Give Thanks For Gaylord Bakery

gaylord bakery

GIVE THANKS FOR 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

READ MRIGANK WARRIER'S STORY

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.

 

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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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12 Hours In And Around Churchgate

Churchgate Guide

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND CHURCHGATE

WORDS BY SADIYA UPADE

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.

Kamling

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

Samrat

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.

Papacream

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.

Gaylord

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

NCPA

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

NCPA_004

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

Relish

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

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Mockingbird Café Bar Is Churchgate’s Bestseller

mockingbird cafe bar

MOCKINGBIRD CAFÉ BAR IS CHURCHGATE’S BESTSELLER

With its wordy décor, eclectic menu, and library under the stairs, Mockingbird Café Bar attempts to stimulate the mind while tingling the palate. From Thai curry to twisted thrillers; potent coffee to pretty paperbacks; classic cocktails to handy compendiums; you’ll find it all behind the glass doors of Mockingbird.

Mockingbird Café Bar, 80, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 6022 6023

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

I’m attempting to read my first digital book, index finger tapping down every 30 seconds to turn the proverbial page, eyes darting up from the phone more often than they should. I look over to the writing on the wall, a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird next to the tire swing from the Radley’s front yard. I glance at the famous words of famous men and women sprinkled over a cluster of posters. I twist back on my surprisingly comfortable high stool and face the bookshelf where Zadie Smith sits spine to spine with Vikram Seth. I turn back and put my phone into my pocket to prevent further sacrilege.

At Mockingbird, there’s no escaping from phrases, pages, and puns. From the cozy décor and witty cocktail names (care for a Bloody Carrie?), to the eclectic, yet carefully curated menu, everything here has a literary connection. The youngest café and restaurant on Churchgate’s busy thoroughfare, Mockingbird has become an oasis for those seeking a cup of cappuccino and some quiet. Here, America croons at just the right volume, the cookie accompanying the coffee is chocolate chip, and the herb garden patch out front is a breath of fresh air.

Not everybody who walks in is seeking company in the pages of a classic. Kitty parties, family dinners, and romantic dates are more common than solo meals. But if you’re a reader who appreciates the typewriter in the corner just as much as hearty breakfast menu, Mockingbird is one for the books.

Feature photograph copyright George Dolgikh - stock.adobe.com

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Saboro Lounge Makes Eating Healthy Easy

saboro lounge healthy cafe vegetarian restaurant churchgate

SABORO LOUNGE MAKES EATING HEALTHY EASY

Saboro Lounge is a new health-food restaurant in Churchgate. It serves cold pressed juices, smoothies, fruit bowls, and vegetarian rolls, wraps, and sandwiches.

Saboro Lounge, 26, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 021. Phone: 8291603484

READ JOANNA LOBO'S STORY

Milkshakes and salads bring all the health freaks to Saboro Lounge’s yard. The health-food restaurant, launched in October 2016, is located in a quiet lane in Churchgate. It’s a small space, all white wooden slats with pops of colour from paintings of a beetroot and watermelon slice on the wall. One corner has a display of fresh produce; at another, you can browse through books on recipes and healthy eating. The food can be summed up simply: it’s all healthy. Think vegetables, fruit salads, bowls, fresh shakes, and cold pressed juices.

For those who are particular about nutrition, each dish comes with the calories mentioned and a small note about why it’s good for you. It may be healthy food, but it isn’t boring. Go for the no-sugar, only fruit and herb smoothies and cold pressed juices such as the creamy Bananjeer Smoothie or the Immunity Boost with its mouthful of deep red, apple, beetroot, pomegranate, and basil.

For lunch, the Chicknoa Greens salad comes raw and packed with the protein of chickpea and the quinoa. For something warmer, there’s the Hummus Whole Wheat Pie, or a Ramen Bowl with mushroom and Udon noodles. If you’re still craving sweet, the condensed milk in the Frugurt Parfait – a layered parfait with condensed milk, pineapple, kiwi, walnuts, and pomegranate and basil seeds – should do the trick. An added bonus: the prices won’t hurt your pocket.

Feature photo by Suruchi Maira

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A College Student’s Guide To Affordable Meals In Mumbai

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A COLLEGE STUDENT'S GUIDE TO AFFORDABLE MEALS IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY AVANI UDGAONKAR AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY SURUCHI MAIRA

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a college student in possession of a small budget must be in want of cheap food.

