low carb diet), vegan, and gluten-free meals, the menu needs your attention, or you might just overlook the purple star besides the bruschetta and start penning poetry. You will polish off the plate nevertheless, given the perfectly grilled chicken and fresh tomatoes and sprouts.

Spoilt for choice, you will then move on to the cheesecake, happy to have missed the carbs, leaving room for all the sugar. As you pick from Nutella, salted caramel, Oreo, and tiramisu, to name a few, more trysts will follow. Eventually, you will find your rhyme. The baked New York cheesecake sings for me each time. As does Devil's Desire, which comes with a layer of caramel, Belgian chocolate, mousse, and hazelnut. 

The savoury list here is just as long, with a variety of pastas, salads, and meals cooked around avocado, chia seeds, kale, and cheese. In the mornings, they are also kind to bread. The breakfast spread spans freshly baked focaccia, croissants, multi-grain, along with muffins, herb butter, eggs, and a coffee that can hold its own. Just like Poetry, which can draw in the health-nut and sugar-crazed with equal elan.

Feature photograph copyright skumer -


12 Hours In And Around Churchgate

Churchgate Guide



A bayside boulevard that offers a few moments of freedom. Bollywood tales that span from Amitabh Bachchan to Nargis and Suraiya. Cricket frenzy that stretches from long queues outside Wankhede to the sprints of budding cricketers at Oval. Private equity talks and college gossip – all these are at the heart of Churchgate. Within the fortified walls of Mumbai, it was the gate that provided access to St. Thomas Cathedral. It was also where Indian ambitions took root, with merchants opting for Art deco style, rejecting the British Raj's Gothic structures, and where the wealthy converged for Bombay's nightlife. A lot has changed, but neighbourhood’s the character is intact. See for yourself.

9:00 a.m.

Stadium Restaurant

Just a few steps from the Churchgate station, Stadium is where regulars line up for egg bhurji, egg masala fry, and omelettes. It's the kheema ghotala, though, that hits it out of the park at Stadium. Unlike its peers at Fort, the Irani joint doesn't come with a list of dos and don'ts, but its rendition of kheema with eggs has earned it the patronage of many, including quite a few cricketers.

Stadium Restaurant, 76, Veer Narmian Road, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2204 6819

Salt Water Café

The wooden interiors and soft lighting at Salt Water Café are perfect to sink into while loading up on its fluffy 4-cheese omelette. Fret not if that’s too cheesy for you. There's something for every kind of egg-lover on the clipboard here. Take your pick from the classic Eggs Benedict or go with the fuss-free bagel. If, like us, you need a little sugar to jump start your day, there's the banana nutella smoothie and pain au chocolat.

Salt Water Café, Nagin Mahal, Ground Floor, Next to Ambassador Hotel, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 070457 97531

Churchgate Guide

11:00 a.m.

Oval Maidan

Work off all those calories by making your way to the Oval Maidan, but not before gaping wide-eyed at the Gandhi mural adorning the front facade of Churchgate station. The technicolour makeover by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra makes for an excellent Instagram post, no filters required. Equally vibrant is the Oval Maidan. Once part of a single open stretch called Esplanade, which included Azad and Cross Maidans, it’s the bastion of budding cricketers. No matter the time of the day, you will find men in white overalls, pads on, ready to take the crease. Get in on the action, cry foul at the umpire's decision, or simply soak in the frenzy. Unlike Wankhede or Brabourne, you won't even need tickets to do so.

Oval Maidan, 140, Maharshi Karve Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 032

Churchgate Guide

Architecture Walk

The strategic location of the Maidan means you get to experience two sides of Mumbai. Soak in the Gothic charm of the Mumbai University and the Bombay High Court on one end. Walk the other and you have a series of art-deco buildings such as Green Fields, Sunshine, Fairlawn, and Empress Court. The style, which came to Mumbai in the 1930s, saw architects incorporating geometric patterns, pastel colours, and even porthole windows. While it’s eclipsed by the Victorian edifices of Fort, it reflects the search for an Indian identity, away from the popular architectural styles across the green. Walk this lane all the way to Eros cinema, which is a classic example of the ziggurat V-shaped design.

1:00 p.m.


Double back to Veer Nariman Road and the old-world charm of Kamling. The piping hot crabmeat soup and dumplings make a perfect start to your meal. Tuck into old-school Chinese restaurant’s prawn stew or roast pork as you overhear assertions of authenticity between Indian hosts and their South Asian guests. That’s a conversation you would want to join in.