There’s nothing quite like college life in Mumbai. Life works on fast-forward, zipping through rushed mornings when you're half dressed and entirely late, not-so-subtle notes passed in class, racing down corridors to meet an extracurricular team before your next lecture, inside jokes, serious debates and a myriad of responsibilities that you've expertly procrastinated on – all successfully accomplished before noon. But classroom lectures consist of the least interesting part of your day, for it’s after the bells have rung and/or you’ve ditched your last couple of lectures that the real life of a college student begins, and there’s a lot of food involved.

The J

College Food Guide_002Photo by Stephanie McCabe

When in need of a snack on a lazy day, there’s one great place I turn to. Opposite HR College, tucked away so that you almost miss it, is The J. Popularly known as “J’s fries”, it sells one thing and one thing only: French fries. Gloriously crispy, perfectly cooked fries with a variety of toppings and sauces (dear Lord, the sauces).They’ve tried every combination and put up the best, from Tandoori Chilli Fries to BBQ Chicken Fries. The best? At first, I didn’t believe it and so was told to combine any toppings and sauces I liked, and if I thought my combination was better than theirs, they would add it to the menu. After much experimentation (all of which failed miserably), I admitted defeat and downed my sorrow – quite happily – in the form of Chicken Nacho Fries.

The J, 3, Vaswani Mansions, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2284 4650

Kyani and Co.

College Food Guide_003

When overburdened, when all the work I’ve been procrastinating over comes back to bite me, I go to Kyani and Co., one of the few old Parsi cafés still left standing. Fit into the side of the building, a few steep steps (aided by a dangling rope) lead up to a maze of tables, covered with red chequered tablecloths. I order a chicken-cheese burger and akuri on toast with optional baked beans (always the baked beans). The food there is simple but delicious. I wash everything down with a raspberry soda and one of their chocolatey desserts, conveniently displayed near the entrance. After I spend a few hours engulfed in the old world feel of this shadowy café, chatting with friends over nothing and everything, my impending assignments and projects don’t feel as threatening, reality isn’t quite so dark and I can almost feel my stress melt into air.

Kyani and Co. Ratan Heights, Dr. DB Road, Opposite Navjivan Society, Kalbadevi, Mumbai 400 008.

Dosa Guy

The title may be incongruous, but that is what every student of Sophia College calls this much loved dosa seller just down the road from the college’s main gate. Setting up his roadside stall every working morning from June to April, he is as much a part of the college as the bhaiyas in the canteen. He attracts customers from college students, professors and residents alike and is famed for having some of the best dosas in Mumbai. His Mysore Masala dosas with their mysterious chutneys, perfect combination of vegetables and crispy buttery edges are to die for and his Sada Cheese dosas include a whole grated block of unhealthy goodness (hallelujah). After picking my dosa (try the Mysore Masala Uthappa, I dare you), I sit on the pavement going up Vivek Singh lane and make a mockery of every crow that eyes my dosa enviously.

Vivek Singh Lane, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai 400 026.

WTC Pasta

College Food Guide_004

Every evening, as the night creeps in and the commercial areas of the city wind down, one place remains a hive of activity and life. The divider opposite the World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade turns into pasta central. Stalls under the name “Manoj Pasta” are set up along the road, and steaming pasta dripping in sauce is tossed into the air. With a menu ranging from a simple “white sauce pasta” to the “penne Italian pasta magi with chilees”, the pasta always comes in large quantities, piping hot, covered in enough cheese to block all your arteries, and is unutterably delicious. Sitting under a tree, eating the pasta precariously balanced on my knees and playing music from my phone is the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long day.

Outside World Trade Center, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 400 005.

Bademiya

College Food Guide_005

As the sun sets and lights begin to turn on to fight off the impending darkness, my friend and I wind our way to the back roads of Colaba. Bademiya, consisting of a stall on the street with a small dining area across the road, is an integral part of the Mumbai experience. While we wait for an order of our favourite kababs (Reshmi Tikka and Mutton Boti), we play with the cat that never wanders far from the stall. As soon as our order is ready, we pack it up, along with a couple of bottles of coke from the shop down the road, and head to Marine Drive. We sit on the sea-face, our backs to the rush of the city, watching the dark waves crash against the rocks and tracing the lights of the distant ships on the horizon as we devour our juicy rolls. It is contentment in its truest form.

Bademiya, Tullock Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 039.

Feature Photo By Sachin Gupta (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Gaurav Kapur’s Guide To Weekend Cricket In Mumbai

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GAURAV KAPUR'S GUIDE TO WEEKEND CRICKET IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY GAURAV KAPUR

Gaurav Kapur is an actor, television personality and self-confessed cricket freak. He's the presenter (and additional vowels) in Extraaa Innings T20, a talk show dedicated to pre and post-match analysis of the Indian Premier League telecasts. Gaurav tells us everything we need to know about weekend cricket in Mumbai.

Weekend Cricket Guide_005

For the super enthusiastic, stadium loving cricket freak

Mumbai is a cricket city. Spaces are carved out in parking lots, building driveways, and it wouldn't be strange to see a Sunday gully cricket game on a main road. You can catch hundreds of amateur cricketers playing on the road and amongst traffic, but there are many proper stadiums to appreciate the sport in Mumbai as well.

• DY Patil is a great sports facility, but the fact that it is half way to Pune can be a dampener.
• The Wankhede is definitely the most energetic (or noisiest, depending on how old you feel), but for an international fixture or an IPL game it can be a chore to line up along Marine Drive before you eventually get in.
• I would recommend CCI (Brabourne Stadium) for the best viewing experience. Especially if you can smooth talk a member to take you in. Then you're aboard the old-school express, with food and drink on the balcony while you watch the cricket. No big ticket matches here, but you can still see quite a few engaging games. This is a cricket-watching experience from the colonial era.

DY Patil Sports Stadium, Sion-Panvel Express Highway, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706.

Wankhede Stadium, D Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

Brabourne Stadium, The Cricket Club of India, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For a lazy afternoon spent people watching (as well as cricket watching)

Shivaji Park is considered the cradle of Bombay cricket (from the pre Mumbai era). Many modern day greats have learned their skills on the hallowed turf of this historic ground. Sitting atop the low boundary wall trying to spot the next Gavaskar or Tendulkar is still heaps of fun. There's an idli vendor on a cycle who used to park himself along that wall, and that chutney was good enough to use as a face pack. If he’s still there, apply it on your face, stretch out on the wall, soak up the sun and avoid the boundary balls. Or you could just eat the idli and watch the cricket if you don't want to get as immersive an experience as me.

Shivaji Park, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028.

Weekend Cricket Guide_007

Photograph by Suruchi Maira

For the pub lovers

There's a real shortage of good sports bars in the city. There used to be a fair sprinkling a few years ago: the screens, the pool tables, the familiar faces. But now a few beers and your buddies in someone's TV room has become “my local”. Also, unless it's a T20 game, sitting in a bar for a full day (or five) is not really encouraged (by friends and family).

For the stalkers hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers, security/high walls/barbwire notwithstanding

The international cricketers are on the road for most of the year, but the MCA club in BKC has the most up to date practice facilities favoured by the modern lot. When in the city, the local Indian cricketers are to be found here. The walls are high, the security is tight. But that shouldn't stop you.
Disclaimer: if you get caught, the CIA and I will deny any knowledge of your existence. Godspeed.

Mumbai Cricket Association, RG-2, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051.

For the visitor aching to play a spot of cricket

A few years ago, I had filmed a small feature for CNN in which I took the crew to the cricket grounds of Mumbai in the monsoon. We wanted to capture the love for cricket this city has always had. Where even the monsoons and knee-high grass can't stop cricket games. In fact, the Kanga League is the only wet weather cricket tournament in the world and has been on for almost 70 years. Come rain or shine, there's always some cricket being played in the city. So there is plenty to watch, but you can't just join a game willy-nilly. With so many clubs and small leagues competing for space with real-estate builders, you might need to carry a club to force your way into a game (aforementioned disclaimer applies). There are a few indoor simulators that can be a bit of fun. They’re not a patch on the real deal like Azad Maidan, but as far as synthetic experiences go, this virtual game is a happy quick fix.

Bonus

Another spot I quite enjoy is the stretch of gymkhana grounds running along Marine Drive. Some are used for weddings these days, but on a weekend you could see four or five games happening along that half kilometre stretch. Each major religion seems to have their own gymkhana, but the cricketers and viewers needn't have any religious affiliation. Cricket is the principle religion in these parts, one that this entire city is on the same page about.

Marine Drive Gymkhanas, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, Mumbai 400 002.