Kamling, 82, Nagin Mahal, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2204 2618

Churchgate Guide


For some soul-satisfying food from Gujarat, head to Samrat. From the green muthia sabzi to fried gawar ki fali, dal, kadhi, matar kachoris and dhoklas, the thalis here are right on the money. As is the all-important farsan. Be ready for endless refills by waiters who won't stop at a mere shake of the head or the feeble no. While you may want to give the panki a miss, Samrat's khandvi, gatta nu saag and masala khichdi have staunch supporters. A meal here and you might just become party to the group.

Samrat Restaurant, Ground Floor, Prem Court Building, Jamshedji Tata Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 4213 5401

2:30 p.m.


Skip the dessert on the restaurant menu and opt for a salted caramel popcorn ice cream at this gourmet dessert parlour. Don't be fooled by the bright and colourful motif. The miniature Ferris wheel, full of sprinkles, and seats with pedals may make you think it's going to be a cutesy-bubbly affair. But it's all quirky with flavours like pani puri sorbet and hummus ice cream. Hint: Opt for the Jumbo Doughwich only with company; this chocolate overload isn't made for just one person.

Papacream, 18, Cambatta (Eros) Building, Jamshedji Tata Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 6517 7272

Churchgate Guide

Oxford Bookstore

It's time to settle down with some books at the big red Oxford store. Choose from a range of genres and regional picks, or simply grab a graphic novel off the shelves before heading to Cha Bar. The quaint café inside the store offers over 50 varieties of tea. Take your pick from oolong to kahwa and wander off to farther shores. Rest assured, no one will come to zap you out of the reverie.

Oxford Bookstore, Ground Floor, Apeejay House, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 6634 5241

4:00 p.m.


Unless you start thinking of pies or biscotti. Then it's time to make your way to Mumbai's eternal favourite Gaylord. Watch people going past the busy road as you bite into crunchy palmiers or cut into flaky puffs. We were once brought a dozen meringues from the bakery for a photography lesson! Needless to say, they were polished off. Among the first eateries to introduce “show baking”, they have expanded the menu to include pretzels and baklavas. Whatever you pick up, don't forget to grab a piece of chocolate nougat off the shelves.

Gaylord, Mayfair Building, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2282 1259

Churchgate Guide

Priyanka Fast Food

For a street food fix, follow the Air India logo atop the 23-floor commercial tower. Join the humongous crowd of college kids and office folks at the khau galli behind the building, specifically to Priyanka Fast Food. Owner Mohammed Arif believes in adding a twist to traditional favourites. Little wonder, then, that this small stall serves over 30 varieties of dosas and even more sandwich options. Try the samosa cheese and crunchy kurkure sandwiches, and see if Arif's jugalbandi works for you.

Priyanka Fast Food, Vidhan Bhavan Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Phone: 072089 07227

6:00 p.m.

Marine Drive

With the sun lowering its gaze, get the famed ice cream sandwich from K Rustom or find a hawker selling raw mango slices, a spot of shade, and park yourself at Marine Drive. Follow the waves as they wash over the tetrapods, see the smiles on the faces of the old and young, and admire the orange-red hue fill the sky. Turn around and you will spot more of those 1930s Art Deco landmarks. Fill up on the air, laced with the scent of the sea, before making your way to the southern tip of Mumbai. You probably know it as Nariman Point, after lawyer Khurshed Framji Nariman, who suggested sea waters be reclaimed for a commercial hub.

Churchgate Guide


Don't forget to grab some bhel though before heading to the hallowed grounds of NCPA. The multi-genre cultural centre is home to all art forms – music, dance, theatre, film, literature, and photography. Head to see the country's only professional orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of India, with the hobnobbing Parsis or appraise the perfect photographs at the Piramal Art Gallery. With a number of collaborations with the likes of National Theatre (London), the five theatres that make up the NCPA are home to some great performances. Of course, the night doesn't end without chit-chat at the al fresco NCPA Café.

National Centre for the Performing Arts, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021


YB Chavan Centre

For some regional performances, head towards YB Chavan Centre. This walk will involve taking on some state bureaucracy (from the outside thankfully!). Located opposite Mantralaya, the centre – named after Maharashtra's first chief minister – is host to some delightful Gujarati, Marathi, and Hindi plays. Take a seat at the spacious auditorium that's seen the likes of Tom Alter play an array of characters and strap on for some slapstick Marathi comedies or poetic Urdu interpretations.