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Photo by Anne-Mette Jensen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

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K Rustom Is The King Of Ice Cream Sandwiches

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K RUSTOM IS THE KING OF ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

K Rustom opened its doors to the public in Churchgate in 1953. Since then it has been a favourite amongst ice-cream lovers partly, because of a spectrum of delicate flavours and partly because it is one of the last places in Mumbai that serves the ice-cream sandwich. Run by the same family for the last 63 years, K Rustom is an institution, serving blackcurrant, rum and raisin, walnut praline and even paan flavoured ice-cream sandwiches.

K Rustom Ice Cream, 88, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2282 1768

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

I’m devastated. I’ve just heard the three words I dread the most: “There’s no blackcurrant.”

The lady at the counter gives me a smile, part apologetic, part pitiful. She waits expectantly for exactly seven seconds and then turns to attend to a boisterous bunch of college students. First timers, I think as they scan the colour-blocked poster menu, dithering between roasted almond crunch and walnut crunch.

I don’t recall my first visit to K Rustom, but the iconic ice cream sandwich has been a constant companion. Everything worth celebrating – or forgetting – demands the presence of a blackcurrant ice cream sandwich. From birthdays and first dates to exam results and heartbreaks, K Rustom’s chunky slab of melting goodness flanked by crispy, fluorescent wafer biscuits makes it all sweeter. And I’m not the only one with a sentimental attachment.

The ice cream parlour occupies one corner in a row of shuttered shops, looked over by a dilapidated signboard in black and red. When I see that board and black collapsible grill, I think back to the time when K Rustom was a provision store. I picture a group of cousins huddled together in front – the teenage boys in their striped shirts and bellbottoms, the girls in pigtails – licking the ice cream dripping from their fingers, trickling right down to their elbows. My father is the one with an unruly mop of hair, eating his pineapple ice cream sandwich in a manner that’s methodical yet urgent. It’s day two of a cricket test match at Brabourne Stadium, and the cousins are sweating in the April sun, waiting for their uncle to pick them up from outside Gate 10.

K Rustom is single-handedly keeping the ice cream sandwich alive at a time when even kulfis and faloodas seem to have gone out of fashion.

Not much has changed since then. The dexterity and speed with which my father polishes off his ice cream without leaving a single stain on his crisp white linen shirt is unparalleled. It’s a skill he has passed on to me, along with his unwavering love for all forms of ice cream, but especially the sandwich, which is a dying breed in Bombay.

K Rustom is single-handedly keeping the ice cream sandwich alive at a time when even kulfis and faloodas seem to have gone out of fashion. It refuses to adapt to the times and is adamant about sticking to what it knows best, undeterred by the competition cropping up at every corner. The unassuming parlour on one of Mumbai’s busiest streets sits just as discreetly as it has since 1953. The walls inside look like they’ve worn the same coat of paint for 60-odd years, and the water cooler has been around since I can remember. Cold, industrial freezers store stacks and stacks of evenly cut slabs, the flavours listed out on handwritten signs and multi-coloured posters. There are no sturdy tables and plush seats for the customers often forming a serpentine queue in the summer months. The row of flimsy plastic chairs against the wall, flanked by a dustbin on one end and the water cooler on the other, is where you’ll hear about clandestine affairs, college crushes, train troubles and weather woes as the cold treats loosen the tongue of many a Bombaywalla.

I’ve never seen an advertisement for K Rustom, print, radio, television or otherwise. It’s one of those open secrets that’s passed on from one generation to the next, much like the institution in question. One bite of the soft, creamy blackcurrant ice cream laden with crunchy purple pellets is all it takes to turn one into an addict.

“What’s your favourite? The one that isn’t available?”

I’m snapped out of my fruity reverie by a kind-looking, bespectacled gentleman leaning over the metal freezer. He’s placed his order and has the appropriate number of notes ready in his right hand. A regular, I think as I watch the lady at the counter deftly pack a rum and raisin slab between two wafers and wrap it with butter paper and a thin tissue.

“Blackcurrant,” I answer.

“Try the rum and raisin. It’s my favourite. And bitter chocolate.”

I don’t look too convinced. He takes his ice cream sandwich with one hand and pays lady with the other. “The good news is, whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. And you can always have blackcurrant next time. Bye. Have a good day.”

I did have a good day, made even better by bitter chocolate and a healthy dose of eavesdropping. Another day, another flavour, another K Rustom memory.

Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira

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The Venns At The Oval

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THE VENNS AT THE OVAL

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

Kali, Tyson, Krish, Patchy. While these may sound like the gang of flunkies of a badass ’80s Bollywood movie villain, they're just the dogs who workout with the Bootcampers. Let me correct myself: while us humans contort ourselves into the downward dog pose, they stretch out lazily in the horizontal human pose on our yoga mats.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Bootcamp, where you will find a group of people doing crunches, squats, sprints, lunges and frog jumps, all while trying to dodge season balls from knocking them on the head and straight into a coma.

If you're from Mumbai, or even if you've been here for all of a minute and a half, you will notice (and complain about) the lack of open spaces. Oval Maidan is the glorious, verdant answer to all those complaints. The 22-acre "recreational space" is mainly the bastion of aspiring cricketers and the aforementioned gang of hounds. You’ll also find the bootcampers tucked away in a corner like a secret – although not an entirely well kept one. Recognising us is easy: we’re the cool kids wearing brightly coloured, easily identifiable workout clothing. And we do everything but play cricket.

It’s liberating to start your day in an open space in a city that’s ever choking, ever suffocating and ever committed to make sure you fit into a box.

We run, we sprint, we lie in the mud and look up at the sky and we get down and dirty, with one common passion binding us all: a passion for fitness and for finding and working towards it in a space outside of a gym.

We already spend our lives confined in boxes – cubicles, cars, the four walls of our homes. The Oval – so-called because it’s the shape of an oval – provides a counter to this, both shape-wise and space-wise. It’s liberating to start your day in an open space in a city that’s ever choking, ever suffocating and ever committed to make sure you fit into a box.

Until 1997, Oval Maidan was a neglected, decrepit, over grown mess frequent by druggies and thugs, and it has now transformed into a thriving space for recreation. It may not be Mumbai's answer to Hyde Park or Central Park, but it does have its good days.

On a good day, you will feel the wind just when you need it the most. On a good day, Tyson will not shred your mat to pieces. On a good day you will meet us Bootcampers and maybe even make some new friends with the names Kali, Tyson, Patchy and Krish. The good days aren't so few and far in between..

Bootcamp meets on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Oval Maidan, Maharshi Karve Road, Near Eros Cinema, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 032

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Churchgate From A Rooftop

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CHURCHGATE FROM A ROOFTOP

WORDS BY RICHARD BENNETT

The owner of the Chateau Windsor Hotel is a polite and reserved old man. Every morning he comes up to the roof of the hotel to pray. He lost his son a couple of years ago from this very roof, so each day he witnesses this scene of despair.

I stayed at the Chateau Windsor Hotel during my visits to India every two years between 2004 and 2013. It has a small apartment on the roof, which has an excellent view of the Cricket Club of India, the Arabian Sea and the never cleaned underside of the revolving restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel. In the very early morning, you can see large packs of dogs surround the unfortunate fellows who have made the bad decision to walk down the middle of the street. By 7 a.m., the dogs have dispersed to go to sleep, and all is well.

In the very early morning, you can see large packs of dogs surround the unfortunate fellows who have made the bad decision to walk down the middle of the street.

Ten years ago, the owner invited me to meet his guru, an exceedingly optimistic NRI who was visiting from Minnesota. We congregated on the roof. “Look at this beautiful day,” the guru said, “look at this wonderful food. Are we not living in the best of all possible worlds?” I walked to the edge of the roof and looked across the street. Outside Gaylord Restaurant was a man with no legs begging. He is said to have four children. Every day when I walked by he would ask me for money. Every day I would say no, and he would smile. He never showed the least bit of frustration.

A short distance away from Gaylord is a family of four that sleeps in front of the Wordell Chemist. The mother sells flowers all day. They have a daughter who was around eight years old the first time I came to stay in Churchgate. I returned every two years since. There is a flash of recognition in her eyes when she sees me and then she looks away.

Past the Ambassador Hotel is the paan wallah who he gives me a smile like he saw me just yesterday even though it’s been two years. He remembers my order (not sweet).

And across from Churchgate station was the former Air Cool Gents Hair Dressers. The unfriendly owner sat inside counting his money all day. The barbers all had numbers, and the owner preferred I didn’t call them by name. I never got my hair cut there, but I did go for a shave and head massage. My barber, #13, was a kindly man who applied exactly the right pressure to my head.

These are the only people in Churchgate who know me. I walk on the sea face, I shop at the Suryodaya Supermarket and I eat at Samrat, and there is an endless parade of faces that ignore me. Even if we met, what would we talk about?

I haven’t been to Churchgate in two years.

Chateau Windsor Hotel, 86, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 6622 4455

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