YB Chavan Centre, General Jagannath Bhosle Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021. Phone: 022 2202 8598

9:00 p.m


Switch from regional to international at Relish with crunchy nachos. The six-flavour shooters make for an excellent contrast with the white decor and floral cushions of the eatery. Go nom nom, just as the multiple food quotes on the walls advocate, with the Four Seasons Pizza or kebab sizzler at this vegetarian restaurant. If you order the fondue, be ready to fight to the finish for there is no “we” in chocolate.

Relish, 125, Jamshedji Tata Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020. Phone: 022 4213 5419

Churchgate Guide

The Sassy Spoon

The French inspired decor of Sassy Spoon is alone enough to draw you in for a ride. The fuchsia furnishing, wall of crumbling suitcases, and white-and-golden Volkswagen make it one of the most picturesque outposts in the city. The touch of whimsy continues with the food, especially the European fare. Try the nutty ricotta ravioli or spaghetti. It’s the dessert menu, though, that we heart. The dark chocolate and basil fondant or the caramel peanut tart with its crunchy brittle are clearly the way to go.

The Sassy Spoon, Ground Floor, Express Towers, Ramnath Goenka Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Phone: 099200 03500

Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira


Obsessing Over Chocolate At San Churro


san churro chocolate bandra


Chocolateria San Churro is a café serving – naturally – chocolate con churros that are a must-have dessert. Served with a choice of milk, dark, and white chocolate, the fried churros are dusted with sugar and guaranteed to be polished off in the blink of an eye.

Chocolateria San Churro, Shop No 11, Silver Pearl Building, Waterfield Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2640 0044


If this were Spain, there would be chocolatiers lining the streets and chocolate con churros the breakfast table, like they should. Roughly 5,000 miles away, everything at Chocolateria San Churro – right from the wall motifs to chocolate-heavy menu – mirrors that Spanish obsession.

Push open the doors and you can immediately hear that bubbling sound of churros being fried. The well-stocked display counter is full of tall pastries, chocolate truffles, and candies. My advice would be to follow the cocoa trail upstairs to the girl with the marshmallow and chocolate-dipped one liners. The service may be a tad slow, but you can polish off the fried donuts in peace. 

The three-piece poco works for a lone soul. Company, of course, demands a fondue, with the addition of fruit, brownies, and marshmallows so there is no growing mistrust as the plate starts to empty. There's complete impunity to acting like a kid here, dipping fingers and licking spoons. Like it says on the walls, chocolate doesn't discriminate. I don't either. Milk, dark, and white, I have licked all the bowls clean at San Churro, time after time, from that first visit, when the fried churros, with dusted sugar, and melted couverture chocolate found its way to the table. 

If you don’t have quite the sweet tooth (unlike the Spaniards and me), the folder-shaped menu offers everything from sandwiches to nachos to pasta. The coffee is strong enough, and the iced tea comes with just the right amount of infusion. The Spaniard in me would, of course, ask you to go for hot chocolate, maybe with a hint of mint. For a quick European detour, though, just stick to the time-tested recipe for churros

Feature photograph copyright ld1976 -


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.

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

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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

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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

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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


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

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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


Le 15 Café Is A Sanctuary In Colaba


le 15 cafe colaba


Le 15 Café is a sugar lover’s delight. In addition to the desserts, it also has a savoury menu that includes salads, sandwiches, and croissants along with coffee and tea.

Le 15 Café, Shop No. 18, Lansdowne House, Behind Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 097693 41994


Walking into Le 15 Café if you don’t eat sugar is not for the faint-hearted. The first thing you see through the glass front door, before you even set foot inside, is the dessert display – rows and rows of macarons, cupcakes, and desserts lined up and sitting pretty, looking as delicious as they no doubt taste. Avert your gaze and walk right past it to the tables. The coast is clear.

It’s 5 p.m., and the café is surprisingly empty. I’m not complaining. This is when I get to enjoy a few minutes of solitude before my friends get here. Acoustic Ellie Goulding is playing from the speakers, and the evening light is streaming in from the large bay windows. You can almost forget you’re mere feet away from the noise, crowds, and pollution of Colaba Causeway. This is a little sanctuary in one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the city, the perfect spot to take a breather and slow down a busy day while sipping on a good cup of coffee.

You have to give them full marks for tying up with Blue Tokai. It’s easily the best coffee in town, and Le 15 Café makes an excellent iced Americano. Pair your coffee with a croissant – a buttery, flaky, fresh croissant I devour – and it’s the perfect slice of Paris without actually being in Paris. For those who do eat sugar, I’ve heard the desserts are divine. You wouldn’t expect any less from Pooja Dhingra.

Feature photograph courtesy Le 15 Café